What made Miles Davis a great band leader?

By Michael Lake | August 23, 2020 |

Dave Liebman and I are finishing a book called The Art of Skill. The book contains Dave’s advice on becoming a better jazz player, biographical reflections, and thoughts on how one goes about finding their own unique musical voice. The book consists of edited conversations between Dave and me, updated articles and talks by Dave,…

Playing tunes in 12 keys?

By Michael Lake | August 22, 2020 |

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the idea of playing tunes in alternative keys as a method for learning to improvise. I am on an email distribution involving dozens of well-known jazz masters and the other day we all received an email written by one of those musicians who is also a top jazz…

New thinking about books

By Michael Lake | August 8, 2020 |

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – de Saint-Exupéry Richie Beirach and I published our first soft cover book last week titled A Framework for Jazz Mastery. In that first week we sold far more than we anticipated. Thank you! We…

How to use Jazz Patterns for Ear

By Michael Lake | June 30, 2020 |

Ever since the Jazz Master Summit, a lot more people are using Jazz Patterns for Ear. Because it is such a different book, people have been asking a lot of questions regarding how it works. This book/method is the polar opposite of any pattern book you’ve seen. The patterns are NOT designed to be memorized…

Feedback on the Jazz Master Summit composition challenge

By Michael Lake | June 30, 2020 |

I’ve received a few emails since announcing the winner of the Billy Strayhorn composition challenge asking about the selection criteria and why personalized feedback wasn’t provided. It’s understandable that people would like some closure to the competition other than simply knowing who won. “Why didn’t I win?” “What was the criteria for choosing the winner?”…

Can you use the internet to sustain a jazz career?

By Michael Lake | May 25, 2020 |

This post is a response to a specific thread shared by some musicians on the fate of jazz and the result of so much now being free on the internet. This is a vitally important topic and one on I wish to share my thoughts, using my current internet project as an example of one…

What you do with your brain is ten times more important than what you do with your instrument

By Michael Lake | April 17, 2020 |

I had the pleasure this week of speaking via Zoom to the brass students and professors at Arizona State University. Thank you to Brad Edwards for thinking a little outside the box by inviting me and for setting it all up. In his invitation to everyone, Brad highlighted the book I wrote with Dr. Rodney…

Randy Brecker on practicing during the COVID-19 lockdown

By Michael Lake | April 9, 2020 |

I remember sitting in the back of a large music classroom at the University of Redlands in California almost three years ago. Jiggs Wigham was talking about all things trombone at that year’s International Trombone Festival. Jiggs said something early on that has stuck with me ever since. He said, “I hate to practice.” I…

Richie Beirach's 10 essential tips for jazz mastery

By Michael Lake | April 2, 2020 |

I’ve had the honor over the past few months of getting to know the great jazz pianist, Richie Beirach. Richie’s best friend, Dave Liebman, introduced us after I interviewed Dave for the Jazz Master Summit event and then asked him to help me reach out to Richie to do the same. As I would soon…

The art of living in troubled times

By Michael Lake | March 28, 2020 |

I received an email today from a musician friend who is having a very hard time of things right now. He’s far from the only one, but his emotional outpouring of sorrow and hopelessness inspired me to share my belief in what I’m calling the art. The art of living in times of dark clouds…