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Low-Rent Jazz For Rockers Pt. 6

Chris Adams (437) · [archive]
Style: Jazz · Level: Advanced · Tempo: 120
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Inner Logic

Years ago I attended a clinic with one of my personal favorite players, the great John Scofield. During the Q&A, one of the other attendees asked the question: "How do you play "out" ? While I don't remember John's exact response, it was something like this:

Well, you... um... you just... play "out".

... he said with a shrug and a smile. Now I don't think he was holding out on us. I think that was his honest, best answer to the question. I thought about that one for a long time. What I eventually took it to mean was: you'll have to figure that one out for yourself. Over the years, I've tried to figure that out for myself. So here are some of the fruits of my meditations: a few Low-Rent ways to get at some of those "wrong-but-right" Scofield-esque sounds.

Before I get to some concepts and exercises, a little philosophy: I think that, as musicians, we need to balance tension with resolution. In other words, we need to surprise the listener some of the time and give them what they expect some of the time. Too much tension is irritating, while too much resolution is boring.

In playing "out", we run the risk of introducing too much tension. So what we need to do is give our playing an "inner logic": something to give the listener, or even ourselves, a point of reference. This is, ultimately, what makes the difference between making music or just making noise. What follows are some concepts and exercises that can help keep your playing together when you get "outside".

Keep in mind that the exercises are just that, exercises. They are not necessarily music. Hopefully, they will lead you to some new ways of thinking about form, structure, and harmony. After that, the music-making is up to you.

I really should give special thanks to John Scofield for the initial inspiration, to Mick Goodrick for showing me the path, to Miles Davis just for being Miles, and to Ornette Coleman for an important insight along the way. Thanks. FYI, the groove referred to throughout the lesson is on page 6. And now, the material....