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  1. #26

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    Mr. B.
    I have a question that I'd like to hear your serious thoughts on. On a couple of my clips, you've commented on the difference between "me" and lines I learned from books (or something like that). But here's my question.

    Everything you think is "me" was once a line I learned from a book! The head to "Prelude" was originally learned from Steve Crowell's books, though it has evolved/devolved considerably since then.

    How do I learn new jazz vocabulary, new ideas, without them sounding forced or awkward at least in the beginning? Everything that is "me" was once learned the old-fashioned way, from books, recordings, a teacher, and felt odd and unnatural.

    Unlike many, when I post here, I don't post my most excellent take. I pick one that pretty much shows where I am at the moment. Not my best, not my worst, just "median" playing. Sometimes I post stuff that I'm trying to figure out, experiments. Like on Prelude here, I was drilling on linking dom. 7th chord arpeggios through the cycle.

    So could you help me, and feel free to use my clip, I'm not offended by specifying parts you see as flawed, and give me some perspective on "the real me" vs. lines learned from books or what doesn't work. And your comments on the process of assimilating new vocabulary and ideas, which it seems to me always starts out awkward and forced, would be welcome.

    I am not defending my playing here, but wanting to drill down to the next level (speaking of clichés!!!).

    I know I won't be disappointed with your response. Few on this forum have helped me as much as you have.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #27

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    Ok, took another listen.

    So yeah, I talk a lot about YOU versus what sounds… well..like not you. It really comes down to comfort level. But from what I can hear in your playing, when you are learning a lick or idea you tend to play it very strtaight, as if you’re reading it off paper. When you’re playing what I’m calling “YOU,” it might just be material you’re more comfortable with, but the end result is you lay back on the beat a little, accent notes differently (or accent them at all) and generally, you swing.

    I would still say taking ideas off records is better than books, but we all have different ways of learning.

    Ok, so a little analysis of your solo…

    Opening lick sounds canned, very “Bob Conti” ish…the funny thing about the Bob Conti stuff is that it is SOOOOO lame and square (and I’m positive Bob thinks so too)—but it’s great for learning how to play changes, and even Bob suggests to not play his stuff “straight.” So basically once you assimilate it completely, you’ve got great ideas, but the process is a bit ugly. It’s like making sausage. Something tells me Bob would like that analogy.

    But what makes it stand out is the timing…slow tempos are tough! You almost have to lay back even a bit more, because if you play right on the beat this slow, it sounds really stiff. It’s tricky. My defense mechanism is if you hear me play a ballad, I’ll almost never play straight 8ths.

    You can really hear a shift in your comfort level when you switch to double time on the second chorus—but more on that later.

    The following lick is nice, half step approaches and then getting up the neck with some chromatics…maybe wanted a stronger resolution, but you can hear how much more comfortable you are there…clearly, that’s an idea you’ve assimilated.

    This follows with a little descending diminished thing that you end going back up and cap the line with a double stop. Really liked that.

    You get into some bluesy arpeggio ideas next, which I like. You seem to be fishing for an ending to some of these lines, starting with confidence, but then it’s like your brain kicks in thinking and says “follow the changes” instead of “keep going with the melody.” Or something. Happens to me all the time. I usually make a guitar face about that point.

    Double time kicks in…and now I’m hearing Lawson. You sound laid back, your time is soooo much more in pocket, and you pull off some really nice lines…There’s a great boppy line ending around 3:05 or so. Look at your body language—now you’re feeling it. You’re playing YOU.

    Then we slow back down…

    You go back to an earlier idea, which is totally fine, bookending a solo, creating a shape…but listen to your time…you’re out of that comfort zone again. Good news is, the way to get better is just to keep playing a lot of slow ballads, which I don’t think you’ll find too painfulJ

    The lines that seem to mess with your time the most are again ones that sound canned to me—the arpeggio lines where notes ring together…and that is a tough thing to keep in time, no two ways about it.

    Overall, there's nothing in there that isn't going to work itself out with time and repetition really. Keep at it brother!

  4. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Ok, took another listen.

    So yeah, I talk a lot about YOU versus what sounds… well..like not you. It really comes down to comfort level. But from what I can hear in your playing, when you are learning a lick or idea you tend to play it very strtaight, as if you’re reading it off paper. When you’re playing what I’m calling “YOU,” it might just be material you’re more comfortable with, but the end result is you lay back on the beat a little, accent notes differently (or accent them at all) and generally, you swing.

    I would still say taking ideas off records is better than books, but we all have different ways of learning.

    Ok, so a little analysis of your solo…

    Opening lick sounds canned, very “Bob Conti” ish…the funny thing about the Bob Conti stuff is that it is SOOOOO lame and square (and I’m positive Bob thinks so too)—but it’s great for learning how to play changes, and even Bob suggests to not play his stuff “straight.” So basically once you assimilate it completely, you’ve got great ideas, but the process is a bit ugly. It’s like making sausage. Something tells me Bob would like that analogy.

    But what makes it stand out is the timing…slow tempos are tough! You almost have to lay back even a bit more, because if you play right on the beat this slow, it sounds really stiff. It’s tricky. My defense mechanism is if you hear me play a ballad, I’ll almost never play straight 8ths.

    You can really hear a shift in your comfort level when you switch to double time on the second chorus—but more on that later.

    The following lick is nice, half step approaches and then getting up the neck with some chromatics…maybe wanted a stronger resolution, but you can hear how much more comfortable you are there…clearly, that’s an idea you’ve assimilated.

    This follows with a little descending diminished thing that you end going back up and cap the line with a double stop. Really liked that.

    You get into some bluesy arpeggio ideas next, which I like. You seem to be fishing for an ending to some of these lines, starting with confidence, but then it’s like your brain kicks in thinking and says “follow the changes” instead of “keep going with the melody.” Or something. Happens to me all the time. I usually make a guitar face about that point.

    Double time kicks in…and now I’m hearing Lawson. You sound laid back, your time is soooo much more in pocket, and you pull off some really nice lines…There’s a great boppy line ending around 3:05 or so. Look at your body language—now you’re feeling it. You’re playing YOU.

    Then we slow back down…

    You go back to an earlier idea, which is totally fine, bookending a solo, creating a shape…but listen to your time…you’re out of that comfort zone again. Good news is, the way to get better is just to keep playing a lot of slow ballads, which I don’t think you’ll find too painfulJ

    The lines that seem to mess with your time the most are again ones that sound canned to me—the arpeggio lines where notes ring together…and that is a tough thing to keep in time, no two ways about it.

    Overall, there's nothing in there that isn't going to work itself out with time and repetition really. Keep at it brother!
    Thanks! This is like getting a lesson and it has been DECADES since I took a lesson. You've invested a lot of attention and time into my little clip and everything you've said clicks for me. I don't know of any Conti ideas that I actually tried to use, but I get the idea. I had the notion of trying to arpeggiate through the changes using linking notes but I think the mechanics of it got a bit messy. I also literally can't figure out the changes in some places, despite having some lead sheets to look at. At the end of the A sections when it resolves to C my instincts are to move up to A7 in preparation for the D7 at the second A section... but the lead sheets say Dm7 there... so I need to decide what I'm going to play and just play it like I know what I'm doing.

    The bridge was literally a mental blank. I had some ideas, but when I got to it I got confused and so... just played what I thought would be fun, so you actually nailed me exactly on that. It's funny that you liked that when I was thinking "Run some scales and live to tell the tale." The boppish lick at 3:05 was also something I don't ever recall playing before! Again, it was a desperate moment, I couldn't remember what I wanted to play, wasn't sure where I was.

    So maybe I need to try more freestyle improvisation? The stuff you thought was best was my least prepared and most spontaneous, which is encouraging.

    I'm going to print out your post and think more about it. Getting such concrete feedback on my playing from somebody who I have confidence in is a rare privilege indeed.

    Thank you!

  5. #29

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    Wow, the last few posts from Mr. B and Mr. L-S represent the best of what this forum has to offer—thoughtful and friendly insights and give & take. It’s encouraging.

  6. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone

    So maybe I need to try more freestyle improvisation? The stuff you thought was best was my least prepared and most spontaneous, which is encouraging.


    Thank you!
    Most welcome.

    How much are you planning ahead now?

    I've posted about this here before, but I feel like I should mention it again, see what other people think. It's like there's multiple levels of improv and the mindstate you're in when improvising...

    The simplest level is you're thinking, you're planning, there's canned licks, you might misfire and throw off a whole chorus because you landed on the wrong beat or something. I call this phase "you tell your fingers where to go."

    Then we get into another state, we've practiced, assimilated some stuff, done the legwork, and things start to "just happen." It's autopilot. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it blows. I call this "your fingers tell you where to go."

    Then there's a higher level, where we can think and react in the moment. We might even be able to hear whole solos ahead of time, or parts of them, or visualize a shape of a solo and play to it. When can adapt and change based on accompanyment. This phase is "YOU tell your fingers where to go."

    It's not like some graduated scheme, like "Im a level 3 player." We are all at once in all three levels and could be knocked out of or into another at any given moment...

    So when you said that you blanked and that bridge "just happened," that's not a bad thing at all, as it shows you've done the legwork...if you blank and you haven't put in the work, it sounds...pretty different

    Basically, I feel like you're doing everything right. You clearly know what you want to play, you know your strengths and limitations, you record not to make pretty little "perfect takes" to share on social media but to keep kind of an audio/video diary that you can go back and be critical of.

    Honestly, the thing you should work on this weekend is to listen to Grant Green and Kenny Burrell play ballads with an organ trio. There's that laid back feel you only get in that environment for some reason...absorb a bunch of that and listen to what it does for your phrasing on those slooooow tempos. Because they are HARD.

  7. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Most welcome.

    How much are you planning ahead now?

    I've posted about this here before, but I feel like I should mention it again, see what other people think. It's like there's multiple levels of improv and the mindstate you're in when improvising...

    The simplest level is you're thinking, you're planning, there's canned licks, you might misfire and throw off a whole chorus because you landed on the wrong beat or something. I call this phase "you tell your fingers where to go."

    Then we get into another state, we've practiced, assimilated some stuff, done the legwork, and things start to "just happen." It's autopilot. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it blows. I call this "your fingers tell you where to go."

    Then there's a higher level, where we can think and react in the moment. We might even be able to hear whole solos ahead of time, or parts of them, or visualize a shape of a solo and play to it. When can adapt and change based on accompanyment. This phase is "YOU tell your fingers where to go."

    It's not like some graduated scheme, like "Im a level 3 player." We are all at once in all three levels and could be knocked out of or into another at any given moment...

    So when you said that you blanked and that bridge "just happened," that's not a bad thing at all, as it shows you've done the legwork...if you blank and you haven't put in the work, it sounds...pretty different

    Basically, I feel like you're doing everything right. You clearly know what you want to play, you know your strengths and limitations, you record not to make pretty little "perfect takes" to share on social media but to keep kind of an audio/video diary that you can go back and be critical of.

    Honestly, the thing you should work on this weekend is to listen to Grant Green and Kenny Burrell play ballads with an organ trio. There's that laid back feel you only get in that environment for some reason...absorb a bunch of that and listen to what it does for your phrasing on those slooooow tempos. Because they are HARD.
    I've actually done a lot of planning because I have been prone to run the same scales and licks over and over so I'm trying to broaden my skills. I never really nailed arpeggios in all forms, from any note but just kind of "slide to ROOT-3-5-9-7" I think you know that lick! So I'm trying to make sure I know where my chord tones are at least for Maj, Minor7 Dom7, m7b5, and diminished. So nowadays I tend to want to try and use that.

    I also have learned a ton of Jimmy Raney solos (as you know) and that vocabulary is wonderful but I have not yet been able to transfer it into my own playing very consistently. I think that will need to be osmosis. Raney also has been messing with my time and what rhythmic figures I use. Currently I have maybe 4 rhythmic patterns that control every phase I play. Obviously that needs to expand.

    I also find that while I play really nice (I think) chord-melody, I have trouble when I play the melody as a single-note line connecting melody notes with neighboring chord-tones and such. It's almost like the melody exists in my head without the harmony, and the chords exist without the melody, except for my C-M playing.

    So in my Prelude solo, the opening A section was definitely "telling my fingers" to play this dom7 arpeggio, connect to the next by a half-step, play the next one, etc. The second A section felt a little better to me. I ws having trouble hearing the backing track, and the bassist on that track does some odd stuff, like a human bassist will.

    The bridge was "Oh God where am I? This isn't what I planned to do! Play something. Play anything. Just do it." Not sure where that fits in your scheme! Evidently all the shedding on this tune came through and as i watched it I liked the bridge more than the rest.

    The idea of a solo or section of a solo having a shape is interesting. I think I've felt that a few times on this, kind of a mental picture of a part of the solo. But it kind of evaporates when I miss a change.

    Good thoughts, thank you again for the lesson(s). I might try another chorus next week, see if I can get into that elusive pocket a bit sooner and stay in it a bit longer!

  8. #32

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    Yeah, Jeffy B!

    You show em all how we grade school teachers do it!

    In all seriousness, Lawson-Stone--whoever told you off on a PM should get a life.

    Everyone I talk to, professional or not, we all have our self doubts.

    Check out this video by Larry Koonse on self doubt (he talks at the very beginning):



    I was lucky enough to take one lesson--just one--with Larry at his house. He is the real deal and what he talks about with self doubt
    rings true for so many of us--that self hatred of our playing--I still fight with that problem.

    Here's the thing. I don't wanna be crass, but Lawson-Stone--you have the cajones to continually post videos of your playing without fail. I don't post as much because I get scared off--and recording is so annoying with my setup...

    Anyway, I agree with listening to organ trio stuff. I'd throw in Peter Bernstein, just because I am on such a Larry Goldings trip right now--it ain't even funny. Of all the organ trios I've heard these days---yikes, Larry Goldings does something special--but having Pete B and Bill Stewart is something special as well.

    I think the hardest thing to master--is time. You can have the hippest licks in the world, but they won't mean dirt without time--rhythm, placement, all that. When I critique my own playing, I am usually getting really granular with how I handle time--and I know when my stuff isn't swinging.

    That said, keep fighting the good fight. I'm being totally transparent here, you've made leaps and bounds your playing since I started looking at your videos a couple of years ago--I'm jealous of that progress.

    Keep at it, and listen to Jeffy B--he'll learn us all some

  9. #33

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    I just re-read this post today and Mr. B. you remain among an elite of super-helpful people on this forum. Your comments on my playing, even on my weaknesses, are on-point and any pain they cause is the good pain of a bone being set or a boil being lanced. Your encouragement then acquires an added level of effectiveness because it's not just niceness. I don't like nice people; I like good people. You are a good person.

    So reviewing this thread just made me grateful for all the encouragement and instruction I've gotten from the forum, and from a generous handful of folks like Mr. B. and others.

    In a time when the shadow of disease and death hangs over us, remembering such things brings light and warmth.
    Last edited by lawson-stone; 03-29-2020 at 02:55 PM.

  10. #34

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    I don't seem to have done a version of this. Here's one. It'll do.