Rob O'Doherty wrote:
Do any of you have any exposure to this book at all? What would you recommend as a means of taking my very first steps in jazz improv?
Any suggestions gratefully received ...
I see Spin Doctor has just posted a very comprehensive approach. Mine is ever so slightly different, but no better. But since I've type it in I'll post it. (There are probably as many opinions about how to go about learning to improvise as there are improvisers.)
1.) Learn jazz theory, voicings, chord scales, etc.. Work on both hands. Maybe the book you purchased will help with this. Practice, practice practice.
2.) Do some ear training. There's some nice ear training software available online. Try some, choose one and use it. Might be freeware/shareware available. (I wish they had that stuff when I was young.)
3.) Listen to the music and players you'd like to play and sound like. A lot. Sing along with the solos. Pick a horn solo and memorize it, so you can sing it without listening to the recording. This is actually pretty hard to do. Don't worry about how your voice sounds, just make sure you hear the notes in your head. I actually think folks who want to be jazz players should start with early jazz. Start with Louie and go from there.
4.) Sit down at the piano and try to pick out the notes from the solos you memorized in step one. Then write it out.
5.) Now try to pick out the chords for the same tune.
6.) After you write out the solo and chords, transpose it to some other keys.(The more the merrier.)
7.) Repeat 3-6. Be sure to pick something easy at first. Then try harder stuff.
8.) Do this step starting today and do it forever. Sit down at the piano and just improvise. Don't worry about how it sounds or what style it is - just play. Try different things: chords in the left hand - solo lines in the right; do the reverse; play lines in both hands; think up your own ideas; mix up all of the above. Always try to keep some kind of rhythmic groove going. Let your ears quide you. Don't think about the theory. Just listen, try something, listen. Have fun! Keep doing that until your family starts going crazy and then give them a break. (A digital piano and headphones can help here.)
8.) Or find a really good improv teacher. (This Might be hard to do where you live.) He'll give you his own list.