326: Teaching day. I’ve had a great time teaching Jazz Theory and Improvisation this semester. Every time I teach this course, it gets a little better, and the students learn a little more. Learning how to play this music, though, does require more outside practicing in addition to the two-hour-a-week class. I’ve said this before, but I’ll belabor the point. If you’re reading this, class, stop reading it and go play through a few ii-V-I licks!
327: Awesome first night with the Mike Jellick Trio at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe in Grosse Pointe, MI. Mike and Jesse sounded great, and I’m really excited for this week’s run, and next week’s with the same trio plus Alex Graham. Thanks to Gretchen Valade, Tom Robinson, Mark J., Kira, and all the other folks for coming out.
Bonus! Check out a clip of The Mike Jellick Trio playing “Poinciana.” This is from a demo we recently recorded with Kira Frabotta. Come see us play tonight at the Dirty Dog!
321: Hanging with Jenine and my parents in Ithaca. Then Jenine and I drove to Tim’s in Watertown and had a nice night out for Italian and cocktails. Performances? That’s a stretch.
322: Driving home from Watertown in what we thought was going to be a terrible snow storm. Glad that did not happen. Also played at the London Chop House with Scotty, Scott K., and Paul King. Man, that place is nice!
323: Shave and a haircut…
324: Teaching in the evening. Looking forward to more work with this “grad” group.
325: Practicing! And meetings and business.
I’ve got forty more days of the blog to write. It has not been entirely successful, but I’m glad I’ve kept track of these things in my life. I wish I had put up more audio files and other things. I’ll try to do this from now until the end.
This semester has been the most fun I’ve had teaching Jazz Theory and Improvisation. Although I may have not covered as much material as in the past, I feel like it’s more in depth, and that the students understand the concepts better, even though that understanding may not immediately translate into successful navigation though the changes quite yet.
To me, this is the epitome of higher-level thinking, and what makes improvisation, particularly improvisation in the context of the Bebop tradition one of the most challenging endeavors a musician can engage in. Maybe I’m biased because I have a love of this music which undoubtedly began prior to my conception (thanks Dad!), but this manifests itself in my own personal struggle to be a better improviser EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE! No degree will ever make me a better improviser.
Perhaps a degree will make me a better researcher. In turn, that may make me better at examining the tradition, incorporating it (or not) into my own playing, and ultimately finding a voice for myself within the context of the established institution of “jazz.” People have argued that the more knowledgeable you are about the history of jazz, the more you can draw upon to make good music. To me, this has nothing the do with concept of improvisation. That is not to say it is not extremely important. It is as important to be able to play in the style of Charlie Parker as it is to play in the style of Beethoven, Schoenberg, Reich, or Lady Gaga. This has nothing to do, however, with the spirit of improvisation, which I believe is an innate human trait.
294: Friday night I played at a nice little restaurant near 8 Mile and Livernois called 1917 American Bistro. Jellick hired me for the gig to play with Brandon and Greg, who played drums and percussion respectively. Nice vibe, and nice music.
295: Last night I played a really fun Trad gig at the Elks Lounge in Mt. Clemens. It’s been a long time since I played that kind of music, and it was really refreshing. The band was killer, and I think people had a good time, although I would have like to see a few more folks dancing. This gig reinforced my belief that there’s nothing more important than groove, and that early jazz is one of the hardest styles to reproduce accurately. The band leader, Ron, did open my eyes to a few stock combo packs that are pretty accurately arranged. Definitely gave me food for thought for the combos for next year.
296: Today is Sunday, and Jenine is throwing a baby shower for our friend Alta Dantzler. My performance today will consist of imitating a disappearing magician upstairs while my house is being babified.