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Richie Beirach on unnecessary ornamentation in improvisation

With audiobooks becoming more and more popular and with the recent addition of audiobooks to Spotify, I thought I should record my last book with Richie, Teaching and Learning Jazz, for an audiobook.

As I now read the book out loud for recording after the two years since writing it, I am reminded of the tremendous value of Richie’s experiences and insights. 

Early in the book, Richie tells six stories of important lessons he learned from mentors at the beginning of his professional career. The last story he tells is that of Manfred Eicher, the legendary ECM producer who taught Richie a valuable life-long lesson about improvising music. The following is a short segment from this upcoming audiobook narrated by me.

On a lesson learned from Manfred Eicher

This is a great example of my good fortune in publishing so many of Richie’s perspectives and experiences from which we can learn. “Don’t let the piano play you.” That is such remarkable advice for any musician.

Within the book Teaching and Learning Jazz Richie talks about other specific lessons he learned from Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Sonny Stitt, George Coleman, and others. He describes the master-apprentice method of masters handing down the knowledge of the craft to future masters and advice for what can and cannot be taught in the relatively recent proliferation of jazz studies in schools.

This lesson ties in perfectly with my own writing of how jazz seems to be evolving into style over substance. I’ve called this a caricature of jazz. In my view, the essence of any art is not about ornamentation, but rather about the soul of its expression. 

I recently gave myself a great exercise in this discipline as I recorded short improvisations that serve as examples within the play-along tracks from Groovz Playground. Whenever I caught myself going on autopilot playing my well-worn licks or runs from muscle memory, I stopped, hit ‘delete’, and recalibrated myself.

I’m recording and editing as quickly as I can in order to publish Teaching and Learning Jazz as a new audio book. My hope is that it will attract more people to hear the great experiences and wisdom from the great Richie Beirach!

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Cinematic @ 68 bpm
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This is just a fake book example for the type of website I can build for you. Just trying to use a little humor here!