Kurt Rosenwinkel- Hearing Every Note Fresh

Kurt Rosenwinkel is one of the most highly respected young guitarists in the world today. He is one of those musicians that get booked an entire week at the Village Vanguard and play all the best European Jazz festivals in the summer. Kurt was at Berklee the same time that I was but we never played together there. About ten years after leaving Boston I had just moved in with my girlfriend Julie. I was looking through her CD collection which consisted mostly of Parliament Funkadelic, Beastie Boys and other assorted Rap groups. I spotted a 'Human Feel' CD, a fairly Avant-Garde Jazz project with Chris Speed, Andrew D'Angelo, and Kurt Rosenwinkel. It didn't fit with the rest of Julie's collection so I asked her about it.
She said, "Oh, that's my cousin Kurt's band." We were living in the small beach town of Santa Cruz, California mind you. Small world. I first met Kurt's parents when they took us to lunch the next time they came through town. I may have talked to Kurt a few times on the phone before moving out to NYC. He was also interested in the esoteric side of music theory and was eager to get together to talk about the subject.

When I moved to NYC we had a chance to spend some time together and talk about music. We also played together a few times in the Village with Josh Roseman and with one of Kurt's projects. When I left NYC for the west coast a few years later, I didn't get to hang with Kurt and say goodbye. I felt bad about that. My wife and I drove across country in a fifteen foot moving truck to Santa Cruz and checked into a hotel by the beach. From our room I could hear someone practicing a saxophone in another room and it sounded pretty good, too good for Santa Cruz. I soon realized that the entire 'Brian Blade fellowship' was staying in the same hotel. Kurt was staying right next door to us. This was pretty freaky. I had been thinking about him right before I left the East Coast. We went to see the band play at Kuumbwa Jazz center that night. Kurt decided to come back to Santa Cruz to stay with me as soon as his tour was finished. He stayed almost a week and we had a chance to have some philosophical discussions about music.

Kurt is one of the most thoughtful musicians I've ever met. For him music is truly a mystical experience. When you watch him play you can tell that he is trying to hear each and every note as a fresh creation. It's as if he's really trying to hear what each note wants do do. Like a bloodhound trying to pick up a faint but lingering trail. When he's playing he gets into an intensely focused state of mind. He is always listening for what his inner ear is hearing. On his 'The Next Step' CD he used alternate tunings on most of the tracks. This forced him to be fresh and not play licks .

Kurt taught me how important it is to be aware of every note. If you're not paying attention you might miss where your melody naturally wants to go. He tries to play by pure intuition rather than by using his rational mind. He has developed his career in the same way he develops his solos. Every step has to feel right before he takes it. Kurt is now happily married and lives in Lucerne with his wife and baby. His web site is great and has some nice sound clips. He is truly one of my favorite players as well as one of my favorite people.

All About Jazz article


Great Jazz interviews at Jazz Professional.com

In my last post about Bill Berry I gave a few links to some interviews with him from the Jazz Professional.com web site. Here are the rest of their interviews. They have a ton of great interviews. This site is a must see!

Lee Konitz- the 10 level system

I've always really loved the way Lee Konitz plays. Recently my friend Dan Gaynor transcribed a ton of Konitz, Marsh and Tristano tunes and we learned them together. That gave me a new interest in Lee's concept. His lines are amazingly cool and his compositional approach to constructing his improvisations blow me away. Yes, he is still right out of Tristano's school but I do view him as a true innovator of the saxophone. He has such an expressive personal sound and he changed the way many saxophonists played eighth-notes.

Here is a desciption of Lee's concept:
Lee Konitz has developed an approach to improvisation based on a 10-level system. The first, and most important level is the song itself . It then progresses incrementally through more sophisticated stages of embellishment, gradually displacing the original theme with new ones. The process culminates in the creation of an entirely new melodic structure. Konitz calls this final level "an act of pure inspiration." - D.K.

Here the link to the article on Mel Martin's site, it has examples of ten 8 bar sections of progressive development in Lee's own script-

The 10-level system

Pages of Lee in his own words

Ralph Pratt's 'Tonal Centers' web page

Ralph Pratt is the pioneer of the 3rds guitar tuning.

Here is a resource for learning to hear jazz chord progressions. Most jazz standards move through different major and minor tonal centers as the song progresses. Listening to songs that contain the same or similar chord progressions and tonal center shifts, can help learning to recognize them:

Tonal Centers

Bill Berry- The utilising of uniqueness

My high school band director Don Keller was in the Army band with coronetist/bandleader Bill Berry. Bill was played the Jazz trumpet chair and was librarian for Duke Ellington. Because of this our high school Jazz band had copies of the Ellington book. All of my parts were labeled Johnny rather than Alto 1 and Duke's own beautiful signature was at the bottom of every chart. When we went to Jazz festival competitions the other bands didn't stand a chance. They were playing charts like Sammy Nestico's 'Basie Straight Ahead' while we did things like 'Rockin' in Rhythm' and 'Blood Count'. We competed at the Monterey high school Jazz competition every year, which was the most prestigious because the winning big band and combo got to play at the Monterey Jazz festival that year. There was also a Monterey high school all-star (all-state) big band that Bill directed. My combo won one year, our high school big band won twice and I was in the all-star band twice. If you made it into the all-star band you got to miss a full week of school and rehearse in Monterey with Bill. We were put up in a motel by the fairgrounds and given per diem for food. This was a dream come true for a young musician as you might imagine. Bill made us feel like we had already arrived, like we were real Jazz cats. He was an incredible band leader and made us really hard for him. He had a major impact on my musical development, especially my time feel.

Bill was the quintessential hep Jazz cat. I'd never met anyone so cool in all my life. One of the first nights after rehearsing all day Bill dropped by our room and tossed us all beers. We were in shock that he was hanging with us. We were nervous and quiet. I remember Bill eventually saying sarcastically," Well you guys are are a real barrel of laughs." One year our high school band got to tour Japan with Bill. At every concert we played the Japanese announcer would say,"and now introducing BEER BELLY!". Bill had a concept more like Roy Eldridge and Bix than Dizzy and Miles. Some major bands he played with were Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson, Louis Bellson, Herb Pomeroy, Benny Carter, the NBC orchestra, Thad Jones, Terry Gibbs. He led what was essentially an Ellington ghost band for years called 'Bill Berry and the L.A. big band'. Bill swung his ASS off and was always highly lyrical and creative. He was one of the last true musical giants (despite his size), and a real Jazz gentleman. Bill made a huge impact on every young musician that played in his bands.

His own private Ellington

Here is Bill in his own words talking to Les Tomkins about his incredible career:
The utilising of uniqueness
My pleasurable jazz life
The pro’s and cons of a part–time band


Pythagoras- Music of the Spheres

Sometime during my junior year at Berklee I had a dream that changed the course of my life. I had had many lucid dreams before this one. These were dreams where I woke up during my dream. When I 'woke up' I became fully aware of my conscious self. I knew my name and I was aware that I was dreaming. Usually when this happened the dream would suddenly become more vivid. The colors would get brighter and I would see faces clearly and even highly detailed architecture. The moment I woke up in these dreams I would also gain some amount of control over them. I might be able to fly or move objects around with my thoughts. At the time this particular dream happened I was completely immersed in music. I was playing my horn about eight hours every day and listening to music the rest of the time. When I woke up in this dream I heard something that changed my entire perception of reality.

The dream was like this; I was on the moon looking at the earth. The earth was exploding with multiple nuclear explosions and the sky was filled with bright multi-colored lights. These colors looked similar to a puddle of oil, except fully illuminated. I heard the most amazing sound. As low and as high as I could hear there were innumerable voices, rather instruments. In the dream I could hear more than the usual eleven or so octaves that we usually perceive. I heard many more octaves. It was as if there were an infinite number of different instruments. Each and every one of them had it's own unique timbre or tone. Each and every one of them was playing a unique melody . Not one of the voices sounded the same or was playing the same melody! Imagine octaves and octaves of different instruments playing individual melodies. You would reasonably expect that this would be the most chaotic noise possible. It was the exact opposite. It was by far, the greatest and most beautiful music that I had ever heard. The totality of melodies created a piece of music so amazingly perfect that in an instant I knew that there had to be a master musician directing this music. This master musician had the talent to make what by all right should be total chaos into an infinitely beautiful symphony. To me this proved the existence of an infinitely intelligent creator, but more importantly a creator that was a musician, and outside time and space. Every dissonance in the song was balanced and harmonized in some other voices, which might be many octaves apart. It was as if each voice was improvising it's own melody but the the rest of the voices were in perfect harmony with these improvisations. I knew that what I was hearing was paradoxical. It seemed to be impossible. But I heard it and, as my mentor Lawrence Williams says, hearing is believing. When I woke up, which was more just like opening my eyes, I was stunned and amazed. What the hell had I just heard? I had never read or heard of anything even remotely like my dream, so I just kept it to myself for a while.

About a year later I ran across a book about Pythagoras that described what I had heard exactly! Pythagoras called it the 'Music of the Spheres'. He taught that everything in the universe makes music. The planets all create music as the orbit the sun and every person creates music as they live their life on the earth. All the planetary orbits follow the musical laws of harmony and everything is an expression of number. There are no random events. Every note has a musical purpose. The universe is more like a song than a machine. It moves between consonance and dissonance to ultimately create a supremely beautiful piece of music. This music is alive. Each voice creates it's own song, yet the master musician is always conducting the whole. Pythagoras was scoffed at for centuries because of his 'Music of the Spheres' idea. Scientists were thankful for his other contributions to math and acoustics but they thought he was a fruit-loop because of this. We should also keep in mind that Pythagoras was trained in the initiatory schools in Egypt. His concepts were anything but new inventions.

I am relating my personal experience to the best of my ability and also at some risk of sounding like a new age freak. This experience led me to the study of esoteric music, which is sometimes called Pythagorean or neo-platonic philosophy. I had to learn more about what I heard on that fateful night and I would spend the next twenty years trying to figure it out.

Here are some good links related to esoteric music philosophy:
Music, mathematics and philosophy
Pythagoras: The whole thing is a number
Greek Esoteric Music Theory Charts
The relativity of Musical Conceptions
The Magic of Tone and the Art of Music
The Quality of Vitality: Music by Harry Partch
Joscelyn Godwin's great 'Harmony of the Spheres' book
The Pythagorean Theory of Music and Color
The Life and Philosophy of Pythagoras
The Sonata of the Master Musician
Mysticism and Spiritual Harmonics in Eighteenth-Century England
Joscelyn Godwin- the top esoteric music author today
Notes on the Function of Music
Music and Number

Additional notes:
Years later I ran across a book about people who had near-death experiences and had all heard this same music.

We as humans and as musicians have the option of either harmonizing with the rest of creation or of creating dissonance in our enviroment and forcing the rest of creation to harmonize to us.
The first option is much easier on us and on our environment.

These studies eventually led me to the study of the Hebrew Qabbalah and the mysticism of the letters. I developed my own acoustical 'Tree of Life' model which was based on the overtone series and the whole number ratios as musical intervals/letters. I will get into this at a later date.

Charlie Hunter- Teabagger and the Gobbler

Charlie Hunter was raised by a struggling single mom who worked repairing guitars in Berkeley, California. At an early age he became interested in a wide range of musical styles and got his first guitar at the age of twelve. He was just starting to master the seven-string guitar when I first met him in the Bay Area (now he plays the eight-string). Back then he didn't have the Lesley simulator so his whole sound was more guitar-like. His nickname used to be 'Squeedlee-deedlee' for his 'all-over-the-fretboard' style. We used to play duo gigs at a wine bar in Hayward and we would also play on the street by the UC Berkeley campus with Kenny Brooks and Dred Scott (on drums). Charlie started getting into arranging so we put together a four horn band which he called 'Quintet D'Ghengis', I have no idea what this meant. We played local clubs and private parties and eventually had Spearhead's Michael Franti take us into the studio to record a demo. Charlie seemed to have a real understanding of what the twenty-somethings wanted to hear. I think that's because he is equally grounded in the Funk, Jazz and Rock worlds.

Charlie has a bizarre sense of humor. This comes across in his musical concept, which is highly quirky and unpredictable. Take some of his tune names for example. First there's a tune called 'Tea-bagger' which relates to a sexual act that I won't explain on this G rated Blog. Then there is the tune called 'the Gobbler'. I can't go into what this means either. Some of you who read an earlier version of this post know what this means.

Charlie is doing very well for himself and has remained humble and down to earth in spite of his popularity. He is a true freak of nature the way he plays that axe of his.

Tim Price's Jazz lessons at 'Sax on the Web'

Some very nice lessons by Tim Price.


Charlie Mariano- Balls to the Wall

I played two gigs with Glen Moore this weekend, the great bassist from the group Oregon, and we started talking about Charlie Mariano. He was saying how he has done several European tours with him and that he still sounds incredible. Mariano is eighty-something years old! I think the term Glenn used for Charlie's playing was "balls to the wall". Mariano has been living in Cologne, Germany for some time now and he rarely plays in the states anymore. There are very few of his early straight-ahead recordings still available. He did some classic records with Charles Mingus in the early sixties. He was once married to Toshiko Akioshi in the late fifties and they put out a really great record that is one of my all time favorites. Charlie with Joe Viola at Berklee long ago and later taught there.

In the seventies Charlie went to India to study classical Indian music for several years. He was taught in the traditional way where you're not even allowed to touch an instrument for a long time, you must first learn to sing. Came back to Boston wearing long white flowing robes, sandals and playing the Nagaswaram (sounds like a cross between a oboe, bagpipes and a flock of geese).
More recently he recorded a couple of slamming CDs with master oud player Rabih Abou-Khalil.

In my book Mariano is still one of the greatest alto players ever. He has such a classic yet personal tone, his own musical vocabulary, and an amazing sense of intonation (he is the bend master). He recorded the soundtrack in the late sixties for the movie adaptation of Herman Hesse's masterpiece 'Steppenwolf', if you can ever find a copy on VHS. The film is totally psycedelic and the music is spectacular. I always wanted to go to Cologne (which is a gorgeous city) just to take a few lessons with Charlie, maybe someday......


Helpful Sax links

Sax links
Greg Osby
Jazz to English dictionary
Assorted Jazz links
Vic Morosco's woodwind playing fundamentals-
Sax Talk

Robert Moore DVD shoot

I was in the TV studio all day yesterday producing and playing on a demo project for my friend Robert Moore. It was a quintet with Carlton Jackson, Eli Reisman and Glen Moore. There is nothing that saps your creative energy more than having six TV cameras in your face and a bunch of studio lighting baking your head. I've done it quite a bit by now and I still hate it. Robert had never done a full-on TV shoot before. He said that he's had some good times in the recording studio (obviously since he has some very nice recordings out) but this time wasn't one of them. The guy who put up the bread for the session came down and brought a case of wine from his winery, so we had a fully lubricated live studio audience. I really don't know how anyone ever feels fully comfortable in a studio environment. Of course a TV studio is even worse than a sound studio, as far as technical issues slowing down the creative process. All told there were nine people on the crew. Everything went fairly smooth as far as the studio was concerned, but Robert just couldn't relax. I pretty felt bad for him, but I also felt bad for myself because I felt the same way about my playing.

It's hard to be thinking about technical issues like lighting, camera angles, and sound quality one minute and then all of a sudden switch gears and have to be relaxed and creative. I have always have this problem every time I go into the studio. Because of this I never have had a really good recording of myself that I'm happy with.

My philosophy now is this; I just assume that I am going to play my absolute worst every time I get into the studio. I just have to get prepared enough so that my worst playing will be adequate for the recording. When I got a digital studio set up in my basement I was finally able to relax more because I knew that I could record a track two hundred times and not be paying through the nose for it. Most musicians play best on the first or second takes of something. Not me, I'm usually just getting warmed up by the tenth take. Not so good if you're paying fifty bucks or more an hour.

How you deal with this problem?


Jon Dryden- a lifetime in music

When Jon Dryden was in second grade he was already composing short operas. His father was a elementary school music teacher so he started his musical education around the time he started to learn the alphabet. I attended elementary school through college with Jon. While I was living in NYC he played in my Latin-Jazz quintet. Jon has always been a musical genius and he has grown into a truly amazing pianist and composer.

Here is his musical bio in his own words:
"In my education, I would have to give greatest praise to my parents, as they really were my first educators. My dad, being a jazz musician himself, hipped me to Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown while I was in eighth grade. He also got me into classical music from age four on, from Bach to Bartok. My next really formative teacher was Don Keller,the leader of the Aptos High School Jazz band. Through playing the music of Duke Ellington in the band,he got me on the road to composition for larger ensembles, resulting in three big band charts I wrote for the band, and the creation of my own nonet,which was a finalist in the Monterey Jazz Festival high competion when I was a junior. Mr. Keller also gave me a Bill Evans tape when he learned I wanted to be in the band. I wore that tape out,and Bill Evans will always be a major influence on my music.
I attended the Berklee College of music from 1987-1991, receiving a BA in piano performance. The most important teacher for me there was Herb Pomeroy, whose Line Writing class was probably the best class I have ever taken. Herb formulated his system through the study of Duke Ellington's music and how Duke, like Bach, uncocsciously created a formula of rules for writing for larger ensembles. All the counerpoint I had taken previously now rang true, and I understood the importance of creating individual lines for each instrument within a larger musical line. Herb did for Ellington and Gil Evans what J.J. Fux did for Bach; codifying a series of rules that each of the composers followed while creating their works of genius.
I spent two summers at the U Mass workshop 'Jazz in July' where I had the fortune to have master classes with Dr. Billy Taylor. Dr. Taylor imparted so much information and history to all of us that I can't thank him enough. It was an honor to be in the same room with someone who had played with all my heroes and was at the formation of Bebop.
In 1995, I began restructuring my piano technique under the genius of Burton Hatheway, a classical piano guru in Fairfield,CT. Burton has had a tremendous influence on me not just for my playing, but my knowledge of music, history, and culture. His knowledge appears to be limitless, and I have learned even more of classical theory and composition from him, which I have applied to all aspects of my composing. My many musical friends are never to be overlooked, as they are many and how much they have given me as a person and musician is unfathomable. There seems to be no shortage of great jazz piano players on the NY scene today, despite the lack of places to play. Some of the players I am most familiar with and admire are: (in no particular order) Ethan Iverson, John Stetch, Bruce Flowers, George Colligan, Jamie Saft, James Hurt, and Marc Cary, but to name a few. Of the established players, Brad Mehldau, Danilo Perez, and Larry Goldings are some of the young players I enjoy listening to. My goals for the future include composing for orchestra and chamber groups, as well as further development with my trio and the groups High Noon and Cocktail Angst. I've been working on pentatonic patterns as formulated by Charlie Banacos, as well as playing a phrase over a hard chord progression with the chord tones guiding the shape of the phrase. I find this static placement in the form of a motif allows for further understanding of the tune's harmony, and gets a sense of development in my solos."

Here is Jon playing some of his original compositions in his Park Slope apartment .
Leaving Soon
Love in Squalor
Nobody Loves Me
Sleeping Wanderer
I shoot these in 1999 with Scott Marshal

A few of the groups that Jon plays with in NYC:
Red Time
Cocktail Angst

Gerardo Moreno and 'Inner Flamenco'

In 1995 I followed a girlfriend to Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was like moving to a entirely different country, in fact the official title is 'the city different'. It was the land of cowboys, Indians, jet-setters, new age
healers, cosmopolitan tourists, artists and Gypsies. At the time it was the world's third biggest art market and the world's second top travel destination. For me it was like going back to my homeland. My family came over from Northern Spain and settled just north of Taos in the San Luis valley about four-hundred years ago. I had never really been around Spanish people growing up except my immediate family. Growing up in California there were plenty of Mexicanos around, but I never really identified with them. They didn't look like my family or have the same culture.

Once I got to Santa Fe I saw for the first time just how Spanish my family really was. It was really the first time that I felt like I was a part of the culture in the place I lived. Unfortunately the Jazz scene wasn't all that happening. I soon discovered the thriving Flamenco community there. I had the honor to play and record with the great Flamenco guitarist Carlos Lomas (who taught Otmar Liebert and Tomatito). Carlos would hold court every week at El Farol, the oldest bar in Santa Fe (and that means really, really old). It was a lot like a Jazz jam session, traveling flamenco dancers and musicians from Spain and Mexico would drop by and sit in. Also in town there was Maria Benitez' Flamenco troupe of the best young gypsies from southern Spain (they taught me not to try to keep up with gypsies at a party).

I became taken with Flamenco in a major way. I had played in Salsa, Cumbia and Merengue bands for years but Flamenco was different. The groove was incredibly deep, the emotional energy made almost every Jazz group sound like Lawrence Welk in comparison and then the dance put it over the top. When I watched the young Sevillian gypsies dance it made me want to trade all my musical training to be able to do what they did. They were improvising at an amazingly high level and I had never seen anything like it in my life.

I soon hooked up with a Flamenco guitarist there named Gerard Moreno and he started teaching me his music. The rhythmic and harmonic structure was very foreign to me but I threw myself into it with a passion (though I still suck at it). Gerard and I also had similar esoteric interests, which was rare. I did several gigs with his Gipsy Kings style rhumba band before I left Santa Fe for the Bay Area. Then in about 1998, while I was doing a short contract on a cruise ship in the West Indies, I ran into him on the boat. He was vacationing with his family. We spent many balmy nights jamming on the upper decks till the wee hours of the morning.

Gerardo left Santa Fe for D.C. soon after I did to get his doctorate degree in ethno-musicology at the University of Maryland. He goes to Spain every summer to do research on the roots of Flamenco. In 2002 I brought him out to Portland to shoot a TV program about some of the more esoteric aspects of Flamenco. We had a great time filming, playing, talking and writing
techno-Flamenco drum grooves in my studio. Here is a ten minute excerpt from the one hour 'Inner Flamenco' TV program that I produced. The bassist is Alvaro Criado and on palmas is Toshi Onizuki.

If you're interested in ordering a DVD of the entire program contact me at: d.valdez@comcast.net

Gerado Moreno can be reached at:



esoteric music theory: Sufi Meditation

Here's one more Sufi post, this is the last one I promise :-)

Earlier this year a produced a TV show called 'Freestyle Sufi Jamming- the meditation technique of the Ovesi Order'. I believe that practicing some form of meditation can profoundly improve one's playing and general health. There are many types of meditation out there, most are part of some organized spiritual tradition's teachings. You may want to make up your own meditation method if you don't like the idea of organized religion. Just find one a give it a try, if that doesn't do it for you then try another. There have been many scientific studies documenting the many emotional, mental and physical health benefits of meditation. Meditation works. Period.

This program teaches a very easy and highly effective Sufi form of meditation that uses a 'Darood' or mantra and simple visualization. This teaching is from a Sufi order that is based in central Asia and is presented by a Faisal Sheikh, a young Sufi from Manchester, England. You are welcome to contact the Faisal directly at:ecg786@yahoo.co.uk if you have any questions about the method.


esoteric music theory: "The Mysticism of Sound & Music"

Here are some quotes by Khan from his book "The Mysticism of Sound & Music".
Thanks to my buddy Brian Berge who compiled these.

It is owing to our limitation that we cannot see the whole Being of God.

Among all the different arts, the art of music has been especially considered divine, because it is the exact miniature of the law working through the whole universe.

Music is the language of beauty, the language of the one whom every living soul has loved.

Music excells religion.... For those who follow the path of the inner cult, music is most essential for their spiritual development.

Music alone can be the means by which the souls...may one day be united. Music is...rhythm and tone which reach far beyond language. The more the musician is concious of his mission in life, the greater service he can render to humanity.

When meeting those who have touched some perfection in music...one can feel the harmony which is the real test of perfection not only in their music, but in their lives. If this principle of music were followed, there would be no need for an external religion. Some day music will be the means of expressing universal religion. ...There will come a day when music and its philosophy will become the religion of humanity.

Freedom is the nature of the soul, and for the soul the whole tragedy of life is the absence of that freedom which belongs to its original nature....The only reason why the soul has entered the body...or matter is to experience the music of life, and to make this music clear to itself.
...The unlimited part of ourselves becomes limited and earthbound for the purpose of making this life, which is the outward life, more intelligible.

The one who finds the key to the music of the whole working of life--it is he who becomes intuitive; it is he who has inspiration; it is he to whom revelations manifest, for then his language becomes music.... There is no other language: it is rhythm, it is tone.

First he must hear what his own heart says; then he hears what is in the hearts of others--in their presence and in their absence.

The staircase is made for us to ascend, not for us to continue stepping in one place.

esoteric music theory: Hazrat Inayat Khan

Hazrat Inayat Khan was one of the first Sufis to introduce the wisdom way of Sufism to the west. He was a master musician as well as being a Sufi master of high attainment. He was a member of the Chisti Sufi order of Hindustan. The Chisti Sufis use music and dance to attain mystical trance states of divine intoxication, this is called Sama. Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote many great books on spirituality, but my favorite books by him are the ones dealing with the spirituality of music. In many ancient wisdom traditions music is the science that ties everything together. In western esoteric teaching music theory is needed to understand mathematics, astronomy, astrology, psychology, cosmology and medicine. Music is the framework that these other disciplines are based on. Music was also called 'qualitative mathematics'. The Vedic tradition has been called a 'sonic theology' and even the Hebrew Qaballah, which is based on a glyph called the 'Tree of Life', maps the overtone series as divine emanations and the Hebrew letters as musical intervals (whole number ratios) connecting these overtones. Music is still a sacred science because of it's effect on innermost part of the human being, but this is not taught at our conservatories and universities today. Here is a very interesting and profound treatise on music by Hazrat Inayat Khan. I will deal with this subject in more depth at a later time......


player feature: Rob Scheps- larger than life

I don't know how to describe Rob Scheps other than to say that he's larger than life and has a seemingly boundless supply of energy. He was a child prodigy and as an adult he is a virtuoso. Bob Mover once said to me something like," I've got some great technique but Rob's a got the technique of a monster." Kenny Brooks first introduced me to Rob when Scheps needed a lead-alto for his True Colors big band in Boston. Kenny told me that as a freshman Rob cornered him and pulled him into a practice room in order to check him out, then Rob proceeded to cut him to shreds in an impromptu tenor battle. I ended up playing in Rob's band for about three years. It was truly smoking. Here's an image that sticks out in my mind from twenty years ago- Scheps dressed as a giant carrot in Harvard square scaring passers by playing Giant Steps on his sopranino. Some of the great players in the True Colors band were John Medeski, Anders Bostrom, Kenny Brooks, Donny McCaslin, Dave Finucane, Doug Yates, Wesley Wirth, Mark Taylor, Curtis Hasselbring, Dimitri Metheny, John Carlson, Andy Gravish, Jay Branford, Josh Roseman, and John Dirac. The instrumentation had saxes, flute, tuba, bones, french horn, trumpets, and rhythm section so we rarely made more than ten dollars a gig. .

Scheps has recently left the comfort of Portland for the east coast, although he still pops into town for gigs on occasion. A few years ago I had the pleasure to tour with Rob's Jazz-Funk project called Magnets! This group features the great electric bassist Kim Clarke and drummer Ronnie Burrage (who lives up to his name). He also brought Gary Smulyan to Portland and we played Gary's great book written by Bob Beldon for a sax section with rhythm section plus Gary as solo bari sax. This project was called Saxophone Mosaic. I also played in Rob's freaky Salon D'Refuse band for a few years here in Portland as well as doing some gigs with his big band.

Scheps always has some new project happening and his energy level and dedication to his music is unsurpassed. He is really scary when he gets that horn in his mouth.


David 'Fuze' Fiuczynski

Since I knew so many great musicians in NYC, I thought that it would be a good idea to interview them for posterity. I had harbored fantasies of be a TV producer since childhood. The idea was to create Jazz content for the Jazz musician first and the jazz fan second. I wanted to find out what made these musicians become great, how they thought about music, what shaped their musical development, what they were currently working on improving in their playing, what their general worldviews were, how they practiced, what peers had influenced them, what art forms other than music had influenced them, and how they were dealing with the business side of music. I was sick of the usual shallow Jazz journalism and I thought I could do better since I was also in the musical trenches. In the summer of 1999 a friend of mine named Scott Marshal, who had been working as a cameraman for Fox and MTV, and I started shooting episodes of 'Inner Jazz' at musician's apartments, lofts, and rehearsal studios. Some of these shoots were performances, some were instructional, and some were interviews. I had known (and played with) most of these musicians for many years so I already had quite a bit of insight into their playing .

I soon learned that shooting is the easy part but editing is the part that really takes time. Once I moved to Portland, Oregon I got myself trained in all aspects of television production at PCM, the local cable access TV station (one of the best in the nation). Since then I have been involved in producing over fifty television programs. These have been mostly music, but also some politics, community education, spirituality, and cooking. Five years after starting to shoot in NYC my vision of making these programs available over the internet is finally coming to fruition. The first program in my series called 'Inner Jazz' features NYC guitar pioneer David 'Fuze' Fiuczynski. 'Fuze' is one of the most interesting and talented musicians working today.

When I first met David he lived with my buddy Kenny Brooks and was studying at New England Conservatory as a 'Third Stream' major. He lived in a small and very dark room at the bottom of an airshaft. He slept on a mattress on the floor, had only a picture of Dolphy (he was an Eric Dolphy fanatic) on his wall and spent every free second practicing. David is half African-American and half German and I think he never really identified with either culture completely. He had no loyalties to any particular culture and this also effected his musical tastes as well. Everything was fair game. Anything and everything could be mixed and matched to suit his musical taste. (He did tell me that this was the case, so I'm not just speculating here) Coming from a bi-racial background myself I can understand this way of thinking. Fuze's musical projects are the result of exactly this sycretic mode of working. His 'Screaming Headless Torsos' group was conceived as operatic vocals combined with hard rock/funk, his trio 'Kif' is middle-eastern-exotica-western-exstatica, 'Black Cherry Acid Lab' is punk-funk-house-rap, 'JazzPunk' is a hardcore Jazz standard project. He is also a member of 'Hassidic New Wave' a hard-core Hassidic band. Fuze is a truly prolific musician, he is always inventing a new style of music. He also happens to be a bad-ass straight-ahead Jazz musician, touring with Kenny Garrett and Jim Beard.

In the first episode of Inner Jazz Fuze talks about his involvement with micro-tonal music, demonstrates his custom built guitars, explains how he practices, talks about his most influential teachers, comments on the direction the music industry is going and what he is doing to counter it, shares who among his peers he finds interesting, talks about his interest in art and philosophy, plays some Dolphy solos, and more. These are some excepts from the full one hour show of 'Inner Jazz- episode one'. If you are interested in ordering a DVD of the entire show please email me at- d.valdez@comcast.net


Lawrence Williams and Nancy King

After leaving New York City (ok,ok, Jersey City) in 2000 my wife and I decided to move back to Santa Cruz, California where I grew up. It really seemed like the Garden of Eden after living in the big city but it was not the town that I had grown up in anymore. Santa Cruz had the cost of living and traffic of New York and all the great players that were once there had either moved to NYC or the Bay Area. We were paying New York prices for a beach?! After about four months I arranged some gigs in Portland, Oregon with monster tenor saxophonist Rob Scheps. As soon as drove into town I fell in love with the place. It had beautiful rivers, trees and mountains and a thriving Jazz scene, and it was CHEAP!!!.

One of the first gigs we played was on the coast with vocalist Nancy King, pianist Steve Christopherson, Oregon (the band, not the state) bassist Glen Moore, and drummer Alan Jones. Every one of these players was not just smoking, but truly world class. Nancy King was by far the greatest Jazz singer I had ever heard live, and I had played with and heard many of the top singers in the world. Her instrument is incredible, hear ear flawless, she swings her ass off, she can do any tune in any key, and she is one of the greatest scat singer who has ever walked the face of the earth. I am not alone in this assessment of Miss King, her fans include Mark Murphy, Diana Krall, Sheila Jordan, John Hendricks, Kurt Elling, Karin Alyson and Luciana Souza (among many others). She was mainly responsible for talking me into moving up (although it didn't take much convincing) to Portland. Scheps made me promise that if I moved to PDX I wouldn't tell anyone back in NYC how good it really was here,"Just tell them that it rains a lot".Unfortunately Alan Jones has found greener pastures in Bavaria and Scheps is moving back to NYC to seek his fortune.

Nancy has become like a hip grandma to me. We play gigs, go to breakfast and movies and hang quite often. She introduced me to Lawrence Williams who became a very influential mentor to me. Lawrence came up in Detroit where he was trumpet master Marcus Belgrave's drummer and composer for decades. There he became a mentor for players like Kenny Garrett, Regina Carter, and Geri Allen at the acclaimed Detroit Jazz Workshop. Lawrence has a heart of pure gold and a highly developed spiritual philosophy of music. He spent years as a young man living in an ashram in Arizona. Nancy swears up and down that she once walked in on him one day when he was meditating and saw him floating a foot above the floor!

Lawrence reminds everyone around him about the true spiritual nature of music. He lived to play and write music and he played and wrote music to express his love of life and for other people. It was never just about him. He was always grateful for each and every note. Lawrence is one of the baddest drummers AND composers that ever lived in my book. Once in an interview 'Smitty' Smith once said that Lawrence was one his biggest influences. His tunes are even analyzed at Oberlin Conservatory in composition classes. Geri Allen has recorded several LW tunes for the Blue Note label, check out the tune '#3' on her CD 'The Nurturer'. Before moving back to Detroit last year LW let me copy all of his compositions, which ended up equaling about five Real Books! LW lost one of his legs last year due to kidney complications so he hasn't played for a while, but he hasn't lost one bit of his love of music or of life.

So far I have put together two concerts of LW's music. We are planning another one in November. This time we are going to bring out Marcus Belgravefrom Detriot. This show will be at The Blue Note Jazz club here in Portland.

Lawrence picked up drawing when his health problems stopped him from playing and he immediately became a prolific artist. I shot several hours of interviews with him talking about his philosophy of music that I have yet to edit (sooo far behind). He is another true living Jazz master.

  • "In the days before Motown, Detroit produced two great things: flathead V8 engines and a vibrant, revved-up jazz scene that included such giants as Elvin, Thad, and Hank Jones, Kenn Cox, Pepper Adams, Kenny Burrell, Marcus Belgrave, Harold McKinney, and Sheila Jordan to name but a few. Composer-drummer Lawrence Williams is one of the torchbearers of this classic era-as evidenced by his elegant bop-tinged compositions with their shades of blue, and propulsive (yet caressing) Motor City swing." Tim DuRoche


John Gunther- Multiple Personalities

Two years ago I brought John Gunther out to Portland from NYC. We played a few nights at the Brasserie, he did a clinic at PSU and I took him into the TV studio for a shoot. John is at NYU teaching and working on a doctorate. He got his undergrad degree from Berklee where he studied with Garzone and Joe Viola. After that he went down to Miami and got a masters degree while commuting to NYC to study with Lovano, courtesy of the National Endowment for the Arts. He played in my Latin-jazz Quintet while I was living in New York. John is about the just about the most well rounded and professional saxophonists I've ever met. He plays tenor, alto, soprano, flute and clarinet, each one like it was his main axe. He also composes his ASS off. He always has a bunch of totally different musical projects going at the same time. These bands are all over the map. Groups like the Jazz trio Spooky Actions that improvises on Anton Webern cannons, an original classical duo with pianist Richard Thomson, the small ensemble Jazz Convergence, his avant-bop group Axis Mundi, and his Jazz quartet with Strings called String Theory.

Gunther is prolific as a leader, sideman and composer. I used to do club dates in NYC with him and he knew all the horn parts for every Motown, Disco, Top-40, Rock, and funk tune by heart. I could never really get into playing Boogie-oogie-oogie enough to do it right, but John could slip into any style in a split-second and sound just like the record. That's a true professional.

Charles McPherson

One of my all time favorite alto players is Charles McPherson. I first heard him at Kuumbwa Jazz center when I was about twenty years old. I couldn't believe my ears. He sounded what I thought Bird would have sounded like if he would had lived to a ripe old age. In fact he was the saxophonist picked to record the soundtrack for the movie 'Bird'. Charles is in his seventies now and he is still getting better and better all the time. I heard he still practices like a fiend. I feel fortunate to play with his piano player Randy Porter and if he's good enough for C-Mac he's good enough for me. Charles never has gotten the recognition that he's due and he is really one of the last living original Bebop masters. He is best known for his work with Charle Mingus who he recorder twenty-two records with. His sound is very sweet and warm and he has a unique style of articulation. He has bridged the gap from Bebop to post-Bop in a way that only someone of his generation can do. Charles currently live and teaches in San Diego and still tours regularly. He'll be at the Blue Monk here in Portland on August 19th. He is a true living legend so don't miss him.

Interview with Charles
Charles interview- Vancouver Jazz site

Douglas Yates- Careening, yet in control

I've know Doug since elementary school. He was a year ahead of me and was always the best alto saxophonist in the state of California during high school. We played in Herb's big band and also in Rob Schep's 'True Colors' big bang while we were in Boston. He's been in NYC for some time now. Doug is, like me, a true 'Fringe-head'. He always works as a sideman for some reason, although his gig are quite respectable to say the least- George Garzone, The Mingus big band, Either Orchestra, Donny McCaslin, Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet. He is my favorite younger alto saxophonist, with great facility playing in or outside. He has probably gotten more recognition for his bass clarinet work than for his sax playing. His sound is VERY dark, something you rarely hear among modern altoists. He actually had a dark sound even before studying with Joe Viola and Garzone. I think he is highly underrated, he will probably need to put out a recording under his own name before he gets known outside of NYC.

Once when we were talking about an upcoming James Spaulding show at the Knitting Factory, Douglas told me that he'd rather listen to a 'careening out of control' saxophonist rather than someone who is perfectly in control any day of the week. I would heartily agree with that. Douglas has that careening thing happening but he really has incredible control of the horn, top to bottom, and I do mean ALL the way up and down. He has perfect pitch, which definately helps his mastery of the altisimo range of the horn. He also has an element of, for lack of a better word, 'zaniness'. Well OK, I guess he is wacky! You'd think he was a stock-broker or lawyer just by looking at him, but under that carefully constructed disgiuse- he is totally bizarre!! This makes for a high degree of unpredictability in his playing. Let's hope someone forces him do record as a leader someday, it's been long overdue.


Matt Otto- Red

Matt Otto was at Berklee about the same time that I was. He also studied with Garzone there,then he went to the New School for a masters degree and studied with Garzone even further. I used to sit in with him quite a bit when I first moved to NYC. Otto has the discipline of a serious Buddhist monk. I was curious when one day I noticed that he had Velcro strips all over his horn, so I asked him was they were for. He told me that they were so his hands didn't get tendonitis when he practiced long tones. This guy practiced long tones so much that he needed to clamp down his keys with Velcro. Insane, I say!

Matt can sound just like early Getz or late Trane, he rips up crazy lines in the altissimo and has a sound that is about as fat as Garzone's. Otto is back in LA now, going to school at Cal Arts for yet another advanced degree. Otto is scary and everyone in NYC is very afraid of him. If you can get past the communist ranting on his site you will be amazed to hear his playing. Listen to the MP3 of Trane's Sattelite in 7/8 in the bootleg MP3 section, it's totally nuts.
His site is- www.mattotto.net

Here are some Windows Media files of Matt performing in his Brooklyn apartment.
Forces and Relations
I shot these in 1999 with the help of Scott Marshal.

Jazz Saxophone solo transcriptions

Here are some great links to free sax solo transcriptions-

Sax solos link

Lucas Pickford's transcriptions

Charles McNeal's transcriptions

Jeff Ellwood's transcriptions Check out Garzone's killing solo on 'Have you Met Miss Jones'!!

Kenny Brooks' transcriptions

Darcy Hepner's Brecker transcription of 'Swunk' w/MP3

Steve Khan's transcription and analysis of Brecker's solo on 'Oran' w/MP3s

Kelly Bucheger transcriptions
(nice Trane solo on 'Sattelite')

Matt Otto solos

Mel Martin's extensive saxophone site


Chad Eby

Tom Pereira turned me on to this guy today. Here is a link to a page that has an entire Ornette recital of his on it. http://mydamnforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=67
A very interesting young saxophonist with a great sound. He really does justice to Ornette's music. He lives in Columbus.

Jazz scene: Vancouver, B.C.

I went to Vancouver, Canada this weekend for a short vacation. The city is truly beautiful and it's the most cosmopolitan place I've ever been. The
sheer amount of restaurants is staggering. You might see a Thai, Greek, Ukrainian, Japanese, Italian, Malaysian, African and Vietnamese restaurant on just one block! I know many musicians who considered making the move up north when W got re-elected.

Well here is a site about the Jazz scene up there: Vancouver Jazz

The quality of life seems great but the Jazz scene seemed pretty dismal. They had just had their great Jazz festival there, but the rest of the year didn't look too great. It might be the place to go if you were into trip-hop or acid-jazz. It seemed to me that Portland, at about a seventh the size, had more Jazzaction than VC did. If anyone has a better idea about the scene up there please let me know. If it was more happening up there I think I'd become an expat in about two seconds.......

Yogi Berra being interviewed about jazz

Interviewer: Can you explain jazz?
Yogi: I can't, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, it's right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it's wrong.

Interviewer: i don't understand.

Yogi: Anyone who understands jazz knows that you can't understand it. It's too complicated. That's what's so simple about it.

interviewer: Do you understand it?
Yogi: No. that's why I can explain it. If I understood it, I wouldn't know anything about it.

Interviewer: Are there any great jazz players alive today?
Yogi: No. All the great jazz players alive today are dead. Except for the ones that are still alive. But so many of them are dead that the ones that are still alive are dying to be like the ones that are dead. Some would kill for it.

Interviewer: What is syncopation?
Yogi: That's when the note that you should hear now happens either before or after you hear it. In jazz, you don't hear notes when they happen because that would be some other type of music. Other types of music can be jazz, but only if they're the same as something different from those other kinds.

Interviewer: Now I really don't understnad.

Yogi: I haven't taught you enough for you to not understand jazz that well.

Jazz scene: NYC drummer/composer Art Lillard this Friday& Saturday at LV's

Friday & Saturday, July 15 & 16
Art Lillard/David Valdez Trio
Looking a little like a jazz version of Bruce Dern, Florida-native, NY-based drummer Art Lillard dispatches beats, pulse, and general bebop élan with an ease and grace that is coolly compelling and utterly musical. Navigating the fulcrum between straight-ahead and avant-garde terrain, Lillard's been an under-the-radar figure for decades, working with an A-list of players, including the late Mark Ledford and Wilber Morris, Perry Robinson, Jaki Byard, Dave Douglas, and the enigmatic Ira Sullivan. For this two-nighter, he's joined by old friend, altoist David Valdez and pianists Tony Pacini (Friday) and Phil Goldberg (Saturday).
LV's Uptown-University Place. 7-10 pm. All Ages. No cover
310 SW Lincoln ph-503.221.0140

Audio clips from Art's upcoming big band album (which I'm on)


improvisation: Free Jazz and The function of freedom

In the comments section of my 'emotional range' post drummer/Jazz writer/avant-garde concert producer Tim DuRoche touched on something that I'd like to explore in a bit more depth. The topic of inside/outside playing is something that I feel is an important issue to address, partly because I personally struggle with it in my own playing. I have done quite a few free gigs in my career, many of them with TDR. Tim is one of those rare players that are equally comfortable in either the free or straight-ahead realms. I think that one of the reasons he is able to do this is because of his truly encyclopedic knowledge of jazz.

The free mind set is a completely different one than that of straight-ahead, or for that matter any other style of jazz. It’s a much more meditative mindset. You have to listen more to what your ear is telling you to do, by temporarily strangling your rational mind. When I play free music I feel like my lines might go in any direction at any time, it feels like I’m just trying to get my mind out of the way so my body can play what it wants. It is much easier for this to happen if the audience (and the other musicians) is already expecting and excepting of the possibility of freedom. I don't hear many modern Jazz musicians who incorporate totally free playing while playing an inside gig. Most jazz players will play 'outside' at certain times, but it's not really free. They will use techniques or formulas to take them outside and get them back inside. They might use three-tonic lines, sequences, 12-tone lines, converging chord changes or pre-worked out patterns. These methods do take them 'outside' and back but they really lack the spontaneity and intuition of free playing. There are a few players who really do incorporate free playing with straight-ahead; players like George Garzone, Ellery Eskelin, and Jean-Michelle Pilc.

To me it's as if the mind cannot be in these two modes at the same time. They seem mutually exclusive in my experience. The rational mind is more constrictive and deals with what is already known and defined. It calculates and applies the rules of musical harmony, form and rhythm. It is reactive rather than active can only rearrange already known elements. The function of the mind that is used in free playing, let’s call it the abstract mind, is DIALATIVE. It puts together entirely new combinations of notes and can express inner feelings by way of pure abstraction. It doesn’t express things in logical or linear ways, it is above logic and linear time and space. Since most of us can’t operate using both these modes of functioning at the same time, the best we can hope for is be able to move between them fluidly. To play freely over changes you can’t be thinking how the notes you are playing relate to the changes (or lack of changes). People say that in order to play outside you first must learn to play inside. I’m not so sure that this is true. I don’t think the Bop players can learn to blow free music by practicing inside playing. Almost the opposite is true; it becomes harder for most players to let go of their rational minds once they’ve mastered musical theory. They don’t want to let go and just let their ‘fingers do the walking’.

Trane was the shining example of someone who had totally mastered Bop harmony and then started toward freedom. This was a rare musician indeed. I think that Trane had so thoroughly mastered inside playing that there was nowhere else to go but out. He had the ability to function on the abstract plane while his rational mind was able to slip into a type of automatic consciousness. He no longer needed to think about keys or scales. He became an 'ear player', but with a mastery of musical theory. There are still great Beboppers out there who never learned any theory at all. [Check out ear player and master Bop saxophonist Vince Wallace.] At one time this was the rule rather than the exception, favoring a more natural and organic sounding style of Jazz.

The difference between the rational mind and the abstract mind is very much like the difference between the ear and the eye. The eye is like the rational mind, it can only see the surface of things and only in a direct line of sight. The eye also perceives only one octave in range, whereas the ear can hear almost eleven full octaves. The ear can also hear things that are hidden from the eye, far away or behind closed doors. Most young players learn to play jazz more by their eyes (reading music, looking at chord changes, ect) than their with ears. This was not the way Jazz musicians learned to play in the first half of the twentieth century. It would be hard for us to choose if we were forced give up either our sight or our hearing. So we should also equally value our rational mind and our abstract mind. When we learn tunes we should learn how the changes sound as well as memorizing the changes.

I've also noticed that it is easier to play free music if it is a 'free' (read non-paying) gig. Unless you've developed an audience for your free playing or you're in Europe. If you are worried about clearing the crowd out or pissing off the club owners you really can't loosen up enough. My goal is to make my free playing flow right into my straight-ahead playing. I want it to be seemless.........

Jazz thoughts: The taste of music

Published online: 2 March 2005;

Synaesthete makes sweet music
By: Ruth Francis

Professional musician distinguishes intervals with her tongue.

Elizabeth Sulston can taste the musical notes she plays on her recorder.
A recorder player has fascinated neuroscientists with her ability to taste
differences in the intervals between notes.

The condition in which the brain links two or more of the senses is known as synaesthesia, and some sense combinations are relatively common. But this is the first time that the ability has been found to help in performing a mental task, such as identifying a major third.

Elizabeth Sulston was at school when she first noticed that she saw colours while hearing music. She realized that the same was not true of her peers, although linkage of tone and colour is a known synaesthetic combination.

As she began to learn music more formally, she found that when hearing particular tone intervals she experienced a characteristic taste on her tongue. For example, a minor third tasted salty to her, whereas a minor sixth tasted like cream. She started to use the tastes to help her recognize different chords.

This is boosting her performance.

Lutz Jäncke Neuroscientist at the University of Zurich, Switzerland

Talking to news@nature.com, she says: "I always had the synaesthesia, but really became conscious of it at 16. Then I started to use it for the tone-interval identification. I could first check it by counting the space between the notes, and second by 'feeling' my tongue."

The taste of music

Lutz Jäncke, a neuroscientist at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, works with musicians who report unusual qualities or skills. Thanks to a student investigating synaesthesia he was introduced to the recorder-playing Sulston.

To test her unique ability, he and his colleagues played tone intervals while delivering different tastes to her tongue. They used either the same
taste that Sulston associates with an interval, or a clashing one (see box).

They found that she was able to identify the intervals much more quickly when the taste matched the one that she says she normally associates with it. That kind of pattern would be difficult to fake, Jäncke says. He reports the results in Nature1.

"With incongruent taste she was sometimes slower than other musicians; she is extraordinarily quick usually," he says. "The synaesthesia is kind of boosting her performance. Her hit rate was perfect, but the difference was in the reaction times."

When asked whether Sulston's ability has any wider implications for
neuroscience, Jäncke laughs. "This is the million-dollar question!" he says.

"One might speculate that this could be a good analogue for learning: our skills are improved if we associate the item we learn with many other items. It may also demonstrate that synaesthesia may be modified for learning and used for other things."

For Sulston herself, the benefit comes simply from the way that she experiences music. "I can imagine that someone who has no synaesthetic perception does not have such an intense sensation as I do when listening to music," she says.

"Music is richer. It is difficult to say whether I would have become a musician if I was not synaesthetic."

Table 1 Tasting the tones

These are the tastes experienced by Sulston in response to hearing different tone intervals. The fourth and tritone intervals elicit visual and emotional responses rather than tastes. The dissonant tone intervals seem to induce unpleasant tastes, whereas the consonant intervals induce pleasant ones.

Minor second

Major second

Minor third

Major third

Mown grass


Pure water

Minor sixth

Major sixth
Low-fat cream

Minor seventh

Major seventh

No taste


Jazz Math

This was written by Bill Anschell who has a nice website with planty of other humorous articles- www.billanschell.com

Jazz Math

1. If x is the number of chord changes in a tune, and y is the tempo at which it is played, then xy = factor by which a guitarist will turn down his amp.

2. The number of notes/measure played by a saxophonist on a ballad is
proportional to the number of drinks he has consumed.

3. 4 + 4.125 + 4 + 3.875 + 4 + (4.667) + 4 + (x, where x is unknown) = Horn player trading fours with the drummer.

4. (2 + 5 + 1) x (# of freshman college jazz students, internationally) annual income of Jamie Aebersold, in dollars.

5. Infinity = (3 + 6 + 2 + 5) + (3 + 6 + 2 + 5) + (3 + 6 + 2 + 5) ...

6. 5/4 + 7/4 + 11/4 = The drummer's gig

7. If the number of drinks consumed per musician = the number of drinks comped by club, then unrest will prevail unless (cost per drink) < 1/20(pay for gig).

8. 1 uptempo tune +1 rushing drummer + x (double lattes) = x (fights among horn players to solo first)

9. 1 ballad + 1 dragging drummer + x (Percocets) = 1 cleared house, where x is proportional to the speed at which the room empties.

10. 2 (diddles) = paradiddle

11. Jam session + eighth-note rest = missed opportunity.

12. Jam session + (quarter-note rest or greater) = band on break.

13. {(New + York) squared - (NewNew + Yorkyork + Yorknew) + New York + 2 (Ride + Sally) - Sally} divided by (less than five seconds)=medley from hell

14. (1/vocalist's experience in years) x (# of beats per measure) x 32 = # of unintended modulations + skipped beats per chorus.

15. If x = piano's deviance from being in tune, y = volume level of drummer, z = length of gig, and d = number of drinks consumed by pianist on break, then (d ) (xyz /pay of the gig, in dollars), predicts the probability of pianist urinating in his instrument.

16. "Vow of Poverty" theorem: If # people in audience < # of musicians on bandstand, then pay per musician <one individual cover charge.

17. "Bass" theorem: A musician's IQ is inversely proportional to the size of his/her instrument, and directly related to the register of the

18. "Rule of One" theorem: (Universe of jazz vocalists) v (# of jazz vocalists who sing "Summertime") = 1 = rank of "Summertime" among tunes most despised by instrumentalists.

19. "Devil's Music" theorem: Smooth Jazz = square root of all evil.

20. "Two Americas" Buffet theorem: Fresh salmon/flaccid spanakopita + prime rib/limp eggrolls + jumbo shrimp/soggy chicken fingers = high society gig/Elks Club gig

21. How much should a gig pay, based on the following conditions: drive 90 miles outside of town through pouring rain; set up two hours in advance; load in through slimy kitchen accessed by treacherous outdoor staircase; and play four hours of continuous crappy dance favorites for drunk rich people?

Would you take it for 1/2 that much?

(If yes): Desperation/pride = 1

After you bid on the above gig for 1/3 your worth, a college student offers
to play the same gig for 1/2 as much. You are 12 times as good as him, but 1/2 as good-looking. The client has a tin ear. Who will get the job? Why do you bother practicing?

22. If a trumpet player counts off a tune in 4/4 at mm = 180, and the drummer slows it down at a constant rate of deceleration over 8 measures to mm = 150, does the pianist still suck?

22. If a bassist plays a root, a pianist superimposes a major seventh chord built on the fifth, and a saxophonist plays the 13th, will attractive women notice? Will the drummer?

23. If (% of Americans who like jazz) < (% of Americans who like chainsaw sculptures), what is America's most important indigenous art form?


Emotional range- the musician as the actor

I see music as an art form that requires the artist to be highly emotionally expressive. One of the things that is usually lacking in younger players, no matter how burning they are technically, is deep emotional expression. Many players never develop this type of expression no matter what their age. The old saying,"You need to live the blues before you can play the blues", is very true. How can a suburban teen know great sorrow or other deep emotions without years of living a hard life? How can we express a complete range of emotions if we are narrow unexpressive people? It takes living a full life to really understand how to express certain deep or subtle emotions in your music. I think that this is true up to a point. In certain cases no amount of wood shedding will do as much for your music as getting your heart squashed and burnt by a lover will, and in a shorter amount time. We can consciously speed up this growth process if we really focus on this aspect of our playing. Like everything, it takes practice to be emotionally expressive. The Jazz musician has quite a lot in common with the professional actor. The actor becomes the character he portrays by taking on a different personality in his mind. Even though the actor may not feel sadness or joy while working he takes on those emotional states until they feel real to him. If he has a scene where he cries the actor might think about when his puppy got flattened by the ice-cream truck at six years old. He relives that sorrow until he cries real tears. The actor's entire instrument (facial expressions, voice, body language) then expresses the emotion or sorrow. To the audience it is real, what they don't know is that the actor is really crying about Spot. We all have certain emotions that we are comfortable with and others that we don't understand or have a hard time expressing. We may have no problem feeling angry but can't express tenderness, or vice versa. We need to learn to use the full range of human emotion in our music even if we aren't use to expressing all these emotions in our daily life. Jazz musicians in general have a tendency to have 'dry' or unemotional personalities. This is a hindrance to being an expressive artist. It is possible to cultivate the ability to work with unfamiliar emotions but it takes some amount of disciplined practice. Maybe only an 'appearance of an emotional state' is possible for the actor or the musician, at least this is better than nothing. The first step toward this kind of emotional range is to try to purposefully take on emotional states before playing. Think of the time you accidentally ran your kitty over with your Big Wheel, or the first time you got dumped. Look at the tune and try to determine what is appropriate. What are the lyrics about? What is the general tone of the melody?

Here is list of emotions to consider in relation to playing music. You don't
need to understand how they directly relate to a way of playing. Just trying
to feel them while playing is enough to affect your music:

Abandoned Abhor Ablaze Abominable Abrasive Absorbed Absorbed Absurd Abused Abusive Accommodating Acknowledged Acquiescent Acrimonious Admonished Adoration Adored Adventurous Adverse Affected Affectionate Afflicted Affronted Afraid Aggravated Aggressive Agitated Agonized Agony Agreeable Airy Awkward Alienated Alive Alluring Alone Altruistic Ambiguous Ambitious Amenable Amorous Amused Anger Anguished Animated Annoyed Anxiety Apathy Appealing Appeasing Appreciation Apprehensive Ardent Arduous Argumentative Armored Aroused Arrogant Astounded Attentive Avoidance Beaten down Bemused Betrayed Bewildered Bewitched Bitchy Bitter Blah Blessed Blissful Blunt Boiling Bored Bothered Brave Breathless Breezy Bright Broken Bruised Buoyant Burdensome Bursting Callous Calm Captivated Captivating Careless Caring Celebrating Chagrined Charmed Chastened Cheerful Cherishing Clandestine Clear Cold Comatose Comfortable Compassion Competitive Complacent Composed Concerned Confused Congenial Content Cool Cornered Crucified Crushed Cursed Cushy Dainty Defensive Dejected Delectable Delicate Delighted Demure Depressed Desirable Desired Desolate Despair Despondent Devoted Devoured Discomfort Discontented Disgust Dismal Dispassionate Displeased Disregard Disregarding Distracted Distressed Disturbed Doldrums Doomed Droopy Dull Eager Earnest Ecstatic Electric Enchanted Endearing Enuring Engaging Enjoy Enlivened Enraged Enraptured Enthused Even tempered Exasperate Exultation Fanatical Fascinated Fearful Fervent Fervor Fiery Flared up Flushed Flustered Fluttery Foaming at the mouth Forbearance Fortitude Frantic Fretful Frigid Frisky Frustration Full Fuming Fun Funny Furious Galvanized Genial Giggly Gleeful Gloomy Glowing Gnawing Grateful Grave Grief Grieving Grim Griped Grounded Gushing Gusto Haggard Half-hearted Hardened Harsh Having Fun Hearty Heavy Hectic Hilarious Hopeful Horrific Horrified Horror-stricken Humorous Hurt Hysterical Impetuous Imposing Impressed Impressionable Impulsive Indulgent Inept Inflexible Infuriated Insatiable Insensitive Insouciant Inspired Interested Intimidated Intrigued Inviting Irrepressible Irritated Jealous Jittery Jolly Jovial Jubilation Languid Laughingly Lethargic Light hearted Lively Loathe Lonely Lonesome Long-suffering Lost Loving Lukewarm Luxurious Mad Manic Martyr Meddlesome Melancholy Melodramatic Merry Mindful Mindless Mirthful Miserable Moderate Mopy Mortified Moved Nervous Nonchalant Numb Optimistic Over the edge Overflowing Over-wrought Pain Panic Paralyzed Passionate Passive Patient Peace of mind Perky Perplexed Perturbed Petrified Piquant Placid Plagued Pleasant Pleasurable Pride Protected Proud Provocative Quarrelsome Quenched Quiet Quivering Quivery Radiant Rash Raving Ravished Ravishing Ready to burst Receptive Reckless Reconciled Refreshed Rejected Rejection Rejoice Relish Repressed Repugnant Resentful Resentment Resigned Resistant Romantic Safe Satiated Satisfaction Scared Secretive Secure Sedate Seduced Seductive Seething Selfish Sensational Sensual Sentimental Serious Shaken Shame Shielded Shocked Shutter Shy Silly Simmering Sincere Sinking Smug Snug Sober Sobering Soft Solemn Somber Sore Sorrow Sorrowful Sour Sparkling Spastic Spicy Spirited Spry Stoic Stranded Stressed Stricken Stung Stunned Subdued Subjugated Suffering Sunny Supportive Surrender Susceptible Suspended Sweet Sympathy Tame Tantalizing Tantrumy Temperate Tender The blues Thick-skinned Thin-skinned Threatened Thrilled Tickled Tight Tight-lipped Timid Tingly Tolerant Tormented Tortured Touched Tranquil Transported Trepidation Troubled Twitchy Uncomfortable Unconcerned Unconscious Uncontrollable Under pressure Undone Unfeeling Unhappy Unimpressed Unruffled Used Vexed Victim Victimized Vivacious Volcanic Voluptuous Vulnerable Warm Warmhearted Weary Welcomed Whining Winsome Wistful Woe Woeful Worked up Worried Wounded Wretched Yearn Yearning Yielding Zealous

These emotions are tools to the improviser, just like whole tone patterns or 3-tonic lines. Work with them, make them your own, mix and match until you find something you like then make them part of your personal musical language. Remember, these emotions do not have to reflect your personality in any way, wear them like masks! In certain spiritual traditions this practice is called conscious invocation- certain scents, colors, shapes also helped to put the practitioner in tune with the energies called upon. We don't have that luxury on the bandstand, unless cigarette smoke is what you need to tune in....... ;)

Think about this, practice and then FEEL and PLAY........


Motific development- Herb Pomeroy, Fred Lipsius

I want to talk about what goes into a solo besides the nuts and bolts of the music theory. A lot of players come out of music school playing BURNING JAZZ. They basically learn to play tons of shit over changes. It is nice to be able to lay down sheets of sound at the drop of a hat, I won't deny that. But what kind of artistic content is there? What is the person saying besides,"Check out this badass shit!". I was lucky to spend a lot of time with Herb Pomeroy while I was at Berklee. I played lead alto in his 'recording band' and also played in his small improvisation ensemble. He made us develop motifs. He would have us start a motif and develop it as we played through our solo choruses. If we threw in a pre-worked out lick he would stop the whole band and call us on it. Each idea had to be a development of the last, eventually the motif would get too complex and we were then expected to start with another simple motif. This is a much different way of thinking that what most players use. Everyone has some cool licks that they've worked out in the woodshed, how can you not help throwing them in?!? He saw these 'licks' as irrelevant to improvising in the moment. They always stood out like a sore thumbs when compared to ideas that were developed naturally in a spontaneous and musical way. He actually plays this way himself, it's a very compositional way of thinking. Herb is truly one one the great improviser/composer/arranger/bandleaders of all time. I had heard of motific development before studying with Herb Pomeroy but I hadn't really considered the possibility playing this way exclusively. Herb used to play with Bird but even Bird didn't play this way, he had a ton of licks and he played them often.

Fred Lipsius wrote a great book called 'A Creative approach to Jazz improvisation'. In it he gives nice short ideas for every type of chord in every key. After this he has tables to show how the ideas can be played over different chords and keys. For example a B7 alt lick will also work over a C-maj7 chord and a F7#11 chord. Then he talks about all the different ways that a pattern can be developed/changed. He then would take a pattern from the book and showed what the pattern would look like if it was compressed, reversed, stretched, transposed, fragmented, ect. He wanted you to practice using each one of the methods of changing ideas. This is the same thing that Herb was trying to get us to do. If you learn all the different ways that you can possibly transmute an idea then you will never be at a loss when you're trying to develop a motif. It then stops being about how many licks you can memorize and becomes about learning how to mess with any giving pattern or idea. Licks are like a crutch that gets you walking but eventually cripples you if use it too long. The layperson may think that a lick player sounds great, that can even keep the player dependent on licks. It really comes down to the fact that a lick is something that keeps you from hearing what the music should sound like in the moment. I tell my students that if they're going to memorize licks, at least learn your own licks. Take a lick and change it somehow to put your mark on it and make it yours. If you learn a lick in all keys then guess what, you'll probably end up playing the same lick in a bunch of keys. The listener doesn't always hear that the lick is in Db this time and E last time, it just sounds like you're repeating yourself! So although it IS a good thing to be able to do, it can make you sound redundant. It's better to learn how a single lick (if you must use licks) can be used over many different types of chords. This way the lick sounds totally different in each harmonic situation.

Where do we get these motifs from? There are many different ways to come up with these motifs. It's usually better if you don't just pull them out of your ass, rather take them from existing material. Of course fragments of the melody are always a good place to start. How about quotes from other tunes with similar changes? You may want to start your solo with an idea that the previous soloist left off with. Be sure to pay attention to what the soloists before you are playing so you can refer to their solo ideas. {Be sure to make your rhythmic ideas drive your solo development rather than thinking of harmony as primary.} Take ideas from the rhythm section as they comp for you, always be reactive to what they might throw out there. Takes up ideas that you may have dropped earlier in your own solo. You may even want to use motifs from tune that the band has already played or from your own solos on these earlier tunes! This gives continuity to the entire performance.

Vary these motifs by learning to change every possible element- shape, direction, range, dynamics, timbre, placement in time (lay back or speed up), duration, articulation. This takes constant practice but the payoff in your overall musicality will be immense.

-Motivic Development (from melody or newly formed)
1. Repetition
2. Transpose
3. Mode Change
3. Fragment
4. Add to (start, middle, end)
5. Sequence
6. Embellish or Ornament
7. Augmentation (pitch, rhythmic)
8. Diminution (pitch, rhythmic)
9. Invert (upside down)
10.Retrograde (backwards)
11.Retrograde inversion (upside down & backwards)
12.Displacement (pitch, rhythmic)

(Fred's 'Creative Jazz Improvisation' is currently out of print- I found one copy on Amazon for $57.95, still worth it!)