Tips straight from our faculty for students of jazz.
LESSON #4 - 4 Tips for Handling Criticism as a Jazz Musician by Champian Fulton
When I was 15 I sang at the Kemah Jazz Festival in Houston TX with my father’s band. James Moody was the headliner that year, and I was very excited to meet him and hear his set. We performed in the late afternoon, and the stage was set up so that the performers looked out over a plaza and the hotel. I remember being very nervous to go on stage (which was pretty normal for me back then) and being even more nervous when I realized that James Moody was sitting directly in front of me on his balcony at the hotel. I sang “Yardbird Suite” and “Out of Nowhere”. I was just starting out back then, but even with that in mind it wasn’t my best performance, and right in the middle of “Out of Nowhere” Moody got up, went inside, and shut the balcony door. I remember feeling crushed, but I rationalized the situation with the (likely) truth that he just wanted to get dressed for his own set, which was in just an hour or two.
Lately many of my music choices are project based; I’ll be checking out the music of a bandleader in preparation for an upcoming gig, or to research for a class that I am teaching. I spend over 10 hours in the car most weeks, so this is prime time for listening! When there are no pressing needs, I will often let the ipod shuffle through my collection and I’ll often be reminded of forgotten gems. Here are a bunch of great recordings that have recently commanded my attention one way or another. I know I’ll keep coming back to these sides year after year!
This article has a companion video! Please go to the following link on Youtube to see the video of this lesson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0EVHELjBbM
Now on to the business at hand…Rhythm.
When a reporter asked the great Dizzy Gillespie how he improvised he said, “ I think of a rhythm and put notes to it…” Without command of rhythm, both within yourself and within the context of a group, our music sounds awful. Most of the weak playing I have checked out had more to do with a rhythmic disconnect than a melodic problem.
OK…so let’s address the problem.
First, get a metronome…second, use it. You need to develop a “metronomic sense” which means the ability to give up the dictation of time to another instrument as well as to feel the pulse and be aware of where you are in relation to it. When you practice with your metronome don’t tap your foot, let the metronome dictate the tempo.
"There are many ways to experience a Jazz performance. I think the best way overall is to relaxand let the music take you where it takes you. Let the rhythm move your body and the soundsresonate with your mind and soul. We musicians pour ourselves into the music so that it can beexperienced in this way. Sometimes musicians and audience alike are transported to a placenone expected. That’s one of the really special things about Jazz!
We professional Jazz musicians train for years to become masters of our instruments. Ourobjective is to make our instrument an extension of our voice, so that we may express ourselvesin as free a way as possible. There are many elements to that expression, some of which areconscious and planned, and others are spontaneous and mystical. Part of the beauty of Jazzmusic is that there are such varied combination of these elements; this allows tremendousindividual creativity and expressiveness, variety, and even growth and expansion of the Jazzgenre itself."