To take one example, when Bird first played publicly he fared so poorly that Jo Jones (I think it was) threw as cymbal at his feet to chase him off the bandstand. Supposedly Bird took a summer job playing at a resort, practiced constantly for the summer, and came back a drastically improved player at the end of the summer.LazySaxman said:It seems the only problems that great players seem to tell others about aren't really very big at all. Like Yo Yo Ma practicing, and John Coltrane thinking he needed to know his scales better.
chasing the dragon? :shock:betelsax said:I remember a very cool interview with Yo Yo Ma. He said that the thing he struggles with most is practicing. He called it "facing the dragon." To devote the time to work on your imperfections and tame your instrument, to humbly face your limitations and continuously work at getting better. I bet every great player of any instrument sees facing the dragon as one of his greatest challenges.
That's a pretty interesting question. Definitely they did "a lot" of it - the intense practice regimens of Coltrane and others is well-documented. But I suspect they were also excellent "trouble-shooters," figuring out how to work through a problem when it was encountered.LazySaxman said:I'm interested in knowing how they overcame their problems, not just if they had problems. Did they figure out some radically different way to do it, and that's what made them famous? Or did they just do the same things we all do, but a lot more of it?
My own belief, which I can hardly prove, is this: in most cases they struggled hard and assiduously with the fundamentals and with assimilating the tradition, like most players do. Then they found a way to make that tradition their own and to transcend it in a way that appears obvious once it has been achieved. They found a way to embody the tradition through themselves rather than as a "style". At that point they were expressing their essential selves or an aspect of themselves through music. That is greatness, IMHOchitownjazz said:That's a pretty interesting question. Definitely they did "a lot" of it - the intense practice regimens of Coltrane and others is well-documented. But I suspect they were also excellent "trouble-shooters," figuring out how to work through a problem when it was encountered.
This was definitely a large part of it. Of course, not everyone who played a lot rose to the heights of the greatest improvisors, but these guys would play a gig in the evening, then move on to a jam or sit in with another band, and play until the next morning. Then get a few hours sleep and do it all over again, day in and day out. The opportunity to play this much really doesn't exist anymore. After hours joints used to be present in every major city. Not now. So that's part of it; just playing almost constantly. Problems were largely worked out and solved on the bandstand.BlueNote said:And you also have to remember that some of them were playing almost every day, either at jam sessions or regular gigs... .