Enter the Jazz Guitar Dragon

by | Mar 20, 2018 | Articles | 0 comments

I’ve been ruminating today on this quote by Bruce Lee:

“Not being tense but ready.
Not thinking but not dreaming.
Not being set but flexible.
Liberation from the uneasy sense of confinement.
It is being wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.”

The point where true spontaneity happens in jazz is along the lines of what Bruce Lee talks about in this quote.

If you’re tense, you won’t feel the rhythm – but you still have to be alert to keep up with the changes.

Agility and flexibility in how you play your lines are the keys to making improvisation sound fresh and alive.

I particularly find the second line very interesting:

“Not thinking but not dreaming…”.

Thinking about things too much when you’re on the bandstand is a big problem. If you’re often crashing and burning on stage, this could be the main issue.

The problem with most jazz instruction is that it encourages you to be too cerebral when it comes to your music making.

Knowing the theory, scales, and language behind jazz concepts is important, but if you’re not careful you can suffer from “paralysis by analysis” on the bandstand if you are preoccupied with those things in the heat of the moment.

You need to eventually transcend the concepts. When you do, jazz becomes something deeper, and as natural as breathing.

Anyway, just something to think about in your practice today.

~ Greg

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