Jazz Improvisation - December 28, 2006

Jazz improvisation recordings, 2006

recordingThis page contains my jazz improvisation recordings from 2006. As you'll hear below, these jazz recordings feature such highlights as cracked notes, poor note choice, unsteady rhythm, and meandering phrases! And that's why recording myself is so important. It's the best way to evaluate my playing and to chart my progress over time. I don't expect that I'll ever become a great jazz trumpet player, but I am anxious to hear how much better I can get with practice. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

All of my jazz improvisation recordings: 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016

DECEMBER 28, 2006

iwasdoingallright - audio clip - Aebersold #40 - "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise" by Hammerstein & Romberg

This is my final recording of 2006. As you can hear, my range is pretty good throughout. In fact, it didn't take much effort at all to play the A's above the staff. And better yet, I also played 3 or 4 solid C's above the staff during this same recording session --if you've been following along, you know that's quite an accomplishment for me. Unfortunately, those C's were followed by lackluster solos, so I'm saving my C debut for 2007.

OCTOBER 24, 2006

iwasdoingallright - audio clip - C# Dominant 7th... accompanied by my ear trainer!

If you've tried my latest ear trainer, you probably know that I added a rhythm section feature. Currently, the rhythm section feature supports Major7th, Minor7th, Dominant7th, Blues, and Rhythm Changes progressions in any key. It also lets you isolate each part of the rhythm section so you can play with as little or as much accompaniment as you like.

Lately, I've been using the rhythm section feature to work on my less familiar keys, like C# which I'm playing in this clip (C#7 is the trumpet key, it's actually B7 in concert key). When improvising over these less familiar keys, I like to isolate just the bass and hi-hat because it improves my ability to hear what I'm playing.

If you haven't played around with my new ear trainer yet, I encourage you to give it a try!

SEPTEMBER 19, 2006

iwasdoingallright - audio clip - Aebersold #34, "Green Dolphin Street" by Kaper & Washington

This is my second time recording "Green Dolphin Street". The first time I recorded it was just over a year ago. You can listen to that older recording by visiting the 2005 recordings page or by clicking right here: iwasdoingallright - audio clip

I prefer last year's recording due to the simple-song stuff that I threw in. That and the descending run near the end sound more creative to me. But... I must admit that I do prefer how much stronger my upper-range is in this new clip. As I neared the second half of my solo, I felt totally confident that I'd hit those high(er) notes. And, for me, that's really saying something! Of course, it's a relatively new phenomenon so I'm not going to celebrate yet...

UPDATE 9/20/2006 - It's a day later and I just gave my new "Green Dolphin Street" clip another listen. I noticed that I cropped it so close to the beginning of my solo that it's hard to get the feel of things the first time you hear it. Frankly, I was suprised by how bad it sounded the first time through. I listened to it a couple more times and each time it sounded better. Still not great, but definitely less lousy! Unfortunately, I didn't save the original un-cropped track so I can't do anything about it now aside from make excuses ;-)

JULY 23, 2006

iwasdoingallright - audio clip - Aebersold #33, "Speak No Evil" by Wayne Shorter

We're over half-way through the year and this is only my third recording?! I'm really falling behind...

The more I listen to this clip, the less I like it. There are a couple of times where I'm going for an idea and it just doesn't come out right. Those mistakes produce unwanted notes and throw off my rhythm, weakening the overall sound of my solo. But, that's part of the growth process. You need to try things that are outside of your comfort zone. Pushing yourself to play something you've never played before, regardless of the outcome, helps you become a better player. Of course, it would be nice if you don't have to share those goofs with the world.

On the bright side, my upper register is fairly solid in this clip. By upper-register, I'm of course talking about notes just barely above the staff ;-)

MARCH 17, 2006

iwasdoingallright - audio clip - Aebersold #75, "Fifth House" by John Coltrane

This is my new favorite play-a-long track. True to the original Coltrane recording, the A sections start out with a vamp/pedal that provides quite a bit of freedom. You can play the changes, or you can play whatever sounds good to your ears. Then, the bridge swings on through before we get back to the A section groove. About half-way through, the entire tune is played with a swing feel and the pedal is replaced by the actual changes. It all adds up to a play-a-long track with enough energy and variety to remain interesting over several sessions.

This clip has my first instance of triple tonguing in a jazz recording. It's at the 25 second mark (I start on an A in the staff and go up through C E G). I played that run a few times today and got it a lot cleaner prior to this clip. Actually, now that I listen to it, you can barely tell there's any tonguing so I probably shouldn't even mention it. Oh well... better luck next time, I guess.

FEBRUARY 11, 2006

iwasdoingallright - audio clip - Aebersold #12, "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart" by Duke Ellington

This was my first time improvising to this track. Since I had never played this tune before, and since I didn't have the changes in front of me, I spent the first few choruses figuring things out. During the first chorus, I didn't play at all. Instead, I just listened so I could learn the form and major points of change (if any). During the next chorus or two, I used vocal improvisation to further strengthen my familiarity with the tune. I didn't pick up my horn until I felt reasonably confident in my ability to sing a decent solo. This recording captures the 2nd or 3rd chorus of my trumpet solo.

When learning new tunes, I HIGHLY recommend singing before playing. If you can't sing a decent solo, how do you expect to play one on a tricky instrument?

Update 2/13/06: Whoops, I just realized that I did in fact play this tune before. In fact, I even made a (bad) recording of it last year. Yikes, how quickly the mind goes... Anyway, sing first, play later is still a good idea ;-)

Comment by Eric

Fifth House is hot. You're sounding great. Keep up the good work. Your recordings are great to show progress but they also send me running to the music store (or iTunes) to find the songs you're playing!

Comment by Eric

Quick comment on "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart" -- the improvement that you show between the two recordings is incredible. In less than a years time the second solo sounds much better and it seems as if you have more direction with where you're going. Excellent stuff. You should re-record some of the other tunes for a before and after type of thing.

Comment by Rick

Thanks for the encouragement, Eric!

On several occasions I have tried to make new recordings of the old clips but the results have been pretty disappointing. As soon as I hit the record button and start playing, I also start judging. My mind is consumed with thoughts like: "This recording needs to be better than the original", and "Why don't I sound any better this time?" and "Didn't I play that same idea in the original recording?". Oddly, that sort of criticism and pressure doesn't lead to good recordings ;-)

If/when I ever do produce some re-recordings that I like, I will be sure to share them on this site.

-Rick

Comment by Esben

I think you have a good sound on your trumpet, and you really articulate well with the tongue.

I think however that you should put a little more emphasis on melodic motives. After I hear one of your solos I'd like to have some of it linger in my ears, but I have a hard time finding your melody.

Why not simply compose some very neat and pretty 4-8 bar tunes (not licks or runs - but tunes) over the chords - just to get started. I know it aint improvising, but once you've played a cool motive some times you'll begin altering it, and it'll change from neat/pretty to something else and hopefully more 'dangerous'.

When you listen to great players, you start recognizing motives that they use over and over again. Miles is a good example of that.

Also I lack 'feeling' in your solos. Touch me man! Be happy or pissed off or aggressive or romantic or cute or brute ... whatever.

Here is a solo from Miles with a very strong melodic feel and loads of feeling to it: http://jazztrumpetsolos.com/solo.asp?soloist=MilesDavis&solo=Summertime

And here's Chet playing the blues with quite strength: http://jazztrumpetsolos.com/solo.asp?soloist=ChetBaker&Solo=NoProblem

I am confident that you'll take this piece of criticism and advise in the spirit it is offered. I am a fellow jazz-trumpet player in spe, and I wish you the best of luck !

Comment by Esben

sorry - it was the wrong Miles link, I mean:

http://jazztrumpetsolos.com/solo.asp?soloist=MilesDavis&solo=KCBlues

Comment by Rick

Hi Esben,

I think we might have different sensibilities for what we hear and what we want to in a jazz solo. To me, the things that you've suggested already appear in my solos.

If you listen to the "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart" clip on this page, for example, you'll hear that it begins with a melodic and rhythmic motif that I repeat, and then return to periodically throughout the solo. While it may not stick with you after you listen to the clip, it does stick with me.

Also, looking at that clip again, I do get "feeling" from it. I hear a sort of light bounce that indicates a sense of joy. It's quite clear to me. In contrast, when I played my solo to "Fifth House", I felt confident and wanted to play a solo that conveyed a sense of focused intensity, which I think also comes through.

Looking back at other clips like "Take the 'A' Train" (http://www.iwasdoingallright.com/improv/95/) and "My Funny Valentine" (http://www.iwasdoingallright.com/improv/58/), I hear plenty of "feeling" in my solos. Granted, some of it gets lost due to my poor recording quality, mixdown, and mp3 compression, but to me it's still there.

Getting back to the idea of differing sensibilities... nothing really stuck with me from the KCBlues clip that you suggested. Don't get me wrong, Miles is my FAVORITE jazz musician and has played some of the most incredible melodies and gut-wrenching solos ever. But, that particular KCBlues solo just doesn't do anything for me.

I do appreciate the suggestions and I don't mean to sound too defensive here. Obviously I do hope to improve my playing and I know I've still got a long way to go. And that's the main reason I share my journey with others -- to get feedback, and more importantly, to give others encouragement in their own musical journeys.

Thanks for writing!

-Rick

Comment by David

Wow, I love ur tone and style. I'm really surprised that u didnt have changes in "I let a song go out of my heart." There were some really good lines.

Comment by Rick

Hi Daivd,

As mentioned in my notes about the "I Let A Song..." clip, vocal improvisation is an ideal way to ease into an unfamiliar tune. Once you are familiar with the sound of the tune, and assuming you have a good understanding of what jazz solos sound like, it should be easy for you to sing a decent solo without knowing the tune's theory/changes/etc. If you can do that AND you can play by ear, then you'll similarly have an easy time playing a solo on your horn without changes.

Thanks for the compliments and thanks for visiting my site!

-Rick

Rick,

I haven't been on your site for awhile with my schedule so full. But, today I got a chance to listen to all three of your clips so far this year. It is apparent that you like Abersold #75 as you playing seems very relaxed, like you're having fun with it and this comes through to the listener. You should keep at it as you're showing definite improvement and having a good time as well! That's what it's all about isn't it?

I've posted a few new articles (by myself and others) on improvisation and performance on my site at" www.danjacobsmusic.com that you might like and find helpful.

Also there is a link to a video of a trumpet solo at a festival I did last year. You can go to my site and check "music" for the link and some new photos or just cut and paste this link to get to the video:

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&n=2&videoID=1083785012

It's a short clip from a solo (1:22min) on Cantelope Island with a trio backing me.

It's a bit different than my CD's, hotter and more "outside" but it worked for the crowd at the time. Let me know what you think.

Keep up the good work.

Dan Jacobs

danjacobsmusic.com

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Jazz Improvisation

I practice and hone my skills with the goal of becoming a better (dare I say "good") jazz improviser. In this section, you can read about the methods I use to improve and you can listen to recordings of my playing. The recordings will help you determine if any of the stuff I'm doing actually works ;-)

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