Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Playing 'Outside' Part 3

So far, I've only discussed my forays into structured approaches to playing outside (or adding colors).

There's an alternative strategy and one that I've just recently gotten comfortable with. This is the Kenny Werner version of "Free" playing. His idea is THERE IS NO WRONG NOTE.

This is a little different because how does the ear perceive a mistake in jazz vs. an intent? Each time I start a gig now, before the band starts, I just get into a Kenny Werner mode of just playing random notes on the piano. And I have to admit, that because I do it with intent, it doesn't sound out of place or dissonant.

I think when we lack intent, it becomes obvious in the phrasing. We leave the dissonant note extremely fast in our embarrassment. But it really sounds different when you hold on to a dissonant note. It may actually start to fit the harmony after a few bars. I'm actually amazed at some unusual harmonies that come out of free play.

What's more important here is that phrasing a line dominates more than the actual notes selected. At least this has been my observation.

Now do I have the guts to play free while there's a combo backing me up and I'd have to conflict with the bass player? At this point, I don't have that confidence to try it at a gig. Maybe once of these days I'll experiment at a jam when it's the last tune or something.

In the end, music is, as my teacher would emphasize, is a play on tension and release.  How we arrive at the tension and how much of it, is a personal taste and can be of the Cecil Taylor extreme, or the more mild one or two note dissonances. This is the art of it.

I thought the Jaki Byard's dissonant notes were fine. It added interest for me. Apparently it's even too much for some. I have to admit that when I first started learning about Jazz in late 2004, I actually searched for tunes that had unexpected 'outside' colors. So maybe I'm outside (no pun intended) the norm here. Maybe it's why I like Modern jazz more because there's more of this.

Time to listen to more Herbie and Wayne Shorter! (I have tickets for May 2013). When I heard them before, they will just play the melody and switch keys so the melody was more important than the key. I think this year, I will have more understanding of what's going on.

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