[Dixielandjazz] Jazz - The Spiritual Side vs. Technique - More

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at charter.net
Tue Dec 7 11:42:25 PST 2004

You said something about elementary players improvising.  Actually this
isn't bad because they are not influenced, I hope, by a lot of the musical
nonsense.  First of all there are some good beginning techniques that can be
used and taught.  first teach them that you have to hit a chord tone on the
beat and that usually but not always the next eighth note is a passing tone
between chord tones.  Teach them some basic classical musical ornaments like
turns, upper and lower neighbors, grace notes, trills and glissandos.  Then
the easiest I think and very effective is rhythmical improvisation.  An
example of this is the One Note Samba.  The first 16 bars or so is purely
rhythmical only two notes - very cool.  Now  apply these techniques to a
melody line that you know very well.  Start with upper and lower neighbors.
I was doing this in 5th grade but I didn't know what it was called and
applying different rhythms to tunes or licks.  Try building a solo on
triplets or part on triplets.  How about teaching line movement.  I like to
play solos on descending line but ascending and rise and falling line is
good too.  Then learn the blues scale in several keys. And don't forget
dynamic improvisation too.

Learn what the soloist should be doing.  Often there is a statement of the
theme (head) followed by improvisation and gradually bring the listener back
to the theme.  This doesn't have to be complicated, remember the KISS
principal. (Keep it simple stupid!)  Solos shouldn't be designed to lose the
listener.  Never try to impress your friends by playing more and faster
nonsense.  Lay back to where you can control what you are doing and are
doing it well.  If that's on a simple level so be it.  A solo that's played
with good tone and control will speak to the audience better than a solo
that is going into a melt down.  What good does it do you if you can run on
a tread mill faster than everyone else but you fall off every time?

I feel really bad when a young player tries to impress or out do me or
someone else or just clams.  If he does a good job at it then I will like it
no matter what he does and so will the audience.

This used to happen to me.  I let guys intimidate me and I wasn't ever able
to play well around them.  It took me years to figure out that when I was on
the stand away from these guys I did good and that they were doing this
intimidation thing purposely by looks, laughs, comments etc.  I played with
a very fine piano player in the AF Band that just loved to change keys or
chord progressions  in the middle of a solo and then go back leaving me off
in the wild blue yonder. He did it so well that sometimes I wasn't aware of
what he was doing. (another reason to tape what you do)  Bullies aren't just
on the school yard.  They exist in the musical community too.  When a
musician is intimidated they can't do a good job.  Where does this come
from?  Music is a highly competitive business and we are taught to compete
from day one for chairs, jobs, grades etc.  Everyone knows who is best in a
band.  There is a pecking order established very early.  That's what's
happening here.  It's all in your mind.  When you or your students quit
thinking second best there will be an overnight change in the way you and
they play.

Many years ago a pro musician who had become a teacher, with whom  I was
practice teaching. had observed me and commented on my playing.  He said
that I would never be a fast, technical musician and that I already had all
the technique that I needed but that I should concentrate on tone and
interpretation because this is what people identified with.  this was one of
the best musical advise that I ever got.

You can't skip basics.
----- 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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