Friday, June 8, 2012

Jazz Lines

Today I went through the "26-2" and "Satellite" John Coltrane solos I transcribed, and extracted all of the lines with particularly strong melodies that clearly outlined the harmonic progression.  Most of these were four measure phrases.

I then practiced "plugging in" some selected phrases into the tunes.  I limited myself to using one line exclusively, for a while, before switching.  I plan to stick with this for the next couple of days, making it a primary focus.  These melodies should nicely complement and contrast the digital patterns I learned earlier in the process.

To be completely candid, at this point I am questioning whether I should be learning Coltrane's lines or writing my own.  I could write my own, but some of these are just so hip that I really want to incorporate them into my vocabulary.  I tend to think that if I learn some of these, I can be flexible with them and find ways to improvise within them.  Hopefully I'm not "copping out".  At this juncture, I think the most important thing is committing to doing something concrete and staying with it for a period.  Thoughts?

Here is my list of extracted, premium Coltrane melodies/lines:


  1. Perhaps learning these Coltrane's lines is similar to practicing Bach or Liszt? Just getting it under your fingers helps for the next tune, idea, project?

    Do you find you are practicing more, or just more focussed?

    1. Hi Brandt.
      For me, I find there is a significant difference between practicing classical music and jazz. When I really learn jazz material, I have it for life --- just like how one learns to ride a bike once and never forgets. With classical repertoire, I learn it, perform it and then forget it. The next time I have to perform it, I almost have to start over. This is one of the reasons I chose to pursue jazz when I was deciding between the two after high school.

      Regarding practicing: For the past few years composition and arranging have become my primary focus. Because I generally can play well enough to get through most jazz gigs, I chose to put REAL practicing more or less on the back burner. My "practicing" consisted of learning tunes, occasionally doing some technical exercises to limber up when the odd gig came my way, and preparing for specific gigs/concerts. The ten years or so of my life when I practiced 8 to 12 hours a day served me well in this regard.

      It was nice to be back at it. It made me feel young again and reminded me that I still enjoy it and have some unfinished aspirations in this area.

      In short, I practiced more and it was more focused. I'm glad I did it and plan to be doing much more.