This 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.
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!