I have been urged through the years to put my thoughts down on jazz possibly to help the aspiring student or just as a matter of interest so I thought I would get started.
I have found there is a common denominator that runs through all the jazz masters that emulate the “Golden Age of Jazz” of what I refer to as the “vintage period” of jazz starting with Louis Armstrong and ending with Charlie Parker, the two names Miles Davis used to sum up jazz and I agree. I have included 3 things below in my basic instruction to the student in the Music Minus One albums I recently completed without being fully aware of their importance because it was so natural to me through the years and was what always drew me to this music.
As stated in the liner notes when you play :
1. Try to tell a story
2. Make it swing
3. Create beauty.
Three seemingly very simple things but if done well you will enter a very special “club” of jazz artists and hopefully find much joy as I have. To give the student an idea of what I am talking about regarding the 3 principles above, below are a few of my own actual private practice sessions done in my home (not record quality sound wise) with extended soloing in a relaxed tempo and groove of which I will add more tracks in the future. This is the way i have practiced jazz since I was 9 years old when I first discovered the original Music Minus One play along records. The point I would like to make is whether I am practicing jazz or performing jazz my goal is always the same, to make music rather than just playing meaningless notes or patterns. Also I record myself when I practice jazz and then listen from the viewpoint as if I was in the audience listening to a performance which makes it real. Note these practice sessions are solos that are much longer than I would do in an actual performance but the value to that from a practice point of view is to see if you can keep the “creative flow” going while adhering to the 3 basic points above. When I was “coming up” in my career one did more playing on the bandstand in real situations, some of them very intense because of who was on the bandstand than in the practice room so you had no choice other than to make music or at least try. Unfortunately that environment doesn’t exist any longer for the aspiring student so it is even more important to include the discipline to always strive for making music as part of your goal and practice routine to avoid a sterile clinical approach to jazz which may work techically but not necessarily artistically and is contrary to what jazz is all about in my opinion and what was handed down by the great masters of jazz. The good news is there are a lot more materials and play along tools available like the ones I used recently to record the Music Minus One albums and also Jamey Abersold play along tracks some of which I used below all wonderful for the student to practice with in lieu of actual jam sessions. There is much more to my personal approach to jazz and scroll up to see my thoughts.
Falling in Love with Love (tenor) :
I got Rhythm (alto) :
Second Time Around (tenor) :
Wine and Roses (trumpet) :
Softly As a Mornings Sunrise (tenor):
My Ideal :