Since reading that the best way forward is to learn solos from recordings, I’ve embarked on some study in that direction. The PC has turned out to be a great help. I ripped a Chet Baker track, “Bea’s Flat” (1953), into the PC and then opened it in a .wav file editor. The trumpet solo is very fast and at normal speed it’s extremely difficult to hear the individual notes so it’s wonderful to be able to slow it down and yet keep the pitch of the original. Normally, if you half the tempo of a recording its pitch drops by an octave but the computer works its magic to compensate precisely so that the correct pitch is retained. With this wonderful tool, within half an hour or so I had untangled the first few bars of the solo and even learned a bit of it -much quicker than I could have done just using a CD player. Still, it’s going to take some hard work to get my playing of it up to Chet Baker’s very fast tempo.
The PC has just opened up a whole new way of studying jazz for me.
Later today I met up with Julian Jacobson, a wonderful pianist based in London. I used to play with him quite a lot in the early eighties in a chamber ensemble called “Capricorn”. We always used to mess about together in rehearsals by playing scraps of music completely out of context – we couldn’t stop ourselves; most of what Capricorn played was so boring and difficult that we needed plenty of light relief to keep us sane. With this in mind and thinking Julian must still be some kind of a closet jazzer, I rang him a to see if he could help me. It was a positive hit – we made a date and that date was today.
On his suggestion we met up at the Royal College of Music where he and I both teach. We were both a little awkward to start with and after a bit of a natter we got down to some playing. We started with some blues and then played Stella and a couple of other tunes I didn’t know and couldn’t read. I must admit I was pretty shockingly bad but honest about my current limitations and my intentions and, amazingly, he seemed keen to do some more so we are going to meet again in November having, we hope, found a drummer and a bass player.
I need to learn some tunes!
I’m trying to get a bit of practice in every day.
More books and playalongs have arrived, so there’s no shortage of stuff to work on. The trumpet and the flugel are hanging up next to the piano, and the cornet (and mute) are upstairs next to the bed. Most of the playalongs and tons of other jazz recordings are on minidisc so I’ve always got stuff to listen to or play-along with. Also, my Revo has an ever increasing selection of “Grigson” grids to study.
It’s going quite well, although I detect a certain reluctance to get stuck into any standards. I’m not sure quite why this is but I’m hoping that Kenny might help me work this out when I go to see him this afternoon. He’s reluctantly agreed to see me for some kind of “lesson” although it’s clear he really doesn’t want to be a “teacher”.
I think what I should do is ask him to help me work on Stella – I think I have a bit of a foothold in that one.
What I really need is a tame pianist to help me work on some tunes. I’m going to phone Julian Jacobson (a very good pianist, who dabbles in jazz) in a few weeks, when he’s back from some cruise or other, and I’m hoping we can work up some tunes together.
The “LoadsOfModes” is working well. I think I’ll know them all in a couple of weeks and then I’ll just have to start speeding them up.
I’ve noticed something important. There is a tonguing difference between the horn and the trumpet. It’s a larger mass of air inside the horn so starting it and stopping it takes a bit more clout and steadier air pressure. This is the dreaded “support” but I hate the term it means totally different things to different people. I don’t think the trumpet needs any less of it than the horn but the tongue has to be used in quite a different way. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to switch tonguing styles as I switch instruments – rather like people who play both violin and viola have to learn to switch gears as move from one to the other.