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those giants are 900ft tall, and it takes a whole lot of time to climb up to their shoulders.
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we've all heard the complaint that all the new jazz players sound alike. and then we ask/wonder how to practice to become proficient and develop. can't forget about the "no one plays like the old players" comment, which makes ignoring them (regarding learning from them) sound a bit foolish.
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but becoming a jazz player takes quite a bit of time. becoming a master, well, i would guess it takes even more time. how in the name of lifespan is a jazz musician supposed to become 'original' and 'masterful' if he is going to need to learn techniques/styles of previous masters who took all their lives (some in compressed time) to develop?
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what kind of message does "you have to listen to the greats/classics to learn the language/vocabulary" send? then the next obvious step is "spend your life in the shed learning the techniques". in other words, climb up the back of the giants. problem is, it not only takes a lifetime (it would seem) to get to the shoulders of these collossals, but attaining that vantage point may make one look like a second head resembling the 1st, which seems to attract disdain.
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what's a poor boy to do? :scratch:
 

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I think there's an unspoken assumption that earlier styles are simpler to learn. Not true; they're just more dependent on subtleties of expression, less so on intricacies of harmony and rhythm.
 

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but becoming a jazz player takes quite a bit of time. becoming a master, well, i would guess it takes even more time. how in the name of lifespan is a jazz musician supposed to become 'original' and 'masterful' if he is going to need to learn techniques/styles of previous masters who took all their lives (some in compressed time) to develop?
Good question.

I can't give the best answer, as I am not a jazz master. It was something I aspired to once but I felt I was missing two key elements: fingering technique (speed) and aural ability.

The aural ability I could work on, and I did, but probably developed a good set of ears too late to combine it with the fingering dexterity that seemed to be much harder to get. My one strength was my tone plus possible a "strange and unusual" brain.

Whatever people say about tone being more important than speed, there are times as a jazz player when you will need to play Cherokee.

I noticed that so many young musicians of my age already had a great ability to play fast, and lots of licks, plus that aural ability to be able to play changes without actually knowing what they were, something I could not do at the time.

Si I decided to do something else, to work on pop and rock. Not because it's easier. It isn't. But because in the end it was what suited me, my brain and those odd talents that I already had.
 

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The poor boy needs to play with others. haha

I think that's the way out. Form a community and work on the tunes. Listen together, study together.

The hardest thing to accept about Jazz IMO is that it deserves respect. If I wanted to play Indian Classical music, it would be horrible of me to buy a set of Tablas and try to hang in the style without knowing none of the language. The same for Baroque Music.

The same can be said about Bebop. Or Modal. But this assuption is only valid if one WANTS to play Bebop.

But is this true? Can somebody who digs Fusion and cares naught about Yardbird and Bop play Fusion?

HELL YES he can play Fusion! BUT, as a player one has to be in tune with his own limitations, or limits in his playing, and he has to decide 'hey maybe Bird played something I can use, maybe this or that guy played something that can enhance my own style, maybe'.

If not, I feel there has to be a community that whacks a guy upside the head. Hey, you aren't playing ****! don't you know who used to be so inventive over the same changes you're playing? Fats Navarro. Check em out.

That's how it starts for alot of people.

It's foolish to have a silent requirement on a player that he must start with King Oliver and somehow earn the right to play a current form of jazz. But I find it very interesting that all of my favorite players dug and learned from people in the past.

And boy are they playing VERY present.

Ben Van Gelder http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSW4B7S5aEQ&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL
 

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IMHO, anyone who says you need to "spend your life in the shed" doesn't really understand how the greats got so great. For example, I'm just reading a book about Sam Cooke--a true giant. In 1951, when he was hired to lead the Soul Stirrers, Cooke was in his early 20s and a decent, but hardly great, gospel quartet singer. In the next six years he played between 250-300 gigs a year. By the time he left the group in 1957, he was already one of the greatest male singers in the 20th century.

Pretty much impossible to reproduce today, I'd say.
 

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To play your own stuff, to forge your own sound, you have to listen and imitate the giants. Miles Davis didn't conceptualize Bitches Brew out of nowhere. Stravinsky, Glass, Hendrix and many others had their influences on him.

Has anyone come up with anything like Bitches Brew after that? Nope. :)
 

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Yeah. It's a simple thread to follow.

Ask any of your favorite musicians. They will say they listened, admired, imitated, the sounds of the day.

The *degree* of which it happened will vary, but it has to happen as the music you are inspired by forms the basis for YOUR language.

I think there lies the distinction. It's not "Play the Bebop Language" on Scrapple From The Apple. It's the culmination of all of your influences whether Bird or Ravel or Woody Shaw over a tune...

Granted, what has the last word is whether you sound good. And that is subjective, but we know sounding good when we hear it. Ha. *Individuality* is often associated with lack of fundamentals and sloppy playing, taking pride in not learning the music for sake of *having a voice*. I played with a drummer like that.

In a word... Hell.
 

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Since we're talking about an artform here, there's never anywhere to "arrive" at. There will always be an infinite amount of ground to still be covered in the world of musical mastery.

Even Bird and Trane didn't reach the very last absolute pinnacle. Hell, Coltrane was still practicing on stage. I'm sure that there's no way that he would have told you that he had it all figured out.

I'd say just play, have fun, do your very best, and just like all of the giants, realize that you'll always be a work in progress.
 

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And - as I have stressed before - communicate with the audience. If you are just concentrating on producing a note-perfect copy of some earlier guy, you lose all but the most diehard fans.
 

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Technique and theory are only useful if they are used in service to the music. The more you tune into the music, the easier it will be for the technique and theory to follow. They are the means, not the end.
 

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This may sound corny but there's an old Chinese proverb that says a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

This is actually the slogan of Phil Jackson, the great basketball coach, as it can apply to sports as much as anything from the standpoint that great athletes like Michael Jordan don't dwell on the last game or one sometime in the future. Instead they live very much in the present and try to do the best they can every day out of their sheer love for what they're doing.

And when Trane lived in that now-decrepit house we've been talking about, I am sure he was focused 100 percent on the records he was making then...and I think that pretty much the same concept applies to anyone who is great at anything....
 

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you shouldn't worry so much about the future of your playing or the journey you're going to take as you learn. just do it and get lost in it. as you're learning and playing, you'll deal with that stuff and you'll adjust accordingly if you so desire...

no point worrying about the amount of time it will take for you to develop because there's no set amount of time for anyone. no one knows how much it takes for anyone. all we know is that we have to invest it...
 
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