As a bandleader, I think it's important that we rehearse, develop repertoire and refine our ensemble sound and style. At the same time, I try to emulate the Miles Davis approach: hire the best cats, give them lots of freedom, and embrace the music, wherever it leads.
I'm working on eliminating nonsense phrases from my improvisations -- the musical equivalent of "like," "ya know" and "umm."
There are certain cliches that I tend to reflexively insert when grasping for the next idea. I'm training myself to embrace more negative space during those searching moments -- to simply be still and listen, to just pay attention, rather than compulsively fill the space.
I try to phrase like a singer, so I listen to a lot of vocalists, especially Ella Fitzgerald. And because I favor a melodic, lyrical approach to improvisation, most of the jazz instrumentalists I listen to are also from that tradition -- people like Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Art Farmer and Ben Webster.
The interrobang is a punctuation mark that combines the functions of an exclamation point and a question mark. It's also an excellent symbol of my approach to improvisation.
I intend to "tell a story" with conviction, intentionality and a strong sense of internal logic. At the same time, I hope to convey a sincere searching, listening quality, an openness to what comes, and something of the mysterious beauty in jazz.