On Saturday morning I attended a short improv workshop at Ohio University given by visiting artist Jack Schantz, a fantastic trumpet and flugelhorn player for the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. Jack spoke and fielded questions for about and hour and a half covering the “What, How, and Why” of jazz improv.
He addressed both specific nuts and bolts information on how he approaches playing over specific tonalities as well as his philosophical insights into the music. I was really impressed by both his fantastic playing and his thoughtful approach to the material.
Below is a picture of the notes he made on the board concerning his approach to playing on major, minor, and dominant tonalities. Basically he stressed using the 4-note arpeggio structures using a Dorian sound for minor ideas, a Lydian sound for major ideas, and a Lydian Dominant sound for dominant ideas:
He also described practicing by planing notes within the patterns to match the harmonic changes and lines within a chord progression, essentially outlining the chords and observing voice leading with his horn.
Another idea he discussed that I’ve since been sharing with all of my students is the three centers of personality: intellectual, physical, and emotional and how each one plays a role in the practice of learning music. I was especially impressed with his statement that “Most guys will play something 25 times and they think they’ve got it. You might have to play it 1,000 times.” He said that some things don’t really start to sink in for his until after about the 300th repetition. That was really refreshing to hear. Students don’t often understand how much time it takes to internalize these concepts. I know it takes me a hell of long time!
Jack Schantz on myspace: www.myspace.com/jackschantz