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  1. #1

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    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.





    Last edited by Jamesrohr1; 08-21-2019 at 08:22 AM. Reason: forgot link

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  3. #2

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    1) 2) I, too, live in a rural area and only recently got an internet service capable of playing a three-minute video in under ten minutes. This site ( jazzguitar.be ) has a ton of resources. The program you have outlined seems pretty good to me, but remember things take time. learning Jazz is a big order. Maybe just learn songs, one at a time. Get them in your head and under your fingers, in multiple keys. Play songs you actually like. The Great American Songbook has a lot of material, for sure, but it's a lot to expect to master the whole thing ay once. The jazz thing is a process, and a journey. What you learn on any particular song can be applied to all subsequent songs. It'll come. Good luck!
    Best regards, k

  4. #3

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    Nothing wrong with the Omnibook but there are other options by now. Bebop needn't sound like Parker in all cases.

    Anyway, I agree that you should set a longer term goal. Give yourself a few years, but get started on a plan - and stay on course!

    Assuming that we don't have to talk about scales and arpeggio basics, there are several things to focus on in the beginning and intermediate stages of jazz improv. Modal tunes, blues and variations on same, and then various changes (II-V-I, Turnarounds and Rhythm changes, Dominant cycles, Coltrane changes). You needn't conquer them all at once, in fact, don't try!

    Send me a PM and I'll help you as best I can.

  5. #4

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    It sounds like you need to focus. You're spending several minutes with Jack Zucker’s excellent “Sheets of Sound”, trying to memorize Jazz Standards, writing arpeggios for each chart, playing along to the tunes in IRealPro, transcribing guitar parts, transcribing horn parts, working through the Charlie Parker Omnibook, and spending some time making noise with your pedal board and playing whatever you want.

    You need to walk before you can run. I would pick one standard method, either Carol Kaye or
    Leavitt and spend an hour a day focusing on that. Learning to play jazz, even at the most elementary level is a lot of hard work. It's not so much that some people aren't meant to 'get' jazz as it is that most people don't have the time and dedication to do the hard work required to 'get' jazz.

    Good luck. We always find a way to do the things we really want to do if we want to do them badly enough.

  6. #5

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    My $.02.

    I'd figure out how to get a teacher. Back in the 'old days' there were teachers who offered correspondence lessons by mail. Charlie Banacos was one of them. He'd mail you a cassette and lesson written on paper, you'd practice it, record it and mail it back to him. It worked well for a number of his students like Mike Stern, Jeff Berlin, Neil Stubenhaus. The website Truefire does a similar thing but with video. It's not one on one in real time, they record a video and send it to you. You record the lesson and send it back.

    Personally I think it works better than video conferencing software such as Skype. It might not be in real time, but there's nothing like recording yourself practicing an exercise or playing a tune to really show whether you have it down.

    Perhaps you need to lower your goals. Instead of 10 standards by summer, try one standard per month. If you're frustrated, it's probably because you're biting off more than you can chew right now. Stop being in a hurry. It doesn't matter how old you are, or how long you've been playing. Stop thinking, 'by this time (enter value here) I should be able to (enter value here). From my experience it doesn't work this way. A teacher of mine used to say 'it takes as long as it takes'. Try to enjoy the process without worrying about the end result.

    IMO, you're practice schedule seems a little chaotic to me. I haven't heard you play, but if you were my student I'd try to determine how well your knowledge is on the fundamentals and start there.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Dana; 02-14-2018 at 12:38 PM.
    Check out my new book, Essential Skills for the Guitarist on Amazon.

  7. #6

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    Learn the 10 standards through saturated listening.
    Use the resources of Spotify, youtube, etc. to check out multiple versions.
    I would suggest concentrate on the theme at first.
    In addition to learning the melody flexibly, this will organically teach the song form when improvising.
    That which is solidly internalized will be much easier to play when a guitar is back in your hands.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana View Post
    My $.02.

    I'd figure out how to get a teacher. Back in the 'old days' there were teachers who offered correspondence lessons by mail. Charlie Banacos was one of them. He'd send you a cassette and lesson written on paper, you'd practice it, record it and send it back to him. It worked well for a number of his students like Mike Stern, Jeff Berlin, Neil Stubenhaus. The website Truefire does a similar thing but with video. It's not one on one in real time, they record a video and send it to you. You record the lesson and send it back.

    Personally I think it works better than video conferencing software such as Skype. It might not be in real time, but there's nothing like recording yourself practicing an exercise or playing a tune to really show whether you have it down.

    Perhaps you need to lower your goals. Instead of 10 standards by summer, try one standard per month. If you're frustrated, it's probably because you're biting off more than you can chew right now. Stop being in a hurry. It doesn't matter how old you are, or how long you've been playing. Stop thinking, 'by this time (enter value here) I should be able to (enter value here). From my experience it doesn't work this way. A teacher of mine used to say 'it takes as long as it takes'. Try to enjoy the process without worrying about the end result.

    IMO, you're practice schedule seems a little chaotic to me. I haven't heard you play, but if you were my student I'd try to determine how well your knowledge is on the fundamentals and start there.

    Good luck.
    Great post.
    Some of the best advice I ever got was, "Aim lower." Howard Roberts would take this as far as one could: get the first note right. That's it. One note. Then the next. Then the first and second together. Then the third. And so on. (There's a YouTube video of Clint Strong talking about this. Well worth seeking out.) It seems maddeningly slow but as Howard might put it, "If you don't need to do this, fine; but if what you're doing is not working you might need to reconsider whether it's the best way for you...")

    The more I work on fundamentals, the easier everything else gets and the quicker I learn it.

    As for TrueFire lessons, I have one coming with Frank Vignola. Got a discount and figured, why not? There's prep work. Which is good. I think you're right that it may be better NOT to do things in real-time b/c (as with math class) it seems so easy when a pro is showing you something and you think, "Yeah, I got that," but later, when trying to play it, you realize you don't. It really is about getting it under your fingers, not "knowing" what to do but actually DOING it.

    Good luck to the OP. Aim lower, keep at it. Realize how much you already know.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  9. #8

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    I think number 2. should be number 1.

    Learn the tunes. Listen to a lot of version of them and be able to whistle or sing the melodies and understand their form and structure. (AABA?, where are the ii V I's, what sections repeat? what other songs do you play that share some of these traits? et.)

    The songs will be your canvas to paint on.

    Above all be patient but persistent.
    Last edited by Gramps; 02-14-2018 at 01:01 PM.

  10. #9

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    I've edidet ypur post ...
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    ...
    1. I’d really like to be comfortable improvising in different musical situations.
    2. I’d also like my playing to have more depth harmonically, melodically, and rhythmically.
    3. It seems like a serious study of Jazz would be the best vehicle for reaching these goals.
    4. Repertoire. My goal is to memorize ten essential Jazz Standards by Summer.
    5. 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.
    6. Vocabulary.
    1. Does Jazz have to be one of those situations? You do not need to play any Jazz to be able to improvise in different musical situations.

    2. You do not have to be able to play any Jazz and still you can have more depth ...

    3. Why would you think so? Study some theory and experiment on your own.

    4. Why would you need any Jazz repertoire for any of the goals mentioned above? You do not.

    5. Ear training is OK, if you already do not have a good ear as well as if you have ear good enough to be trained. Whatever the case, why would you transcribe both horn players and guitar players? For goals you proposed you do not need to transcribe anything. For some practice, just transcribe anything you like. Do not force yourself to do things that ultimately make you feel bad.

    6. Don't do it. Playing 70 years old licks in 70 years old context won't help you sound deep. It'll make you sound old, worn out and unoriginal. It's cool to know couple of basics so to use them in different context, or as vehicle for, say,
    Rocking out. ... making noise ... pedal board ... Heavy Metal shred ...
    ^ ^ ^
    <<< My BlogSpot Page >>>
    v v v

  11. #10

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    Much appreciated. I’m meeting with a Jazz guitar teacher I found about 50 miles east of me this weekend for a one-off lesson. Hopefully, he can help set me straight.

    Some of you mentioned that hearing me play would help, so here is a YouTube vid of a Grant Green transcription I did. Keep in mind, I can’t actually improvise like this. I’m just copying him.

    Last edited by Jamesrohr1; 02-14-2018 at 12:15 PM. Reason: Grammar

  12. #11
    I'm rural as well, and I've decided that it's probably going to take playing with others to get to another level, there's nothing that would probably get me there as fast . Works with ever other style I play. Just have to find the time and the people. Probably not this year. over busy.

    There is a tremendous amount of value in playing with people about three different levels: better than me, on par , and not as good as me. You learn a lot from teaching, and the other levels are probably obvious , but the more you play with other people the better . I'd continue to try out different jazz teachers for sure.

  13. #12

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    What is jazz improv?: Fundamentally, it's the ability to construct and play a line (s).

    What does this take ? Have to know...

    1.what makes a good line
    2. how to get it out...convincingly

    Re: 1., need harmonic understanding to play strong lines---identify chord tones and "juicy" resolutions...and ability to create/understand/manipulate tension release, and do this in time, with good tone


    Re: 2., need some chops and technical facility...ability to play without hesitation



    How to get 1. ? Study good e.g.'s ....either from actual improv, or just tunes.

    "Bernie's Tune" is just a little riffy thing with some chromatic slides and a resolution....had to have started out as a riff, and turned into a tune. Lots of Charlie Parker stuff are riffs that were good enough to turn into tunes, e.g. "Billie's Bounce", "Ornithology" HAD to have come from "How High the Moon", and Charlie P., used some chromatic tones and enclosures and an octave shift, and the result is just almost perfect. Take it apart note by note, bit by bit, and you'll see what he is doing. Other tunes, "The Lady is a Tramp"....listen to that first phrase...sounds C major to c minor to me....makes the whole thing work. "Flamingo" does this too...Cole Porter does this minor/major switch thing a lot.

    Another idea....do what was done in the history of jazz....first embellish the melody. Listen to Louis A., Johnny Hodges, or Gene Ammons, or Ben Webster....they can just take a plain melody and alter it a wee bit...by attack...slurs, rhythmic displacement, etc. Listen to Hank Garland's group play "Pop Goes the Weasel"....silly little ditty, but its jazz...what makes it so? Why does it work?

    Another idea....take a riff and re-work it, to make it fit different underlying harmony. Jerry Coker advocates this....you'll find that sometime changing the natural 3rd to a flat third, for say, a minor progression changing from a major progression works almost automatically...sometimes not. Dominant riffs are kind of more forgiving, which makes sense, as you can harmonize ANY chromatic tone with a dom. chord. (Even natural 7 against flat 7 (!) sometimes...it's in some Jimmy Van Heusen tunes, and Richard Rogers tunes.)

    Another idea....sketch in the half-step chord tone resolutions in a progression. If you get to be good, and accomplished, you'll come to learn these automatically. I read that Benny Carter did this even after playing for 40 yrs. In the beginning you need to be conscious about it. (This can also reveal interesting voice leading possibilities.)So, take a straight 2-5-1....why does a dm7-g7-c maj sound different than dm7, g7 alt, c maj? Depends on the alteration, so identify and hit it in your line. (Interesting when tunes with pretty straightforward melodies have dense underlying harmonies, e.g. "April in Paris" or "All the Things You Are" or " Stella by Starlight" are pretty easy melodies to pick out by ear...then you look at a lead sheet, and whoa....is makes you think a bit.)

    The rhythmic bit---essential. Blues had that strong shuffle thing but the phrases are more definite and emphatic, and less flowing....good swing melts one phrase into another, and good bop melts notes within a phrase into one another. (I think rock kind of reversed this....much more straight time feel...its why I don't like a lot of rock---the time feel stifles the music, IMO. The rock I do like, Allman Brothers and The Who, have bassists and drummers who are less stifling...Entwistle is great bassist, I think.)


    The next part----constructing several lines into satisfying whole solos, is harder, IMO.

    Dexter Gordon seems to do it effortlessly. Lots of little tricks here....octave displacements, inverting runs, rhythmic displacement, hanging on a tension tone, or a common tone, tri-tone subs. He has the ability to have larger idea in mind, while still taking care of all the little pieces along the way. Miles D., too. This is real mastery, and even more so, is being able to completely switch up a feeling from one chorus to another, or within a chorus. (Dizzy G. is great at this, whereas someone like Art Pepper seems to vary a lot less.)

    Finally, listen a LOT....some of what you hear will be learned, even if you're not aware exactly, of what you KNOW. This sounds strange but is nonetheless true....also very true with sporting motions....great athletes KNOW things even if they cannot describe exactly what they're doing.

    (There is a picture of Coleman Hawkins listening to a playback from a session, and Charlie P. standing beside him, laughing, because Hawkins did something but couldn't repeat it, or explain it, and Coleman H. was a very highly trained, and schooled musician, with a lot of classical training.)

  14. #13

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    ....I can maybe understand about 1/4 of what you’re saying. Lol

    Please keep in mind I’m new to Jazz. The devices you mentioned are well beyond my capacity right now. I know you are only trying to be helpful, but you have taken something as huge and intimidating as Jazz and somehow made it MORE intimidating.

  15. #14

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    Don't get intimidated....you know probably most of these already, but you don't have the vocabulary name for them, is my guess.

    "Enclosure"---say you want to end a phrase on g, you might play f#, G#,then g....can be done with stuff that is diatonic to the phrase, or not....if you play blues stuff, you hear chromatic slides ALL the time. Or in country, the 2, sharp2, into 3 phrase is almost a cliché....listen to slide players or steel guitar players, they use it a ton.

    "Tension"---play a chord and then play the 12 tones against the chord...some will sound good, some not so good....when you do that in a line, your ear wants to resolve the "not so good" tones to the good tones.
    (that would be harmonic tension)

    Rhythmic tension: Go listen to "Senor Blues" on YT by Horace Silver....tune starts out with strong Latin kind of rhythm (not sure what it's called)....hear the piano and trumpet play along with rhythm, and then trumpet starts to play against the rhythm....this creates rhythmic tension....like tapping 3 in the left hand and 2 in the right hand....sometimes they hit exactly and sometimes not

    Do you know how to harmonize a basic major scale...as in what chords come from which scale tones?

    Basically, there is a pattern to this....and you need to know this. Go to "Lessons" section on this site, and read about it, if you're not sure. (Nobody is born knowing this stuff---everybody had to learn it at some pt.)

    This is absolutely essential...and the first part of learning to play against chord changes.

    Half of music stuff is...putting a 9-dollar name on something not all that complicated. Some theory helps to take things apart, and if you can that, it helps to learn...and to play better.

    Don't get freaked out...by terminology.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gramps View Post
    I think number 2. should be number 1.

    Learn the tunes. .

    This is good advice. There is some related advice that may be better for some players: play songs you already know! That is, folk songs, Christmas carols (-though some of them have some demanding changes), nursery rhymes, TV theme songs, whatever. Melodies that are deeply familiar to you. Play them. You know how they go. Can you play them? If one works at that, it speeds up the learning of songs you don't already know.

    Barney Kessel gives this advice in the video series that has been restored and is now free on YouTube (in bite-sized chunks.)

    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenwave77 View Post

    Do you know how to harmonize a basic major scale...as in what chords come from which scale tones?
    Yes. I can harmonize a major scale and play chord scales. I’d have to think about it in horn keys though.

    Enclosures and Chromatic approach are still a mystery. I have been introduced to them but I don’t understand how to methodically study them.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    Much appreciated. I’m meeting with a Jazz guitar teacher I found about 50 miles east of me this weekend for a one-off lesson. Hopefully, he can help set me straight.

    Some of you mentioned that hearing me play would help, so here is a YouTube vid of a Grant Green transcription I did. Keep in mind, I can’t actually improvise like this. I’m just copying him.

    Sounds good, you're well on your way. Learning a grant green solo is exactly the right thing to do (especially this one, which is chock full of great ideas, and his phrasing and articulation is great), as getting the right feel is the hardest thing about jazz guitar. Trust yourself and you'll be fine.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by pkirk View Post
    Sounds good, you're well on your way. Learning a grant green solo is exactly the right thing to do (especially this one, which is chock full of great ideas, and his phrasing and articulation is great), as getting the right feel is the hardest thing about jazz guitar. Trust yourself and you'll be fine.
    Thank you. I appreciate the encouragement.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vladan View Post
    I've edidet ypur post ...


    1. Does Jazz have to be one of those situations? You do not need to play any Jazz to be able to improvise in different musical situations.

    2. You do not have to be able to play any Jazz and still you can have more depth ...

    3. Why would you think so? Study some theory and experiment on your own.

    4. Why would you need any Jazz repertoire for any of the goals mentioned above? You do not.

    5. Ear training is OK, if you already do not have a good ear as well as if you have ear good enough to be trained. Whatever the case, why would you transcribe both horn players and guitar players? For goals you proposed you do not need to transcribe anything. For some practice, just transcribe anything you like. Do not force yourself to do things that ultimately make you feel bad.

    6. Don't do it. Playing 70 years old licks in 70 years old context won't help you sound deep. It'll make you sound old, worn out and unoriginal. It's cool to know couple of basics so to use them in different context, or as vehicle for, say,
    Thank you for your reply. In order to attempt to answer your questions:

    1) No, Jazz does not need to be one of those situations (though I see no good reason to rule it out.) However, I can think of no other genre of Western music that places such a premium on improvising. Yes, I assume, there is improvising in other musical genres. (I can personally attest though that for the most part, Metal solos are usually composed or comped in the studio) But it seems like Jazz, with its roots in improvising, has more tools at hand for the student. I personally love Fusion guys like Holdsworth and McLaughlin. And I’m ok with my Rock chops. I think I now need to put the Jazz in my Jazz Rock.


    2 & 3) I suppose there are other genres to study to help “build depth” (if such a thing is possible). My thinking on this is that the emphasis on playing with great time and the study of extended harmony might lead to a richer palette. Are there other genres where these are studied as deeply? I don’t know. I studied a little Classical composition in college while working towards a music degree and I do sometimes see deep connections between Classical and Jazz however. Gershwin anyone? Any suggestions here would be appreciated.

    4) Because in Jazz (and correct me if I’m wrong here) the tunes serve as vehicles for the improvising. I mean yes, if I were to study something other the Jazz, I probably wouldn’t bother.

    5) Transcribing doesn’t make me feel bad. Sorry if I gave that impression. Sure, it’s tedious. But it seems to be one of the few things I can do OK. But surely you can see the benefit of learning lines from an instrument other than your own? As an example, again, I love Holdsworth. But his lines are notoriously difficult to transcribe. However, he stated on numerous occasions that he preferred the sax, and I think most people notice a distinct horn-like quality to his lines. So if I can’t transcribe his lines, what is the next best thing?

    Honestly, is there ever such a thing as too much ear training?

    6) I see what you’re saying. And believe me, I have no desire to be a poor mans copy of a Jazzbo. However, I’ve been at a plateau in my playing for many many years. Rudderless jamming has got me no where. It seemed like just the act of trying to discipline my practice in a completely different direction would have to have some benefit. I mean it certainly can’t hurt.

    And I’m 45. I recognize that tuning to Drop-B and slamming out Heavy Metal power chords is every bit as silly as setting out to play “old, worn-out, unoriginal music”. I’m just trying to find my way and be the best player I can during the time I have left. Hence the original post. And any specific study suggestions anyone may have are always greatly appreciated.

    Most of my frustration stems from the idea that I’m just not smart enough to “get jazz”. And I’m not so sure that’s incorrect just yet. Lol
    Last edited by Jamesrohr1; 02-14-2018 at 03:55 PM.

  21. #20

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    Look around this site and find playing examples from Vladan and pkirk in order to weigh whos advice might be more valuable to you. I can't believe someone would counsel you not to investigate established jazz repertoire.

    No offence meant to Vladan. We all have opinions and mine has less weight than most, but.........

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post


    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’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?


    6 months in with hour or so in the evening - thats what.. 150ish hours total? When starting up, those 150 may not be smartly spent also. I mean, learning how to learn all that crazy pile takes more than 150 hours itself. That's just trying out the suggestions, see what works for you or not so much. There are countless ways to improve, some of them are instantly obvious but not all of them. And surely, can't do everything even with unlimited time. Keep your head clear, figure out exactly what you're after and try to find as many approaches as you can. Don't get too frustrated knowing too few standards right now, that will change. First 10 is pretty hard, then they get way easier to learn. If you quit before that, then yep, you're not meant to get jazz

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by gramps View Post
    look around this site and find playing examples from vladan and pkirk in order to weigh whos advice might be more valuable to you. I can't believe someone would counsel you not to investigate established jazz repertoire.

    No offence meant to vladan. We all have opinions and mine has less weight than most, but.........
    lol!
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  24. #23

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    Your Grant Green transcription sounds good. Keep working on stuff like this. You can't improvise like that now, but you're getting your fingers used to the kinds of places you'll want them to go, and more importantly, you're making connections between the sound and the physical side.

    I agree with the people who say "learn tunes". But don't just memorize the chords and the melody. Really dig in. Figure out what the chords are actually doing. For example. If you have a tune that starts with CMaj7, and then goes to EbMaj7, what's happening there? EbMaj7 is the relative major of C minor. So you actually have your C going from major to minor. That's the kind of stuff you want to tease out. When you hit something unexpected, what is the purpose of it? Figure out as many ways to play the chords as you can. (Big difference between rock and jazz: In rock, chord voicings tend to focus around the root and fifth. In jazz they tend to focus around the 3rd and 7th).

    I don't know too much about shredding, metal-style, but there may be technique differences you want to look at. If I'm not mistaken, metal players use a VERY light touch. You may need to grip a bit more to get a good sound.

    The other big thing would be the rhythm. Obviously, jazz swings, so there's that. A lot of jazz players tend to play a bit behind the beat. Listen to a lot of bebop to get some of the rhythmic language into your body.

    Also (and I wish someone had told me this when I started working on jazz), Don't neglect your comping. Comping in jazz is very different from comping in rock. You need flexibility in your voicings, and you need to know how to use substitutes. I found the book "Contemporary Chord Kahncepts" by Steve(?) Kahn to be very helpful. There's also a comping course on TrueFire by Fareed Haque which covers a lot of the same ideas. When you play with a group, you'll spend way more time comping than soloing, so you might as well get good at it. (Plus, other players like to play with guitarists who comp well).

    That's a lot of stuff, but you can do it. Pick a tune. Learn it. Learn to comp on it, learn to play the melody, really break down the harmony, and then try some stuff with it. Yeah, it's going to take a while. But stick with it.

    One word of warning: Like you, I started studying jazz to improve my rock playing (though I'd always liked jazz). It didn't take long before I stopped worrying about the rock part all together. Jazz is seductive. The more you learn, the more you want to know. The more you listen, the more you want to hear.
    "I'm opposed to picketing, but I don't know to show it." --Mitch Hedberg

  25. #24

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    Thanks for the advice. Glad you liked the transcription as well!

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    Most of my frustration stems from the idea that I’m just not smart enough to “get jazz”. And I’m not so sure that’s incorrect just yet. Lol
    You're smart enough and have a musical foundation from playing other styles, which will help.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    Thank you for your reply. In order to attempt to answer your questions: ...
    Whatever, but to recapitulate, in your OP learning Jazz was not a goal, it was what you thought of as being possible vehicle to reach certain goals. I tried to point out that your choice of vehicle might be wrong, and may bring you to where you do not want to be. That's all. You are warned, can not say you did not know. All the best and good luck with all the pathetic advice you will get from benevolent cohorts.
    ^ ^ ^
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  28. #27

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    If you want to make efficient use of your time and have it become fun, leave out the shredding and pedal board stuff. It's not helping you, it's reinforcing old habits (and making you feel like jazz is too hard- it's not!).

    Listen to more jazz wherever you can, build up a collection. This will help you get the feel and vocabulary- without that all the theory is just letters and numbers on a page.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vladan View Post
    Whatever, but to recapitulate, in your OP learning Jazz was not a goal, it was what you thought of as being possible vehicle to reach certain goals. I tried to point out that your choice of vehicle might be wrong, and may bring you to where you do not want to be. That's all. You are warned, can not say you did not know. All the best and good luck with all the pathetic advice you will get from benevolent cohorts.
    Ok. That’s cool. I take your point. But, specifically, what other musical (or non-musical) vehicles are you referring too? I’m perfectly willing to listen to any suggestions you or anyone else may have.

  30. #29

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    Playing jazz guitar at a competent level (where you can hang with a group) takes a long time. I've been at it five years--I'm a lot better than when I started, but I wouldn't say I can really hang too well. I practice a fair amount for a hobbyist, say 10 hours a week. (I came from a rock bass background.)

    When I started, I underestimated how much work is involved. Now it's too late to stop!

  31. #30

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    What you're already doing sounds like an absolutely perfect practice regimen.

    Really, the only negative seems to be that it isn't working for you -- at all.

    Well, there's always a minor sticking point. <g>

    I'd suggest some serious simplification.

    1. Pick one simple tune you like. Feel free to look at the chart as much as you need to.

    2. Play the chords as if you were comping for a soloist (I'm assuming that's something you can do, but if not, I can post about it upon request).

    3. Scat sing a solo over the first 4 or 8 bars. Do this repeatedly until you have sung a line you like.

    4. Figure out how to play it on guitar.

    5. Work through the rest of the tune the same way.

    That's it. That's jazz.

    The next thing to work on is being able to do the entire process fast enough to play in a group.

    Once you can do that, you're done -- at least until you get bored with what you can scat sing. At that point, you may want to build your musical imagination. The traditional way is to copy stuff from recordings. A lot of terrific musicians do this as a kind of project-based activity. That is, writing down, in standard notation, entire solos, and learning to play them with the exact articulation of the original.

    But, some musicians will admit that they never do this. They just listen to music they like and absorb whatever sinks in. Others will figure out the occasional interesting fragment.

    And, whichever way you do it, there's a great player who did it your way, and other great players who did something different.

    At the risk of belaboring the point, I think there are two basic skills.

    One is to be able to imagine a good line. People build this ability with listening and/or transcribing.

    The other is to be able to play, instantly, whatever you imagine. This, I think, comes mainly by spending a lot of time with the guitar in your hands playing all kinds of stuff.

    The underpinning of all of it is a well trained ear. Formal ear training can help.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by JGinNJ View Post
    If you want to make efficient use of your time and have it become fun, leave out the shredding and pedal board stuff. It's not helping you, it's reinforcing old habits (and making you feel like jazz is too hard- it's not!).
    I say keep the pedalboard!


    Jay

    'boobadoobadoobaooababop!'

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by pkirk View Post
    they think of studying jazz as some sort of "boot camp" for improvising, rather than being motivated and inspired by the music itself. At some point, if you don't love the music you are playing, how can you sustain the effort it takes to get decent at it?
    Ok, yeah, there is something to this. I have to take ownership of that. I love some Jazz, but certainly not all Jazz. Hard Bop and Bebop do indeed sound very “old-timely” to me for lack of a better word. I love Kinda Blue, A Love Supreme, electric Miles, Cool Jazz, Modal Jazz, and Fusion. I love modern players like Metheney and Rosenwinkle. And I’m definitely a solid-body player. I just plain do not like the sound of a Hollowbody box.

    And yeah, in a lot of ways I do see Jazz as “improv boot camp”. So in that respect, I may always be on the outside looking in. That stings a bit as it could be my motivation is not “pure”. I guess there are worse things to try commit to though?

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    Ok, yeah, there is something to this. I have to take ownership of that. I love some Jazz, but certainly not all Jazz. Hard Bop and Bebop do indeed sound very “old-timely” to me for lack of a better word. I love Kinda Blue, A Love Supreme, electric Miles, Cool Jazz, Modal Jazz, and Fusion. I love modern players like Metheney and Rosenwinkle. And I’m definitely a solid-body player. I just plain do not like the sound of a Hollowbody box.
    Before jumping ship, make sure to check out some of the badass jazz guitar players who travel down some of the smaller jazz tributaries, including eg. Marc Ducret, Joe Morris, David Torn, Miles Okazaki, Liberty Ellman, Jeff Parker, Mary Halvorsen, Nels Cline, Isaah Sharkey, etc.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by pkirk View Post
    Before jumping ship, make sure to check out some of the badass jazz guitar players who travel down some of the smaller jazz tributaries, including eg. Marc Ducret, Joe Morris, David Torn, Miles Okazaki, Liberty Ellman, Jeff Parker, Mary Halvorsen, Nels Cline, Isaah Sharkey, etc.
    I love Torn. He’s my guy. I have a ton of his stuff. I’ve liked the Nils Cline I’ve heard but I don’t have any of his stuff. I’m not as familiar with some of the others but I’ll certainly check them out.

    I also recently discovered Marc Ribot. Not sure how I missed him. I’m not sure if he’s straight Jazz or not, but I love his playing.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    Ok. That’s cool. I take your point. But, specifically, what other musical (or non-musical) vehicles are you referring too? I’m perfectly willing to listen to any suggestions you or anyone else may have.
    So, if you read my first post, I already said what I thought you need not do and what I think you could do instead, in regard to proposed goals.

    In the meantime we learned more details, like you have degree in music, are listening to quite a few modern players, you are not stranger to jazz lingo ... I won't further comment on those, but I already see you will have fine company on this forum.
    Once more, good luck.

    Of course, by all means, search my links from below signature, you might get some ideas about what to do and what not to do.
    Also, by all means, search pkirk's links, where you find them, he is great player.
    ^ ^ ^
    <<< My BlogSpot Page >>>
    v v v

  37. #36

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    Is your internet connection good enough to get on Facebook and watch video?

    Find and join the Matt Warnock 'Play Jazz Guitar' group - it would be perfect for you. Great community, pitched at complete beginners to intermediate jazz players.

    Matt tackles a different standard each month. Takes the whole thing apart, learning the melody, the form of the piece, understanding of how the harmony is constructed, comping, a little chord melody and then soloing. He does a live workshop on each part which you can watch back later. Everyone posts up their own attempts at each task and provides feedback and advice.

    Sounds like exactly what you need.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    Jazz and Improv is such an intellectual pursuit
    It doesn't have to be. On a basic level it's not intellectual at all. That's what the books and some 'teachers' would have you believe. Or they give that impression because of the way they talk.

    It's just music, only with icing on it. Instead of C, change a note, learn the shape, and play CM7. Instant jazz.

    What the others have said is right, you're trying to do too much at once and get there (wherever that is) too quickly.

    Take a simple tune like Satin Doll. In C, medium swing, a few chords. Slow it down, play something. Get the feel of it. Won't take long.

    But a good teacher is a good idea. You need someone to discuss with, show you stuff, simplify things. Yes, it will take time but if you're interested in what you're doing you don't think in those terms, you're just doing it and learning new things.

    That's it really. Seriously. You only get into the brain damage stuff much later on

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    It doesn't have to be. On a basic level it's not intellectual at all. That's what the books and some 'teachers' would have you believe. Or they give that impression because of the way they talk.

    It's just music, only with icing on it. Instead of C, change a note, learn the shape, and play CM7. Instant jazz.
    I get that, in its simplicity. The intellectual thing I’m referring to is trying to nail that arpeggio over each chord in a tune, while avoiding the root, emphasizing the 3rd and 7th, not losing the form, playing with good time, at tempo, while quoting the melody, etc, etc.

    It boggles my mind. Lol

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    I get that, in its simplicity. The intellectual thing I’m referring to is trying to nail that arpeggio over each chord in a tune, while avoiding the root, emphasizing the 3rd and 7th, not losing the form, playing with good time, at tempo, while quoting the melody, etc, etc.

    It boggles my mind. Lol
    if you're talking about playing entire arps over each chord, I can see the point of working on arps that way, just to build fluency and train your ear, but I wouldn't confuse it with making music.

    Jazz is about making interesting melody and keeping good time. And, of those two, time is more important.

    So, I would suggest, when you're actually trying to make music, to follow Charlie Parker and forget all the rules and just blow. Meaning, think of a melody and try to play it.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    Meaning, think of a melody and try to play it.
    Ok, at the most basic level, I don’t entirely get that. Can you elaborate? How does one practice this sort of thing: thinking of a melody? Can I just compose a solo that is “correct” and has all the right notes and then just use it every time? That’s probably a stupid question as I know it’s not actually improvising. But I genuinely don’t know what you mean when you say to think of a melody. Why isn’t the original one good enough?

    I can honestly say that I have never, in my 32 year musical life, ever “thought of a melody”. I’ve learned and harmonized many of them. I may have composed a few. But I have never 1) Thought of a melody 2) Attempted to play it in real time.

    When it comes to soloing, in my background, you just pick the notes you know will sound good over the key and you play those until it sounds good. And once recorded, that is what you play every time. But there is no conscious thought of melody. Plus there is usually only one or two chords to think about.

    I mean there are, of course, times when when I was called on to play “melodically”, but that just means to slow down and hit some bluesy bends or something.

    This is is the crux of why Jazz seems so alien to me. Lol

  42. #41

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    Listen to a lot of jazz. A lot. So much of it is feel.

    I too was a shredder sort at one time, I've migrated to blues with jazz flavors, but in order to get the jazz side of the sound, I had to internalize the swing. Speaking only for myself, coming from a rock background, the hardest thing for me to learn was the groove in jazz.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    I get that, in its simplicity. The intellectual thing I’m referring to is trying to nail that arpeggio over each chord in a tune, while avoiding the root, emphasizing the 3rd and 7th, not losing the form, playing with good time, at tempo, while quoting the melody, etc, etc.

    It boggles my mind. Lol
    I'm sure it does boggle you. It would most people.

    Who says you've got to do all that? That's an exercise, it's not playing music. They've got you jumping through hoops and you don't see it.

    If it feels funny to you, don't do it. Play music, feel something. Simple.

    See all those posts you've written in English? Now rewrite them not using any word longer than 8 letters, placing emphasis on the consonants d, s, f and l. End each phrase with a word ending in e and don't use more than 3 adjectives in any one paragraph.

    Feel dumb? Exactly.

    sorry, it is a bit more complicated than that!

  44. #43

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    The problem posed in the OP was the struggle with jazz soloing/improvising. Well, here are some things which are important but DO NOT teach a guitarist how to effectively improvise jazz solos:

    • Songs
    • Comping
    • Chord melody arrangements
    • Scales
    • Chords
    • Arpeggios



    And here are some things which should be done - but by themselves - also DO NOT teach one how to effectively improvise jazz solos:

    • Study with a teacher
    • Play guitar method books
    • Listen to lots of jazz
    • Study jazz/modern harmony & theory
    • Read jazz improvisation books



    Finally, here is yet another thing that will either (1) not work for most, or (2) take an inordinate amount of time:


    • knowing your chord scales and arpeggios etc. and endlessly doodling to songs and backing tracks



    IMHO of course.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by mnorris777 View Post
    Is your internet connection good enough to get on Facebook and watch video?

    Find and join the Matt Warnock 'Play Jazz Guitar' group - it would be perfect for you. Great community, pitched at complete beginners to intermediate jazz players.

    Matt tackles a different standard each month. Takes the whole thing apart, learning the melody, the form of the piece, understanding of how the harmony is constructed, comping, a little chord melody and then soloing. He does a live workshop on each part which you can watch back later. Everyone posts up their own attempts at each task and provides feedback and advice.

    Sounds like exactly what you need.
    I do not currently have Facebook for personal reasons. But I am familiar with Matt Warnock. I think I have one of his e-books. Enthusiastic teacher.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    Ok, at the most basic level, I don’t entirely get that. Can you elaborate? How does one practice this sort of thing: thinking of a melody? Can I just compose a solo that is “correct” and has all the right notes and then just use it every time? That’s probably a stupid question as I know it’s not actually improvising. But I genuinely don’t know what you mean when you say to think of a melody. Why isn’t the original one good enough?

    I can honestly say that I have never, in my 32 year musical life, ever “thought of a melody”. I’ve learned and harmonized many of them. I may have composed a few. But I have never 1) Thought of a melody 2) Attempted to play it in real time.

    When it comes to soloing, in my background, you just pick the notes you know will sound good over the key and you play those until it sounds good. And once recorded, that is what you play every time. But there is no conscious thought of melody. Plus there is usually only one or two chords to think about.

    I mean there are, of course, times when when I was called on to play “melodically”, but that just means to slow down and hit some bluesy bends or something.

    This is is the crux of why Jazz seems so alien to me. Lol
    I hear you--I'm also coming at this from rock, where I often played with my eyes rather than my ears.

    With time and work, though, I'm getting better at hearing what I'm playing as I play it. This video is strictly-speaking about bass, but I think it applies here.


  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by JGinNJ View Post
    leave out the shredding and pedal board stuff. It's not helping you, it's reinforcing old habits (and making you feel like jazz is too hard- it's not!).
    Aw man, it’s hard to abandon my roots. Lol. I’m not sure I can do that. But I understand what you’re saying.

    And even after all the helpful advice I’ve received here, I’m still pretty sure Jazz is the most inaccessible music there is. And although this is probably a matter for another post, I’m pretty sure that Jazz and Jazzers kind of like the the fact that it’s somewhat inaccessible. That’s part of the appeal really. “We know things the layman doesn’t. Yay us. We’re smart”.

    How is Jazz NOT hard? Not being snarky. Just show me some easy Jazz so I can check it out!

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    The problem posed in the OP was the struggle with jazz soloing/improvising. Well, here are some things which are important but DO NOT teach a guitarist how to effectively improvise jazz solos:

    • Songs
    • Comping
    • Chord melody arrangements
    • Scales
    • Chords
    • Arpeggios



    And here are some things which should be done - but by themselves - also DO NOT teach one how to effectively improvise jazz solos:

    • Study with a teacher
    • Play guitar method books
    • Listen to lots of jazz
    • Study jazz/modern harmony & theory
    • Read jazz improvisation books



    Finally, here is yet another thing that will either (1) not work for most, or (2) take an inordinate amount of time:


    • knowing your chord scales and arpeggios etc. and endlessly doodling to songs and backing tracks



    IMHO of course.
    Cool. Then what is left? What is the solution?

  49. #48

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    A very important part of the answer can be found in post #10.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    I'm sure it does boggle you. It would most people.

    Who says you've got to do all that? That's an exercise, it's not playing music. They've got you jumping through hoops and you don't see it.

    If it feels funny to you, don't do it. Play music, feel something. Simple.
    sorry, it is a bit more complicated than that!
    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?

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    Ok, at the most basic level, I don’t entirely get that. Can you elaborate? How does one practice this sort of thing: thinking of a melody? Can I just compose a solo that is “correct” and has all the right notes and then just use it every time? That’s probably a stupid question as I know it’s not actually improvising. But I genuinely don’t know what you mean when you say to think of a melody. Why isn’t the original one good enough?

    I can honestly say that I have never, in my 32 year musical life, ever “thought of a melody”. I’ve learned and harmonized many of them. I may have composed a few. But I have never 1) Thought of a melody 2) Attempted to play it in real time.

    When it comes to soloing, in my background, you just pick the notes you know will sound good over the key and you play those until it sounds good. And once recorded, that is what you play every time. But there is no conscious thought of melody. Plus there is usually only one or two chords to think about.

    I mean there are, of course, times when when I was called on to play “melodically”, but that just means to slow down and hit some bluesy bends or something.

    This is is the crux of why Jazz seems so alien to me. Lol
    If I may, two questions.

    1. Can you scat sing?

    2. If you know a tune, say Happy Birthday, can you play the melody starting on any note without mistakes?