the jazz authority; random dubiously zappy rants about 'the musicians music'.: Jazz Is Crazy

Monday, June 06, 2005

Jazz Is Crazy

Jazz is crazy and I like it that way. The crazier the better. I say the best jazz musicians were and are crazy, and by crazy I mean creative genius. There's a fine line between the two, and sometimes being a genius and crazy goes hand in hand.

I don't know if you can relate, but sometimes when I'm playing for long periods of time I get into the zone. It's a place where I stop thinking about what I'm playing and instead I just try to keep up with the flow of ideas. This doesn't happen every time play, but when it does it's like a runners high, or good sex. This is why I think so many great jazz musicians did what they did and did it well. They knew what it was like to be on top of their game.

Years ago I came across the concept of consistency as it applies to improvising. This is where one is able to play equaly as fluid every time they perform. I wish this was true for myself. Didi you ever have one of those off nights where you just couldn't get your lines off the ground? Maybe it happens to all of us. People listen for that consistency and expect it, and when we let them down they lower their expectations and their opinion of our blowing. Scary thought, when one considers the scarcity of gigs or the fierceness of competition.

I never played for the ego boost. This I can honestly say. It's great when the crowd digs my playing, but that's not why I do it. The other side of the coin is that I love to perform. I guess I just enjoy sharing my creativity with others. I'm sure there's more to it though.

That brings me to the woodshedding. We practice for hours in our rooms alone, every day of the week, every month, every year. If we step away for a week, our technique and tone goes to hell, but maybe we'll find a new creative flow. This seems extreme to me, even though I'm the guy who sat in my basement playing scale patterns and transcribing blue note record solos for hours upon hours. If I hear a great solo, I want to own it. I want to get inside that cats head and blow it exactly like he did, then take a riff and learn it in all keys, with variations. This is something I used to do, and maybe one day I'll get back to it.

I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on woodshedding - why you do it, and what it is to you.



tim said...


woodshedding is something I did before I had I just cram before tours or recording dates but still always trying to play as much as possible. (certainly thinking about music most of the time)

tim posgate

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