As a musicians I find myself day in and day out trying to figure out how I can be a stronger musician. What makes all the musicians we love so good? This being a popular topic amongst musicians, the common point that gets mentioned over and over is clarity. The hardest thing to do for the human brain is to focus on one thing, figure it out and then logically and clearly build on it. On the one hand, thank the powers above that we are not that logical: it is the impulsive decisions in us - the illogical direction changes, that give us new ideas and hence help mold our artistic voice. Without this chaos things might be pretty boring. On the other hand however this impulsive existence makes it very hard to focus and remember where you are coming from and where you are going, both of which can give context to the chaos of impulsive creativity.
With this search in mind, we are going to try and explore this concept in a series of posts.
One of the recent posts on Ellery Eskelin brought up the topic of his roots: where does he come from (musically speaking of course). It also inherently brought up the bigger picture topic of time feel! Time feel is one of the characteristics that shape a musicians voice. To get technical for a second: time feel basically means where the notes are placed with respect to the time going by. For example if a drummer and bassist are playing a certain groove, and then a note is played in time, is that note right on the beat?Is it a little behind the beat or little ahead? That basic concept can has a lifetime of exploration built in and musicians use it to create all kinds of feels: laid-back, driving, walking, urgent, etc...
Well one of my favorites is the art of laying back... one of the backbones of jazz. Here are some examples of good 'laying back'. I know there are lots more great examples and if you know some, please feel free to share with us.
Listen to Elvin Jones here:
Check out the grandfather of all time feels Louis Armstrong. Check out his trumpet solo at 1'41"
All right, I know this all seems like a trip down history. Well here are two great modern examples:
Allen Toussaint's latest album The Bright Mississippi:
and I'll leave you with D'Angelo's Playa Playa, check out the singing at about 1'30"