The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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musician, is in itself not a jazz piece. Built almost entirely on unsyncopated eighth notes, it became jazz only if and when Waller or some other performer ad libbed in a jazz style on its chord sequence.
The technical qualities of jazz improvisation are subject to modification effected by nuances of phrasing and dynamics. In these shadings, as much as in the adherence to the harmonic re­quirements, lies the potential difference between a genuine jazz solo and one that the jazzman classifies as corny; between the workmanlike performance and the chef d'oeuvre; between the cold granite of mathematical extemporization and the fulfilling warmth of improvisatory genius.
There are three lands of melodic improvisation. In the first and simplest, the original written melody is respected completely; the only change lies in the lengthening or shortening of some notes, repetition of others, use of tonal variations and dynamics to bring out its values in conformity with the personality of the interpreter. In the second, the melody remains completely recog­nizable but its phrases are subject to slight additions and changes; here and there a note is added or subtracted and perhaps a whole phrase is transmuted, but to the layman listener the original melody remains perceptible throughout either in the actual state­ment or by indirection. In the third type of improvisation the soloist departs entirely from the melody; in fact, rather than using it as a point of departure, he uses instead the chord pattern of the tune. To the trained ear of the jazz musician it will still be apparent on what basis he is improvising.
This third category, which may be called full improvisation, is in turn composed of three subdivisions. There are the notes that are decided upon completely impromptu; the notes that are predetermined to the degree that they follow a natural sequence (possibly as part of an arpeggio, chromatic sequence or scalar run), and third, the notes that are played automatically, without real cerebration, because they happen to He under the fingers and perhaps because they are part of a previously used sequence at the back of the performer's mind. Often a sequence of these notes may constitute a musical cliche^ often, too, they will be a direct quotation from some other and completely irrelevant work. The