Getting out of the improvisation box harmonically

This is the final part of a six-part series on why and how to expand beyond the narrow ranges of dynamics, notes, articulations, rhythms, and phrase lengths. Harmonic range is an important element of this series because most instruction on improvisation focuses almost exclusively on the scales within the diatonic harmony of the chords. In […]

Get out of the improvisation box of articulation range Part 3 of 6

This is part three in the series I am referring to as getting out of the box. There are so many aspects of playing that have a range of options like dynamics, note range, harmony, dynamics, etc. But if you find yourself limited to only a narrow range of these musical attributes, you’re stuck in […]

Getting out of the box of dynamic range Part 2 of 6

In part two of this six-part series of getting yourself out of the box in your improvisation, I want to discuss dynamic range. When I refer to “the box”, I am talking about the limits young or less experienced improvisers find themselves in regarding musical attributes such as note range, articulation, harmony, and in this […]

Get out of the improvisation box Part 1 of 6

What is the improvisation box, are you in one, and how do you get out? The box refers to the limits that younger and less experienced improvisers play within. Those limitations make their playing sound less musical and they dull the emotional impact instead of their playing sounding fresh and expressive. I’ll identify six types […]

Resolving a musical tug of war

I received an email the other day from a jazz player trying to know how best he should be practicing.  I want to provide a public version of my answer so that if you are in a similar quandary, you might untangle it for yourself. The person writing me called it his tug of war. In […]

How to put more swing into your playing

I enjoy writing about this topic. After all, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing! I ask myself the question: why do some jazz players swing and others don’t? While everyone’s flavor of rhythm and swing is different, why don’t more musicians swing–really swing? Let’s start at the top: what is […]

The illusion of ego-less jazz

I was recently party to a heated email conversation between two very famous jazz teachers/players who hold polar opposite views on how one becomes proficient in learning to improvise jazz.  I want to share with you clues I found in the writing of one of them that uncover a fundamental mistake. It’s an error in […]

Answering a question about Stranger in a Strange Land

After returning from vacation, I wrote an article showing the relationship to the treatment of language in Robert Heinlein’s masterpiece, “Stranger in a Strange Land.” It seemed to have made an impression on readers and attracted a lot of comments.

The magic of learning the language of jazz

I returned yesterday from two glorious weeks of eating, drinking, swimming, reading, photographing, drone flying, and sleeping in the Bahamas. One week on Paradise Island and another on an exceptionally beautiful and peaceful Island called Eleuthera was enough to recharge my batteries for the foreseeable future. One of the books I read on this vacation […]

Michael Brecker on one’s individual sound

A friend sent me a link to a YouTube video with Michel Brecker talking about different topics as part of what looked like a panel discussion. The entire video is: https://youtu.be/Ah0f34pWrSQ I thought I’d highlight one short segment for you. At the very end, he spoke briefly about being comfortable with one’s own unique sound, warts […]

Frank Rosolino ‘sheds’ Round Midnight and Invitation with Lou Levy

This very rare recording is truly a treasure. It was shared with me by Barry Kierce who received it years ago from Rick Blanc, a well-known and beloved New York/Los Angeles-based bass trombone player who spent much of his earlier career in Europe. This is a “fly on the wall” recording of Frank and pianist Lou Levy […]

Musicians: getting over stage fright

Richie Beirach and I are about to release our new book called Teaching and Learning Jazz. As a promotion for the book’s release, we will give away as a bonus our first book called A Framework for Jazz Mastery. But we wanted to provide more with our new book, so we added a chapter to […]