Jazz Improvisation - December 12, 2008

Jazz improvisation recordings, 2008

recordingThis page contains my jazz improvisation recordings from 2008. 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 15, 2008

iwasdoingallright - audio clip Aebersold #15, Cherokee

As I'm sure most of you know, "Cherokee" is one of the more demanding standards and it's become sort of a rite of passage amongst jazz musicians. I've tried to play "Cherokee" a few times over the years, but I always break down during the bridge (don't we all?). I never really focused on the tune until a month or so ago, after chatting with Atlanta jazz trumpeter, Joe Gransden. We were talking about the video I shot where he and Sam Skelton are playing "Cherokee". I told Joe how intimidating it is for me to hear him play Cherokee so well and he told me that he practices the tune every day. Often he'll play nothing but Cherokee for an entire hour! I found it comforting to learn that even a great player like Joe has to work hard for a tune like "Cherokee". I was also inspired to see how good I could get if I practice "Cherokee" every day. So, for the past month I've tried to practice Cherokee every day for at least five or ten minutes. I'd put in more time in if I had it.

Above, you'll hear my first recording of the tune. There are some definite problems, like the clam during the bridge and the hurried/uneven tempo near the end, but it's a major improvement from where I was a month ago. I encourage you to pick a tune and work on it for a month. I think you'll be happy with the results.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2008

iwasdoingallright - audio clip Aebersold #25, Have You Met Miss Jones

You may recall that I recently switched to using a Mac as my primary computer. Even though I could still use my old PC to record with, I really want to have a Mac solution that sounds as good (or as bad, depending upon what you think of my other recordings). For this attempt, I used GarageBand to do the recording. Unfortunately, the levels came out awfully low, especially after I exported to mp3. I ended up amplifying the mp3 in Audacity, but that resulted in a lot of clipping on the trumpet track. I also tried adding some reverb to my sound in GarageBand, thanks to a suggestion from a reader named Raphael. Whatever reverb I added is just about impossible to hear in the final clip, though, perhaps due to the Audacity amplification. The next time I record my playing, I'll probably try using Audacity to do the whole thing. In any case, I've got quite a bit of tinkering in my future.

JUNE 23, 2008

iwasdoingallright - audio clip Aebersold #25, My Foolish Heart

Unless I overlooked a recording, it's been about four years since the last time I posted a ballad recording (iwasdoingallright - audio clip "My Funny Valentine" from 2004). Hoping to meet my unofficial ballad quota of one every four years, I gave "My Foolish Heart" a try tonight. This was my first time improvising over the tune. I don't think it sounds too bad, especially considering the fact that I didn't look at the changes. And for the sake of consistency, I even threw in one of my trademark cracked notes near the end!

APRIL 19, 2008

iwasdoingallright - audio clip Aebersold #116, Trane's Ride

I recently purchased the "Miles Of Modes" Aebersold recording. As you might guess from the title, it has a lot of modal exercises and tunes. It also has a pretty energetic rhythm section, at least on some of the tracks. This clip features one of my favorite tracks from the play-a-long, "Trane's Ride" (written by Jamey Aebersold). If you've listed to several of my recordings, you know cracked/missed notes are par for the course. Heck, my recordings would probably be unrecognizable without them! Well, let's just say this recording doesn't disappoint. Near the end of the recording are two notes in a row which I totally miss. They're just tiny squeaks of air...

MARCH 9, 2008

iwasdoingallright - audio clip Aebersold #104, Drone in E

As I often do when recording, tonight I set my Aebersold tracks to shuffle and tried playing with whatever was randomly selected. I was really in the mood to play something fast and hard-hitting, so when this track from the Kenny Werner - Free Play play-a-long began, I was tempted to hit the "next" button. I decided to give it a try, however, when I saw the title of the track, "Drone in E". Since that's the key of F# on the trumpet, I figured this would be a good chance to challenge myself to play in one of my less familiar keys. This is my first time playing with this Aebersold track, and it's the first time I've shared a clip quite like this, but I thought it came out good enough to share. Just pretend I actually hit those two notes at the end :-)

FEBRUARY 16, 2008

iwasdoingallright - audio clip Clip #1 - Aebersold #56 - "I Mean You" by Thelonious Monk.

iwasdoingallright - audio clip Clip #2 - Aebersold #56 - "I Mean You" by Thelonious Monk.

I first recorded with this "I Mean You" play-a-long track back in 2004 (iwasdoingallright - audio clip). I've improvised with the track a few times over the years but I hadn't had the inclination to make any new recordings until last weekend. Above you'll find a clip from last weekend (Clip #2) as well as a clip from this weekend (Clip #1). As you'll hear, Clip #1 is similar in style to most of my other jazz recordings while Clip #2 is a little more adventurous (at least in parts).

When practicing jazz improvisation, I try to approach my solos with a variety of styles. I'll play a few choruses in a straight-ahead hard/bop style, then I might try something really sparse, or maybe I'll play in an angular or avant-garde style. These varied approaches aren't always successful, but they do help open new avenues of creativity that I might otherwise miss by playing everything the same way all the time. Variety... it really is the spice of life!

Comment by Rob

You did a good job on "Drone in E". I find it quite challenging to create interest in tunes where the harmony is static. While it is very easy to play notes that work within the chord progression it is a different matter to make your playing sound like it is going somewhere (unless of course the intention is to create a meditation track!). The chord progression isn't going anywhere so it is up to the soloist to provide this even more than is necessary in a more conventional tune.

You seem to meander around a bit at the beginning, but from about the 50 second mark you start to come up with some really nice melodic ideas that you continue to develop for the rest of the piece. I didn't actually notice the two notes at the end you said you didn't hit - it sounded fine to me. Considering that this was your first attempt at this song and that it is in a tough key I think you did well.

Playing more melodic and rhthmic and melodic motifs might help on this style of piece. You might also want to experiment with some outside playing to help create a bit of tension and release (e.g. play a melodic pattern in F#, then transposed up to G, then again in F#).

Rob

Comment by Rick

Hi Rob,

Thanks for the feedback. I agree with your assessment of the track. I did start out experimenting with a few ideas to see if anything interesting would develop. About half-way through I found something which I liked and carried it through until the end.

I think it's important for beginning improvisers to realize that each improvisation is itself a journey. Sometimes you begin knowing exactly what you want to play, other times you might noodle around, experimenting with several ideas until you find a decent path, and sometimes you never do quite find your way. And while it might seem nice to always know what you're going to play ahead of time, the best ideas often come through experimentation.

-Rick

Comment by Eric

EXCELLENT job on My Foolish Heart. Probably my favorite thus far of all your recordings. Very, very well done!

Comment by karim

Man great jog on Have you Met Miss Jones. Your ideas very relaxed and head on. I would loved to hear next 32 to see where you going. Over all I love it, keep it up.

Comment by bali

Just heard your playing on Cherokee, sounds pretty good! I can hear a lot of progress in your playing compared to your other 2008 recordings. Keep it up, man:D!

Comment by DarioUp

They sound nice. You are funny: "unsteady rhythm, and meandering phrases". !! Ha Ha! Don't you use a drum machine? What does your neighbour think about your playing

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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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