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Until yesterday, Mulgrew Miller was a living legend in the jazz community. Sadly, due to a stroke, he now is a legend.

One of my favorite recordings is Joe Lovano's Tenor Legacy, featuring Joshua Redman. I think that was the first place I heard Mulgrew's playing. I was a junior in high school at the time.

I want to share a short video of Mulgrew talking to a room full of young would-be jazz musicians because I believe it stresses a crucial point too often overlooked in today's crop of young players: learning the language that history has provided us.

I'm hearing a lot of chatter from people I know at colleges that kids in "jazz" programs today are graduating saying things like "I don't really play standards. I'm more of a Aaron Parks/Christian Scott vibe." While I don't know Christian, I know Aaron Parks can play the [word that rhymes with 'yuck' but starts with 'f'] out of some standards!!!

You gotta know your history, people! And if you want to be a great improviser, you need to know how to swing and PLAY [that word from earlier but add 'ING'] TUNES!!!

I'm nobody, you don't have to take it from me, but learn from a legend, who sadly, passed away yesterday:

Full post and Mulgrew's video here
 

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Thanks for this! R.I.P 'Grew - a legend for sure.
 

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You gotta know your history, people! And if you want to be a great improviser, you need to know how to swing and PLAY [that word from earlier but add 'ING'] TUNES!!!
Well said, Bob, to the point. It needs to be repeated often.
 

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True words indeed, I laugh at cats who go on about how they don't need to learn changes or swingin' is dead, or my favorite, transcribing only gets you to sound like the person you are transcribing....lol....My all time favorite is the guy on here who keeps spewing about moving the music forward but you hear his clips and he's nothing but a poor man's Hawkins. This music is serious, with a very rich tradition that for some reason people like to make it nebulous. It ain't so, you want to play Jazz you need to study Jazz from Jazz players on records, either at school or on your own. That's of course if your willing to pay the price for the sake of the journey not the " reward ".

To dismiss the tradition for the sake of " moving forward " is throwing the baby out with the bath water.
 

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honestly screw that man. you dont have to learn to play anything you dont want to. whats missing today is vocabulary from the past, thats correct, but thats because cats try to develope their own vocabulary off themselves and it doesnt work because know one knows what the heck their saying. but that doenst mean that you cant base your vocabulary off some new dude like christian scott. i think it would be awesome if someones vocabulary was based of some wierd new dude that no one had ever heard of... its a sign that the underground is thriving!! and that he actually was in love with what that guy was playing. a lot of cats today transcribe the greats because theyre told to, not because they heard them and had any emotional involvement with them. and that leads to cats sounding even worse cause its all watered down and they dont even know why there playing what their playing and everyone is confused haha. and it also doesnt mean that to get christian scotts sound in you you need to follow his process step by step in the order that he did it. the only sound that i feel like ive accurately ingested in my playing is some of miles davis' playing on so what, and i didnt get that by following his process. i got it by listening to the record a lot and falling in love with it, and then trying super hard for a week to get that sound in my playing. miles played a lot of classical music in his upbringing too and i was never into that. but somehow it got in.

swinging and playing tunes being a requirement for improvising is.. a fallacy of logic. improvisation is about listening to the group and lining your emotions/motions and ideas with everyone's. there are no requirements... if someone is playing some crazy **** that you dont like you keep playing and listen to the other people imo.
 

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honestly screw that man. you dont have to learn to play anything you dont want to. whats missing today is vocabulary from the past, thats correct, but thats because cats try to develope their own vocabulary off themselves and it doesnt work because know one knows what the heck their saying. but that doenst mean that you cant base your vocabulary off some new dude like christian scott. i think it would be awesome if someones vocabulary was based of some wierd new dude that no one had ever heard of... its a sign that the underground is thriving!! and that he actually was in love with what that guy was playing. a lot of cats today transcribe the greats because theyre told to, not because they heard them and had any emotional involvement with them. and that leads to cats sounding even worse cause its all watered down and they dont even know why there playing what their playing and everyone is confused haha. and it also doesnt mean that to get christian scotts sound in you you need to follow his process step by step in the order that he did it. the only sound that i feel like ive accurately ingested in my playing is some of miles davis' playing on so what, and i didnt get that by following his process. i got it by listening to the record a lot and falling in love with it, and then trying super hard for a week to get that sound in my playing. miles played a lot of classical music in his upbringing too and i was never into that. but somehow it got in.

swinging and playing tunes being a requirement for improvising is.. a fallacy of logic. improvisation is about listening to the group and lining your emotions/motions and ideas with everyone's. there are no requirements... if someone is playing some crazy **** that you dont like you keep playing and listen to the other people imo.
In order to to Christian Scott's sound you need to learn what he learnt. Don't you think Christian Scott listened to a lot of the great trumpeters?
 

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honestly screw that man. you dont have to learn to play anything you dont want to. whats missing today is vocabulary from the past, thats correct, but thats because cats try to develope their own vocabulary off themselves and it doesnt work because know one knows what the heck their saying. but that doenst mean that you cant base your vocabulary off some new dude like christian scott. i think it would be awesome if someones vocabulary was based of some wierd new dude that no one had ever heard of... its a sign that the underground is thriving!! and that he actually was in love with what that guy was playing. a lot of cats today transcribe the greats because theyre told to, not because they heard them and had any emotional involvement with them. and that leads to cats sounding even worse cause its all watered down and they dont even know why there playing what their playing and everyone is confused haha. and it also doesnt mean that to get christian scotts sound in you you need to follow his process step by step in the order that he did it. the only sound that i feel like ive accurately ingested in my playing is some of miles davis' playing on so what, and i didnt get that by following his process. i got it by listening to the record a lot and falling in love with it, and then trying super hard for a week to get that sound in my playing. miles played a lot of classical music in his upbringing too and i was never into that. but somehow it got in.

swinging and playing tunes being a requirement for improvising is.. a fallacy of logic. improvisation is about listening to the group and lining your emotions/motions and ideas with everyone's. there are no requirements... if someone is playing some crazy **** that you dont like you keep playing and listen to the other people imo.
...The further back you go the deeper you get, the deeper you get the more resources you have.
 
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