The Infinite Art of Improvisation
Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology
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Thinking in Jazz
This text reveals how musicians, both individually and collectively, learn to improvise. It aims to illuminate the distinctive creative processes that comprise improvisation. Chronicling leading musicians from their first encounters with jazz to the development of a unique improvisatory voice, Paul Berliner demonstrates that a lifetime of preparation lies behind the skilled improviser's every note. Berliner's integration of data concerning musical development, the rigorous practice and thought artists devote to jazz outside performance, and the complexities of composing in the moment leads to a new understanding of jazz improvisation as a language, an aesthetic and a tradition. The product of more than 15 years of immersion in the jazz world, "Thinking in Jazz" combines participant observation with detailed musicological analysis, the author's own experience as a jazz trumpeter, interpretations of published material by scholars and performers, and, above all, original data from interviews with more than 50 professional musicians.Together, the interviews provide insight into the production of jazz by great artists like Betty Carter, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker. "Thinking in Jazz" features musical examples from the 1920s to the present, including transcriptions (keyed to commercial recordings) of collective improvisations by Miles Davis's and John Coltrane's groups.
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