All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Opinion

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

837

Bluffers Guide to Playing Jazz

By

Sign in to view read count
Saxophone players
The problem here is that they are recruited and trained by other saxophone players. Personality tests shows that they are exhibitionists, first and foremost. Some of them are social contrarians who will play in a scruffy T-shirt with We Love Atlantic City on the front. These people will always play with a very dirty instrument. But a dirty instrument many also be a much loved archeological find. They are taught that their aim in soloing is to play as many different scales as possible at a very fast pace and never to acknowledge that the rhythm section is telling the audience, and them, where the music is in reality. Later on in life, saxophone players realise that they really need to know more about chords and progressions so they buy a small keyboard in order to see the notes. Then they find that there is a lot of mental effort involved in learning about progressions and so on, so they end up playing the blues scale 99.9% of the time.

Trumpeters
Trumpeters are nearly always male and are in it only for the sex. If they play loud, and very high they can attract women from miles around. Not for nothing was triple tonguing invented by a trumpeter.

Jazz singers
No one in a band can make the musicians change the usual key of the song except a female singer.

If the singer smiles at them and says thank you then the rhythm section will forgive her for not coming in on time, not finding the right note and for talking to the audience while the soloists are playing. Male singers have to stick with the key the music was written in.

Playing simple jazz.
The simplest way an amateur can play a jazz solo is to turn down the sound control on the amplifier. Afterwards you should ask if there was something amiss with the sound balance. Experienced amateurs realise that there are seven notes in each scale. (Actually there are eight notes in the diminished scale but only pianists know that.) Players can cut down the amount of notes they have to think about by 28% if they only use the pentatonic scales. (5 notes in each pentatonic scale, saving 2 notes. 2 notes saved out of 7 equals 28%. Music is very mathematical)

Theoretically, you can cut the number of notes used in a solo to four if you just use tetratonic groups. (This is the pentatonic scale minus one note). But very few people know this, and it has never been tried in anger. It is mentioned only by clever dicks who want to get one back on the pianist.

(Actually the chromatic scale has 12 notes in it - but this is so obvious that even Rover Scouts can work it out, and no one can use it for long before being thrown out of the band.)

Jazz teaching
Jazz teachers will tell you that there are no bad notes in jazz only "poor" choices. They say that if you can play immediately a semi-tone below or above your bum note you will get out of trouble. In theory this may or may not be true but by the time you've tried it the band has gone ahead with another couple of bars by which time the "corrected note" will now have become a bum note so no one has ever found out. Look behind at the motives of jazz teachers who say this kind of thing. Jazz teachers want you to like them and keep hiring them which is why they tell you this crap. You are their living after all. It is possible to make so many poor choices, that you get thrown out of the band.

Deps
This heading is to test you, to see if you know the "in" words in jazz. Band leaders hate it when people can't turn up for the gig. People always claim illness but it is usually because they have got another gig that night which pays a bit more. Sometimes band leaders insist on you providing and rehearsing your own deputy. ("Dep" - see it now?) Never ever bring a dep who is better at playing jazz than you are. Otherwise, in the long run you will have to go back to looking at the small ad cards in musical instrument shops. By the way the yanks don't say dep but sub (substitute) but that could be confused with tritone sub so stick with the English.

Avoiding copyright fees
No copyright exists if you wait 70 years after the death of the last surviving composer. You can bring this event forward by several years if you let the composer hear you improvising on his music. Jerome Kern hated jazz.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Jazz and Assault Rifles: A Peace Barrage Opinion
Jazz and Assault Rifles: A Peace Barrage
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 26, 2018
Read Trumpet Miming in Film: Mostly Jive Opinion
Trumpet Miming in Film: Mostly Jive
by Steve Provizer
Published: June 23, 2017
Read NEA Dismantling: Let's Do The Time Warp Again Opinion
NEA Dismantling: Let's Do The Time Warp Again
by Homer Jackson
Published: April 12, 2017
Read Chuck Berry: 1926-2017 Opinion
Chuck Berry: 1926-2017
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 21, 2017
Read New York Times Downsizes Jazz Coverage: A Response Opinion
New York Times Downsizes Jazz Coverage: A Response
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 7, 2017
Read Hentoff helped pave way for jazz journalism’s acceptance Opinion
Hentoff helped pave way for jazz journalism’s...
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "Trumpet Miming in Film: Mostly Jive" Opinion Trumpet Miming in Film: Mostly Jive
by Steve Provizer
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "Jazz House Kids:  The House that Jazz Built" What is Jazz? Jazz House Kids: The House that Jazz Built
by Bob Kenselaar
Published: April 6, 2018
Read "Craig Taborn and his multiple motion" Interviews Craig Taborn and his multiple motion
by Giuseppe Segala
Published: August 7, 2017
Read "Five on Cellar Live" Bailey's Bundles Five on Cellar Live
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "Noa Fort at Cornelia Street Café" Live Reviews Noa Fort at Cornelia Street Café
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 21, 2018