Saturday, September 23, 2023

Get Out Of Town - Frank Strozier

Frank Strozier is one of the most original alto players in Jazz. 
Plays beautiful flute as well.
With Danny Moore on trumpet/flugelhorn, Harold Mabern, piano, Lisle Atkinson, bass and Michael Carvin on drums.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Boots Mussulli by Gordon Jack

 © Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Gordon Jack is a frequent contributor to the Jazz Journal and a very generous friend in allowing JazzProfiles to re-publish his perceptive and well-researched writings on various topics about Jazz and its makers.

Gordon is the author of Fifties Jazz Talk An Oral Retrospective and he also developed the Gerry Mulligan discography in Raymond Horricks’ book Gerry Mulligan’s Ark.

The following article was published in the September 9, 2023 edition of Jazz Journal. 

For more information and subscriptions please visit                 

© -Gordon Jack/JazzJournal, copyright protected; all rights reserved; used with the author’s permission.

“Back in the nineteen-fifties Boots Mussulli was an integral part of a thriving, Boston-based jazz scene that included Serge Chaloff, Charlie Mariano, Richard Twardzik and Jaki Byard. Born on 18 November 1917 in Milford, Massachusetts he began learning the alto and clarinet at the age of twelve. A diligent practice regime of six hours a day eventually resulted in a quite prodigious technique which reflected his Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Carter influences. After graduating from Milford High School in 1935 he joined Mal Hallett’s big band which worked a circuit of ballrooms throughout New England. Hallett had studied at the Boston Conservatory and Jack Teagarden, Gene Krupa, Toots Mondello, Don Fagerquist and Jack Jenney all worked with him at various times over the years.

In 1942 Teddy Powell recruited him after Irving Fazola left to join Horace Heidt. Lee Konitz told me that he joined the band a little later as a replacement for Charlie Ventura which meant he had to handle all the hot tenor solos. Lee admitted this was a little beyond him at the time. “Powell had a fine jazz-dance band with good musicians like Boots who was very encouraging but mystified by my lack of knowledge. He was a lovely guy and not only a very fine saxophone player but also the best poker player in the band – he never lost”. 

In September 1944 he joined Stan Kenton’s Artistry In Rhythm orchestra in the jazz alto chair. Boots said at the time, “Kenton’s arrangements seemed to open up the chords making them sound fuller, richer and more colourful than jazz ever sounded before”. Michael Sparke in his definitive Kenton biography had this to say about him, “Boots was a full-toned, skilful soloist in the Benny Carter tradition who would play an increasingly important role in the band over the next few years. Mussulli was one of the giants of the Artistry orchestra”. He was heavily featured during his first stay with the band which lasted until April 1947 and Balboa Bash, Concerto To End All Concertos, The Man I Love, Southern Scandal, Summertime, Tea For Two, Intermission Riff and Two Moose In A Caboose are all fine examples of his work with Kenton. The latter also featured his good friend Vido Musso who sat next to him in the section. They roomed and hung out together on the road and being heavy-set men of Italian descent, the band referred to them as “the Mafia”.  Musso was apparently not a great reader so would depend on his friend to help him out from time to time. During his time with Kenton, Mussulli was regularly included in the Downbeat and Metronome alto polls. His highest placing was fourth in 1946 and again in 1947. 

Intermission Riff was essentially a head arrangement and remained in the book until its final flowering in 1972 when it was recorded at London’s Fairfield Hall. Al Anthony the lead alto described the genesis of this Kenton classic to Sparke – “Between shows at the Paramount Theatre in New York, Ray Wetzel and the guys would blow to get their chops in shape. He got a riff going and a few days later some trombones joined in. Boots came up with a reed counter-melody and over the weeks we kept adding and adding and voila! We had a great chart that we played on shows and finally recorded in 1945”. It can be heard on Youtube together with Mussulli’s The Man I Love feature. Boots appeared in two brief Kenton films – Artistry In Rhythm (1944) for Universal when Stan Getz was in the section and Let’s Make Rhythm (1947) for RKO. He can also be seen with the band In Talk About A Lady, a full-length 1945 Columbia release featuring Forrest Tucker and the now forgotten Jinx Falkenburg. 

His final solo with the Artistry In Rhythm orchestra was The Fatal Apple on 1 April 1947. The following month Kenton disbanded and then reformed in September under the Progressive Jazz banner. The leader wanted Boots for his ambitious new band but he listened to Rose, his wife who said at the time, “It was fun but living on trains and buses got to be too much”.

He joined Vido Musso’s All-Stars for a two month engagement at Chicago’s Hotel Sherman beginning in June 1947. It was an eight piece group that included Ray Wetzel (later replaced by Buddy Childers) and Kai Winding (later replaced by Earl Swope). Eight titles were recorded on LP (Unique Jazz U36) but have never been released on CD. He was with Gene Krupa for a while in 1948 but did not record with the band. The following year Charlie Ventura recruited him for his Bop For The People group where he took over from Charlie’s brother Ben on baritone and alto. Along with Conte Candoli, Bennie Green, Jackie Cain and Roy Kral the band had enormous appeal breaking attendance records at the Royal Roost. Ronnie Scott heard them at one of the clubs on 52nd. Street and “marvelled at the atmosphere” they created. In 1948 Bop For The People took over from the Nat King Cole trio as Number One in Downbeat’s small combo section and the following year it won the Orchestra World and Metronome polls. Kral did most of the writing and the clever blending of the horns with Jackie and Roy’s voices gave the ensemble its unique appeal.

The best example of what the group had to offer is the famous Pasadena concert that took place on 9 May 1949 where they shared the stage with Erroll Garner, Roy Eldridge, Teddy Edwards and Jimmy Witherspoon. In his introductions the leader described Boots as “the genius of the alto and baritone sax” and he has features on How High The Moon, Boptura, High On An Open Mike (the group’s theme) and Birdland. The latter is a Gene Roland blues with a Honeysuckle Rose bridge not to be confused with the Joe Zawinul original of the same name. Their humorous and quite brilliant reconstruction of I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles is also included but soon after the concert, Ventura decided to disband. In 2006 Jazzwise asked John Surman to nominate the record that “changed his life” as a young musician. He chose Charlie Ventura’s Pasadena concert.  

Mussulli returned to his home-town later that year where he opened his own club the Crystal Room and performances were often broadcast on Milford’s local radio station WMRC. When he played there with his quartet (Dave McKenna, Sonny Dee and Alan Dawson) the flyers advertised –– No Admission - No Cover – Air Cooled. He also began teaching and a very partial list of his students would include Don Fagerquist, Don Ellis, Frankie Capp and Leo Wright. Another student was Dave McKenna who said “Boots was like an uncle to me. Words can’t express my feelings for the man”. Eventually he was teaching some sixty lessons a week.

Charlie Parker often played the Crystal Room and when he did, the cover charge was $1.00. He stayed at Boots’ house where he apparently enjoyed Rose’s spaghetti dinners.  In 1951 Mussulli organised a five-city tour featuring Parker with Serge Chaloff performing through Massachusetts and into Connecticut. Abe Turchen (Woody Herman’s manager) once telephoned Boots saying, “I’ve got Monday night free”. Boots offered him “gas money” ($400.00) and free meals at the club for the band which everyone was happy with because the food there was so good. Even Duke Ellington once played the Crystal Room with the same arrangement but with an additional proviso on the contract: Johnny Hodges’ chair had to be raised four inches above the saxophone section. Count Basie, Harry James, Lionel Hampton, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae, the Four Freshmen, Maynard Ferguson and many other head-liners all played at the club. Meredith d’Ambrosio told me that the first time she ever sang with a big band was when Roger Kellaway encouraged her to sit in at the Crystal Room with Ferguson. She also said “Boots had a great reputation among his peers”.

Away from his entrepreneurial duties at the club his playing career continued to thrive during the fifties. In 1952 Kenton asked him to help out when Lennie Niehaus was drafted. Later that year he took over on baritone as a temporary replacement for Bob Gioga who had been with the band since 1940. Niehaus once told me that he “loved Boots because he was such a great guy. I wasn’t one of the poker-playing bunch but I could hear the guys in the back of the bus getting pretty angry with him because he always seemed to win”. He also led the house-band for a while at Christy's, a restaurant just outside Boston. The personnel included Richard Twardzik, Howard McGhee and Roy Haynes. In 1954 he worked at Boston’s Storyville with Serge Challof and in March that year he was featured on Serge’s first studio date as a leader since 1949. Chaloff wrote all the arrangements and Boots of course sight-read the parts with ease.

Three months later he was one of the first artists celebrated on the Stan Kenton Presents series. Four of the selections feature him on baritone displaying a powerful Leo Parker-like influence, especially on Blues In The Night. A year later along with Herb Pomeroy and Ray Santisi he appeared on Chaloff’s Boston Blow Up which contains two of Serge’s greatest ever ballad performances – Body And Soul and  What’s New. Chaloff took the group on the road with Richard Twardzik replacing Santisi for residencies in Washington, Detroit, River Rouge and Baltimore culminating in a memorable performance at the Boston Arts Festival in 1955. One of their selections was Twardzik’s Fable Of Mable which according to Metronome’s review “was a considerable improvement on the recorded version”. That year he was heard on the Steve Allen TV Show in New York with Chaloff, Sonny Stitt and Doc Severinsen. The following year he co-led a quartet with Toshiko Akiyoshi at Storyville while she studied at Berklee. They recorded five titles in July for the Storyville label and Boots apparently acted as her legal guardian for a while.

He often played lead-alto with Herb Pomeroy’s big band at the Stable in Boston and joined them when they “stood New York’s Birdland on its ear for two weeks in 1957”. Boots declined an offer to join Benny Goodman who was impressed when he heard him at the club. He is on the band’s Life Is A Many Splendored Gig CD soloing on No One Will Room With Me, Jack Spratt and Big Man. It was awarded five stars by Dom Cerulli who said in his Downbeat review, “this band can hold its own in any setting”. Zoot Sims was the guest soloist and multi-instrumentalist Jaki Byard was in the section on tenor. (Paul Desmond once heard him playing the piano at the 1969 New Orleans Jazz Festival. Getting up from the piano-bench Byard picked up someone’s alto and played a powerful solo. The witty Mr. Desmond turned to his friend and said “I wish he’d mind his own business!”)

In 1965 he formed a very successful youth band which was invited to perform at the 1967 Newport Jazz Festival on 3 July. It shared the stage with the Don Ellis orchestra and after a thirty-five minute set which concluded with Neal Hefti’s Splanky, the Milford Daily News reported ”the press section was on its feet leading the audience in enthusiastic applause”. Boots Mussulli “The Music Man from Milford” who had been suffering with cancer died a few short months later on 23 September 1967.”

Selected Discography

As Leader

Boots Mussulli: Little Man (Fresh Sound Records FSR-CD 1133).

As Sideman

The Complete Capitol Studio Recordings Of Stan Kenton 1943-1947 (Mosaic CD MD9-163).

Charlie Ventura: Bop For The People (Properbox 41).

Serge Chaloff: The Fable Of Mable (Properbox 158).

Serge Chaloff: Boston Blow-Up! (Essential Jazz Classics EJC 55569CD).

Herb Pomeroy And His Orchestra: Band In Boston (Fresh Sound Records FSR-CD 571).

Monday, September 18, 2023

Thinking in Jazz - "Storytelling in Jazz: Composing in the Moment" [From the Archives]

 © Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“After you initiate the solo, one phrase determines what the next is going to be. From the first note that you hear, you are responding to what you've just played: you just said this on your instrument, and now that's a constant. What follows from that? And then the next phrase is a constant. What follows from that? And so on and so forth. And finally, let's wrap it up so that everybody understands that that's what you're doing. It's like language: you're talking, you're speaking, you're responding to yourself. When I play, it's like having a conversation with myself.”
— Max Roach

In conversations about Jazz, the phrase “tell a story” is often used to describe a Jazz solo or what a Jazz soloist is doing in a solo.

But what does “tell a story” actually mean?

I found the following explanation in Paul Berliner’s Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation and thought I’d share it with you so we could both have a better understanding of how the Jazz artist goes about “composing in the moment” - storytelling in Jazz.

“In part, the metaphor of storytelling suggests the dramatic molding of creations to include movement through successive events "transcending" particular repetitive, formal aspects of the composition and featuring distinct types of musical material. For early jazz players like Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet, and for swing players like Lester Young, storytelling commonly involved such designs for multiple choruses as devoting an initial chorus to interpreting a piece's melody, devoting the next to expressive liberties varying it, and then returning to the melody or proceeding on to other events such as single-note riffing patterns.

For contemporary players, who may place less emphasis on the melody, the considerations of shaping remain just as essential. Typically, when it comes time for Buster Williams to solo, he "wants to tell a story, and the best way to tell a story is to set it up." If someone who is "very excited about something that just happened" comes running to Williams "saying, 'Buster, blah-blah-blah-blah,' the first thing I'm going to say is, 'Look, wait a minute. Calm down and start from the beginning.'" Williams's plan is the same for solo work. "Start from the beginning," he advises. "It's also like playing a game of chess. There's the beginning game, the middle game, and then there's the end game. Miles is a champion at doing that. So is Trane. To accomplish this, the use of space is very important—sparseness and simplicity—maybe playing just short, meaningful phrases at first and building up the solo from there."

Similarly, Kenny Barron tries "to start the solo in a way that's sparse or low key" so that he has "somewhere to go, so that the solo can build." From listening to Dizzy Gillespie when he performed in Gillespie's band, Barron learned how to "save" himself in his playing. "You don't have to play everything you know every minute," Barron says.

You can leave some spaces in the music. You're not going to start off a solo double-timing. You start off just playing very simply and, as much as possible, with lyrical ideas. And as the intensity builds, if it does, your ideas can become a little more complicated. They can become longer. The way I look at it is that you're going to start down so that you have somewhere to go. It can build to different points in different parts of the solo. It's hills and valleys. That's what it is anywhere. There are certain sections of the tune which build harmonically and suggest that the intensity should also build at that particular point. That's a very natural thing to happen, and what you play will always build there. Other times, it's a matter of wherever it occurs, wherever you feel it coming. It could happen in different spots within the tune at different times.

A related feature of storytelling involves matters of continuity and cohesion. Paul Wertico advises his students that in initiating a solo they should think in terms of developing specific "characters and a plot. . . . You introduce these little different [musical] things that can be brought back out later on; and the way you put them together makes a little story. That can be [on the scale of] a sentence or a paragraph. . . . The real great cats can write novels." Wertico expresses admiration for the intellectual prowess of these players. Throughout a performance, they creatively juxtapose ideas that they introduced in their initial "character line," and at just "the right time" in their story, they can "pull out" and develop ideas that they "only hinted at" earlier in the performance but have borne in mind all along. "That's what's really fantastic about a solo," Wertico maintains.

To develop the skills of expert storytellers, artists find it essential to devote some practice time to improvising under conditions that simulate formal music events, thereby imposing maximum constraints upon performances. Negotiating a composition's structure as "one cohesive string," with each chord leading to the next in strict rhythm, they formulate complete solos, pausing but momentarily to reflect on their inventions. "To learn to play a song better," Art Farmer would "work on its chords, chorus after chorus, trying to play whatever came to mind. Even if it didn't come out right, I'd keep playing," he says. "At certain times, it's not good to stop."

Musicians commit themselves to the rigors of developing the ideas that occur to them at the moment, cultivating powers of concentration upon which larger-scale invention depends. "After a lot of practice, you find that the phrases just begin to fall in the right place," Harold Ousley recalls. "You are able to play a whole chorus of phrases together, and you are ready for the next chorus. The more you do it, the smoother and the easier it gets. When you begin to feel proficient at this, you feel a certain sense of freedom, and you get the inspiration to really get into your horn and to try out different things. There's a great excitement about that."

As Ousley's remarks imply, the improviser's world of imagination considers more than musical abstractions. Emotion serves as a partner to intellect in the conception and expansion of ideas. Beyond emotional responses to their evolving creations, artists speak generally of "tapping an emotional reservoir," whose "energy" represents a distillation of their experiences with life . Roberta Baum considers emotion to be "the biggest part of singing. It has become an extension of how it is to be alive," she says. In this sense, performances can reflect the individual's characteristic scope of expression, including extreme fluctuations of feeling.

As alluded to earlier, artists can also draw upon the extra-musical associations of the compositions that serve as vehicles. They sometimes set up for performances by dwelling momentarily on a piece's moods and meanings, recalling, perhaps, the sense of personal identification with the theme of a standard piece that prompted its incorporation into their repertory, or envisioning the characters and incidents depicted in their own original compositions. At times, Dexter Gordon actually sang a few lines of a ballad's lyrics to invoke its meaning, before switching to saxophone improvisations.26 With song texts, or in their absence, the emotional sentiment and the imagery suggested by titles and musical features also offer direction.27

Overall, a piece's precise mood has a powerful tempering effect on improvisers, guiding their personal feelings to blend with those appropriate for the performance. For Arthur Rhames, " 'God Bless the Child' [evokes] one set of moods about the remorse of not being on your own or having to depend on others, while a tune like 'Giant Steps' may be about advancing yourself"; each provides "different perspectives, different feelings, different moods. And those moods govern a lot of what's going to come out in your interpretation of the chord changes in your improvising." Chuck Israels also routinely takes the mood of the piece into account when he prepares to solo. Over the course of an evening, "I'll play a tune like The Preacher' that has a certain gospel flavor; then a tune like Bill Evans' 'Peri's Scope,' which is an outgoing, dancing, lighthearted tune. [Next, I will] play something melancholy, like 'Nardis.'"

There is a constant spending and replenishment of a player's emotional reserves. [Bassist Chuck] Israels performs "tunes that have different emotional states" in order to give himself "different things to think about, different things to feel and to play" when he improvises. Each tune has "its own feelings, its own shapes and patterns that occupy me when I play it," he explains. "You just jump from one emotional mood to another because the moods change with each piece." Sometimes, Emily Remler says, "when I play a ballad like In a Sentimental Mood, I feel almost sick to my stomach because it is so heartrending and takes so much from me." A piece's emotional associations commonly influence an artist's rhythmic approach or selection of tonal materials, in the latter instance suggesting, perhaps, an emphasis upon blues-inflected melodies rather than brighter, uninflected melodies or upon tense rather than relaxed harmonies.

Throughout the piece, artists may prepare themselves to respond to each of its varied nuances, beyond its most general tenor. [Guitarist] Emily Remler, looking forward to "a gig tonight," knows "that there are sections where I'll feel a lot of different emotions. The [composition] breaks into a real happy part, and it makes me feel really happy. Then there are other parts where I'll just feel determined." In some instances, the elements of a piece combine to reinforce a particular emotional shape overall, suggesting that improvisers structure their own creations accordingly. In a blues, an artist may build toward peaks of intensity at the same point as the harmony and poetic text reach a dramatic climax.

Various aspects of the meanings of compositions are also tied to their performance histories, especially the ways in which earlier improvisers have handled their original compositions . When Jimmy Robinson prepares to solo, he "thinks about the things that have been done on the tune in the past" and what he would "like to do on it." Of course, he says, if he has "never heard the tune before" or is performing his own pieces, he "just strikes out" on his own. If it is a recent piece by someone like Dizzy Gillespie, however, he wants "to know what Dizzy did on it just to give me an idea to start with, so I won't be too far off with it." Robinson's intention is to be respectful to "the idea" of the composer. "That also shows that I've been influenced by Dizzy," he says, "since he did some very intricate things on it that I wish I had come up with [he laughs]. You try to play in relationship to that to learn what he's doing, and then you try to build and improve on it."

Renowned artists have sometimes improvised so effectively within the framework of other composers' works, bringing fresh interpretations to them, that they leave an indelible mark upon the works' performance traditions and on those of pieces with comparable styles. Walter Bishop Jr. learned the general principles for formulating solos within modal compositions by analyzing Miles Davis's solos. Another trumpeter admitted that after "Miles's playing on 'Sketches of Spain,' it is impossible to improvise on any Spanish-type piece without using some of Miles's inflections." A composition "like 'Nardis' also has a lot of connotation because Bill Evans played it so much," Fred Hersch observes. Along similar lines, even if Roberta Baum "were to give my own interpretation of a song by Cole Porter, there is no way that I could forget how Ella Fitzgerald had phrased something." A commemorative piece lends itself particularly to an interpretation imbued with the stylistic traits of the honored namesake. In rendering the ballad "I Remember Clifford," Lee Morgan integrates his own personal blues-oriented commentaries into the ballad's theme, at times adopting Clifford Brown's wide, singing vibrato, unique articulation devices, and characteristic embellishments.28 Sometimes, it is in the very act of improvising that players discover and pursue the deep connections that compositions and the individual styles of soloists reveal to them.29

For improvisers, the meaning of a piece incorporates layers of nuance derived from intimacy with its imagery, its rhythmic and tonal associations, its performance history, and its relatives within the wider repertory of pieces. Among the myriad resources that soloists filter through their imaginations, one of the most striking is the vibrancy of the human connections that inhabit the piece—myriad inflections, personalities, voices, fingerings, and stances, coursing through the mind and into the musical performance. Such varied imagery informs and deepens every story in the telling. In a sense, each solo is like a tale within a tale, a personal account with ties of varying strength to the formal composition.

While absorbing the conventions associated with idea formulation and storytelling in the jazz tradition, artists place different emphases upon the conventions. They apply them uniquely according to each individual's temperament, personal style of jazz oratory, emotional response to compositions, and specific goals for the solo under formulation. As expected, the differing emphases result in correspondingly varied transformations of jazz vocabulary and in different formal characteristics among the solos produced by improvisation.

Underlying their efforts to achieve such diversity of expression is rigorous practice on the part of jazz learners, as they develop flexibility in the use of initially limited stores of vocabulary, devise a systematic way of relating vocabulary patterns one to another, and absorb the aesthetic principles that guide vocabulary usage. Students with such comprehensive training are in a far better position as improvisers than are those among their counterparts who may have acquired a large store of vocabulary patterns, chords, scales, and the like, but yet fail to appreciate these other critical aspects of jazz knowledge. Ultimately, learning the tools and techniques of the art provides only the ground for the student's development. To build the foundation, aspiring musicians must commit endless hours to practicing improvisation—mentally simulating the conditions of live performance events—if they are to acquire the cumulative experience upon which effective storytelling rests. Among the challenges practicers confront in their earliest efforts are improvisation's capricious aspects, which can operate as powerful forces to influence a work's musical outcome.”

Friday, September 15, 2023

Thinking in Jazz - "Storytelling Ability " [From the Archives]

 © Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

I have yet to find a better book at explaining what goes into making Jazz than Paul Berliner’s Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation.

Perhaps one of the reasons this is so is the author’s exhaustive reliance on Jazz musicians to describe what’s involved in the process of improvisation and then to synthesize and categorize some generalizations from these annotations.

There’s nothing like knowing what you are talking about based on experience.

Storytelling Ability

“Once again employing the metaphor of storytelling, the jazz community praises such attributes as the suspenseful development of ideas and the dramatic shaping of sound. These represent values related to those described earlier: the artist's ability to tell personal stories and to convey emotion through music.

Trumpeter Thad Jones likens the experience of listening to Roy Eldridge's solos to "being caught up in a thrilling mystery novel that you can't put down."  Eldridge himself found a comparable model for performance in the playing of Louis Armstrong, who "built his solos like a book—first, an introduction, then chapters, each one coming out of the one before and building to a climax." Similarly, for Dizzy Gillespie, "superior organization" is what makes a great solo: "This leads into that, this leads into that."

When great artists explore ideas with the force of conviction, they mesmerize the audience by moving toward goals with such determination and logic that their direction seems inevitable, their final creations compelling.

Among the "hippest thing[s]" Wynton Marsalis's father showed him was a Coltrane solo in which the whole solo formed a beautiful melodic curve, "and the key points in the phrases he was playing all went in a line."

Greg Langdon compares the gradual acquisition of dramatic precision and skill in executing ideas to the experience of an aspiring baseball player who initially must learn "to meet the ball with the bat" but ultimately strives to learn "how to place the ball."

In musical terms, the first challenge is to "make the changes" by correctly negotiating the structure of a piece and complementing the logic of its underlying progression. Failed improvisations, whether of melodists or drummers tend to be "disconnected demonstrations of technique removed from the pieces form. After a minute, you wouldn't know where a guy was in the solo" I (drummer Art Taylor). One distraught pupil described his frustration at "getting stuck" within particular key centers, "playing up and down" their related scales but unable to figure out how "to get out of" the tonality of one and into that of another. Only after analyzing vocabulary phrases whose movements described key changes and absorbing their general characteristics could he begin to invent new patterns that met the minimal requirements of logical harmonic practice, improvising through progressions with steady streams of harmonically correct pitches.

The second challenge, akin to "placing the ball," is to achieve the expressive treatment of pitches by "breaking up" their streams into interesting ideas "thematically and rhythmically."

An additional aspect of a musical story's logic is the motivic development of material. The insistent intrusion of physical reflexes sometimes complicates this objective. One student remembers, for example, the laughter of players at his improvisatory slip when, at the conclusion of a solo, he inadvertently departed from the bebop figure he had been developing by playing a cadential Dixieland figure. Directives of the verbalized or singing mind that suggest a rigid use of vocabulary can also be a problem. Very early, [trumpeter] John McNeil discovered that "if you try to force something that you've learned into your solos, say a phrase that is real hip, it will sound really contrived, like it doesn't have anything to do with what you just played before it." To avoid the artificial ring of musical non sequiturs, Miles Davis cautions soloists to develop the ideas that enter their imaginations as they improvise rather than being overly dependent on preplanned patterns: "Play what you hear, not what you know," he advises.

While negotiating the practical challenges inherent in thematic maneuvers, improvisers consider various aesthetic issues. One thing [bassist] Chuck Israels notices in a player is "whether he hangs onto a motive long enough to follow his investigation of it, or whether he is just rambling from one thing to another." Naïve notions about the search for new ideas sometimes obscure such considerations for novices and lead them to strive for radically different patterns from phrase to phrase. When this tendency deprived my early solos of coherence,

[Alto saxophonist] Ken Mclntyre taught me about melodic sequences. His direction subjected me, for the first time, to the discipline of using discrete melodic ideas as a solo's conceptual basis. Also, I was unaware of how effective subtle embellishments and slight variations on particular musical models could be in transforming them. Thus, I continued being concerned about sounding repetitious.
As I was absorbing Mclntyre's teaching, however, I realized that I had begun to create solos that were not static but unified and distinct. Not long afterward, at a jam session, a young musician familiar with my considerable limitations as an improviser expressed astonishment, "I never heard you sound so together. I'm
not sure what it was, but your solo sounded like something you might even hear on a record."

Too strong a reliance on repetitive devices can, nevertheless, render solos too predictable, bogging down a story. "You need repetition as a basic part of musical form, but what you want is both repetition and development," Israels says. "It's a matter of how much change you want and when you want the change in a solo. Artists are always juggling such things, either instinctively or analytically." In [alto saxophonist] Lee Konitz's view, contemporary learning practices that "overemphasize" sequences cause improvisers to err on the side of repetition, "sounding like they're playing out of exercise books. Two-five-one patterns are essential material certainly, but by itself, it doesn't lead to an organic kind of playing. It's a contrivance."

Similarly, after once composing a solo for students, [pianist] Barry Harris reconsidered its opening phrases, in which the second imitated the first in a different key. "No, let's change that," he remarked, as a prelude to performing a variation on the transposed phrase. "Sequences should not be so obvious." There are times, however, when mature soloists abandon their reservations about repetition in order to create specific dramatic effects. They may perform a short phrase continuously for several measures to create momentum and suspense within a solo, heightening the listener's expectation for change.

Whereas some features of a musical story's logic derive from the motivic relationships of successive phrases and from their complementary relationships to chords, other features derive from the general flow of successfully improvised lines, lines with a continuity of rhythmic feeling and "smoothness" in their contours. They convey an ongoing sense of melodic coherence produced by the enjoinment of especially complementary shapes. In contrast, the early efforts of youngsters to improvise produce characteristically "jagged" lines. They "still sound young" to the experienced artist. In the beginning, "I didn't have the incredible flow of ideas that the players I admired did. You mature into that," [pianist] Tommy Flanagan remarks.

Eventually, learners increase their control over the precise shaping of melodies, "rounding off their edges." In part, this entails figuring out how to extend vocabulary patterns effectively. "If you're putting two phrases together when the chords change, one thing has to flow into the other,"[tenor saxophonist] Harold Ousley says. [Trombonist] Curtis Fuller gratefully acknowledges Barry Harris's crucial role in teaching him and his young friends how to achieve this essential quality in their playing, "how to flow ... the hardest thing to learn." Ultimately, learners distinguish aesthetically pleasing possibilities for expanding melodic shapes that convey a sense of forward motion and momentum, rejecting other possibilities that by comparison would be awkward or illogical — "a fragmented series of things, a bunch of isolated fragments," as [trumpeter] Lonnie Hillyer puts it. Hillyer sometimes keeps "one simple thing" in mind with a solo, "playing it from beginning to end as one complete thing."

Jazz is "real linear music in terms of the way it goes forward," [drummer] Akira Tana says. "You're developing linearly whether you play a saxophone or the drums. I understand more about this conceptually than I did three or four years ago." In the beginning. Tana could "embellish phrases rhythmically, but had no control over where they would end up." Similarly, a young trumpeter routinely "began his solos well, but they always seemed to fall apart very quickly." He could conceive interesting patterns before he began playing, but quickly lost their thread in performance.

Some artists compare the efforts of young soloists to those of children learning to speak. Although periodically producing actual words, correct word groupings, and even credible short sentences within stretches of garbled sound, they cannot yet consistently convey meaning."

Even for experienced jazz artists, control over such features remains a variable of improvisations. Tommy Flanagan "can't say when it became easy because it's still not easy. Sometimes, you still have days when you just don't feel right, like there's some kind of congestion, and the flow isn't there. You're just not playing clearly."

In evaluating the stories that improvisers tell, musicians also consider the overall range of compositional materials in use and their imaginative treatment. "In a good solo, there should be variety in rhythm, melody, form, texture, color, development, contrast and balance, and so on,"

[Pianist] Fred Hersch maintains. "Either that, or one aspect should be worked at so intensely that it transcends the need for all the others." Artists are vulnerable in the latter case, however, when they fall short of their goals. The musician quoted earlier criticizing a bass player for "finding all the common tones" in his solos and "driving them into the ground" adds: "I do it too, sometimes. I run out of steam, sometimes. Okay? I can play the sharp nine on a dominant chord and just sit there playing that and the flatted third degree of a blues for a chorus or two. But I don't do it forever, and at least I look for some rhythmic invention."

Concerned with comparable pitfalls, Barry Harris constantly critiques student solos when their emphasis on particular elements causes the neglect of others. At times, he reminds them to "break up the running of scales" with varied intervals, chords, and arpeggios. "Different intervals are what's pretty!" When student inventions lack harmonic nuance, Harris playfully exhorts them: "Remember to use your diminishes and your augmenteds." Harris, as often, emphasizes rhythmic variety: "Don't forget different rhythms. Rhythm is what's pretty!"

From moment to moment, changes as basic as those produced by introducing sustained pitches and rests within a solo's busier rhythmic activity can provide welcome contrast. Alterations as subtle as periodic repetitions of pitches within a scalar pattern can also be very effective, standing out from neighboring musical shapes. The same principle of variety is likewise found in broader gestures.

A case in point is the style of Booker Little, whose solos characteristically include high sustained vocal cries, short interjections of phrases with speechlike cadences and rhythms, long, rapid passages mixing complex scalar and chordal elements, and melodies with simple singable qualities often treated as sequences.

There are limitless aspects of performance to satisfy the music's insatiable demand for variety, and improvisers are open to them all. Carmen Lundy's accompanist offered invaluable advice about dynamics, reminding her that singing in a "whisper" could be as effective as "screaming to get your message across." Wynton Marsalis recalls, "A cat once came up to me after a solo, and said, 'Well, man, play low.' I said, 'Damn, that's valid. I really don't play enough in the lower register.'" Such feedback keeps improvisation’s infinite considerations before musicians, enhancing the dramatic qualities of their stories.

With criticism received or overheard, learners gradually become more discriminating themselves in their evaluations of players, able to distinguish those individuals whose handling of the language of jazz is sophisticated and varied, replete with clever turns of phrase. "When Tommy Flanagan plays, every note of his is saying something," Fred Hersch remarks. "He doesn't throw a note away. He has his own little language, and you listen for the subtleties in his playing as you would listen to the subtleties in a Mozart piece. Like the way Tommy might make a change of voicing here, a little change of quality, the way a melodic line will kind of halt at a certain moment and turn back on itself, the way he'll extend a little motive. Anybody who has a sense of musicality will hear what he's doing. He's just communicating."

A related concern is the pacing of ideas over an improvisation's larger course. "Does the solo's feeling sustain, mount, diminish, and change from chorus to chorus and within a chorus?" Chuck Israels asks. Reflecting a similar understanding, [guitarist] Emily Remler usually "does the old climb-up-and-come-down action—build and release, tension and resolve. That's a great thing," she asserts. In part, the acquisition of the ability to create increasingly sophisticated and longer musical patterns facilitates this process, thinking "in terms of whole choruses instead of two-bar and four-bar phrases," she continues. "Building the tension over a whole chorus and ending on the 'one' of the next chorus for the release are very typical things to do, but it takes a certain sense of maturity."

Mature soloists constantly balance such factors as predictability and surprise, repetition and variation, continuity and change, displaying the discipline to make choices among different possibilities and to work with them methodically throughout a performance. In one instance, Miles Davis confines one chorus of his solo on "Blues by Five" to the trumpet's middle register, featuring a short, repeated offbeat rhythmic figure and varying the timbres and inflections of its restricted pitches. In another chorus, he shifts the emphasis from rhythm and timbre to melody, improvising longer, artfully shaped phrases and climbing slightly higher in range. In yet another, he provides contrast and excitement by leading his melody with an arpeggiated leap into the instrument's high register, gradually descending with intricate chromatic movements (ex. 8.25d). Improvisers also create climactic events in solos by gradually increasing the rhythmic density of their creations.

Before cultivating the mental rigor to handle varied musical elements within a solo successfully, measuring their application, young musicians meet frequent criticism for "trying to play everything they know all the time on every tune." [Trumpeter] Tommy Turrentine refers to "cats who jump out there like it's the last tune they'll ever play. They blow their load even before they're out of the second chorus. That's pitiful." Similarly, Barry Harris criticizes a young player for failing to allow his ideas to develop "organically," instead "forcing" the conclusions of solos with "screaming," contrived intensity. "Endings must come naturally," Harris insists. "You're supposed to let it happen, not just to make it happen like that."

Ultimately, just as jazz musicians differ in their abilities to imbue musical patterns with the subtleties of wit and emotion, they differ in their abilities to control and develop their ideas overall. Some are simply better storytellers than others, Carrying listeners with them through each stage, their solos begin with patterns having the character of "real beginnings," build to a climax, perhaps through a series of peaks, and close with patterns having the character of formal endings."

"Timeless masterpieces," exemplary solos are regarded as works of art equal to the compositions that serve as their vehicles (trumpeter Art Farmer). Some solos even surpass them. Barry Harris praises the young Miles Davis for "improvising his own song over the song he was playing," that is, for "playing beautifully, lyrically, not just playing lines." Similarly, many improvisers strive to create solos that, whether in theory or practice, lend themselves to repeated listening and performance. "You can create new melodies in your solo that can become the melody of a new song," [bassist] Buster Williams says. "I want my playing to have that kind of cohesiveness, that connection, that kind of syntax."

As described earlier, compositions sometimes actually do evolve from the player's own improvisation of solos, and occasionally instrumentalists adopt another player's recorded solo as the basis for a composition. Finally, the vocalese composer's creation of lyrics for improvisations reinforces the narrative features of invention, giving literal translation to the metaphor of storytelling for improvisation, showcasing the dramatic musical content of outstanding solos.”