Posted by Dave on April 21, 1999 at 15:27:22:
In Reply to: Re: Learning changes/improv posted by Jacob on April 21, 1999 at 14:12:14:
I'd like to share my ideas and beliefs about jazz. I agree that it's about being creative, but some of us less divinely inspired need tools to facilitate jazz growth. Much in the same way writers write what they feel, what's in their heart, they had to learn grammar and language first. This has been an idea of some debate recently, and I don't want to stir the pot. It's just my opinion. Although I am by no means a recording-contract-worthy jazz tuba player, I've been told by those whom I've had the pleasure of playing with who ARE contract worthy that one should not shy away from tutorials or building blocks (licks, if you will) as stepping stones to more a freer self-expression.
I've been told that even the greatest jazz artists of all time aren't completely spontaneous all of the time in their improvisation. Some nights they're just happy to produce a coherent line that flows well, even if it is somewhat regurgitated. That's why astute listeners of jazz can tell the difference between Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis on the same tune. They have certain styles, certain (evil word inserted here) licks, not to mention highly individual sounds that they often plug into their improvization to give it their "signature". There is nothing wrong with "borrowing" something that you've heard or seen that you like. All the greats do it, because some things just sound cool and work.
Don't be swayed by those that say "just plug in the CD and feel it". That's a quick way to frustration for some of us and a common downfall of many a pimply faced middle or high school student who was thrown in front of their 5th period jazz band and forced to "just feel it", provided no safety net whatsoever, turning redder and redder with each clam phrumphing out of their horn. Listen, emulate, listen some more, develop a vocabulary so self expression becomes more natural. Give yourself a chance to succeed.
Hope this helps in some remote way!