When I started listening ( I mean really listening) to jazz music, it was daunting at first. It was sorta like when I began meditating, I fell asleep! Ouch! My bad! So this can happen to you when you first listened but even if it doesn’t it could be very enlightening by learning jazz lingo and what to listen for. I am going to kick off 2014 with a weekly breakdown of the 7 aphorisms of understanding and listening to jazz. Now that doesn’t have anything to do with the way you impart your style, swagger or look, so don those kicks, put on your favorite shades, grab the chaise and lean in and let the riffs begin. Here are tips of what to listen for:
∞ How the soloist and the chord playing musician interact.
∞ Comping (an abbreviation for “accompanying”) is a term used in jazz music to describe chords, rhythms, and counter melodies that keyboard players (piano or organ) or guitar players use to support a jazz musician’s (horn player’s) improvised solo or melody lines.
∞ Call and Response is an interaction between musicians. The first is the Call phrase is played and the second phrase played is the commentary or Response to the first phrase. It corresponds to the call and response pattern found in a conversation between two people. It is the basic element of musical form and is the most popular music phrasing in jazz.
∞ Rhythm ~ The backbone and is the most critical component of jazz. Listen to how the drummer strengthens the bass player. In a Walking bassline the bass and drummer on the ride cymbal are playing the same rhythm. When the bass player is not playing a walking bassline, the drummer will solo and will play the a dramatically improvised phrase.
∞ Solo Improvisation is where the artist will play without the accompaniment of the drummer. The soloist will sometimes lock on to an idea or phrase and the drummer will mimic the phrase during their improvisational exchange (call and response).
∞ Melody & Timing: When listening to the solo improvisation keep the song’s melody and rhythm timing in your head to know where the musicians are in the song. After the musicians have finished playing through the “form” of the song, the drummer will generally play some sort of rhythmic phrase to indicate they are going back to the beginning again of the song. (aka HeadChart).
There is nothing more beautiful than listening to Kenny G.
Two different artistic expressions and improvisations. How many of the tips did you hear?
Jazz offers a great listening experience and for folks willing and with a little patience you will emotionally respond to the artist that you are listening to. Now it is a whole different talk show when it comes to going live or going Memorex. Dizzy was a total performer and somewhat of a comedian when it came to being on stage. I thought I would give you an example …
Uploaded on Nov 21, 2008
Trumpet – Dizzy Gillespie
Saxaphone/Flute – James Moody
Bass – Christopher White
Piano – Kenny Barron
Drums – Rudy Collins
2 days left to MJF. If you can’t be there in person, then join me and we will go there in our minds, after all Sun Ra got it…Space Is the Place especially when it’s a head trip…Peace Out! JBC 😎
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