A few notes on last night's jam session at Dos Gringos.
But first, please know that I won't be here for the next jam session. If
the jam "sessioners' want to get it together, feel free to use the comment
feature on this site to communicate, or use one of my previous emails to send to
everyone on the list. To comment on this weblog, you'll need a "TypeKey account
". It's free, and secure. It's needed so that this site doesn't get comment spam. Anyway, I hope you all still get together.
I was asked the age old question again last night, "what do you think of when
you're soloing." I've seen this answered many ways:
"try not to think"
"think when you practice, don't think while you perform"
"practice from the head, perform from the heart"
"play what you hear"
In my opinion, when I'm playing my best, it feels
It would be erroneous though to say, "I don't think of anything while
performing." I may not be trying to conjure up every chord/scale change,
but I am (again, when at my best) conscious of:
where I am in the form/structure of the tune (including the over-arching
plan of the tune... e.g. who played solos already, and who's next)
the idea that has occurred (and is occurring) to me related to the
chord/scale, phrasing, and overall composition of my improvisation
what others in the group are contributing to the improvisation
- the room (who's listening, what are the acoustics like)
I feel like if someone stopped me in the middle of the tune, I could verbally
account for each of those items listed above... that's what I mean by "being
conscious". It's different than thinking about what notes are correct or
not correct, whether or not I'm in tune, etc. Another way to state that
list is that (when I'm at my best) I know and am confident about the tune's
particulars (melody, harmony, rhythm), about how to execute ideas clearly over
the tune, and about what's appropriate given who I'm playing with, and where
I told everyone last night, that I'd like to hear more of the
" within your improvisations. When I hear you all playing, I
miss the melodic flow that chromatisism gives to the line. The bebop
scales are a great way to introduce that chromatisism, and along with it, some
meaningful direction in your lines.
Finally, please know that if I tell you something about what I hear (or don't
hear) in your playing, I mean it to be only constructive. I may be right,
or wrong in what I say to you, but that's for you to find out. I'd advise
that you just take it in (without quick judgment) and let it "bake". It'll
either stick, or it won't... and that'll prove it right or wrong.
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