Metaphors for the Musician
Picturing Jazz, In The Practice Studio, Painless Piano, Ways To Develop
Your Improvising, Theory Demystified, Incomparable Comping, At the Gig,
and Paths to Success.
SAMPLE PAGES: click
On note choice: "You've probably heard the axiom: there are no wrong notes in jazz. But the most rigorous perspective is that there is only one right note: the one that I hear at that moment."
On practicing at a slow tempo: "A
slow practice tempo is one at which you can consciously control all of the
various elements with ease. That means that you have time to send
individual messages from the brain to the hand to control the notes,
rhythms, articulation, dynamics, and fingering--and you even have time left over to think how easy it all is!"
On time: "To me there's no question that time is the single most important element. If I hear a solo with bad time, I have to leave the room (at least figuratively speaking). No matter how intelligent the ideas are or how elegant the language is, that solo will just make me feel agitated and irritable. If I can tap my foot or snap my fingers to a solo, if there's a real pocket to the time feel, then I'll enjoy it no matter what other problems arise. I'd much rather hear wrong notes than bad time."
On licks: "Some musicians are
uncomfortable with the concept of using licks because they fear it will
inhibit their spontaneity. But used correctly, licks can enhance your
improvising and make it smoother. The premise is not to deliberately
insert them into your solos, but to use them to express something you're
On singers: "Singers are musicians too, and they're also people who deserve your full respect. It's not hip to look down your nose at vocalists: it's just uninformed. Many singers are well versed in the more technical aspects of music (such as theory), but those who aren't may still be fabulous musicians."
On teaching: "As a teacher you want to share your vision of the truth with your students. But there are those teachers who share too little of the truth. I call them 'gurus.' The guru derives an ego boost from being mysterious, and his worst nightmare is to be completely understood…Then there are the 'over-explainers' who share too much of the truth. The over-explainer doesn't want to get caught saying anything too simplistic for fear of incurring the scorn of students…The common denominator is this: a good teacher is concerned only with his students' welfare--not with boosting his status in their eyes."
On composing: "Sitting down to write your very first tune can be intimidating. You may think, 'I have to know a lot more about music before I can even think about composing. There's so much theory, so many rules I don't know yet.' There will always be more rules and more theory. Duke Ellington knew much more at age fifty than he did at age thirty. You can't let that stop you."
On gigging: "Be nice. I'm serious. The number one [asset of a sideman] has nothing specifically to do with your playing. Show up with a good attitude. Enjoy the music and the people you're playing with. Be flexible and willing to handle unexpected snags without losing your cool."