i've come to realize the secret to playing great music is anticipation. not jumping ahead of the beat, or guessing what your musicians are going to do next, no, what i mean is anticipation of the next big thing.
right, that made a whole lot of sense.
how many people here remember the moment they "got it", the moment it happened? i do. one day i didn't have time and could hardly get through a chart, the next something clicked and i never got lost again.
this anticipation idea is the same, sort of (maybe, maybe not.) the idea is that when you're playing a song, you can have tunnel vision or see the entire horizon. you can be super stuck on the notes you're playing, the chords, the changes, being in the moment to such a degree that everything around the spot you are making music in is blacked out, or, you can be aware, cognisant if you will, of not only what you are doing and which notes you are playing, but of the entire tune and your place in the entirety of the tune.
that is, not only knowing what's coming next, but what has gone before, and what will come next in two choruses, and how you can shape your playing to touch on all of those things.
only the greatest of players do this. jarrett is a good example. his improvisations are like compositions. theme, variations, theme, etc..
now i'm not saying you can't be free in your playing and change things up when something awesome happens, not at all. but if something awesome doesn't happen and inspiration isn't as inspiring as you'd like, having the big, the really big picture in mind sure makes a difference when it comes to improvisation.
ok, i rambled, but that's part of what i do. there's also the small picture of anticipation which is: know what's coming 8 measures ahead, harmonically and rhythmically and melodically. this way as you come around to the end of the form it doesn't have to sound like you're coming around to the end of the form. 8 measures before the end of the form, you can start building up to hitting it hard at the beginning of the form. that way it's not a surprise or a broken record to your listeners.
"oh listen, he just started over." that's what it sounds like to the average listener when you hit the top of the form and start playing like it's the beginning of your song.
two guys i know of who do this amazingly well. the sax player pete christlieb and the trumpet player jay thomas. you can listen to these guys and never, ever, get bored with their solos. monty alexander the pianist is good at it too. they bring you in with them, there's a momentum so that when you hit the top of the form it's like the journey has picked up some excitement, not like it's starting again.
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