Overall Rating: 4.8 (of 5)
Low-Rent Jazz For Rockers Pt. 6
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
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....