i was listening to billy taylor, and then monty, and then oscar, and then a few others and something dawned on me.  one of the keys to a great improvisation is where the phrasing starts and stops.

dizzy once said something to the effect of, "i may not play all the right notes, but i play them all at the right time."

so i decided to experiment with something.

i took just friends and then started improvising over it.  whenever i felt like it was time for a phrase to end, i would keep on playing, filling in the space between phrases with notes.

this is just an exercise, you'd never want to do this at a performance.

so, then i started removing the parts of the phrases that i "wanted" to play, and only played the filler material.

an interesting thing happened. i started thinking about the real solo phrases even more, and the filler material turned into short introductions to real improv phrases, and then i recorded some of it and listened to it (highly recommend for anyone).

i noticed that my introduction phrases, or what was the filler material, would start anywhere from half a measure to two measures in front of the downbeat of a new section.  so by the time i got to the downbeat of the new section, my idea was in full swing and it didn't sound at all like i my improvisation was being forced by the form of the tune.  instead my improvisation was based on being musical, swinging, and my own free will.

this is something that a lot of us do anyway, but i've never really thought about it carefully.  

afterwards i was able to boil it down to a method of practice which is fairly simple: don't end a phrases where you want to, go for another x amount of beats.  sometimes go for half a beat, sometimes go for 5 more beats.  just don't stop playing when you want to, force yourself consciously to stop playing after you feel like you want to.

it is an amazing little thing to work on.
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There are 3 comments, leave a comment.
the more i play with this idea, the more it looks like the holy grail of improvising.

obviously a person would first need to know the science behind the music, that is, harmonically what goes with what (what scale or notes go with a b7#5 chord and that sort of thing).

but once you have learned the science which is all old fashioned study and practice, nothing mystical about it, and can play lines over chords of any flavor and style, then it boils down to how you play it.

going longer in the line (as in the previous message) is half the battle, then you need to know where to stop and how to stop.

in practicing this stuff there's a nice secondary effect- the rhythm of each note i play has become more important.  things are swinging harder.  i had a house party with some seattle cats the other day and they commented on the increased rhythmic aspect of my playing.  i didn't even know anything had changed, but afterwards when i had a chance to examine what was going on, i realized that there was more focus on the rhythm of individual notes and smaller phrases, all within the larger phrases i was forcing myself to play.

kind of cool.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
to add something to this approach as described-getting into what scot is talking about leads you to be able to see how a given line(i.e.a group of eighth notes or a group of 16ths that would normally start and end in a given way) works in different places rhythmically-if you are used to starting and ending it within 4 beats(starting at the beginning of the bar)try shifting it to the second beat of the measure,then the third,etc.........
my 2cents---  i ve heard it said that the rhythm of the notes you play may be more important than the melody , which is arguable i know . bill evans` rhythmic patterns are  to me, so great and interesting , and should be included in all seriously minded players  
lessons.ie; the album with marian mc partland where he plays "all of you' it is fantastic.
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