Further to most post last week about looseness, I'd like to talk about something regarding a conversation I had at my side hustle gig recently. The subject of Jazz came up, and this individual stated he didn't like it because he found it "haphazard". Now, I understand to a new listener, the music must seem random and people just "play anything", but as one acquires more knowledge and experience, it becomes very clear how many obstacles one navigates to even create a mediocre performance. To demonstrate, I thought I would list just a few of the things I am thinking about and mentally juggling while playing improvised music….
As a drummer…
-Making sure the tempo is steady (if the tune isn't rubato)
-creating a beautiful cymbal and drum sound
-trying to create and maintain a pleasing groove with the bassist and rest of the band
-remembering and relating to the form
- "" "" "" the melody
- interacting with and supporting the soloist
-constantly accessing my dynamics, both as a whole and each limb individually
- figuring out how I can represent the different sections of a tune's performance (e.g. Head vs. Solos, differentiating between soloists etc.) and what the trajectory of the whole tune will be
-and much more….
As a pianist/soloist
-representing the tune's harmony accurately
-deciding on comping rhythms/voicings
-deciding on whether to comp at all
-playing correct notes on the chord changes
-hearing and relating to the melody
-supporting and reacting to other soloists
-what rhythms and articulations to play during a solo
- deciding length of solo
-gaging relative volume
-and much more…..
In conclusion, when improvising, one is making split second decisions that will affect the success of the performance constantly! Just because one doesn't know exactly what one is going to play, doesn't mean there aren't infinite high level decisions going on based on years of practice, listening, and development of taste! Happy listening!