the jazz authority; random dubiously zappy rants about 'the musicians music'.: THE SECRET TO JAZZ !!!

Thursday, May 26, 2005


I was studying with Pat LaBarbera in a class at Humber College in Toronto a few years back. One day he was talking about improvisational theory when out of the blue he said, “and maybe that's the secret to jazz.” He was referring to the use of triplets, and he was kidding around, of course.

I took this comment a little more seriously though, and directed my usual doodling in my notebook to creating a sketch of eighth note triplets majestically mounted on a pedestal shining and glowing. I gave it even further thought, and that class has been stuck with me ever since.

How many lines do you play that don't have one triplet in them? How many lines do the real cats play that don't contain triplets? Yes, there is a discrepancy. Sometimes guys like Dexter, Trane, Rollins, Bird, etc, etc, only implied triplets through the use of space and their heavy swing, but they were there.

I've made it a point to modify the riffs/licks/patterns I've learned over the years to include triplets. Doing this makes for a way more swinging flowing line. I strongly suggest that you give this 'secret' some thought.

It pays to listen closely to the heavies, even if they're just telling a joke.

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