Listening Analytically

Now that you have some idea of what it takes to play jazz, you should have a much more critical ear. You will be less likely to be impressed with mere technical facility, and can listen for melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic sophistication. On the other hand, if the music still reaches you emotionally, do not worry that it does not seem particularly adventurous when scrutinized closely. Do not let your analysis of the theoretical aspects of music interfere with your reaction on an emotional level. The theoretical knowledge should be a tool to help you understand music you might not have otherwise appreciated; it should not detract from your enjoyment of any music.

As a performer, now that you have some idea of the things a jazz musician is expected to do, you can listen to the great ones and learn from them. You can listen to the early Bill Evans trios and see examples of interplay within a rhythm section, and try to develop ears as big as theirs. You can listen to Thelonious Monk and analyze the way he used dissonance and syncopation, and see if you can achieve the same effects. You can listen to the emotional outbursts of John Coltrane or Cecil Taylor and expand your concept of how directly you can express yourself.

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