Oct 30, 2018

Play little songs

 "Play little songs."
- Advice to improvisers from Tadd Dameron, quoted in I Remember Tadd, an article by George Ziskind, posted on the "Jazz Profiles" blog. 
The wisest three words I've ever heard on the subject. Ziskind was a friend of Dameron's. I was referred to his article by my friend Adam, who studied jazz piano with Ziskind. Ziskind gave Adam the same three words of advice.

Ziskind explains in more detail:
This was Tadd's most basic advice to the improviser. When playing one's chorus(es) on a tune, it is not sufficient to know the harmony (backwards and forwards, so to speak!!); to be 100% comfortable with its figurations; and to have more than a passing familiarity with the composer's conception. Tadd stressed that the above were merely starting points. They were the basic building blocks necessary to construct a credible solo and only when you had those items fully covered could you be ready to deal with the heart of the matter, i.e., to make "little songs" as you played—little self-contained melodic bits—that could be two beats long, or two bars long, or nine or ten bars long.

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