Posts tagged “jazz”

November 8, 2014

Jazz swing notation

swing-4 The issue with each of these bad notational approaches is that they try to approximate characteristic jazz rhythms with symbols that are rooted in the rather different rhythms of classical music. But real jazz swing rhythms aren't dotted or 12/8 or triplets, or least they aren't necessarily any of those. This leads to problems both for composers and performers.

March 13, 2014

Improvisation and doubling

Photo, fantail media If you double on multiple instruments, the improvisational vocabulary pool isn't really portable. You can bring your ideas with you from instrument to instrument, but you won't be able to execute them smoothly unless you have put in the practice hours on each instrument separately.

January 15, 2014

Creativity, hard work, and beginning jazz improvisation

Photo, alphadesigner I occasionally teach a university course in jazz improvisation, geared toward beginning improvisers. Sometimes I think prospective students are afraid to sign up because they don’t consider themselves already to be musically creative. On the other hand, I have some students enroll in the class with unrealistic expectations about the results, thinking that they will ...

December 26, 2013

Farewell: Yusef Lateef

Earlier this week jazz musician Yusef Lateef passed away at age 93. Lateef was known for his adventurous woodwind doubling, playing saxophone and flute, plus the oboe and a number of woodwinds from non-Western cultures. Here he is playing some tasty flute: I’ve seen oboists look a bit uncomfortable when the topic of Yusef Lateef ...

November 5, 2013

Farewell: Frank Wess

Photo, Tom Marcello Last week Frank Wess, one of the great woodwind doublers in jazz, passed away at age 91. He was best known for his years with the Count Basie band, and for being an influential figure in bringing the flute into its own as a jazz instrument. If you’re not familiar with his playing, definitely check ...

September 29, 2012

Things that aren’t jazz

Photo, frawemedia Okay, first of all: what I’m talking about here is the “mainstream” jazz tradition, insofar as such a thing exists (you can make a good argument that it doesn’t, really). “Jazz” is a wide net to cast. To flip it around, if I were going to list things that aren’t “classical” music, I might say ...

September 5, 2012

Which instrument should I learn next?

Photo, Jon Delorey One of the questions I get most frequently from aspiring woodwind doublers is “Which instrument should I learn next?” The short answer is “Whichever you want.” Woodwind doublers’ motivations (career, artistic, or personal) are varied, and your interests and goals should override any advice I (or anyone) can offer. If you really want to learn ...

January 16, 2012

Jazz chord symbols: a primer for the classically-trained

C seventh Printed jazz music often uses chord symbols to indicate the music’s underlying harmony. As with the Roman numeral system used in classical music theory, jazz chord symbols may be used as a tool for analysis. But they are also used for performance, like Baroque figured bass notation,¬†with the musicians using the symbols as a framework ...

December 16, 2011

Review: Bob Hartig’s Giant Steps Scratch Pad Complete

Giant-Steps-Front_1-227x300 Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of jazz musician bloggers opining about the evils of memorizing patterns and “licks,” and calling for original and creative improvisation. While I don’t think anybody will argue about the importance of individuality and creativity, I do think it’s a big mistake to ignore the value of memorizing, practicing, and internalizing ...

October 6, 2011

The Doublers Collective: progressive jazz saxophone quintet

The Doublers Collective is a new quintet of accomplished jazz saxophonists with strong doubling abilities, based in Phoenix, Arizona. The group is the brainchild of Monica Shriver, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the NASA conference last year. Check them out in this video: For more about the Doublers Collective: visit their¬†website follow ...