I love stuff like this because it’s funny and it’s true! I just saw this flow chart on FB yesterday, and whether it is meant as a gag or not, it works! I had also created a similar guide years ago, so I thought I’d expand on this subject today for Trombone Tuesdays.
I’ve transcribed and analyzed many great solos and the excellent ones that speak to me really do contain all of these ingredients. In fact, I’m including my own similar list I created about 15 yrs ago when simply trying to figure out what exactly makes awesome solos awesome. Now of course this is all subjective, but I created three categories or stages of a solo – “low – medium – high” intensity – and find most solos do develop thru the list by starting slow/soft, build/more ideas, and peak with high repetitive licks (but certainly all need to and each category could be expanded with dozens of more ideas). When I listen to greats like Miles Davis, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, Rick Margitza, Joey Calderazzo, it’s apparent that they all seem to incorporate several ideas from each category as they progress thru their solos. Of course, mature improvisers obviously aren’t consciously thinking of playing ideas sequentially from each category, but attempting to do this myself as a fun improv exercise has certainly helped me and my students improve our skills in the complex art of improvisation. Perhaps it can help you.
IDEAS FOR CREATING A GREAT SOLO By Darren Kramer
Improvise In The Moment (Be Present, No Pre-Planned Licks)
Use Great Time and Use of Rhythm
Play Quality Intervals
Play with Purpose / Have a Direction / Create a Peak
Melody (Horizontal) more important than Harmony (Vertical)
Ear Processes Linear Line OVER Harmonic Justification
Long Notes Using Common Tones
Unique Characteristics of Instrument
Use Fragments of Song Melody
Use Standard Jazz Vocabulary
“Out” or “Wrong” Notes
Intense Melodic Phrases
Bebop / Chromaticism / Unique Scales
Tension / Release – Predictable / Unpredictable
Repetition/Sequencing – Development of Short Phrase
Range – Extreme Ranges of Instrument
Fast Flourish of Notes
EFX – Trills, Flutter, Multiphonics
Play Something UNIQUE on Your Instrument
Give it try! Either watch the chart while you listen to your favorite jazz solo OR actually play a solo while attempting to incorporate any of these development ideas.