The Piano and the Art of Jazz Accompaniment

Some years ago I spent two weeks working with an experienced jazz pianist, a deeply intellectual man with great technical skills and enormous ability and inventiveness as a jazz soloist. During the course of our work, this musician had to call upon his broad background in order to function as a collaborative arranger, as a "lead voice player" in a piano trio (both of which roles he filled superbly), and as an ensemble pianist in the role of accompanist to a singer and various jazz instrumentalists. This last role was the one for which his background had least prepared him,...

Read more →

Jazz Drumming, From a Bass Player/Composer's Point Of View

What do jazz drummers play? How is it that the sound of the cymbal "ride" patterns of great jazz drummers is so personal that it can be identified by an experienced listener in a matter of a few measures of listening? What is it that identifies so clearly the playing of Kenny Clarke, Roy Haynes, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Pete La Roca, Larry Bunker, Donald Bailey, Bill Goodwin, Mel Lewis, Billy Higgins and other great jazz drummers with identifiable personal styles?It has been recommended in jazz education articles that student drummers ought to play strong accents on...

Read more →

A Musician Pleads For Quiet

Most of the restaurants in town serve canned music along with the fresh food and conversation.  It used to be worse.  Some time ago, this dining ambiance was all “New Age” music - the kind that stays on the same three or four notes for ten minutes at a time, because a fifth note might overly challenge the intellect or technique of the player.  That stuff is insidious.  It hobbles the mind and holds it hostage while subjecting it to an auditory version of Chinese Water Torture.  Drip, drip, can’t turn it off and you can’t ignore it.  ...

Read more →