Anybody who reads my blog probably knows that
I’ve loved jazz since the first time I heard Count Basie play on a TV show, when I was very young. (I can’t find that appearance on YouTube, but I found some other Count Basie TV appearances from the 1960’s, here, here, and here.)
When I was in high school, I spent two summers studying jazz piano at Berklee School of Music (now Berklee College of Music).
Not to be judgmental, but I really wasn’t that great at playing jazz piano. Believe me, I’m not being falsely modest here. I’ve simply never had
- the courage,
- the technique,
- the “chops” (as jazz players say)
- the patience,
- the stick-to-it-ness,
- the talent, or
- the natural ability
…. to improvise on any musical instrument. And improvisation is what makes jazz jazz.
In case you don’t know what improvisation is: in jazz, the musicians play a tune the way it was written and then they take turns improvising — making up new music within the established chord structure of that song.
So jazz is a wonderful balance of
- structure and play,
- dependence and independence,
- teamwork and individuality.
I never get tired of witnessing great improvisers. I’ve included a lot of them in my blog posts. If you improvise a search through my posts, right now, I’m sure you’ll find some, easily enough.
Actually, I’m going to be kinder than that, right now. Rather than sending you off on a wild-goose chase through my posts looking for examples of good improvisers, I shall take this opportunity to post a jazz tune I love, with two of my favorite improvisers — Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays:
Many times before, in this blogging journey of mine, I have considered posting a YouTube link to “Daulton Lee” (written by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, from the soundtrack of movie The Falcon and the Snowman). I’ve often wondered — in the past year and a half — how I could improvise sharing with you that wonderful and (for me) mood-improving music, but it never seemed to fit any other topic, well enough. It’s not like I’ve written about Daultons or Lees or Falcons or Snowmen.
Snowmen. Hmmmm. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I’ve shown photos of snowmen here in the past 22 months (but who’s counting?) since I started blogging.
Oh, well. I guess I can’t be on top of EVERY opportunity to do things I’d like to do.
There’s no time like the present, however! Today, the topic is jazz and I can pretty much post whatever I want!
I’m actually going to return to the past, just for a moment, as I explain to you another reason why I haven’t posted “Daulton Lee” before. YouTube doesn’t have my favorite kind of jazz video for “Daulton Lee” — that is, a live version with good quality sound. But the studio version of “Daulton Lee” is good enough, right now.
And I’ve now posted “Daulton Lee!” Another item to remove from my Blogging To-Do List. That’s always a relief.
I will share this with you, though, at this point. I’m not sure “Daulton Lee” is such a great example of jazz improvisation, as I defined it earlier in this post.
Let’s see if there’s another favorite tune I love, that I know I haven’t shared with you before.
I know! I’ve never included, in any blog post, “Minuano” by the Pat Metheny group. Why? Same reason as with “Daulton Lee.” The title doesn’t naturally lend itself to any topic I might tackle here.
Is that YouTube video of the album version of “Minuano” a perfect example of jazz improvisation? Probably not, but it’s a great nine minutes of music. And here’s a live version I love (even though it doesn’t include the full tune):
Wow! I’ve really gotten a lot off my plate here today, regarding my favorite music.
Don’t you think it’s about time I explain why I’m writing about jazz today, of all days?
I’m still thinking about my presentation, two days ago, when I spoke about the Koplow Method of group therapy to an audience of other therapists.
As my presentation was ending on Sunday, several people said some kind and complimentary things about the way I do groups, including this:
I love the way you create this clear structure which allows people the safety to play. It’s like … jazz.
Music to my ears! I will forever be grateful to that person for improvising, in the moment, one of the best compliments ever.
Telling you that story also lets me segue into this classic YouTube video that my 16-year-old son, Aaron, and I happened to watch last night.
Note: That appearance of the Muppets on The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960’s is all about somebody really, really, really wanting to improvise, despite the judgment of others.
Now, how I shall improvise on my well-established blog structure, of showing you photos I’ve taken recently, usually near the end of the post?
Here are some photos I took yesterday, when I was improvising on a visual theme I had chosen for my walk away from work — “Green.”
Pretty jazzy, huh?
Gotta run to work, where I get to improvise, as best I can.
Thanks to Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Jim Henson, and all the other creative masters who helped me write this post today. And — in yet another variation on a theme I’ve included in almost every post I’ve ever written — thanks to all you jazzy people out there, for visiting here today!