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  1. #1
    Distinguished SOTW Member Fader's Avatar
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    Default The Less I Play....

    The better I sound....

    It's been a while since I've had time to post (or read) here but I'm still out there playing a lot of gigs - In the past year, I keep finding my best solos are also the "leanest" when it comes to notes played per bar. I play a lot less notes than I used to but I find I'm putting more into each note. I still do the whole "flying fingers" thing but it's only a few times a night now instead of on every solo. It's a noticeable (and pleasant) change....

  2. #2
    playatsax's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Nothing wrong with that. I remember being at a college seminar back in '84 with Dizzy. Someone made the observation that his solos were not as complicated as they used to be. Dizzy said " I figured out which notes I didn't need."
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    Distinguished SOTW Member CooolJazzz's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    I hear you. Along those same lines, the older I get the more I appreciate people who really know how to say more by playing less. Flying fingers rarely impress me much anymore, and I find it especially unpleasing when that's literally what people are doing...letting their fingers fly without any serious controlled direction or musical thought. Sometimes the line of thought seems to be..."I need to insert a really fast run here, regardless of what notes come out". It's usually a sloppy mess. While I appreciate people who can genuinely pull it off, where every note makes musical sense within the context of the progression...what I appreciate even more is the thought and musicianship required to say more with less notes. It's a beautiful thing.

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    Bubba06's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    For me, it's obviously not a "maturity" thing. But, I've simplified my playing a lot to make more sense and focus on making the changes really obvious, and what I really HEAR. Secondly, people have always told me "play what you feel" or something along those lines... Generally, I'm not really feeling much. But I'm a really relaxed guy, I don't really get stressed or emotional about a lot of things. So I simplify, and try to make some really relaxed lines. There's a time and place for trying to melt peoples faces... I figure if I use it sparingly, it will have a better effect.

    Thanks man,
    Bubba

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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    There's a story that Jerry Coker relates in his book Clear Solutions for Jazz Improvisors:

    Thelonious Monk was once asked to compare the improvisation of Dizzy Gillespie with that of Miles Davis. His answer was a study in itself. He said ''They both play all the good notes, but that's all Miles plays"
    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member CooolJazzz's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Quote Originally Posted by LampLight View Post
    There's a story that Jerry Coker relates in his book Clear Solutions for Jazz Improvisors:

    Thelonious Monk was once asked to compare the improvisation of Dizzy Gillespie with that of Miles Davis. His answer was a study in itself. He said ''They both play all the good notes, but that's all Miles plays"
    Interesting that you should post that one. I've listened several times today to the Master (Take 1) version of Charlie Parker's "My Old Flame" (1947). It's always been one of my all-time favorite Parker solos, but the Miles Davis solo is also one of my all-time favorite trumpet solos. People criticize it for some of the noticeable lip faults, but to me, it's one of the best examples of Miles (or anyone else) playing just the right amount of notes...no more, no less. Such a "simple" solo, but it speaks volumes (to me at least).

    Sorry, unable to display

  7. #7

    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    I've actually progressed to the point now where I play nothing. It's the best I've ever sounded.

  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Member Turnaround's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Quote Originally Posted by marton View Post
    I've actually progressed to the point now where I play nothing. It's the best I've ever sounded.
    Without silence, there wouldn't be music. Just noise.

  9. #9

    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Quote Originally Posted by Turnaround View Post
    Without silence, there wouldn't be music. Just noise.
    How zen

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    Distinguished SOTW Member Turnaround's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Quote Originally Posted by marton View Post
    How zen
    Shhhh!!

  11. #11
    Distinguished SOTW Member Fader's Avatar
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    Default

    I can feel it as an improvement. I used to work too hard impress players and audiences - now I play to please. (myself and the audience) The funny thing is that playing to please seems to accomplish both goals. The focus is on musicality rather than technicality.

    This approach would also indicate that in some way I must be (::gasp:: say it ain't so!) ....maturing. Mostly I play as a soloist (without a section) and while I've always known my main job is to support the vocalist, there is more to it than that. My old formula was to stick in a fill after every vocal line and then burn the solos - all in an effort to be a great sax player. These days I've found that sometimes what sounds best after a vocal line is silence instead of a fill. I think my philosophy has gone from trying to be a great player to trying to be a great band member. Or perhaps it's just trying to do my part to make it a great song instead of a great platform to showcase my playing. Either way - I think it's a good thing. it's also easier which is nice. I listen to the recordings afterwards and cringe much less these days - sometimes I'm actually quite pleased. I was reviewing a recent show and in an intro I used to fill with (or tried to fill with) technical mastery, I played 3-1/2 bars of simple octave "honks" and tagged the end with a short run. It was far better than all the crap I used to play in that piece.

    Of course this whole thread brings up the point of what it is you're really trying to accomplish and there is no right answer. Some would say,"screw the audience - I play for myself" - Others get their kicks making others feel good. I have always fallen firmly in the latter camp. Putting a smile on someone else's face is one of the great joys of life for me. It makes sense that the way you live your life reflects on the way (and the why) you play....

  12. #12
    Forum Contributor 2011 Steve Stockham's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Quality vs quantity!

  13. #13

    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Hey, Fader, I noticed you're from Atlanta. Sorry to highjack your thread but so am I. Do you know George Carere? He was my private teacher back in the early 70s. I haven't talked to him since about 1981 or so and wondered if he's still around. I know his brother Tony runs a music store there but I haven't heard anything about George in years. He was a great guy and a great player too.

  14. #14
    Distinguished SOTW Technician BOPITY FUNK's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Fader's definitely 'getting there' ! Being a "good band member" is so important--very often overlooked and ignored by younger players---and I was maybe just as 'guilty' back in the day.

  15. #15
    Distinguished SOTW Member rsclosson's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Most of my favorite players (Getz, Dexter Gordon, Paul Desmond, etc.) were very capable of being virtuosos, and occasionally would remind us of that fact. However, they also had the ability to make each note count. Some of my favorite solos are the "simple" ones. Simple is a misnomer. It is usually more challenging to play with less notes. (Man! I am rambling today.)
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Quote Originally Posted by CooolJazzz View Post
    Interesting that you should post that one. I've listened several times today to the Master (Take 1) version of Charlie Parker's "My Old Flame" (1947). It's always been one of my all-time favorite Parker solos, but the Miles Davis solo is also one of my all-time favorite trumpet solos. People criticize it for some of the noticeable lip faults, but to me, it's one of the best examples of Miles (or anyone else) playing just the right amount of notes...no more, no less. Such a "simple" solo, but it speaks volumes (to me at least).

    Sorry, unable to display
    Thanks for that CJ. It's a very nice piece and one I had not heard. It reminds me of Miles playing Blue on Green. My understanding is that Bill Evans handed him the changes and said "Play something over that". The rest, as they say, is history:


    Sorry, unable to display
    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

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  17. #17
    Distinguished SOTW Member rsclosson's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Quote Originally Posted by CooolJazzz View Post
    Interesting that you should post that one. I've listened several times today to the Master (Take 1) version of Charlie Parker's "My Old Flame" (1947). It's always been one of my all-time favorite Parker solos, but the Miles Davis solo is also one of my all-time favorite trumpet solos. People criticize it for some of the noticeable lip faults, but to me, it's one of the best examples of Miles (or anyone else) playing just the right amount of notes...no more, no less. Such a "simple" solo, but it speaks volumes (to me at least).
    The thing about Miles' noteceable lip faults is that, to me, even they sounded great!
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  18. #18
    Souportwenty's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    I've always admired most the solos from players I know can really rip it but choose not to in order to choose the best notes to fit the emotional space they are working on. It's sort of like crusin' with an eight cylinder. You don't have to constantly floor the pedal to appreciate the power.
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Fader has written exactly what I've been thinking recently.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fader View Post
    In the past year, I keep finding my best solos are also the "leanest" when it comes to notes played per bar. I play a lot less notes than I used to but I find I'm putting more into each note. I still do the whole "flying fingers" thing but it's only a few times a night now instead of on every solo. It's a noticeable (and pleasant) change....
    Quote Originally Posted by Fader View Post
    I can feel it as an improvement. I used to work too hard impress players and audiences - now I play to please. (myself and the audience) The funny thing is that playing to please seems to accomplish both goals. The focus is on musicality rather than technicality.

    ... My old formula was to stick in a fill after every vocal line and then burn the solos - all in an effort to be a great sax player. These days I've found that sometimes what sounds best after a vocal line is silence instead of a fill. I think my philosophy has gone from trying to be a great player to trying to be a great band member. Or perhaps it's just trying to do my part to make it a great song instead of a great platform to showcase my playing. Either way - I think it's a good thing. it's also easier which is nice.
    The Martin "Official Music Man" tenor, Barone black tenor, The Martin baritone, Richards Martin Indiana alto, cheap Chinese soprano, Metalite mouthpieces, Plasticover reeds, Nord Electro 2, bunch of other instruments
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  20. #20
    Distinguished SOTW Member saxpiece's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Less I Play....

    Having the ability to shred is a great asset and it's greater still to know when to use it for effect.

    Shredding all the time is boring, to me anyway.

    I prefer other things to be included, as well as some shredding.

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