It sounds so complex. So difficult. So advanced. Great jazz musicians sound as though they’re implementing highly complex and difficult concepts that mere mortals could never hope to access, but in reality, professionals think simpler than you’d ever imagine. It’s the beginners and intermediates who study the pros and abstract what they think is going on in a convoluted and complex way.
Jazz improvisation is a real-time activity. This means there’s no time to think.
And even in the practice room where you do have infinite time, simplicity is your best friend because when the heat of the moment comes and you’re on stage, it’s the simple stuff that will be there with you.
Professionals use simple concepts.
They use them effectively and they disguise them…
Michael Brecker and simplicity
When you think Michael Brecker, you probably don’t think simple.
He plays so fast. So effortless. So perfect.
But, when you closely study what he’s playing and take away the lightening speed that he’s known for, you’ll see many simple concepts you’re familiar with.
A lot of what he’s playing sounds extremely angular and complex, but it’s actually not at all. He utilizes some very simple techniques, but knows exactly how to get the most mileage out of them.
Complexity = Disguised Simplicity
Studying music theory and analyzing jazz solos defines how we view what we discover. It’s a catch-22. Without knowledge of music theory we have no real framework to understand what’s going on, but with it, we may tend to artificially and subconsciously mold our findings to fit into what we understand.
This process of analysis happens time and time again when transcribing and figuring out how to think about our findings.
Through this line of thought, what may have been a simple concept in the performer’s mind, becomes an elaborate design in ours....