Entry Level Jazz or Jazz for Enthusiasts

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by SmoothOperator, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 14, 2010
    In genres such as Blues and Rock, it seems like there a lot fewer expectations for musicians in these Genre's than Jazz.

    Is this true? And if so why? Also what would be sufficient for one to consider oneself a Jazz musician?

    Is swinging sufficient?
  2. larry tscharner

    larry tscharner Forte User

    Apr 30, 2010
    dubuque iowa
    Anyone can call themselves a jazz musician but I dont think there are any guidelines or rules. Jazz more than any other style is pretty wide open to interpretation by the listener and musician. I suppose if others refer to you as a jazz player then thats a pretty good measure right there. I personally dont put much stock in lables and welcome anyone who calls me a musician at all. I try to play in any style called for and dont realy want to be pidgeon-holed in one.

    I've found that jazz is extreemly hard for me because it needs so much input from the player. Improvisation and downright pouring out of emotion have never been strong traits of the Tscharners. I guess the only saving grace with jazz is that there are no wrong notes, only individual interpretations. Go ahead and call yourself a jazz musician, who is going to argue with you. Best wishes.
  3. Bill McCloskey

    Bill McCloskey Piano User

    Apr 22, 2007
    Well, I'm of the school that says you have to earn the right to be called a Jazz musician.

    I would say that one of the first criteria is knowing the changes to most of the standard tunes that would be called up in a jam. Knowing how to play the Rhythm changes in any key. Things like that. Will assume you know how to improvise.
  4. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 14, 2010
    Rhythm changes, I have picked up on as being a prerequisite for Jazz as much as the 12-bar changes are for blues, and also a differentiation, from Blues and Rock. Also knowing the tunes seem like a decent requirement too.

    The earning of some sort of title seems a little vague, can you be more specific?
  5. Scatmanblues

    Scatmanblues Pianissimo User

    Jul 19, 2010
    West Texas
    Well, I'd say that what makes jazz of any style unique is the focus on and prominent place of improvisation. Thus, the ability to improvise is a defining characteristic of a professional jazz musician.

    Knowing tunes, changes, and how to play across common patterns are a minimum for that. The next level up is being well versed enough to do so in a unique way as opposed to just parroting someone else's style. Thus, even if you can play bop changes perfectly, if all you play is transcribed Bird licks, I don't really consider that playing jazz. The greats generally all learned and practiced each other's solos as part of the development process, but their own voice came through in performance.

    Of course, you could be looking to be in a big band section, in which case the ability to read charts down on the first run and play in a multitude of styles becomes important.

    All that said, I don't think jazz musicians are any more snooty or unwelcoming than anyone else, it's just that the medium -especially in jam sessions- is so exposed that it can be really intimidating to jump in. The jazz language is a lot more complex and varied that most others, so there is a LOT to learn to be conversant in all of it.

    Blues (at least in the typical bar jam sense) are much less complex, and its easier to learn enough to sit in and get started.

  6. nieuwguyski

    nieuwguyski Forte User

    Aug 9, 2004
    Santa Cruz County, CA
    The problem is, the term "jazz" covers such a wide swath of musical territory. IMO, if you play cornet in a trad-jazz group and do a competent job, you can call yourself a jazz musician. Same thing if you play the "jazz chair" in a big band.

    The common thread is improvisation, but the technical requirements will vary drastically, depending on whether you're strolling down the street playing "Bourbon Street Parade," blowing over a mid-tempo Basie chart, or exploring chord alterations on "Donna Lee" at 240 bpm.

    I'd suggest finding a "home base" -- whatever jazz style you enjoy the most. Learn the conventions of improvising in that style, practice diligently, and become proficient. When you, (perhaps more importantly) the people you play with, and (definitely most importantly) the audience are appreciative of what you're doing, call yourself a jazz musician.
  7. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    The difference in expectations between Rock/Blues and Jazz are like "Night and Day".

    Going to a blues or rock jam, or joining someone on stage .... Nobody would expect you to read music. They probably don't read music. Yes, they know their chords and would expect you to know chords in different keys (a few keys) and, if you're going to sing, the words to the song.

    Reading music on the page is one of the major differences. It's not an impediment (or much of one) in rock or blues but I wouldn't want to try to get into the jazz world without good reading skills.

  8. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    And the keys to learn for blues/rock are all your faves! Concert A,B,D, and E! You will have to be pretty "sharp" to learn those keys! ;-)
  9. SmoothOperator

    SmoothOperator Mezzo Forte User

    Jul 14, 2010
    Sight reading trumpet isn't much of a problem. I think the most intimidating thing is improvising over chord progressions.
  10. vern

    vern Piano User

    Mar 4, 2008
    I agree with SmoothOperator and appreciate Scatmanblues!

    My observation:

    I am always amazed when I hear people who have 4 or 5 different chords on a guitar, can barely carry a tune, and are the headliner for the local restaurant's evening entertainment (and they're asked back again and again!). I rarely find "jazz" musicians being hired without a much broader musical vocabulary.

    My humble and less than educated opinion

    Vern (see you at ITG 2011!)
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2011

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