Fun with drone tracks

By Michael Lake | March 19, 2021 |

I enjoy crafting harmony tracks with which to practice. They are not usually jazz, but instead are more ethereal. Here’s one I like because the harmony slowly becomes more complex and ear-stretching. Things to do with them: Sing some scales and melodies over it in order to get your ear in tune With your instrument…

Three things you should stop doing right now if you want to become an accomplished jazz player

By Michael Lake | March 17, 2021 |

The metronome is okay for young kids trying to practice beginner shit like five-finger little piano pieces or first attempts at trying to play scales, but for a jazz player, it’s very counterproductive. Practicing time with a metronome gives the jazz player a false sense of time. Jazz time is much more flexible than strict…

Is the alto trombone a transposing instrument?

By Michael Lake | March 16, 2021 |

I am often asked this question and I’m not sure I’ve ever given a satisfactory answer, at least one that satisfies aspiring alto trombone players. So let me take another whack at it. The fundamental of the alto is Eb but it is considered a concert instrument. Remember that the tenor trombone is a concert…

Why can you only play music that’s written on the page?

By Michael Lake | March 15, 2021 |

This question was asked of me recently by a musician whom I believe is a classical player. It’s a great question, one that I get a lot, and probably on the minds of hundreds of thousands of musicians-jazz or otherwise. Here’s a sample of comments I’ve received just over the past couple of weeks that…

Audiobook excerpt from A Framework for Jazz Mastery

By Michael Lake | March 11, 2021 |

Last year, Richie Beirach and I published the book, A Framework for Jazz Mastery. I knew once we released it, I would want to create an audiobook version of it. It took some time, but I’ve finished the narration are we are almost ready to submit it to the audiobook platforms. Richie and I wrote…

My new project with Richie Beirach

By Michael Lake | March 3, 2021 |

Since my interview with Richie Beirach for the Jazz Master Summit more than a year ago, we’ve collaborated on a great many writing projects for books and articles. The loss to the poor students at the Mendlesohn School of Jazz in Leipzig is my gain. Richie’s retirement from the Mendlesohn School mandated by German law…

Salsa with Caribbean Express

By Michael Lake | February 28, 2021 |

I recorded an interview last week with the great trombonist Conrad Herwig. If you don’t play trombone, and don’t know Conrad, he is one of the very few trombone players who has played with Miles, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Richie Beirack, Dave Liebman, the Brecker Brothers, Jack deJohnette, and a long list of other true…

Is jazz in danger of becoming a caricature of itself?

By Michael Lake | February 23, 2021 |

I was forwarded a YouTube link yesterday of a young musician playing John Coltrane’s solo from Giant Steps note for note. He was a technically proficient player who obviously had worked hard to get each of Trane’s difficult phrases under his fingers. But after watching it and thinking of the many similar online imitations of…

How to get started with jazz improvisation

By Michael Lake | February 21, 2021 |

I received an email this morning from an enthusiastic sax player struggling to get better at playing jazz. He has started working with my book Jazz Patterns for Ear and wrote, “After playing the exercises in the book, I played a standard tune and immediately felt closer to the things I was playing”. He said…

Some remembrances of Chick Corea by friends and colleagues

By Michael Lake | February 18, 2021 |

The world was shocked on February 9th, when we lost Chick Corea. I was on a couple of email threads the next day from reading some remembrances of Chick from people who knew him. With their permission, I will share a few. From Monika Herzig, author of the book Experiencing Chick Corea: A Listener’s Companion…