Jazz isn’t dead and it doesn’t smell funny either!

Some idle moments surfing YouTube proved to be not so idle when I came across this wonderful performance from Oscar Peterson and Clark Terry…

The unbridled joy of this playing provoked a deep response… All this talk about the death of jazz, oh dear.

It’s time for a reality check and an appointment with our hearts rather than the opinion formers. Can we seriously witness these artists creating such joy and then yield to a musical nihilism? I must chose my words carefully, but can’t suppress the thought that the so-called death of jazz is just a version of “it will never be the same”. Sure, on one level it won’t, Oscar, Bird, Louis, Miles, ‘Trane et al have passed, but might we be confusing the natural passing of time and evolution of an art-form with another perspective – that the essential characteristics of the music are archetypal and therefore timeless? As archetypal qualities (or indeed Platonic Absolutes), joy, swing, groove, pathos and so on can be accessed by every generation of artists, so long as we don’t overly distract ourselves with pity, or dare I say it – vanity.

This is a tad candid, but is there not something wrong when we can’t be inspired by a fully realised expression of joy, whatever the genre, location or date? For the record, in 1959 Panassie and Gautier’s Dictionary of Jazz, 1959 stated that bebop had been “wrongly described as jazz” (page 36). Lets quit our embarrassment and renew our love with this music.

These clips are good too…

American jazz educator Charlie Banacos – quotes and more

I was surfing the website of David Valdez and came across the tributes to and Ph.D about the American jazz educator Charlie Banacos. This man was a very significant figure and worth investigating if like me, you are unaware of his work (see CasaValdez for more information)… Just for starters some of the saying attributed to him:
“If you play with your fingers, you’re dead”
“The fingers are passive”
“The body doesn’t want to stop”
“The body doesn’t like angles”
“Row the boat”
“You feel like a diver by the side of a pool, ready to jump”
“Play with your arms, not your fingers”
“Of course it’s difficult; that’s why they call it an etude”
“Ear training—it’s Zen, not Aristotelian”
“Gain purchase”
“Don’t measure” (as you practice ear training—hear it all at once)
“Piano technique—it’s Aristotelian, not Zen”
“Each note has its own shape as it goes by, like you’re driving by the planets”
“Keep your fingers near the keys, and don’t be afraid to raise your wrist”
“Don’t change the exercises”
“It’s a coordination problem”
“Just because you don’t speak like MLK doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk”
“Think of the numbers, not hand positions”
“Circles, Squares, Triangles -separate them” i.e. one idea after the next, not on top”
“Plan your practicing, or you will be overwhelmed”
“Use all the tensions on the lines; use all the figurations for each voicing”
“It doesn’t matter what finger you use”
“Think like a drummer, using space and range”
“Close your eyes and sit in the audience watching and listening”
“Re: sight reading—it’s a craft, not an art”
“Oh, and do it in all twelve keys.” Kill!
“Divisive rhythm/additive rhythm”
“Elephant with a stick in his trunk” (using it as a guide as you walk/play).
“He’s [insert name here e.g. Mingus, Jerry B. etc.] whacked, but he can play”
“Deep into the keys” (toward the center of the earth and toward the fallboard)

Apparently, he also would stress the following…
“It’s not technique, its timing” —Oscar Peterson
“Practice without accents” —Oscar Peterson
“The body is a rock; the arms are snakes” —Claudio Arrau
“All notes are ‘up’ notes” —Martha Argerich
“Feel the Ground” —Anton Rubinstein
“It’s all about circles” —Chick Corea
“Think of elephants, giraffes and hippos as you play” —Bill Evans
“C fingerings in all keys” —Franz Liszt
“Giant Steps solo in all keys” —George Coleman
“Music is Technique”—Nadia Boulanger
“Practice for the performance” —Chick Corea
“You must be a good draftsman before you can be a great painter” —Bill Evans
“Practicing is pushing a wall—you wake up the next day the wall has moved” —Bill Evans
“Don’t force the keys” —Art Tatum (to Red Garland)
“Each time is different”—Artur Schnabel, upon practicing the same phrase 200 times
“Three hours before breakfast” —Mike Stern
“Enslavement to the notation” —Craig Taubman
“Nothing difficult about it—just hit the right keys at the right time” —J.S. Bach
“You can’t be unhappy and be learning something new at the same time” —Merlin

They Think It’s All Over – not quite…. Geoff Simkins (and Dave Cliff) at Oliver’s tonight – plus sitting in

Last night of “Not the Olympics” at Oliver’s featuring Geoff Simkins

Geoff Simkins

Don’t let appearances deceive you. This one time drummer may have made early appearances with Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra and the Temperance Seven and his principal stylistic influences have been the American alto player Lee Konitz and tenor player Warne Marsh. However, according to the great British free improvisor Alex Maguire, Geoff Simkins is the “most free improvisor” that he has heard (and Alex played with Tony Oxley!).

Geoff has played in all parts of the UK, in Europe and beyond, often with American musicians such as  Art FarmerBobby Shew, Al Cohn, Tal FarlowSlide Hampton, Warren Vache, Al GreyKenny Davern, Bill Berry, Al CaseyHoward AldenRuby Braff, Bill Coleman and Conte Candoli. He has recorded with UK tenor player Danny Moss and with US trumpeters Billy Butterfield and Yank Lawson. Since the 1980s he has worked regularly with UK guitarist Dave Cliff and his current quartet features Nikki Iles, Martin France and Simon Wolf.

Geoff is also a highly respected teacher at various conservatoires and summer schools but apart from the delight of hearing his insights into all forms of improvisation, it is his attention to the in the moment narrative of line that make musicians of all genres pay attention. Having played with and listened to Geoff for nearly 30 years I can say that his apporach transcends genre and challenges all co-improviors to raise their game and critically, their aesthetic.

I think that Geoff’s understated but powerful wit would have it that in fact he would prefer that appearances might indeed deceive and for once the integrity of the improvising be the principal point of connection for artist and listener. So no glitter or latex tonight, instead, regardless of genre and the the listeners’ projections, tonight’s music will be very much improvised!

There might also be a special guest appearance by Dave Cliff!

Oliver’s is here… click here for directions

Enjoy.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Finally a big thank you to all who have braved public transport and public shame by bucking the trend and electing to opt for jazz in place of medals during the Olymics. Well done!

Lennie Tristano’s legacy is at Oliver’s tonight

Tonight’s featured artists are Martin Speake and Pete Hurt.

In some folks’ minds, Lennie Tristano is arguably the most under-rated and unappreciated artists and innovators in the history of jazz. Tonight, the unsung genius is celebrated by two similarly undervalued British musicians – Pete Hurt and Martin Speake.Although Martin Speake is (unusually) visible in this mini-season at Olivers, like so many British artists, he and Pete Hurt have been refining their art and craft for decades, enjoying exposure and public recognition far too infrequently. Even allowing for Martin’s recordings for ECM records (with Bob Stenson and Paul Motian) and the respect in which Pete’s writing and improvisatory authority is held, they are both absurdly neglected by the jazz community, media and press.Lennie Tristano (1919 – 1978) developed an approach to improvisation that while informed by bebop and earlier styles, is much more than a style in itself and continues to shape and inform approaches of musicians today – check out Mark Turner et al. Tonight’s music will certainly feature Lennie’s lines but also feature the improvisational voices of the musicians themselves. A rare opportunity to hear rare music, played by rare (as in special) musicians!

Tomorrow night : “Amsterdam after Dark” – music associated with George Coleman, with Martin Speake, Simon Purcell, Gene Calderazzo and Amy Baldwin

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Join the bankers, start fiddling – with Joe Townsend @ Oliver’s tonight

Tonight’s featured artist is Joe Townsend.

My very good friend and and colleague at Trinity-Laban, Joe Townsend is probably the most versatile musician I know. A jazz violinist, composer, collaborator and “world Musician” in the proper sense (i.e. a genuine expert as opposed to the dabbler), Joe in at as home in Bluegrass as Bebop,  Hot Club or Balkan. Tonight’s ensemble will be typically collaborative and features the revered percussionist Dawson Miller. Not to be missed.

Tomorrow night : The Music of Lennie Tristano – Pete Hurt, Martin Speake, Callum Gourlay and Jon Scott

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Women took the Bastille – now get into Greenwich and to Oliver’s

Tonight’s featured artist is Mark Lockheart.

The shopkeepers, restauranteurs and jazz lovers of Greenwich defy LOCOG and assert their right to “group improvised music played on sequential harmony in time” (GIMPOSHIT).

 

Mark Lockheart is not only a very old friend and co-consiprator in a number of musical settings dating back to 1979, but clearly one of the most distinctive and creative musicians on the current British music scene. As a saxophonist and composer, his work often defies categorisation and crosses the boundaries of the jazz, new music and folk worlds. “Lockheart is a consummate saxophonist and a original and versatile composer” The Rough Guide to Jazz. Do please check Mark’s website, click here…

I would like to write more about Mark, (hence the reference to his website)but tonight’s gig has been somewhat overshadowed by the plight of businesses in Greenwich. As you are aware from the news, business is bad all over London. On our scene there were just 6 punters at the 606 last Sunday and Ronnie’s sent out an email last night entitled “The West End is a ghost town”. More specifically, Greenwich has been on the national news due to the plight of shop keepers, restauranteurs and the market traders who are really suffering, see below:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-19067764
www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/london-2012/9445421/London-2012-Traders-near-Olympic-venue-bemoan-lack-of-business.html
www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Ghost-town-London-businesses-bemoan-Olympic-slump-3753960.php

So much for the Olympics creating an economic boom for Britain. I really enjoyed what I saw of the opening ceremony but while I am a sports fan and massively behind any active participatory initiatives, we always knew that regular folk were never going to benefit financially from the Olympics. Catering workers and hotel staff across London continue to work for the minimum wage, there is no realistic improvement in job prospects for the inhabitants of East London and now the leisure industry is crippled by the restrictions imposed by corporate interests or incompetent short-sightedness of the planners. I have a friend who works for the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority). In May he informed me that a “host borough” had yet to complete its traffic plans. Can you believe it? Judging by the lack of forethought regarding the impact upon local businesses, nothing should surprise us.

But… on a positive note… Tonight Oliver’s will present more great music. Be different, please be different, defy the norm, turn off the telly, make a choice on behalf of lasting value, face the challenge and get your butt to Oliver’s!

Tomorrow night : Joe Townsend

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Chick Corea and Gary Burton turn to Greenwich for Fashion, Jazz… and Nadatar

Tonight’s featured band is Simon Purcell’s “Nadatar”.

Tonight’s band “Nadatar” is a reformation of a group from some time ago (a quartet with the alto saxophonist Mike Williams, bassist Ricardo Dos Santos and drummers Dave Wickins or Tom Gordon as well as the reclusive but brilliant trumpeter Paul Edmond). Now regrouped with Julian Siegel (saxophones), plus Tom Farmer and Shane Forbes from “Empirical”, the music is swinging modern jazz, very much inspired by Branford Marsalis et al.

People expend a lot of energy asserting opinions as to validity of various styles/genres of jazz. The reference points in tonight’s music will be obvious and clear to any jazz lover (bebop, the modal thing, the blues, complex and simple forms), but while fads come and go, it is ok to revisit and re-form good ideas. Nobody ever told Cannonball Adderley or B.B. King not to play the blues!

Tomorrow night: Mark Lockheart with the Simon Purcell trio

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Miles is hangin’ at Oliver’s with Tom Farmer, Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes

Tonight’s featured artists are Tom Farmer, Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes.

MOBO Jazz Awards winners Tom Farmer, Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes form part of the new wave of outstanding improvisational voices emerging in London at present. Already established in Britain and abroad, the really great thing about these guys is not only their artistry and the power and voice of their band “Empirical” (with vibraphonist Lewis Wright) but the fact that they also appreciate and celebrate the origins of jazz. Whatever music they play, it is always informed by the tradition and vocal and rhythmic qualities of the music. We’re not sure just how much tonight’s music will be derived from the Empirical pad, but it will offer an important glimpse of where the music is going to be going in the hands of these three masterful improvisors.

Tomorrow night Simon Purcell’s “Nadatar” with Julian Siegel, Tom Farmer and Shane Forbes

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Oliver’s is Ab Fab – Patsy says get down there, it’s Anita Wardell!

Tonight’s featured artist is Anita Wardell.

Anita Wardell is one of the world’s leading, improvising jazz vocalists. Although journalists will rightly promote her authority as a scat singer, the sheer virtuosity of her bebop informed lines is only part of her artistry. As Norma Winstone pointed out, Neet’s singing communicates not only bravura but tenderness and vulnerability, and an exceptional ability to engage the listener in ballads. So tonight, expect not only fizz, fun and pazzazz but also beauty, and to be touched.

Tomorrow night Tom Farmer, Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes.

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

The Genius of Don Byas

Don Byas and Slam Stewart – “I Got Rhythm” in 1945, one of my all time favourites.

The great British saxophonist Stan Robinson played a cassette recording of Don Byas and Slam Stewart playing ‘I Got Rhythm” and “Indiana” (in Ab and G) on the way to a gig at the Bull’s Head 20 years ago and I couldn’t believe it. Besides being so spirited and joyful (the guys are clearly having fun), it is incredibly hip, sophisticated, bloody clever, funny and way ahead of its time.

The next day I rushed to Dobell’s where, despite some quizzical comments about me being a moderninst and Don Byas probably not being my thing, one of the staff scuttled excitedly round the shop to find this treasured recording. I remember lending a recording to a very young Tim Garland who transcribed it in a day (clever bugger) and then played it with a modern set up. It sounded very “contemporary”.

Either Stan Robinson (go and hear Stan – he’s a jazz encyclopaedia) or Peter King told me a story that Bird once disappeared suddenly, while playing in Paris. The band were worried, thinking that he may have fallen foul of dodgy gear and even began to look for him in back alleys. Three days later he appeared, beaming and full of the joys of life. Still concerned they asked him where he’d been. Bird happily explained that he had taken a walk and by chance arrived at a railway station where he saw that there were trains from Paris to Copenhagen. On the spur of the moment he took the train! “Why?” they asked. “To have a saxophone lesson with Don Byas” was Bird’s reply! Beautiful.

Stan’s gig at the Bull will have been great but this recording has stayed with me ever since. I have used it in classes as an exemplar not only of a joyful expression of absolute linear authority but also the innovation and daring that was occurring during the cusp between swing and bop. The response from students and colleagues and friends is always one of astonishment (as with Lennie’s “Line Up”). I continue to think that it is beautiful and I have 2 copies of the LP!

(Ethan Iverson has kindly posted his transcription at  http://dothemath.typepad.com/)

Sun Ra says – “Go To Oliver’s – it’s Martin Speake!”

“Not the Olympics” @ Oliver’s Day 3 Martin Speake Trio with Dave Green and Gene Calderazzo.

Sun Ra says “go to Oliver’s”

Do as Sun Ra advises and drag yourself away from the television and check out the scene at Oliver’s in Greenwich.

Tonight’s featured artist is Martin Speake.
Martin is the first person to acknowledge and celebrate his wide range of influences from Bird and Paul Motian to Indian Music (note his collaborations with Indian musicians Dharambir Singh and Sarvar Sabri) but tonight as always, Martin’s music will be both lyrical and highly improvised. It will also be a wonderful opportunity to hear the great bass player Dave Green who has literally played with everybody from including all the great British artists – Michael Garrick, Don Rendell, Stan Tracey, Ian Carr, Phil Seaman, through to Harry Edison, Sonny Rollins and Roland Kirk.

Enjoy.

For full listing of the entire season, click here… Tomorrow night Malcolm Earle-Smith Sings…

“Not the Olympics” @ Oliver’s – Second Night of Sixteen!

“Not the Olympics” Special Season at Oliver’s… now up and running

Not the Olympics Season at Oliver’s

Saturday July 28th is Day 2 of the 2 weeks of gigs at “Not the Olympics” at Oliver’s. A second gig tonight with my own band with Julian Siegel, Chris Batchelor, Gene Calderazzo and Amy Baldwin. The mini-season, coinciding with the London Olympics (am I allowed to say that?) features some great artists in a range of interesting settings including Martin Speake, Mark Lockheart, the guys from Empirical (Tom Farmer, Nat Facey and Shaney Forbes), Pete Hurt, improvising vocalist Anita Wardell, the incredible lines of Geoff Simkins, the “fine chap” that is Malcolm Earle-Smith and an evening of world-jazz with Joe Townsend and Dawson Miller – not to be missed. For full listings please click here…

Hope to see you at one/some of the gigs – Don’t miss tomorrow (Sunday) with Martin Speake, Dave Green and Gene Calderazzo

If Music be the Food of Love…

If Music be the Food of Love, a response to Phil’s Robson’s FaceBook post.

Kate Williams is right in her comments on Phil Robson’s original post, it is definitely a political issue. It is a matter of values, and as artists we are in the “values business”. We assign so much of our energy and intention towards an ideal, a version or subtle representation of life so clearly at odds with the value system of the corporate world and the mass collective narcissistic neurosis of celebrity.

I have thought for many years that as human beings we possess a primal impulse towards creativity, artfulness and spirituality, as much our need for shelter, relationship and sexuality. Indeed, the signs of the collective creative and expressive impulse are ubiquitous, humanity’s need to create constantly revealing itself all around us.

Creativity and artfulness are natural states. When suppressed people become ill. When suppressed for long enough, communities and society becomes ill (read the research). The Spanish philosopher Jose Arguelles wrote: “When a man is deprived of the power of expression, he will express himself in a drive for power.” It is counter to our natural state and emotional health that hoards of artists are not only unknown but under-employed, while the need for more creativity in schools is obvious for all to see (not just in art and music but in the license afforded to creative teaching across the curriculum). And then there is the workplace and popular culture… The crime is that creative talent is as common as sand yet the dominant economic, social and political paradigm would have us believe that it is as scarce as gold. Actually, it is expedient in the post-capitalist world. (American theologian Matthew Fox had contributed insights on the subject during the 1980s.)

Phil’s points about Spotify are straightforward. Free or dirt-cheap listening makes music a “free-gift disposable consumable” that can be discarded in favour of another quick/free fix. Notwithstanding the argument about free access to great music, Music is now commoditised to such an extent and consumed as automatically as junk food, listening habits and purchasing behaviours vulnerable to extensive manipulation the market. I prefer to see quality music in the same way as quality food in that:
• It can take longer to prepare.
• It can require an investment in time and commitment on behalf of both performer and listener.
• It might take longer to digest!
• It can be (generally is) better for you (food for the soul). There is much research about creative activity and improved psychological well-being, reduction in mental illness, improved immune-systems etc.

I admire Phil for taking a stand on these matters and wish that the musical community had the confidence to support and actively promote the discussion. Couldn’t we take a more collective position on behalf of music? The irony is that very few musicians make a lot of money from music in any case, and the argument that free downloads promote the sale of merchandise at large scale or stadium gigs is hardly relevant for improvising musicians. Perhaps we have nothing to lose by reflecting and proposing some alternative practices – together. It won’t work otherwise.

There’s more comment here… www.facebook.com/simon.purcell.313

Words of Wisdom from Greg Osby

Besides being one of the linear innovators in jazz, Greg Osby shares some wise words about being a jazz musician in these times. He touches on operating as an artist independently of major labels, referring to his experience with Jack DeJohnette, Dizzy, Woody Shaw etc. He explains why there is a need to set up your own scene, the importance of using of the internet “while it is still free” communication, the myths of hype, being a true artist, the importance of complexity maintaining beauty and so on…
Greg Osby is appearing with Michael Janisch and Aruan Ortiz in London at the Pizza Express in Dean Street on Friday 11 November 2011 click here…

Thelonious Monk on How to Play Jazz

Everybody has their opinion about how to play the music. Monk was a one-off, a totally individual and realised artist, but he thought about it, in his own way too. This manuscript is freely available on the web (I found it at Sean Driscoll’s excellent blog - check it out). Makes a change from chords and scales…

  • Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.
  • Pat your foot and sing the melody in your head, when you play.
  • Stop playing all those weird notes (that bullshit), play the melody!
  • Make the drummer sound good.
  • Discrimination is important.
  • You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?
  • ALL REET!
  • Always know….(MONK)
  • It must be always night, otherwise they wouldn’t need the lights.
  • Let’s lift the band stand!!
  • I want to avoid the hecklers.
  • Don’t play the piano part, I’m playing that. Don’t listen to me. I’m supposed to be accompanying you!
  • The inside of the tune (the bridge) is the part that makes the outside sound good.
  • Don’t play everything (or every time); let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don’t play can be more important that what you do.
  •  A note can be small as a pin or as big as the world, it depends on your imagination.
  • Stay in shape! Sometimes a musician waits for a gig, and when it comes, he’s out of shape and can’t make it.
  • When you’re swinging, swing some more.
  • (What should we wear tonight? Sharp as possible!)
  • Always leave them wanting more.
  • Don’t sound anybody for a gig, just be on the scene. These pieces were written so as to have something to play and get cats interested enough to come to rehearsal.
  • You’ve got it! If you don’t want to play, tell a joke or dance, but in any case, you got it! (To a drummer who didn’t want to solo)
  • Whatever you think can’t be done, somebody will come along and do it. A genius is the one most like himself.
  • They tried to get me to hate white people, but someone would always come along and spoil it.

Sonny Rollins’ letter to Coleman Hawkins

Do read this, a touching letter from Sonny Rollins to Coleman Hawkins in 1962 (from the website www.jazzclef.com). The greatest players possess not only self-discipline and powers of concentration, but generally, great humility.

A treasure… Bob Cornford

Do visit this website, dedicated to the late Robert (Bob) Cornford… click here. Besides being a tribute to one of Britain’s unsung artists, the site is an invaluable resource of British jazz from the late 1970s and early 1980s, music that was so influential for my own generation of musicians.

I was lucky enough to have known Bob.

Shock, horror, Bill Evans records “Nardis” 41 times! (learning tunes properly…)

Shock horror – jazz genius recorded “Nardis” 41 times (as far as we know)…
I wonder why? Perhaps he wanted to go deeper.

I have heard many famous jazz musicians advocating the necessity to learn a lot of repertoire. Nameless esteemed artist number one recently encouraged students to know at least 100 tunes, while esteemed artist number two advocated just 20 – and that some musicians are just “tune nerds” (not very helpful).

Number two misses the deeper and more useful point which is about and memory and the challenge to be thorough enough in our practice so that song-forms present as few problems as necessary, while we deal with the principal issues of improvising and expression. Many aspiring jazz musicians struggle with the repetition required in order to internalise, often losing focus and moving their attention to another new tune, the next good idea or something they have heard at a gig or on Spotify. it is worth noting that Bill Evans recorded “Nardis” at least 40 times, and quite possibly played it on most gigs. I encourage you to welcome the sensation of boredom with a form, and see it instead as indication of the right time to go deeper.

Click here for a practice strategy for learning tunes – thoroughly and usefully.

Paul Desmond, a master mind and wit: some thoughts for a New Year

A poet of the music, Paul Desmond was both self-deprecating and deeply insightful. This medley of quotes might tickle and provoke us…
“I tried practicing for a few weeks and ended up playing too fast… I have won several prizes as the world’s slowest alto player, as well as a special award in 1961 for quietness”.
Regarding his tone:“I honestly don’t know! It has something to do with the fact that I play illegally.”
On why he changed his name: “Breitenfeld sounded too Irish.”

More seriously, Paul Desmond challenges students and teachers of the music: “Complexity can be a trap. You can have a ball developing a phrase, inverting it, playing it in different keys and times and all. But it’s really more introspective than communicative. Like a crossword puzzle compared to a poem.”
And most telling… “Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can’t be taught.”
Sadly his perception about the jazz audience appears to remain pretty much spot on…”Our basic audience begins with creaking elderly types of twenty-three and above.”

For more Paul Desmond, click here:
www.jazzquotations.com/2010/05/paul-desmond-quotes_24.html
thinkexist.com/quotes/paul_desmond/
www.gandalfe.net/paul_desmond.htm

For a transcription of Paul Desmond’s solo on “Samba with some Bar-B-Q” click here

The Improvisational Brain – new article

Musicians and students are prone to a bit ranting as to how improvisation occurs and whether or not the analogy with language acquisition is appropriate. In supervising students’ (and their own) personal practice, teachers of improvisation can encounter blocks to progression and development, spending a lot of time untangling a student’s perception of their learning experience.

Those moments hit us all!

Those moments hit us all!

While Improvising is fun, once studied or practiced, it is my experience that inexperienced students and some seasoned musicians can mistake the sensations associated with play or the “flow state” with the slower and “creaky” mind that learns the initial stages of concrete skills. You  might say confusing the self-expressive state is confused with the learning state.

“Watching a musician in the throes of an improvisational solo can be like witnessing an act of divine intervention, but embedded memories and conspiring brain regions, scientists now believe, are the source of ad-hoc creativity” So suggests Amanda Rose Martinez see her article in SEED MAGAZINEclick here.

I suggest that our experiences as students of improvisation will be easier if we undertstand the learning process, so thank you Ms Rose… but now the community of jazz educators will be well advised to consider precisely how the research can be applied to enhance schemes of work, learning strategies and practice in general – and to be fair, the findings of this research have been alluded to for at least 30 years through applied (as distinct to cognitive) psychology. This is where the work of figures such as Guy Claxton et al, George Odam and the tried and tested Inner Game authors is useful.

What’s stopping us?