finding your own music

There’s an age-old debate within the jazz community about the merits (or de-merits) fthe whole chord-scale theory approach. I was recently reminded of this topic while reading Graham Collier’s article:

I know from my own experience learning chord-scale theory it’s been a difficult thing to overcome. I studied with David N. Baker at Indiana University. He’s done an amazing job codifying the language of Bebop. But, you know, he never once said this is all there is or there’s only one particular way to play.

The idea is to study the music of the masters and use it as a way to find your own music. However, it’s very easy to get addicted to the mathematically beauty and symmetry. It’s also easy to start to believe that the ideas of the masters are better than your own.

I spent a year playing with J.J. Johnson’s quintet. That experience sent me on a quest to find my own music. It was immediately obvious to me that JJ, Cedar Walton and Rufus Reid live and breathe that music. It’s literally a part of them and their experience. My own version of that was not as profound.

How could it be? I didn’t come up during their time.

So reading Graham’s excellent article made me consider this idea anew. Right now I’m experimenting with tonal clusters and less obvious harmonies. It takes enormous effort to write new music that is inspiring. And, of course, that’s the whole point.

Aren’t we supposed to uncover our own individual music? Isn’t that what the true mission of jazz is all about? I’m planning on posting some new music soon here. Hopefully you’ll join me on the journey!

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