For those of you who don’t know who he is, Jamie is the father of the play-along CD series for learning jazz improvisation.
By his website, there are 133 books in his series of books now. And I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands of users of these books over the years, if not millions. They’re effective if used properly. They help to develop a facility with the different scales and modes - major, minor, playing the blues.
I’ve been aware of him for over 30 years now. And his recordings and books have been around longer than that. He is in his late 70’s now and starting to slow down with his schedule a bit. But he has done music camps and clinics all over the world. And he has a passion for teaching people to play by ear and to improvise. I’ve learned a lot about him lately, from stuff I’ve read and discussions I’ve heard him in.
One of the things I didn’t know until recently was that he started out doing these recordings so he could have something to practice to on his own. But a good idea takes on a life of its own sometimes.
He is a master at teaching people how to be more confident as improvisers. And I thought it would be good to put together a list of things I’ve heard him say or read in his books as a summary of some good points to keep in mind on your journey to learning to play better.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you saw something, and then, once you did, it was all you saw?
I remember once watching a movie with my kids, when my youngest boy started to chuckle. I asked him what was up, because it was a drama we were watching, and so I didn’t think it was something in the lines of the actors or anything.
As it turns out, he had picked up on something the film editor had done: he had made use of the “Burns effect.” But just a little too much....
I wish I had $100 dollars for every time I've had the conversation: I'm playing out somewhere - at a gig at a jazz club, or playing in some Christmas production or a cantata at a church somewhere, where someone will come up to me after the event and reminisce about how they wished they learned to play an instrument when they were a kid; or that they used to play saxophone in high school, but that was so many years ago, and they feel that now they are too old to learn to play.