So you REALLY think staring at chords helps you improvise better?

Learning to play jazz starts with the exploration of chords. You learn D minor to G7 to C major and all sorts of permutations of that progression and many others. Once you learn the theory of chords, you improvise over them using scales that are associated with each chord. Dorian, Mixolydian, Locrian, Diminished, Blues, and…

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Your mind plays jazz, not your instrument

This is a recurring theme to my writing, interview questions, books, and courses. As Hal Galper famously (to me at least) once said pointing to his head, “THIS is the real instrument we play.” He meant that improvisation comes from your musical mind, not from your instrument. I see evidence of this constently from myself…

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How self-discipline can make you a better jazz player

My book Self-Discipline Superpower is sparking some interesting conversations. Thank you to those who have added to that conversation. I’ve been thinking… There seems to be a connection between self-discipline and authentic (real, personal, true, etc.) jazz playing. I’ve been talking a lot recently (for years, actually) about the difference between playing notes and playing…

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Fun with drone tracks

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…

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How to use Jazz Patterns for Ear

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…

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Feedback on the Jazz Master Summit composition challenge

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?”…

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Can you use the internet to sustain a jazz career?

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…

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Randy Brecker on practicing during the COVID-19 lockdown

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…

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Richie Beirach's 10 essential tips for jazz mastery

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…

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