Remembering Bill Evans on September 15

Richie Beirach called me today and after our friendly banter, told me that in Germany it was September 15th. “Do you know that 40 years ago today, Bill Evans passed?” “No”, I said with a small amount of shame. “Well, you should write something about it in your blog”, he told me. We discussed it…

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Is jazz improvisation hard?

I saw this question online recently. The number of results for this question on Google is 6.1 million so it’s worth answering. Is jazz improvisation hard?¬† YES. There are two forms of jazz soloing. One form is comprised of stringing together scales, arpeggios, memorized licks, and patterns in order to skillfully weave notes over the…

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How to learn jazz improvisation

Jazz improvisation is similar to many skills that benefit from starting off with good habits and the right foundation. Here are three activities you can do to begin improvising with greater skill and more confidence. 1. Train your ear The foundational skill of a jazz player is to play his or her instrument with the…

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The four stages of learning applied to jazz improvisation

Explanations of behaviors abound with quadrants. My favorite, of which many others are based on is the 1. Expressive, 2. Amiable, 3. Analytical, 4. Driver quadrant. We all have dominant parts of our personality that fall into these quadrants, usually more than one. The quadrant I want to explore here is the one that describes…

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Dave Brubeck’s true genius

Richie Beirach sent me a Youtube recording of him, George Mraz, and Al Foster playing Dave Brubeck’s In Your Own Sweet Way. I wrote back asking Richie about Brubeck. In truth, I haven’t listened to him much. Watch the video of Richie’s trio playing In Your Own Sweet Way Richie later wrote me this sweet…

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Ron Carter on how he’s practicing right now

I interviewed Ron Carter yesterday for the next Jazz Master Summit. He was gracious and full of insight. We spoke on a variety of topics, not the least of which was that second Miles quintet and how they did what they did on stage as well as their preparation for recordings. Early on, Ron told…

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One way you will stop yourself from improvising well or at all

Researchers have identified two kinds of mindset. One, they call “Fixed” and the other, they call”Growth”. As you can imagine, they are polar opposites and have the power to determine the fate of your life. Now, if that is too dramatic for you, let’s say that those two mindsets affect how you improvise jazz. Better?…

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The Creative Genius of Billy Strayhorn free eBook by Richie Beirach

This is a short eBook highlighting the life and music of Billy Strayhorn. These are the thoughts of Richie Beirach as someone¬† admittedly influenced by Billy and considers him to be one of the iconic composers in jazz. This piece came about because of the composition competition during the Summer 2020 Jazz Master Summit. Our…

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