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 Post subject: improv
PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2006 11:46 pm 
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yeah, so my school's jazz band is an improv band.

what do you guys try to tap into when you improv?

i try to tap into the anger and suffering in myself to just flow out on piano.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 1:20 pm 
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i just go with the intensity of the backgrounds


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 5:30 pm 
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Flying bird wrote:
i just go with the intensity of the backgrounds


not really effective in my school's jazz band. I get a lot from a piano or dummer that comps well, but usually, I just let the nervousness of soloing out by actually soloing. that doesn't really make sense, but it makes me sound good =D


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 6:52 pm 
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it always make me sound as if im wrong . solos go by kinda fast hard to think correctly


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 8:57 pm 
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that's the thing though... if you think too much, you're already doing something wrong. the only intellectual thing you should be worrying about are the changes. and if you memorize those, then you don't even have to think about them. just let your ideas flow.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:53 am 
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what also pisses me off is that my jazz band has another pianist, and he stole my trademark of runny solos on piano that tend to hit streams of 32nd notes against around 120 bpm. :shock:

at least he doesn't know my technique and that i actually use a scale, so he'll never actually be able to mimic me :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 5:52 pm 
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ah improv.....
what do you tap into? you are what you listen to....
when I was your age, I was really into Herbie Hancock, Richard Tee and Bob James; I tried to cop a lot of their licks. at that time, I was already moving beyond pentatonic scales [blues scales] and modes [mainly dorian, lydian, and mixolydian] and started discovering bebop licks from horn players [I play sax, flute, and t-bone in addition to piano] like Dizzy, Bird, Art Pepper and Frank Rosolino. by the time I was 15, I was knee-deep into fusion like Chick Corea's Return to Forever, Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra; but I was still listening to funk and r&b like EWF, Ohio Players. fast shredding sounds cool, but after awhile it all sounds like a Kenny G exercise --- learn to say something with your solos; develop them - create a beginning, a middle, and an ending. that is always impressive.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:06 am 
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yeah, my first trumpet teacher taught me to shape your solo like a wave - it starts somewhere, rises, hits a climax, and then falls back down. that sounds really good.

I'm way into bebop right now. I love that triplet-sixteenth that is heard a lot in bop solos. SO versatile, and it's just satisfying to pop off for me =D


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:36 pm 
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I can't stand Herbie Hancock.

It's always good to just find the general key that you're working in. An interesting idea to keep in mind is that if you're not on the right note, you're only a half-step away from it.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:05 pm 
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Confederate Brass wrote:
I can't stand Herbie Hancock.

It's always good to just find the general key that you're working in. An interesting idea to keep in mind is that if you're not on the right note, you're only a half-step away from it.


At your age, I wouldn't expect you to be into cats like Herbie; back in the 70's, Herbie was a bad cat and a hell of an improviser and orchestrator. My son, a high school junior who plays bass, tuba and trombone, listens to guys like Les Claypool, Flea, and Oteil Burbridge [?] and a host of bands I've never heard. Yet he still raids my CD's for cats like Branford Marsalis, Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny and Chick Corea's Elektric Band. Most folks don't like what they can't comprehend.

As for your second statement, that's fine if a tune doesn't have too many changes. But you won't be able to get away with it on "Giant Steps" --- this tune demands that you play the changes, since there is no general key. Or most of the Jobim tunes whose tonal centers shift. Learn to play changes and you'll be better than the average players. The Jerry Coker and Jamey Aebersold books and tapes/CD's is a start; for really learning changes get The Goal Note Method for Jazz Improvisation by Shelton Berg, a great book w/CD that takes the mystery out of learning changes.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 1:38 pm 
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Couple words here... listen to Herbie Hancock's version of "Watermelon Man"... it's so badddd. It's several minutes of strange breathing noises before you even hear a non-rhythm instrument.

My tips were for beginning improvisers... learn the changes. Play enough scales to know exactly what each note sounds like, and then listen to the chords. Nevermind looking at the changes.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 4:52 pm 
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Quote:
Couple words here... listen to Herbie Hancock's version of "Watermelon Man"... it's so badddd. It's several minutes of strange breathing noises before you even hear a non-rhythm instrument.


LOL! That's the Headhunter's version of "Watermelon Man"; nose flute and beer bottle performed by my friend, master percussionist Bill Summers [you percussion types better school your horn brethren]. It's also a remake of his original version off the album "Takin' Off" which features Freddie Hubbard and Dexter Gordon [ask your teacher who these guys are]. Go and listen to the original first before you pass judgement. I stand by my statement that most cats don't dig what that they don't understand or comprehend. When Herbie remade "Watermelon Man" it was 1973: synthesizers were new, and musicians were rediscovering their African roots, hence the experimentation with orchestration. On a side note, this was about the time that Herbie did the score for the movie "Death Wish", which featured more of his orchestral leanings.

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My tips were for beginning improvisers... learn the changes. Play enough scales to know exactly what each note sounds like, and then listen to the chords. Nevermind looking at the changes.


Fair enough. But for young cats who yearn to be better on their chosen axe, my advice is just as valid. You might not take me seriously, but some other kid will, and will probably blow you away at the next festival. I do many jazz clinics with both high school and college kids, so I tend to treat them the same - it's usually the jazz band kids and the wind ensemble kids who have enough theory background to understand the stuff I teach. I want to see you guys play better, that's all.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2006 11:47 pm 
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when soloing do you guys find it easier to have the changes written down on paper or just play any note your finger decides to choose?

for some odd reason everytime i read the changes it sound worse then when i don't...


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:54 am 
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Know which scales fit with each chord and work from there. Learn the different kinds of minor scales, all the major scales, all of the modes, and the non-diatonic scales, but not just a chromatic scale. Most music that sounds pleasing to the Western ear is based upon scales.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:49 am 
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Flying bird wrote:
when soloing do you guys find it easier to have the changes written down on paper or just play any note your finger decides to choose?

for some odd reason everytime i read the changes it sound worse then when i don't...


Actually, writing out solos is a great idea when you're just starting out with improv; I know it goes against the spontaneity of it, but you're learning to organize ideas, motifs into the changes. The more you do it, the easier it gets---and as you progress, you'll be least likely to use your "cheat sheets". Remember, your goal as an improviser is to build a vocabulary of riffs and motiffs to draw from in addition to the scales and modes you learned. When I was in high school, I used to keep a notebook of cool licks and riffs I heard and transcribed---I'd try to learn them in as many keys as possible. I also made it a point to learn solos on instruments I don't play; for sax players, I recommend listening to guitar solos; for keyboardists, I recommend to listen to horn players---learning to breathe opens up phrases. Another place to find licks is in melodies you find in the Real Book---it's a common practice to "quote" other tunes in your solo. Most of all, PLAY! Have some fun with it...... 8-)

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