An aspiring jazz trumpet player's blog about jazz improvisation and ear training.

August 4, 2012 Jazz Improvisation 7 Comments

Jazz improvisation recordings, 2012

recordingThis page contains my jazz improvisation recordings from 2012. 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 - 2022

AUGUST 4, 2012

iwasdoingallright - audio clip Aebersold #108, Recorda-Me

Ever since my poor performance at the International Trumpet Guild conference, I've dedicated a decent chunk of my practice time to memorizing tunes. One of the tunes that I've memorized is "Recorda-Me," by Joe Henderson.

Before I recorded this jazz improvisation clip, I promised myself that no matter how bad I up sounding, I'm still going to share something from the recording session. As you'll hear in this recording, I stayed true to that promise!

The two choruses don't really fit together at all, but that's because I didn't like what I played in the first chorus. This happens a lot when I record. I'll try an idea, and if it doesn't go anywhere, I'll move on to a new idea in the following chorus. Typically, in these instances I'll only post one chorus, but since neither of these are a winner in my opinion, I decided to share them both.

Perhaps now is a good time to mention that I've been out of town for the past 5 weeks. I brought my trumpet with me, but I only ended up practicing about once a week. Consequently, I'm still a bit rusty as I work to rebuild my chops. Isn't it convenient that I always have an excuse when I don't like my playing? Yes, it is convenient.

MARCH 13, 2012

iwasdoingallright - audio clip Aebersold #33, El Gaucho

Today I'm sharing two choruses of me improvising to Wayne Shorter's composition, "El Gaucho." In the first chorus, I was trying to capture some of the light and floating qualities of Wayne Shorter's recorded solo. I'm not sure it comes across all that well, but there are a couple of spots where you can hear faint glimpses of Wayne's trademark style in my solo. Or maybe you'll think, "That guy tried to play like Wayne Shorter and failed miserably." In either case, you thought about Wayne Shorter while listening to me. Mission accomplished.

In my nine-year anniversary article I mentioned my recent root canal and how I thought the temporary tooth had strengthened my chops. Well, it appears that I may have celebrated too soon. I've had my new crown for a couple of months now, and all the progress I thought I had made seems to have vanished. The new crown has subtle differences in shape from my previous crown and those tiny differences seem to have made a big difference in my playing. I'm not exactly rebuilding my embouchure, but I am struggling to recapture what little upper range I had just a few months ago. I guess it's mostly a matter of endurance. Where I once could play ten minutes of notes above the staff during each session, I can only play five minutes now. You'll hear a nice example of my post-five-minute range during the second chorus of my solo.

Comment by Raun Nelson

I know what you mean about the root canal...I need one now and have had a couple before. I lost several teeth 11 years ago when I passed out and hit the sidewalk face first. Still need dental work and constantly am adjusting my embouchre. But, you have a nice rhythm feel. Concerning range, I got a very simple exercise from Barry Danielian, a trumpet player with Springsteen and all out Jazz guy, that he got from Jon Faddis. Go to YouTube and search for Barry Danielian and you will get a link "How to Play High Notes "

Hope it helps...I increased my range about a third in a couple of month with it...

Comment by Dennis Sides

I am 58 years old and started playing trumpet at 43. I played the instrument for about 7 years and moved into an apartment unit that did not tolerate trumpet playing. I tried playing the instrument in my car but the sound created was deafening to my ears so I eventually put the instrument down. I continue to have moments when I would like to get back at playing the trumpet again but the 400 or 500 dollars I'd spend on a good used instrument is hard to come up with.

My inspiration to play the trumpet in the first place was Miles Davis, who could do no wrong in my opinion, but he sure had a temper from what I understand. Anyway sir, I think you have a good sound and was wondering if you ever played in marching band or simply took private lessons.

Comment by newguy

lol sorry had to laugh at how you missed the note. i can truly relate but ur a real good player. KEEP IT UP!

I love your great sense of time. In the second chorus, you played some great ideas.

Love your site.

First let me congratulate you for having a wonderful website. It is a testament to your love of jazz for compiling this forum for the music. Now for some sage advice. I've listened to several of your recordings and even though they span a few years I am hearing one thing consistently that is ultimately holding you back. Lack of phrasing. Its not necessarily what you play but how you play it. Go back and listen though your recorded solos, then try to play along with them until you have the lines memorized, ulitimately you want to strenghen the rhythmic and tonal qualities of the lines that are your go to licks and passages that come out most frequently in your playing. Forget playing high notes or trying to get Lee Morgan's solo licks in somewhere in the solo. Just try to make music. Play to the characteristic of the song. Remember, you don't want to sound like the next Clifford Brown or Lee Morgan, you want to sound like you are a player who knows the language of jazz but can comunicate in your own style. Good luck with your playing. And again, I am really enjoying your website.

Lester Walker

Hi Rick, I've just listened to your 2012 and 2011 playing and I agree with many of the others contributors, you have some nice rhythm and phrasing! I just wonder, are you recording in a confined space... are you purposely not letting rip with some loud notes because of the neighbours or perhaps you're not confident enough yet to really play some big bold notes? I'm a guitarist so I don't know the finer points of trumpet playing but I think that's something you could work on.

I've written a blog recently about improvisation, about how it has similarities with language, perhaps you can have a read... http://www.julesfaife.com/blog/?p=64

Keep up the good work!

Comment by Rick

Thank for the comments, everyone. To answer your question, Jules, yes I normally play with a variety of dynamics. When recording, however, I can't vary the dynamics too much since the play-a-long track is a constant volume. If I play too softly, it's hard to hear the trumpet. If I play too loudly, I'll end up maxing out the levels and it sounds distorted. I know I could mix the levels afterwards, but I try to fuss with the recordings as little as possible.


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