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  1. #151
    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Anybody who can play the head of "Confirmation" with Bird, at tempo, is doing pretty doggone good. That's well done. You learn 8 or 9 Charlie Parker tunes, you'll have a deposit of fabulous jazz vocabulary. Sort out the phrases by chord progression, play them by position so you can move them around and change keys, and mix-and-match them in other settings.

    A guy who learns a dozen or so Charlie Parker phrases and can really use them is well on the way.
    Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it. Those Parker heads are no joke! I'll make sure to try to get some more of them under my fingers.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #152

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it. Those Parker heads are no joke! I'll make sure to try to get some more of them under my fingers.
    Well "Confirmation" is a certified BEAR. So if you backed off and nailed a few blues heads, like "Relaxin at Camarillo" or "Billie's Bounce" you'd likely find them pretty easy.

  4. #153
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    Thanks I appreciate the sentiment. That's quite a bit of baggage your asking folks to drop but I get what you're saying. Sometimes I need to just stay out of my own way.
    i tried to send this to you privately but you’re configured for no PMs.

    Hi James,
    I didn’t want this to be part of the thread.

    I wasn’t suggesting you “drop” anything.
    I was only suggesting, to combat your stated “frustration”, you could revisit the arduous path you chose for yourself.

    The method you choose might include some of the same parts of your current method - because you recognize their value.

    You know the joke:
    Me: (lifting my sore arm). “Doc. It hurts when I do this”
    Doc: “Don’t do that”.

    I’d be curious to know how you (generally) ended up with your current regimen.

    BTW: I’m not a very disciplined person nor skilled jazz guitarist. I study jazz mainly because it is a vehicle for exploring theory with the guitar. My other choice might have been classical.

    I’m sure you’ll find satisfaction continuing as you have - but your original post title pleaded for “relief”. So I gave you “permission” to “reboot”.

    For myself: After comparing myself to others, I realized, I probably shouldn’t. I should try to do things the way that my tastes and goals dictate. Perhaps the ones I’m comparing myself did exactly that (they were original). Not everybody (including my girlfriend) approaches things this way.

    I know you’ll continue to succeed. Good luck.

  5. #154

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    Hi, James,
    There's a lot to swallow in the previous posts: some good . . . some, not so good. I believe in the organic approach:

    1. Study Classical Guitar: learn the mechanics of music--sight reading, theory, general pedagogy with your goal to become a musician where
    you can track your real progress. If you're an "ear musician," your road will be long and tedious with slow progress
    2. Listen to all quality music--Classical, Bossa and Jazz
    3. When you're confident in your mechanical skills, begin learning Jazz Standards. Always choose songs that you love since you'll be spending
    years with them
    4. As you become comfortable with the songs, add embellishments that sound good to your ears. Copying solos, for some, leads to robotic
    playing with old, tired, cliche riffs that do not express who you are as a musician. Use your ears!
    5. Then, in 15 or 20 years, you might be a good Jazzer. How's that for odds. . . unless ,of course, you're the next Wes or George.

    Good playing . . . Marinero

  6. #155

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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarStudent
    Would you kindly provide the title of the Clint Strong, YouTube video you mentioned? Thank you
    I am not the OP but I just happened to have watched the video recently. The question starts at 25:50.


  7. #156

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    @jamesrohr

    How’s it been going these past few months?

    Although I disagree with the specifics of some of what’s been said here I would say one important point that came up is being able to assess your progress.

    Educators talk about different types of assessment. If you have a teacher, their assessment and goal setting is key to driving the process onwards.

    If you are self taught you need to assess yourself and set your own milestones. In the end all musicians should eventually become self directed learners, so this is useful for everyone. We don’t tend to expect this of beginners but most interested in jazz are already past the beginner stage, and lessons may be a lot less frequent even if they are regular. Teachers at this stage may also assume the student will know how to direct their own learning.

    There are two main types of assessment - formative and summative. Both are important. Formative assessment is ongoing while summative is as the name suggests something that happens at the end of a section of study - so an end of term recital, music exam, big concert or something like that.

    Formative assessment is the kinds of calls you make when practicing - do I know that piece well enough? Did I play that picking pattern correctly? And so on. I suspect you may already be doing this type of self assessment, perhaps if anything too much! Because so much of practice is to do with, basically, working on stuff we suck at, some sort of long term assessment is really important to stop that feel of thankless grind.

    In my stage of musical life summative assessment is normally making a recording or playing a really nice gig. It’s not assessed in the academic sense but it still gives me a goal to work towards. I can video and record the concert and reflect on how it went later. Eventually I have a record of how my playing has developed over the years.

    I’ll also make little lists of things I would like to learn, like a list of tunes, perhaps ideas I’d like to explore and so on.

    I think you should certainly think about this kind of thing. I think I would go mad if I didn’t have things to work towards like this.

    Lastly some areas of learning can be assessed in a quantitative way - one’s knowledge of scales on the neck, a theory syllabus, performance on an ear training app, graded reading and so on. This is very useful because the numbers don’t lie. You can see your development in a very objective way. “Hey last March I only knew 1 position for that scale, now I can play it in 5.’

    However not all areas can be assessed numerically and it’s equally important to find ways to assess those. Certainly recordings, videos, internal reflection and feedback from peers are good ways to do this. Music and music education is not purely positivist....

  8. #157

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    As a closely linked point, I often see students that complain about their progress having plateued. Usually what these students need is a process for practice.

    Most are noodlers - so they will pick up the instrument and play, often very nicely, but not usually in a directed, purposeful way. In this case, getting them to do 5 minutes of actual, focussed practice can be really helpful. Also making sure that the distinction between practising and performing is well understood.

    I think that's important to note, because while noodling can actually be a really beneficial thing at the early stages when time on the instrument and a love for playing are the most important things, by the intermediate stage you want to be working more on specifics and details.

    As a basically self taught player, I avoided this type of work for years, and it did my playing no favours, even though in some ways I was a strong player. I feel if I'd really understood the process of practicing and self assessment, my playing would have improved much more quickly. In fact I would say I've only been practicing properly for half my playing life (about 12 years out over 20.)

    Good teachers are obviously helpful here. I don't think they have to be jazz musicians to teach the process of learning. In fact, most of the jazz education experiences I've had have been focussed on information and material over process.

  9. #158

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    @jamesrohr

    How’s it been going these past few months?

    Although I disagree with the specifics of some of what’s been said here I would say one important point that came up is being able to assess your progress.

    Educators talk about different types of assessment. If you have a teacher, their assessment and goal setting is key to driving the process onwards.

    If you are self taught you need to assess yourself and set your own milestones. In the end all musicians should eventually become self directed learners, so this is useful for everyone. We don’t tend to expect this of beginners but most interested in jazz are already past the beginner stage, and lessons may be a lot less frequent even if they are regular. Teachers at this stage may also assume the student will know how to direct their own learning.

    There are two main types of assessment - formative and summative. Both are important. Formative assessment is ongoing while summative is as the name suggests something that happens at the end of a section of study - so an end of term recital, music exam, big concert or something like that.

    Formative assessment is the kinds of calls you make when practicing - do I know that piece well enough? Did I play that picking pattern correctly? And so on. I suspect you may already be doing this type of self assessment, perhaps if anything too much! Because so much of practice is to do with, basically, working on stuff we suck at, some sort of long term assessment is really important to stop that feel of thankless grind.

    In my stage of musical life summative assessment is normally making a recording or playing a really nice gig. It’s not assessed in the academic sense but it still gives me a goal to work towards. I can video and record the concert and reflect on how it went later. Eventually I have a record of how my playing has developed over the years.

    I’ll also make little lists of things I would like to learn, like a list of tunes, perhaps ideas I’d like to explore and so on.

    I think you should certainly think about this kind of thing. I think I would go mad if I didn’t have things to work towards like this.

    Lastly some areas of learning can be assessed in a quantitative way - one’s knowledge of scales on the neck, a theory syllabus, performance on an ear training app, graded reading and so on. This is very useful because the numbers don’t lie. You can see your development in a very objective way. “Hey last March I only knew 1 position for that scale, now I can play it in 5.’

    However not all areas can be assessed numerically and it’s equally important to find ways to assess those. Certainly recordings, videos, internal reflection and feedback from peers are good ways to do this. Music and music education is not purely positivist....
    This is a great application of mainstream educational assessment principles to music. I never thought of my clips before as summative assessment, but that really turned a light on for me. Thanks.

  10. #159

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    "I think that's important to note, because while noodling can actually be a really beneficial thing " Christianm77


    Hi, C,
    If by "noodling" you mean playing around with ideas in a undirected manner(free flow), I would agree. I call it doodling(US?) and it is one of the most important things a serious musician can do AFTER he has finished his formal practice. Doodling fires one's creative instincts and allows a free flow of undirected ideas to materialize. Many times, I have rewritten new beginnings, endings or turnarounds by the power of free association. This works for me in my Classical, Bossa and Jazz playing. Indispensable for the creative musician. Good playing . . . Marinero

  11. #160

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    "I think that's important to note, because while noodling can actually be a really beneficial thing " Christianm77


    Hi, C,
    If by "noodling" you mean playing around with ideas in a undirected manner(free flow), I would agree. I call it doodling(US?) and it is one of the most important things a serious musician can do AFTER he has finished his formal practice. Doodling fires one's creative instincts and allows a free flow of undirected ideas to materialize. Many times, I have rewritten new beginnings, endings or turnarounds by the power of free association. This works for me in my Classical, Bossa and Jazz playing. Indispensable for the creative musician. Good playing . . . Marinero
    Yes I agree.... there’s also a freeness about noodling which is really nice. Performances should have that freeness. (Of course there’s a directed quality to performances lacking in pure noodling.)

    I actually should make more time for myself to do this. It’s not goal oriented but you often end up with a tune or something at the end of it.

    OTOH a lot of what I do is to strict deadline and I work well this way too. Say I have a rehearsal tomorrow. I have to write a new tune. Just blat one out and get it done and don’t think about it too much.

    But that quality of playfulness should always be there. It’s easy to forget.

  12. #161
    Thank you for asking. My apologies for the tardiness of my reply. I just now thought about this post and wanted to review the replies to see if I missed anything.

    Unfortunately I have chosen to stop practicing Jazz and Improv. After some years of study and diligent practice , I came to understand that I am simply unable to grasp improv for a number of reasons, none of which I’ll trouble/bore anyone with.

    And although my failure to comprehend Jazz improv definitely hurts, I’ve mostly just shifted focus to Jazz-adjacent musics such as Blues, Fusion, and Funk. I also joined a fairly terrible Dad Rock band that gives me lots of space for obnoxious soloing. Again, it’s terrible, and I’m not satisfied doing it but, unlike Jazz, I can actually do it.

    I still warm up daily with my Parker heads and Martino lines, and I still listen to Bop quite often but it’s a much more casual thing now. Throwing in the towel has afforded me to opportunity to just listen and enjoy, which I think I was missing.

    Again, thanks for asking. Take care.
    Last edited by Jamesrohr1; 11-11-2020 at 03:24 PM.

  13. #162

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    This is the exact point where you should keep going.......

    If you stick with it you will be rewarded ......

    Go back to basics and have fun playing ii V I's (use the altered scale over the V for a real jazz sound).

    Good luck!!

    PS I'm also a rocker in days gone by, started learning jazz and like yourself I didn't get it, went and did the whole classical guitar thing as I liked fingerstyle guitar, now I'm playing chord melody jazz and loving it. You just gotta find your feet.

  14. #163
    The great bluegrass guitarist, Doc Watson was blind. His father put a guitar in his hands and luckily Doc had the genes to make gorgeous, impressive music. Also, it should be mentioned: “Doc had an imperative: He had no other, obvious way to earn money”. I’d guess the same was true for countless other accomplished musical performers.
    I’ve been an inspiring guitarist (with quite minimal talent): Who knows what my motive was: Girls, peer admiration, the thrill of mastery? Certainly not money.

    Enter a pandemic: Shacked up with girlfriend for 9 months so far. I can’t fulfill any of the above motives, immediately. I’ve been reading literature, I’ve been exercising, I’ve been cooking - and the guitar and guitar books gather dust.
    Last I looked, my abdication hasn’t harmed planetary orbits or created tidal waves.
    My point: Not everybody CAN be (needs to be) Pat Martino.
    Your story may be entirely different.
    I’ll likely get back to those glorious fingerstyle charts and playing with others. But in the meantime, I’ll “just sit here and watch the River flow”.

  15. #164

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    Is Jamesrohr1 still around? How are you getting on? Out of curiosity :-)

  16. #165
    Thanks for asking. I appreciate it. See my previous reply above from this morning:

    Thank you for asking. My apologies for the tardiness of my reply. I just now thought about this post and wanted to review the replies to see if I missed anything.

    Unfortunately I have chosen to stop practicing Jazz and Improv. After some years of study and diligent practice , I came to understand that I am simply unable to grasp improv for a number of reasons, none of which I’ll trouble/bore anyone with.

    And although my failure to comprehend Jazz improv definitely hurts, I’ve mostly just shifted focus to Jazz-adjacent musics such as Blues, Fusion, and Funk. I also joined a fairly terrible Dad Rock band that gives me lots of space for obnoxious soloing. Again, it’s terrible, and I’m not satisfied doing it but, unlike Jazz, I can actually do it.

    I still warm up daily with my Parker heads and Martino lines, and I still listen to Bop quite often but it’s a much more casual thing now. Throwing in the towel has afforded me to opportunity to just listen and enjoy, which I think I was missing.”

    Again, thanks for asking. Take care.

  17. #166

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    Unfortunately I have chosen to stop practicing Jazz and Improv. After some years of study and diligent practice , I came to understand that I am simply unable to grasp improv for a number of reasons, none of which I’ll trouble/bore anyone with.
    .
    I'm exactly the same. Spent many years trying and failing to come to grips with improvising over changes and trying to sound like a jazz player, and this last year really trying. All to no avail. Haven't given up yet, but I think there must be something inside some people that means they simply don't get it, or simply can't make the required brain / intuition / sub-conscious leap deep inside.

    It's not about listening - I listen to tons of jazz. I transcribe. I read the books. I work through a lot of stuff and the lines that I'm given I can play, and when I do play them they sound okay, and good enough to know that articulation would come given a few more years. I can compose a passable but extremely derivative and cliched solo that uses arpeggios and passing notes and stolen licks. But I can't improvise decent lines myself for love nor money. I once figured composing was just improvising but a great deal slower. Alas, it's not. Improvising is very different.

    The lacking creativity element may be a bit like song-writing, I knew a guy who could take three chords and a few notes and bang! Wow! A great melody. I mean, the pop charts and history of rock music is full of such people. Me? Three chords and I come up with the same melody every time. If I force myself to try something different it's invariably - no, always - awful.

    I'm trying something different. Two things actually. I've sort of left improvisation behind and these days just concentrate on the melody - playing it straight, maybe adding in some passing notes, and maybe some rhythmic deviation. It won't get me on a bandstand anywhere but at least it works in the context of a song. And secondly I'm trying to play this stuff on another instrument altogether (clarinet) and in the process avoiding any preconceptions and stylistic ruts (I've played country and rock'n'roll guitar for 40 years and maybe that's simply too ingrained), and also it's forcing me to learn proper notes rather than patterns (although once you've practiced a scale a hundred times you're no longer thinking of notes). We'll see whether this enables me to get into guitar jazz via a secret doorway!

    In the end I think I'll end up doing something similar to Liarspoker and probably end up as chord melody player. I play a lot of fingerstyle ragtime and maybe that cross-over point will be where I find my place.

    Anyway, you're not alone James!

    Derek

  18. #167

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    As very much a beginner, this is the most depressing and discouraging thing I've read. Ugh. It was like reading a disturbing news story that you cant put down.....I just kept reading. I'm a couple guidless years in and had a major setback the other day and now i read that after 30 or 40 years of playing guitar folks still cant improvise and are gonna stop trying? I will be 50 in December, double ugh.

  19. #168

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    DMGolf66, don't despair! I may have been playing for 40 years, but I think I've done the same two years twenty times, so really I've only myself to blame! Push on and keep moving forward and you'll be fine :-)
    Derek

  20. #169
    Quote Originally Posted by digger
    I'm exactly the same. Spent many years trying and failing to come to grips with improvising over changes and trying to sound like a jazz player, and this last year really trying. All to no avail. Haven't given up yet, but I think there must be something inside some people that means they simply don't get it, or simply can't make the required brain / intuition / sub-conscious leap deep inside.

    It's not about listening - I listen to tons of jazz. I transcribe. I read the books. I work through a lot of stuff and the lines that I'm given I can play, and when I do play them they sound okay, and good enough to know that articulation would come given a few more years. I can compose a passable but extremely derivative and cliched solo that uses arpeggios and passing notes and stolen licks. But I can't improvise decent lines myself for love nor money. I once figured composing was just improvising but a great deal slower. Alas, it's not. Improvising is very different.

    The lacking creativity element may be a bit like song-writing, I knew a guy who could take three chords and a few notes and bang! Wow! A great melody. I mean, the pop charts and history of rock music is full of such people. Me? Three chords and I come up with the same melody every time. If I force myself to try something different it's invariably - no, always - awful.

    I'm trying something different. Two things actually. I've sort of left improvisation behind and these days just concentrate on the melody - playing it straight, maybe adding in some passing notes, and maybe some rhythmic deviation. It won't get me on a bandstand anywhere but at least it works in the context of a song. And secondly I'm trying to play this stuff on another instrument altogether (clarinet) and in the process avoiding any preconceptions and stylistic ruts (I've played country and rock'n'roll guitar for 40 years and maybe that's simply too ingrained), and also it's forcing me to learn proper notes rather than patterns (although once you've practiced a scale a hundred times you're no longer thinking of notes). We'll see whether this enables me to get into guitar jazz via a secret doorway!

    In the end I think I'll end up doing something similar to Liarspoker and probably end up as chord melody player. I play a lot of fingerstyle ragtime and maybe that cross-over point will be where I find my place.

    Anyway, you're not alone James!

    Derek
    I feel your pain acutely. I think we share the same brain. All the issues you describe with regard to talent, predisposition, and creativity, I have. I banged my head against the wall daily for close to four years and stressed myself out something awful. Lots of sleepless nights questioning myself, my self-worth, my ability to learn and the nature of learning in general.

    I certainly don't want to discourage anyone or be any kind of a toxic influence on this forum but I had to stop. Oddly, I'm listening to Jazz however as I type this.

    Towards the end of my Bebop studies I wrote a fairly comprehensive one year practice plan to try to stay on track. I followed it closely and was crushed when I still hadn't made any progress. I'm now following a fairly dense two year practice plan for Blues/Fusion. The difference is, I'm not going to be upset in the least if I don't finish it or if I don't see the results I want. At my age (48), I'm just going to see where things take me and try to enjoy it as much as possible.

    And if I'm in a better headspace who knows? I may try Bop again. It just scares the hell out of me right now though. And that's not a healthy attitude.

    Best of luck to all.

  21. #170

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger
    I can compose a passable but extremely derivative and cliched solo that uses arpeggios and passing notes and stolen licks.
    But that is totally the right way to learn to improvise. I probably did exactly this for about ten years before I could play anything I thought was any good. If you can do this with good time and rhythm it will sound good.

    I think sometimes people may have an exaggerated idea of what ‘improvisation’ means in jazz. Can you play the melody of the tune, but vary it and embellish it a bit? Change the rhythms, add some passing notes, enclosures, etc., throw a few blues licks in here and there? If so you can play a perfectly acceptable jazz solo. Some great solos (e.g. Lester Young) sound like this.

  22. #171

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    I feel your pain acutely. I think we share the same brain. All the issues you describe with regard to talent, predisposition, and creativity, I have. I banged my head against the wall daily for close to four years and stressed myself out something awful. Lots of sleepless nights questioning myself, my self-worth, my ability to learn and the nature of learning in general.

    I certainly don't want to discourage anyone or be any kind of a toxic influence on this forum but I had to stop. Oddly, I'm listening to Jazz however as I type this.

    Towards the end of my Bebop studies I wrote a fairly comprehensive one year practice plan to try to stay on track. I followed it closely and was crushed when I still hadn't made any progress. I'm now following a fairly dense two year practice plan for Blues/Fusion. The difference is, I'm not going to be upset in the least if I don't finish it or if I don't see the results I want. At my age (48), I'm just going to see where things take me and try to enjoy it as much as possible.

    And if I'm in a better headspace who knows? I may try Bop again. It just scares the hell out of me right now though. And that's not a healthy attitude.

    Best of luck to all.
    You are giving up after FOUR years?

    Seriously, that is no time at all. Took me at least 10 years to get anywhere playing jazz (bebop). And I had already been playing classical guitar for ten years and rock guitar for several years before I got into jazz.

  23. #172
    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    You are giving up after FOUR years?

    Seriously, that is no time at all. Took me at least 10 years to get anywhere playing jazz (bebop). And I had already been playing classical guitar for ten years and rock guitar for several years before I got into jazz.
    I'm sorry you disagree. FWIW - I had been playing for thirty years prior to attempting Jazz. I have a music degree and taught professionally for a number of years as well in addition to being a recording/touring artist. I personally feel that four years in any endeavor should be long enough to make some degree of measurable progress. (I could have picked up another college degree in that time!) And if not, then I guess this further reinforces the proposition that I probably made a mistake trying to tackle Bebop as I may be too impatient and have the wrong mental outlook.

    Thank you for your insight however.

    *edited for grammar
    Last edited by Jamesrohr1; 11-13-2020 at 01:23 PM.

  24. #173

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    OK I’m in grumpy old man rant mode today, so here’s another thing.

    Don’t you guys get any FUN out of playing this stuff? Cos that’s what kept me going for ten years. Not worrying about which complicated scale to play over which chord, or how fast I could go, or did I sound like Joe Pass or whoever, or was I being ‘original’.

    Just to be able to play some cool Parker or Wes licks on a blues over a backing track, and make it swing, it just felt good and really enjoyable. A hundred times more fun than playing the same old boring rock solos I had been playing for ages.

    So I kept on doing it and having fun. For a long time I thought ‘yeah but I’ll never be able to play jazz properly’ and of course I got very frustrated at times.

    But I just couldn’t stop doing it, and eventually it sort of came together somehow.

    If you don’t enjoy the process of exploring new ground and finding out from real-life examples how this music works and feels, then maybe that’s part of the problem?

  25. #174

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    I enjoy it always - any music, playing, listening, performing. But that fun is always tempered by the feeling that it shouldn't be this slow, this hard, this impossible.

    I remember, many years ago doing the original Jimmy Bruno school at Artistworks, learning his five shapes (and I still practice them religiously) and eventually getting to the point where I learned how to apply these shapes over Satin Doll. It took masses of brain power and calculations to figure out I was playing this ii-V which meant I was in this key and, as I was in this position on the guitar neck, that meant use this shape... and by then we were on a different ii-v. My brain never, even now after many more years of working on those shapes, works quickly enough to make those connections.

    After a while, of course, you've played the damn thing so many times that the calculations aren't needed (for that song) and so you can concentrate on playing the notes... and then, after all that shape practice and calculus you discover you don't sound jazzy in the least... so you listen to Jimmy playing effortlessly and swinging so well and you try and copy it and it just doesn't happen. Then you move on to Blue Bossa, and actually it's a little easier, so you go back and try Satin Doll and discover you've forgotten it.

    Sometimes I wonder if this last point is the key one - memory. I'm currently working through Chapter One of Randy Vincent's Introduction to Jazz book for the fifth time. My memory for chords / sequences / rules / lines etc is just non-existent. Maybe I banged my head when I was 16 and damaged the jazz-memory centre. I can remember Johnny Cash songs fine :-)

    But to get back to the enjoyment - oh yes. These lockdown days I've surprised myself of how much I enjoy playing music just for me. But still can't improvise once the chords go by at any decent pace, and even on a blues I still can't swing.

    The clarinet's coming on well, though, and only today I took a lick back onto the guitar and found that it did sound pretty neat, and though simple, was something that I wouldn't have played on the guitar. So it's entirely possible that I am too ingrained in other styles.

    Cheers
    Derek

  26. #175

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    I'm sorry you disagree. FWIW - I had been playing for thirty years prior to attempting Jazz. I have a music degree and taught professionally for a number of years as well in addition to being a recording/touring artist. I personally feel that four years in any endeavor should be long to make some degree of measurable progress. (I could have picked up another college degree in that time!) And if not, then I guess this further reinforces the proposition that I probably made a mistake trying to tackle Bebop as I may be too impatient and have the wrong mental outlook.

    Thank you for your insight however.
    Fair enough, I guess we all have a different outlook. I have gone back and read your original post at the top of the thread. It said you came from a rock/metal background and you regarded jazz as an ‘intellectual pursuit’. I have never really seen it that way, to me it is about groove, feel, and blues, of course with some additional harmonic complexity. But probably no more advanced harmonically than playing Bach on the classical guitar, which I was already doing.

    You said you were disappointed to see no real progress after six months. That does seem a bit impatient to me. Maybe you had been so successful playing rock that your expectations were similar for learning jazz?

    Also you implied that you were learning jazz to make you a better player or something. I think the only possible motivation to learn jazz is because you love it and desperately want to play it for its own sake. Otherwise I don’t think you will stay the course. I wouldn’t study metal for ten years because I thought it would improve my playing generally, it would have to be because I really wanted to play that genre of music.

    But hey, I’m not trying to criticise you, I can only speak from my own viewpoint of course.

  27. #176

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger
    I enjoy it always - any music, playing, listening, performing. But that fun is always tempered by the feeling that it shouldn't be this slow, this hard, this impossible.

    I remember, many years ago doing the original Jimmy Bruno school at Artistworks, learning his five shapes (and I still practice them religiously) and eventually getting to the point where I learned how to apply these shapes over Satin Doll. It took masses of brain power and calculations to figure out I was playing this ii-V which meant I was in this key and, as I was in this position on the guitar neck, that meant use this shape... and by then we were on a different ii-v. My brain never, even now after many more years of working on those shapes, works quickly enough to make those connections.

    After a while, of course, you've played the damn thing so many times that the calculations aren't needed (for that song) and so you can concentrate on playing the notes... and then, after all that shape practice and calculus you discover you don't sound jazzy in the least... so you listen to Jimmy playing effortlessly and swinging so well and you try and copy it and it just doesn't happen. Then you move on to Blue Bossa, and actually it's a little easier, so you go back and try Satin Doll and discover you've forgotten it.

    Sometimes I wonder if this last point is the key one - memory. I'm currently working through Chapter One of Randy Vincent's Introduction to Jazz book for the fifth time. My memory for chords / sequences / rules / lines etc is just non-existent. Maybe I banged my head when I was 16 and damaged the jazz-memory centre. I can remember Johnny Cash songs fine :-)

    But to get back to the enjoyment - oh yes. These lockdown days I've surprised myself of how much I enjoy playing music just for me. But still can't improvise once the chords go by at any decent pace, and even on a blues I still can't swing.

    The clarinet's coming on well, though, and only today I took a lick back onto the guitar and found that it did sound pretty neat, and though simple, was something that I wouldn't have played on the guitar. So it's entirely possible that I am too ingrained in other styles.

    Cheers
    Derek
    I think I need to unsubscribe to this thread, haha.

  28. #177

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMgolf66
    I think I need to unsubscribe to this thread, haha.
    maybe but DON’T GIVE UP PLAYING!

    There’s always something you can do. Doesn’t have to be all about improv. Learn a new tune. Learn some chord-melody stuff. Learn some new chord shapes. Try playing a tune you already know, but in a different key. Learn to play walking bass and chords (lots of youtube videos on this I should think).

    Think of something else that I haven’t thought of!

  29. #178
    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    OK I’m in grumpy old man rant mode today, so here’s another thing.

    Don’t you guys get any FUN out of playing this stuff? Cos that’s what kept me going for ten years. Not worrying about which complicated scale to play over which chord, or how fast I could go, or did I sound like Joe Pass or whoever, or was I being ‘original’.

    Just to be able to play some cool Parker or Wes licks on a blues over a backing track, and make it swing, it just felt good and really enjoyable. A hundred times more fun than playing the same old boring rock solos I had been playing for ages.

    So I kept on doing it and having fun. For a long time I thought ‘yeah but I’ll never be able to play jazz properly’ and of course I got very frustrated at times.

    But I just couldn’t stop doing it, and eventually it sort of came together somehow.

    If you don’t enjoy the process of exploring new ground and finding out from real-life examples how this music works and feels, then maybe that’s part of the problem?
    I guess the short answer is "no". I mean I love Jazz, although I think I'm more inclined towards Fusion and Modal stuff than I am Bebop. I am really basic in that I love Kind of Blue and A Love Supreme. I also love staying out of my comfort zone and learning new concepts on my instrument. I was really attracted to the idea of learning some standards and maybe playing with some people one day when I was ready. I romanticized the simple idea of being able to put on some some backing tracks and just wailing for my own amusement. On paper, I really thought I was ready to tackle Jazz.

    It tackled me instead! LOL. I just got real discouraged at the lack of progress, at continuously sounding awful, of seeing the mountains and mountains of work required in order to sound merely mediocre, at getting lost in the form, of having no idea what to play as the chords flew by. Mostly I fell in to this awful pattern of practicing and woodshedding and transcribing for years on end and retaining nothing. Unfortunately, as I am self taught, I think I'm just not smart enough, creative enough, or maybe just not patient enough to figure it out. I'm not looking for pity there, just stating the facts as I see them. There are some things some people can't do.

    I think, under those circumstances, I can't really say I was having much in the way of fun. But personally, music has always been very difficult for me. It's a lot of work if you want to do it well. I have to woodshed constantly for things that come quite naturally to others. I've fooled some folks into thinking I know what I'm doing just by over-preparing for rehearsals/gigs/recordings etc. Turns out you can't fake Jazz.

    I hope I'm not discouraging anyone else though. If you got the bug, go for it! I'm the last person anyone should listen to on the subject of Jazz improvisation.

  30. #179

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    I think you possibly underestimated the effort involved, it’s true that playing jazz is not easy after coming from rock (I also found that!). As you say, just getting your head round the chord progressions of the standards is quite a ‘culture shock’ after playing relatively simple rock songs for years.

    But I think people over-complicate it as well. For example most standards are really based on ‘chunks’ of the same few progressions. It took me years to figure that out. Before that I saw each tune as a separate ‘forest of chords’ with nothing in common. When you know that, you realise that you can effectively use a lot of the same ideas on many different tunes. Reducing and simplifying the structures is what a lot of musicians do (e.g. Joe Pass said that to him there are only 3 chords: major, minor and dominant).

    But anyway that’s a whole other discussion. In some ways I think I was lucky back then not to have any books, internet, etc. to addle my head with complex theory and so on. I just learned some licks from Wes etc, figured out a few tunes, and went at it. I didn’t even have a fakebook or real book! I had to learn the tunes entirely by ear.

    For bebop stuff, you might want to look at the youtube channel ‘things I learned from Barry Harris’. He reduces things to much simpler approaches. That’s if you still want to try!

  31. #180

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    Well this thread has made me pick up my copy of Introduction to Jazz Soloing again and this time I can dive right in at writing licks since I know where many of the subs are in the book. It's really these subs that will make you sound like you're playing jazz as diatonic everything doesn't really cut it.

    If anyone wants to join me just send a PM.

  32. #181

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    I’m primarily a Rock/Metal guitarist. I’m 45 and have been playing since I was 13. I started off with the Mel Bay books and classical lessons. And I briefly studied Classical and Jazz in college before going down the Shred rabbit hole.

    I’ve tried to study Jazz seriously over the years though, but unfortunately I get quickly overwhelmed. Jazz and Improv is such an intellectual pursuit, I usually get lost after a few minutes and move on to other things. But at this point in my playing, I’d really like to be comfortable improvising in different musical situations. I’d also like my playing to have more depth harmonically, melodically, and rhythmically. It seems like a serious study of Jazz would be the best vehicle for reaching these goals. But it’s so hard. I am so lost. And since turning seriously to Jazz about six months ago, I have made zero progress. In some ways I actually feel my playing has regressed as I seem more aware of how terrible it is and I’m actually afraid to study Jazz sometimes because it seems like such a mountain of work to overcome before you can play with even a modest degree of fluency.

    Being a family guy, I don’t have a lot of time to practice any more. So I’ve worked real hard to narrow my focus and work on just the essential stuff.
    1) Warm-up/Technique. I start by spending several minutes with Jack Zucker’s excellent “Sheets of Sound”.
    2) Repertoire. My goal is to memorize ten essential Jazz Standards by Summer. This includes chords and melody. I’m also writing arpeggios for each chart emphasizing the guide tones as well as playing along to the tunes in IRealPro.
    3) Ear Training. I’m transcribing tunes I like by artists I dig. But for each guitar player I transcribe, I also have to transcribe a horn player.
    4) Vocabulary. Slowly working through the Charlie Parker Omnibook. Very slowly. Lol
    5) Rocking out. My reward for completing that stuff is getting to spend some time making noise with my pedal board and playing whatever I want. Even my Heavy Metal shred BS.

    The thing is, I don’t know if this is enough. After six months, I barely know three Standards, I’ve only transcribed two tunes, and I’m still on page one of the Omnibook. If you asked me to take a solo over a tune right now, you would hear garbage. Utter garbage.

    How long before it isn’t garbage? Lol. I know that’s a dumb question but I can only tolerate feeling like an idiot for so long before it’s time to move on. I know I just need to surrender my ego and give myself permission to stink, but Lord this just seems to suck all the fun out of music. Does this happen to you guys?

    More specifically, is there anything I’m missing that would help speed this along? I tried Skype lessons with a Berkelee grad, but the internet connection was so bad I didn’t really pick much up. Keep in mind I live in a very rural part of the country. There are no Jazz musicians, let alone Jazz guitar teachers here. There are no jams to watch, let alone participate in. I’m stuck doing this on my own, after work, in the evening if I have an hour or so free.

    Seriously though, thanks for reading this far. I know I may sound a little unhinged, but I’m just not getting it. Is it possible some folks are never meant to get Jazz?

    Thanks again.




    Firstly if you don't enjoy it don't bother. You are not looking to become a pro player so if it is not enjoyable it sounds like a pain you don't need.

    However my advice to turn agony into something you enjoy is what worked for me.

    Throw all the books out and all the practice you hate doing. You know the major scale backwards yes? Good that is all you need and a pair of ears. Keep in mind listening is practice. I feel listening to classic Grant Green for 5 hours will help more than practicing a 13b9 arpeggio in every key. Why? Because you are absorbing the language and the phrasing with your ears. The brain and the ears are magical instruments and if you let them will do all the work for you.

    Take a couple of tunes you love and have an emotional connection to. If you are learning a tune because you feel you should rather than because it moves you don't bother. I recommend starting with something mid tempo without a flood of changes at first. Music isn't a competition, playing a simple tune well is better than playing a fast tune badly.

    Listen to all the versions you can find of it, play it in the car, sing it in the shower. Play through the song focusing on arpeggiating the chords slowly, play it while watching TV. Don't worry about fancy inversions, just play what shapes you know and feel comfortable with. When you can play it without sheet music in front of you will know the path through the song. What key is the song in, does it change key? Make a note where that change happens and listen so you can hear it each time it comes round.

    Final step, now play just the major scale in the key of each section and focus on playing melodies. Don't worry about anything else. Then an amazing thing will happen. Your ear will guide you to both the extensions and passing notes required and guide you to new and exciting melodic ideas, without having to think "Oh I should be playing Lydian here".

    I am 41, I have focused on playing jazz for about 5 years. No one will mistake me for a professional jazz player, however I can now sit down and record the chords of a favourite tune in my DAW and improvise over it for hours and it is the best feeling. I am aware this process may not work for everyone and I hope I am not telling you anything that may damage your development, I am sure some more experienced players will correct me but doing this turned me from someone who was depressed every time I sat down to practice to someone who pretty much only learns by improvising.

  33. #182

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMgolf66
    As very much a beginner, this is the most depressing and discouraging thing I've read. Ugh. It was like reading a disturbing news story that you cant put down.....I just kept reading. I'm a couple guidless years in and had a major setback the other day and now i read that after 30 or 40 years of playing guitar folks still cant improvise and are gonna stop trying? I will be 50 in December, double ugh.

    Some people can't improvise, who knows why. But just because they can't, doesn't mean you can't. Remember it is playing a melody. If you can come up with a melody over a tune, by singing or playing then you have the necessary skills already. I am sure you can come up with 4 or 5 variations on a melody over some chords you come up with? It may take a while but jazz is just playing different melodies over a set of chords.

  34. #183

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    OK, I'm confused. James, you say you have a music degree in one post and then in another you say you are self-taught. Do you mean you are self-taught on guitar but have formal training on another instrument? What's your primary instrument if it's not guitar? Or did you get a degree in composition, music therapy, something else? I just want to try to get an idea of where you are coming from.

    Second, I'm glad you got a teacher a few years ago. Wish I had seen this thread then; if I had, I would say that if you are not making progress and not retaining anything, get a DIFFERENT teacher. Casting no aspersion towards your teacher or you, just saying that sometimes it "clicks" and other times it doesn't. I have had a number of teachers over the years, and some of them helped me right away, while others used an approach that did not help me. Maybe it was great for their other students, but not for me.

    Finally, you said a few times that you can't "think of a melody" and that you can't scat sing. A technique that might help is to take a melody you can already play and then start modifying it. Keep the melody notes but change the rhythm. Play pieces, phrases, and repeat them. Play pieces of the melody out of order. Try changing just one note. Then maybe another. As you try out more things, you'll get further from playing the melody by rote and closer to making things up on the fly. The basic melody and rhythm provides you a framework of "sounds that work" that you can alter a bit here and there to create new ideas that still work.

    PLAY... not WORK... at this. Just try things out. Keep it fun. Hopefully you will find some fulfillment and keep going.

    You can try this with some of your rock shredding too.... just use what you know and are comfortable with as a starting point. Maybe try playing a rock melody you know with a clean tone, a different tempo, a different groove... not necessarily try to turn it into bop, you said you like fusion and modal... just the idea of taking something you know as a starting point to develop the skill of modifying that as a basis for creating new ideas.

    Lastly, crawl before you walk, walk before you shred. Pick easy tunes and limited goals. Don't try to become Joe Pass overnight; it will just be frustrating.

    This may be too little too late, but... just in case... I hope this helps.

    Good luck!

    SJ

  35. #184
    Quote Originally Posted by starjasmine
    OK, I'm confused. James, you say you have a music degree in one post and then in another you say you are self-taught. Do you mean you are self-taught on guitar but have formal training on another instrument? What's your primary instrument if it's not guitar? Or did you get a degree in composition, music therapy, something else? I just want to try to get an idea of where you are coming from.

    Second, I'm glad you got a teacher a few years ago. Wish I had seen this thread then; if I had, I would say that if you are not making progress and not retaining anything, get a DIFFERENT teacher. Casting no aspersion towards your teacher or you, just saying that sometimes it "clicks" and other times it doesn't. I have had a number of teachers over the years, and some of them helped me right away, while others used an approach that did not help me. Maybe it was great for their other students, but not for me.

    Finally, you said a few times that you can't "think of a melody" and that you can't scat sing. A technique that might help is to take a melody you can already play and then start modifying it. Keep the melody notes but change the rhythm. Play pieces, phrases, and repeat them. Play pieces of the melody out of order. Try changing just one note. Then maybe another. As you try out more things, you'll get further from playing the melody by rote and closer to making things up on the fly. The basic melody and rhythm provides you a framework of "sounds that work" that you can alter a bit here and there to create new ideas that still work.

    PLAY... not WORK... at this. Just try things out. Keep it fun. Hopefully you will find some fulfillment and keep going.

    You can try this with some of your rock shredding too.... just use what you know and are comfortable with as a starting point. Maybe try playing a rock melody you know with a clean tone, a different tempo, a different groove... not necessarily try to turn it into bop, you said you like fusion and modal... just the idea of taking something you know as a starting

    SJ
    To clarify, I mean that my most recent studies in Jazz improvisation were largely self-taught over the last four years. I had one in-person lesson, and a few Skype lessons, none of which were very productive. As I live in a rural area, there are no Jazz clubs or other musicians to play with (even before COVID).

    I don’t really know the difference between Rock melodies and Rock licks. I just know licks really. And it doesn’t matter anyway. I’ve tried to shoehorn some of the Rock stuff over changes. It generally sounds pretty bad.

    This thread has gotten a bit out of hand and turned slightly awkward. I’ve tried to delete it but I don’t think that’s possible. Thanks for everyone’s suggestions. I know you are all only trying to help.
    Last edited by Jamesrohr1; 11-15-2020 at 06:01 PM. Reason: Grammar

  36. #185

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    OK, Ok. I hear you. I don’t want to jump through hoops. I just want to communicate. How do I do that? How do I skip the technical stuff? How do I play music? How do I feel something? How do you get there? What is the procedure?
    I
    I'm certainly feeling this real pain.
    I taught myself basic classical guitar and played pop and rock, but teaching myself jazz is the one of the hardest things I've ever done. Looking back over several years I felt serial confusion reading tutors and attending jazz group sessions. I think now all I needed was someone to say - music is music is music- scales and arpeggios are required unless you have a bat's hearing. If you can play arpeggios over every chord in a jazz standard that's a huge step on from playing chords C,F & G over a pop favourite. Playing the same arpeggios and anticipating the root from a fret below is revelation in sound. But the main thing I look back to is believing I couldn't play any music until I'd mastered every bit of jazz theory and endless advice out there.

  37. #186

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    To clarify, I mean that my most recent studies in Jazz improvisation were largely self-taught over the last four years. I had one in-person lesson, and a few Skype lessons, none of which were very productive. As I live in a rural area, there are no Jazz clubs or other musicians to play with (even before COVID).

    I don’t really know the difference between Rock melodies and Rock licks. I just know licks really. And it doesn’t matter anyway. I’ve tried to shoehorn some of the Rock stuff over changes. It generally sounds pretty bad.

    This thread has gotten a bit out of hand and turned slightly awkward. I’ve tried to delete it but I don’t think that’s possible. Thanks for everyone’s suggestions. I know you are all only trying to help.
    I think it has been a great thread. Lot of us share your feelings about the experience of trying to learn to play Jazz. You expressed your feeling so well - not everyone can do that.

    The thread caused me to do a lot of self-reflection on my Jazz journey. I step away, but then I return to the "fight." But, after 11 years of off and on trying., I am still seeing some progress that keeps me encouraged. Lately, I am quicker to notice the same shapes, when it comes to the modes of the Major Scale. Now, I am facing the challenge of working in some Melodic Minor Modes to get that tension. It has been fun.

    Maybe you can do I what I am doing. Rather than putting pressure on myself to learn X number of Jazz songs, I have written my own changes, based on the ones I normally encounter in Jazz Songs. I spend months just trying to perfect one song, but it has certain chord progressions that I want to master. I can see how one can repeat licks on different songs because many of the shapes are derivative of others that I am familiar with.

    Take Care and Happy Holidays to you and you guitar journey. Great thread. It got me going again on Melodic Minor (and its modes), which for my ears is what makes the Jazz that I really like.

  38. #187
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    To clarify, I mean that my most recent studies in Jazz improvisation were largely self-taught over the last four years. I had one in-person lesson, and a few Skype lessons, none of which were very productive. As I live in a rural area, there are no Jazz clubs or other musicians to play with (even before COVID).

    I don’t really know the difference between Rock melodies and Rock licks. I just know licks really. And it doesn’t matter anyway. I’ve tried to shoehorn some of the Rock stuff over changes. It generally sounds pretty bad.

    This thread has gotten a bit out of hand and turned slightly awkward. I’ve tried to delete it but I don’t think that’s possible. Thanks for everyone’s suggestions. I know you are all only trying to help.
    I relate to much of this. For my part, studying some jazz has helped my musicianship in other areas immensely. I'm a better general acoustic player, better singer , better improviser and accompanist in other styles etc. etc. I feel it's made me a lot better teacher as well. In the back of my mind, I do have vague aspirations to finding people to play jazz with someday, but like you, this is geographically and logistically more difficult than I have time to address right now.

    In terms of the thread, don't worry about it. Threads have a life of their own. They are kind of like children in certain senses, and you have to let go if it becomes something different. It's actually been a great thread, far beyond your personal involvement. So, be happy with that aspect, and don't worry too much about its personal relevance in your life at the moment. That's not what threads are ultimately about. It's simply a conversation which is preserved.

    Thanks for starting the thread, and I'm glad that it's still up.

  39. #188

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1
    I guess the short answer is "no". I mean I love Jazz, although I think I'm more inclined towards Fusion and Modal stuff than I am Bebop. I am really basic in that I love Kind of Blue and A Love Supreme. I also love staying out of my comfort zone and learning new concepts on my instrument. I was really attracted to the idea of learning some standards and maybe playing with some people one day when I was ready. I romanticized the simple idea of being able to put on some some backing tracks and just wailing for my own amusement. On paper, I really thought I was ready to tackle Jazz.

    It tackled me instead! LOL. I just got real discouraged at the lack of progress, at continuously sounding awful, of seeing the mountains and mountains of work required in order to sound merely mediocre, at getting lost in the form, of having no idea what to play as the chords flew by. Mostly I fell in to this awful pattern of practicing and woodshedding and transcribing for years on end and retaining nothing. Unfortunately, as I am self taught, I think I'm just not smart enough, creative enough, or maybe just not patient enough to figure it out. I'm not looking for pity there, just stating the facts as I see them. There are some things some people can't do.

    I think, under those circumstances, I can't really say I was having much in the way of fun. But personally, music has always been very difficult for me. It's a lot of work if you want to do it well. I have to woodshed constantly for things that come quite naturally to others. I've fooled some folks into thinking I know what I'm doing just by over-preparing for rehearsals/gigs/recordings etc. Turns out you can't fake Jazz.

    I hope I'm not discouraging anyone else though. If you got the bug, go for it! I'm the last person anyone should listen to on the subject of Jazz improvisation.
    Do what you need to do. You have learned much, and can have a much deeper, more informed appreciation for jazz than those who have never tried it. Art in any form is a lot harder than it looks like to the non-initiate. Do you think that everyone who wanders the halls of the Louvre can make a world-class painting or sculpture? Of course not. Yet they can experience and enjoy the works they see.You have not stinted in your efforts. You need regret nothing. Your journey has enriched your artistic soul in a way that would be otherwise un-available. You have been there, and back. Kudos! Now cut yourself a little slack, as J.R. "Bob" Dobbs might say, and sit back and watch the river flow. Smell a few roses. Listen to Jazz, and marvel. Play music you like.