Jazz Improvisation: Advice from the Masters

Joel Roberts By

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Jimi Durso and Karla Harby
Jazz Improvisation: Advice From the Masters
ISBN: 0975963201

What advice do established jazz stars have for aspiring musicians? It's pretty simple, really: practice, listen and learn your history! That, at least, is the primary wisdom a cross-section of respected artists - including James Moody, Dave Douglas, Kenny Werner, Steve Coleman and Teri Lynn Carrington - imparts in this slim volume on the art of improvisation.

Here's Moody, the venerable sax star whose career dates to the late 1940s, on practicing: "The process is never over, never ever ever. People look at me and say, 'You mean you're still practicing?' Of course!"

And here's Douglas, the vanguard trumpet player, on listening: "I feel the most important part of improvising is listening, rather than playing."

A deep knowledge of the jazz pantheon is also essential, says drummer extraordinaire Carrington, who urges young players "to listen to all the old school stuff so you understand the history."

There's other valuable material here: advice on transcription and analysis from Dave Liebman, tips on how to use computer technology as a practice aid from Robin Eubanks, a guide to effective vocal exercises from AAJ-New York's own singer-in-residence Judi Silvano.

Ultimately, the contributors to this brief, though worthwhile collection agree it's commitment and sacrifice - even more than talent - that separates the successes from the also-rans. "You have to be at a level where you are willing to die for the music," says young trumpeter on the rise Jeremy Pelt. "It's that serious. It's nothing to be taken lightly."

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