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INTERROBANG ~ DM on Improvisation 



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.

THE EXPERTS AGREE 

 
"The goal of learning is to become capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done. Three phases of development must be mastered. The first is the COGNITIVE or 'post hoc' phase. You understand you want to do something, and you see the path ahead of you. This is the trial and error phase. The second phase is called ASSOCIATIVE or 'ad hoc.' You achieve awareness in the moment. The simple aspects of the new skill appear fluent and polished, but the more complicated aspects demand concentration. The third phase is the AUTONAMOUS or 'pre hoc' phase. You've learned the skill so well that you can perform it consistently, fluidly and in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The motor programs involved are stored in the long-term memory so the mind is free to invent something new. The secret? You must pass through phases one and two to get to three."
~Jean Piaget

"Mastery is attainable through SHU-HA-RI. SHU means to learn, to obey the teacher and to protect the fundamental forms. HA is to detach, to forget the self, and to become one with your practice. RI means to leave home, to separate from the master, and to forge a new way. RI is the way of transcendence, the way of nature. Forms are left behind and only spirit remains. You are probably not yet ready for RI."
~Morihei Ueshiba

"There are three stages to learning jazz: first, you have to study how the masters did it. Second, you practice until you're so comfortable with the tradition that you make it your own. Only then are you ready for the final stage: forgetting what you've learned and finding your own voice. IMITATION, ASSIMILATION, INNOVATION. Always in that order. And be patient, because you'll spend most of your life working on step two."
~Art Farmer

EXCELLENCE SHINES ~ DM on the Grammy Awards 

The other day Christopher Orr [dreading this year's Oscars] wrote, "Even amid cosmic injustice we must be afforded glimmers of hope."

So true!

Here's a glimmer from 1998 which still gleams:

12 years ago today our Recording Academy awarded the Grammy for best jazz instrumental solo to trumpeters Nick Payton & Doc Cheatham, two of my favorite artists, for their tasty rendering of Hoagy Carmichael's masterpiece "Stardust."

It was one of those rare moments that occurs all too seldom in life, when excellence shines through and the universe nods in accord. Amazingly, the mind-numbing pop culture-drunk music industry briefly woke up, remembered its calling, and cast a collective vote for quality.

For a short while that year, music behaved like the meritocracy we all wish it could be.


We all voted for this record, but whenever I listen to it, I secretly believe it was created just for me.

Mine
, like my big wheel or my slice of Key Lime Pie!


Photo by Hal Leonard

This entire album is a keeper, but I especially dig their treatments of "Stardust," "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise" and "Jeepers Creepers."

Hear it and get yours on
iTunes or Amazon.

AN ALTERNATE VIEW, FROM SOMEONE WHO WAS THERE 



“It was horrendous. You went to work at 9pm and you played six forty-five minute sets for a room half full of people who were maybe paying attention, but more often not. You did this five or six nights a week. You left the joint at 3:00 a.m. with a few dollars in your pocket and a greasy dinner in your stomach. No, I wouldn’t want to return to those days. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed playing the music, but it was a constant hustle it would have been better to avoid.”


~Roy Haynes on the mid-century "golden age" of jazz
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