Improvising, in Contrast to “Practicing Improvisation”

The other night while giving a practice coaching session via Skype to a very good jazz guitarist, an interesting issue arose. Though he had been putting in long hours of practice, diligently and intelligently working on the specific skills he would like to develop as an improviser, he found his actual experience  whenever improvising oddly […]

Something Every Serious Student of Improvisation Should Be Doing Regularly

If you ask just about any highly skilled jazz musician what you need to practice for optimum improvement, you’ll typically get advice that concurs with other highly skilled jazz musicians. The reason is simple. Some things work better than others in leading you toward developing the skills and conception you need. (And some things don’t […]

New Book: Four-Note Diatonic Triad Cells

I’m especially pleased to announce that my latest eBook, Four-Note Diatonic Triad Cells: Comprehensive Studies in Leading Tones, is now available for purchase and immediate download. Major and minor triads are a fundamental building block of virtually any melodic language, most certainly including jazz. As an improvising musician, gaining mastery over the movement and connection […]

Deepening Improvisation: Do This Every Time You Learn a New Melodic Pattern

Part of the work in studying improvisation is what I call “feeding” our ears and imagination. In essence, this involves learning and practicing new patterns and sequences. These patterns can be anything from simple, diatonic melodic movements, to more harmonically complex polytonal statements that you’ve discovered in a jazz etude book, to very particular “licks” […]

Is Improvisation Really Just “Spontaneous Composition”?

Yes. (to answer the question in the title) And no. Yes, in that you are most certainly generating musical ideas. And yes, these ideas contain what can be referred to as “compositional elements and principles”. And yes, when you are a skilled improviser, you are often constructing a solo in a cogent, “compositional” manner. But […]