[Dixielandjazz] Jazz - The Spiritual Side vs. Technique

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at charter.net
Tue Dec 7 10:47:42 PST 2004

This is what I've been saying all along about jazz soloing.  These guys
"learn" this from colleges and schools that are teaching it all wrong.
Solos just cant be built on vertical chord structure but must be built on
improvised melodic line that sets on the chord structure.  Vertical is easy
to teach and you can write textbooks about it and you can send a student out
to practice on it and you can get really fast.  The problem is that it
creates solos that have no heart, no beginning , no middle and really don't
end.  Just a lot of notes.  They tend to be all correct notes and usually
done very fast and everyone goes WOW but to quote myself.  If you went to a
race and there was a guy running really fast, looked really good and was the
favorite except he was running in the wrong direction you would have a LOSER
no matter what he did.  These guys haven't a clue nor will they ever.  The
only way to learn this technique (good soloing) is to learn tunes, listen to
others and to yourself, develop a reasonable technique and good tone and
then do it a bunch.  These things don't happen overnight.  It takes a lot of
experimentation and experience to do this.  You can't learn the interaction
of two or more people who are playing in effect solos against each other in
a polyphonic manner without developing the sense of harmony and line that
experience allows.  Not only that, do it in a split second, on the fly and
be different every time.

Some like to think of this as "contemporary" soloing much in the same way as
modern art is contemporary.  The further out it goes the more some like it.
I think a lot of those people who go WOW at this are musically ignorant and
want to appear cool or are impressed by the musical gymnastics that some of
these guys exhibit.

Sadly very few young musicians (below 40) are learning anything else.  I
hear so much musical nonsense coming out of these guys no wonder so many of
them get lost in the middle of solos and lose the key and don't know where
to end or how to pass a solo off to another guy.  Often they have their nose
buried in the chord symbols and are reading the music like I would read the
dictionary.  BORING!

That brings up another thing in that piano players are not learning how to
support a horn player and lead the chords so the horn player has a guide to
where he is going.  If I have a good piano player I can solo easily to tunes
that I have never heard in my life but a guy that's just chunking the chords
sometimes even if I know the tune it's a  chore and things don't flow as

My advise to those who want to learn how to solo well is get with a group
and do it, listen carefully and critically to yourself,  Don't try to match
or compete with the gymnasts but do your own thing and finally get control
over your instrument.  Also, I advise strongly taping yourself and listening
to it at least 10 or more times.  If you still like it after 10 times it's
probably OK.

If you want to learn a style immerse yourself in it.  Listen to nothing else
until you have an understanding of how it works.  This by the way is why
older styles are difficult for younger people because they don't listen to
it, it's not a part of them.  You have to make that style a part of yourself
if you are going to play the style correctly.  If you are going to learn
Chinese you have to think in Chinese or you will be forever translating
probably badly.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Elazar Brandt" <jazzmin at actcom.net.il>
To: "Dixie Jazz Mail List" <Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 1:32 AM
Subject: RE: [Dixielandjazz] Jazz - The Spiritual Side vs. Technique

> Amen to what Tim said.
> I went to a supposedly New Orleans jazz concert last year in Jerusalem
where the
> players were technically top notch, but the New Orleans songs (song
> really, they didn't do the whole songs) only served as excuses for more
> modern jazz style solos. Only the first and last half a chorus was
> The show had none of the pizzazz of a traditional N.O. jazz performance.
> into each song you'd forget what song they were playing. Unless you were
> the technicalities of each soloist's abilities, you might as well have
> waiting for a bus. On the other hand, I get a lot of compliments about my
> Jazz Band even though two players are beginning students and the other two
> Russian and not veteran OKOM players, and I am new on the cornet, because
> we play might be elementary in technique, but in spirit it is probably
> closer to the original N.O. music than what a lot of pros are playing
> Similarly, I went last week to a brass quintet concert of American jazz
> classics. I think only one of the players was American. All of them were
> seasoned pro players with formal training. Again, the show was technically
> excellent, but there was something missing from the heart of the music
> didn't quite come across. I actually had one colleague comment that she
> the brass band schtick that I do at our annual folk music weekend retreat
> better -- and that's with 10-15 players who have had only 1 hour of
> and have otherwise never played before. Technique? There isn't any. Heart?
> 1000%. But people love it. When the bit was not on the original schedule
for the
> retreat this year, there was a groundswell of queries about "Where's the
> band?" and I was promptly contacted to verify that I would be there and do
> routine again.
> In other news, the Ministry of Jazz is about to launch a new venture -- a
> ensemble of our own. So far we have 3 trumpets (students) and me either on
> trumpet, or possibly trombone or F mellophone. If I can recruit another
> player, I'll go to tuba, and we'll have a relatively balanced combo. Our
> folk club has an Israeli duo coming that does the music of Simon and
> and we decided to take on the challenge of arranging "The Sound of
Silence" and
> "Bridge over Troubled Water" for ourselves and performing them as an
opening for
> the show. The performers eagerly accepted our offer. Other club members,
when I
> mentioned doing Simon and Garfunkel on 4 trumpets, they laughed, thinking
> we're talking "Simon and Garfunkel meet the Charge of the Light Brigade".
> they won't laugh when they hear it. Even at our current rehearsal level of
> loud and too slow, it sounds quite good.
> People have forgotten what real live acoustic music sounds like,
especially from
> horns. Talk about playing with heart and soul and spirit, you play a horn
> your own breath, and properly played, it becomes an extension of your
soul. Over
> here, in Hebrew, breath and soul are even the same word. So let's get out
> and blow their minds, and set them free from this synthesized,
> plastic pop music scene. I cannot fathom why people over here will pay
more for
> a DJ at their events than for a live band, but they do. Sure would like to
> them free from that business too.
> Elazar
> Doctor Jazz Band
> Jerusalem, Israel
> <www.israel.net/ministry-of-jazz>
> Tel: +972-2-679-2537
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Tim Eldred [mailto:julepjerk at surewest.net]
> > Please deliver me from sterile, technically-correct performances, and
let me
> > listen to those in which the performer has put a bit of his/her unique
> > into it.
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