This thread was started to shed light on how the Old Masters of Jazz played. My goal is to start with videos and various other information that sheds light on how the old masters of jazz thought and techniques they used to play music.
Let's start with a quote: "Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple." -Charles Mingus.
Remember this quote throughout the discussion.
In the opinion of many old jazz greats, they often state that young musicians today over complicate things. Music theorists over the years have gathered up notes and put fancy little labels on them and leave students believing they have to learn every scale and mode to play Jazz music. Remember the quote? "Anyone can make the simple complicated."
This is what has been happening over the years. Let me say that anyone can watch a solo or a string of notes being played and gather them up and label it some scale name. However, that is not how these old jazz musicians thought or perceived things. They saw music and played music by identifying the Chord Tone Shapes
on their instruments.
Some will argue that chord tones are within scales. Do you still remember that quote? "Anyone can make the simple complicated."
My point is that the old jazz masters did not see the music around scales but rather Chord tones. Some will still argue that "Isn't chord tones scales?" The difference is how the old jazz masters perceived it. They saw Chord Tone Shapes
and everything around the shape was passing tones and chromatics. Remember the statement, "Anyone can add up all the notes and label them some scale."However, the old jazz masters did not see it as a scale but rather they saw their chord tone shapes and everything else around that shape was a passing tone and chromatics to lead them into the next chord change.
Here is some testimony.
Brian Gough (From England) states I think all that stuff about modes and all the various fancy scales is overrated and a waste of time quite frankly. I have read many articles relating to or written by some of the guitar greats and they all kept things pretty simple and basically the technique they used was to just play over chords and follow the changes. Their choice of passing tones and the phrasing and timing they used is what made the difference.
I watched an instructional video of Joe Pass playing a concert and then holding a clinic and he said on there "don't ask me anything about modes 'cos I know nothing about that stuff".
Do u remember the quote "Creativity is making the complicated simple."
Brian Gough goes on to state that to improvise a jazz solo you play the basic arpeggio of the relative chord and connect the notes using passing notes (a combination of scale tones and chromatics).
Brian Gough further states that he remembers once he was studying the transcription of a Tal Farlow solo, and the transcriber detailed his idea of the scales that Tal would have used. It was a tune in 'F' and he put down the notes of a scale which he then called 'Bb Lydian Dominant'. What it was in fact, and I'm sure it's the way Tal would have thought of it, was simply the dominant chord 'Bb7' or 'Fm7', which you will see later on is a possible substitute chord for 'Bb7'. He used the 'b5' note (E) as a passing note which is why the transcriber came up with a fancy scale name! I mean can you imagine Tal or any of the others thinking to themselves in the middle of a solo, "I think I'll play a lydian dominant here". What nonsense! Do u still remember that quote "Anyone can make the simple complicated.
Here is a link to a Carol Kaye video confirming the statements above. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9idtdWAAEA
The next video is an audio link to Pat Metheny stating that players that play scales often do not see the chord tones and rip through scales without any idea as to how they relate to the chords above each measure of music. He refers to these players as often "Floating above the melody without sounding within it." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SRmTRCpQHI
This video is a video of Jeff Berlin teaching chord tones https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWovekz3i4k
More discussion to come!