I'm interesting in hearing you guys, esp the old timers, what you think of solo development. Tips? Advice? What is important to you? What do you want ot hear in your solo and others soloing?
And what I mean by solo development is more than note choices or rhythmic hits. Lets get beyond that, beyond the nuts and bolts of playing. How do you approach your solos? compositionally? Spontaeneously? When going through 2 choruses, do you think about coming to a climax at some point? How do you weave ideas in and out of your solos?
Gary Burton has this fantastic vid that covers alot of material, but here's his comment about solo development (as best as I can come close to him speaking about):
As Gary says, "it's more than just choosing the right notes".
The masterclass is one of the best I've ever seen on Youtube BTW.
So players, how do you approach telling a story? Can you describe it? Teachers, what do you do to help students learn how to tell a story?
IMO, I consider this to also be completely orthogonal to the "spectrum of improvisation" discussion going on in the Konitz/Tristano thread. For instance, I feel it's possible to be completely free to come up with phrases without relying on licks or vocabulary, but you can also be conscientious about how you put your solo together (composing it in a sense). Repetition and motivic development can be a useful tool in this regard, without having to rely on rote vocabulary.
A couple things-
Start with a very simple idea in the middle of the instrument. Make sure you really mean it. Connecting this idea to an idea from the end of the previous soloist's improvisation adds continuity and shows respect.
Make every idea connect to the previous idea. This is part of the "telling a story" ideal.
Because of our supportive role, it's good to come back down to the bottom of the bass at the end of our solo; this also provides punctuation so the other guys know when to come back in.
Ideally, we should practice this stuff in the shed, not the stand. We should record ourselves constantly and be honest about our shortcomings and diligent in improving those areas. At that point, the solo should be effortless and in the moment, rather than conceptualized and overanalyzed.
Motivic development and making the most of melodic ideas.
Thanks for posting this. I'll spend more time on it but in the first few minutes, I've gleaned a few nuggets. Good solos are based on a theme (melody) so it is helpful to go back to the melody of the tune being played. To use the Green Dolphin Street example, start with that particular line and vary it as Gary did. I may also play a new melodic idea but use the rhythmic idea of the melody. The idea is for my solo to clearly fit the tune rather than just the changes of the tune.
You've already gotten some good advice already. I'm not an expert on soloing, but folks tell me I do "okay". I noticed no one brought up being able to hear what you want to play when you solo. Sort-of pre-hearing a line before you play it. I think to solo well, you have to have absorbed much of the phrasing, melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic development that has come before you. That means listening to the masters very carefully. Two things helped me with this: 1) transcribing and 2) singing solos to practice tracks or BIAB. 3) playing guitar while soloing to practice tracks. Both singing and playing guitar help free me from my constraints on the bass and help fuel my imagination, and help me develop more sophisticated ideas. Singing is the most free, but sometimes I don't hear the pitches accurately so while guitar is more constrains, it helps keep me honest so that I'm completely clear about the intended pitches. Hope that helps.
I'm only just learning to solo, but I heard one piece of advice that's both interesting and educational. A famous jazz trumpeter said, "First I plays the melody, then I plays around the melody, then I routines". Or words to that affect.
It's certainly not the only way to go, but it is one way.
Everybody usually does things differently and sometimes others can provide some really interesting insight.
And real-time pre-hearing is a skill that I don't think everybody has. Lee Konitz basically expresses that he isn't able to do that. To solely rely on listening to learn how to develop a solo is one thing, but to simultaneously hear one line while executing another is an entirely different skill. If you're not able to do that (thankfully I can do a little bit of it) how does one gain that skill? Is it only by pure osmosis and luck? Has anyone come up with drills to do so? The only thing I've come close to seeing such as maybe Tristano's advice about slow practice.
And to be able to pre-hear in real time while playing a burning bebop tune... well that's quite a feat to accomplish.
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