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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few people on here mention that the Oliver Nelson book is a great resource. I mainly take smaller chunks of licks from transcriptions or listening, then work to incorporate those into my playing. I have had the Nelson book ages, but never really know where to start with it.

So any examples of how you have dipped into it. Any favourite bits. I feel a bit bewildered when I look at all those pages of stuff. I am sure it is a great resource (and freely available online) and a few pointers may open it up to me.
 

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A few times since I’ve had it I just opened it and played through many pages at a time. Ran through the book in a few practice sessions. Not much thinking about how to use this stuff, just getting it under the fingers. Every so many months, sometimes a full year or so I do it again.

Freely available online? Legally?
 

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I think just playing it through without regard to the result as Guto mentioned is the way to go. One time is just "making it through." Seven times is approaching intuitive mastery/comfort. Any number of times in between is...something in between. Unlikely something will "pop in" to your playing immediately but will later unexpected.
 

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I’ve always enjoyed that book. A lot of those phrases can be heard in players like Phil Woods (who played lead alto with Oliver Nelson). It’s just full of great nuggets. I used to play through them for technique, but also used to change the shapes, adding pick up notes and changing rhythms etc. A lot of the phrases move by half steps and it’s fun to move them around by different intervals. I like that there are no chords marked as it gives you the chance to imagine different roots under those lines. They’re pretty common shapes, and it’s fairly obvious what chords are being implied anyway.
It’s just a very melodic book.
 

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I remember hearing an interview with Doug Webb in which he described playing it cover to cover every day for a while, he said it took him a few hours at first but after a while he could fly through in under two hours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I remember hearing an interview with Doug Webb in which he described playing it cover to cover every day for a while, he said it took him a few hours at first but after a while he could fly through in under two hours.
Amazing. When I have playing through it I just them immediately forget it all. I wonder how much Doug would internalize.
 

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Once in a while I have a day where I feel like I'm trying to play a certain pattern in my improv and it just refuses to come out. That's when I break out the Patterns for Improvisation book again. Shred some repetitive patterns and shake off the dust. I don't necessarily think "ok I'm gonna use pattern 46 here," but the practice of repeating those patterns over every scale helps me internalize the process of moving a motif around the staff.
 

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Thanks for reminding me of this one. Been running through it all morning as described above.
That's definitely a nice way to do it. I find it also useful to balance approaches. I often get a bit OCD with just working one technical element at a time. I think that's great to to spend an hour on one or two phrases, but I think it's equally important to also do what's in this book where you modulate continuously.

I think one of the best things with this book is to read the first phrase of each exercise, figure out the relationships, and then do the rest in your head. Reading it all through over and over will help with muscle memory but understanding the material and transposing yourself will help your brain as much as your fingers. I think that's what will help the most with improvising.

It's also great altissimo practice if you continue modulating up as far as possible. Not just for altissimo execution but also so you start internalizing those fingerings as actual notes.
 

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One other thought... Kind of restating with NuclearSax said, working through these patterns and figuring out the intervallic relationships and how they relate to key centers can really help. Instead of taking these patterns as "licks" to stick over chords, they can help you learn how to work through key centers and manipulate scales, arpeggios, etc. in order to be able to really improvise.
 

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Agree with John. The best way to use pattern books is like how the Jerry Coker books are laid out, although I'm not the biggest fan of his. Figure it out in one key, understand what's going on, and then put in all keys from your head. Reading it in all keys instead tends to take some off the emphasis of your ear, the exact thing you need to develop for improvisation.
 

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yeah OK - I'll take all your words for it - be keen to see how this compares to Greg Fishman's books.
 

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yeah OK - I'll take all your words for it - be keen to see how this compares to Greg Fishman's books.
Might be a little less situation specific. The Hip Licks book, for example, is specific (mostly) to fitting over various types of ii V progressions, but the Nelson patterns are such that you are building some technique that you'll need to find a place for.

It's amazing how easy it is to milk a pattern to create 8th or 16th lines if you have even the least amount of variation to break it up. I'd check out some of the "connecting links" like those in Steve Neff's bebop books. (Think he's on here regularly, right?) The dominant ones are especially good but major and minor books are worth a look too. The patterns are a cozy fire of sorts that can really be juiced up with some gasoline. Two or three degrees of the pattern followed by an approach pattern elsewhere, octave displacement lick....something else once comfortable and then they'll really take off.

I generally think that patterns and links are much better uses of your time and licks are nearly a waste of time (regardless of whose) since so difficult to make them seem anything other than planted, but then I look at a Bird solo and it's a way higher percentage of quotes/licks than I'd guess beforehand, so what do I know?
 

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Agree with John. The best way to use pattern books is like how the Jerry Coker books are laid out, although I'm not the biggest fan of his. Figure it out in one key, understand what's going on, and then put in all keys from your head. Reading it in all keys instead tends to take some off the emphasis of your ear, the exact thing you need to develop for improvisation.
This is the way I've been taught to use it: look at it, understand the pattern, and then close the book and play it. If you really understand it, you shouldn't need to look at it, and if you're looking at it, you're not training your ear.
 
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