Tag Archives: jazz



The Pennsylvania Dutch, in whose bosom I nested from infancy until age nine, have an expression “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get”.

The actual source is debatable, it being attributed to Satchel Paige, Lewis Carroll’s white rabbit and who knows who.

I was already behind from the beginning. I’m now way behind and priority tasks are still stacking up.

I’ve taken to asking friends and family to e-mail me some more time.

On top of that, Mrs. Blogger finally broke down and “rescued” a six-month Labrador-beagle male, we had a grandchild sleep-over, and today finally a long list of chores needing daughter’s assistance in doing were finally done. Eight-year-old grandchild #2 recorded a video on how to throw a four-seam fastball, nine-year-old grandchild #1 just came back from a diamond mine richer than I am, and seven-year-old grandchild #3 is going through dental woes.

But the tavern sign is now mounted, the dog goes for his well-puppy visit tomorrow and I passed muster with my primary nurse-practitioner.

Stacking up on my reading/study side-table are the following:

Professor Ashton Nichol’s 12-disc CD course on Emerson, Thoreau and the transcendentalist movement;

a 346-page grandmaster’s textbook on chess so I can teach those grandkids a game to which they’ve taken;

three small puzzle books that teach three kinds of thinking (logical, quick and creative);

“The Art and Science of Staff Fighting: A Complete Instructional Guide” by Joe Varady…

http://ymaa.stores.yahoo.net/artandscofst.html ;



I have the staff, my six-foot walking stick cut with proper indigenous sanctity and respect from a New England rock maple, the bark removed, dried, sanded, shellacked and varnished; I have the gi, along with videos of the related aikido kata; I have the dojo (a partially-shaded stone and grass patio with fire pit, waterfall, shower, and surrounding garden;


an audio course of eight 45-minutes lectures on jazz, its history and more by Bill Messenger, who “studied musical composition, on scholarship, at The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University under Louis Cheslock. He attended a master’s class in 1963 with Nadia Boulanger, the teacher of Roy Harris, Virgil Thompson, and Aaron Copland. Professor Messenger has two master’s degrees, both from Johns Hopkins University. He has done additional graduate work in musicology at the University of Maryland.

Professor Messenger has taught composition, music history, and music theory at Goucher College in Baltimore and a number of community colleges. He regularly lectures on American music at The Peabody Institute and Towson State University Elderhostels.

Professor Messenger is the author of several books, including The Power of Music: A Complete Music Activities Program for Older Adults, which has been called “a landmark in music activities.”

His musical career includes studio work on many early rock ‘n’ roll recordings. He has accompanied many nationally known performers during his years in the music business, including Lou Rawls and Cass Elliot, and he worked as an opener for Bill Haley and the Comets. He was also a pianist with the acrobatic rock’n’roll group, The Rockin’ Maniacs. As a jazz pianist, he has played in ragtime ensembles, swing bands, Dixieland bands, and modern jazz groups. In 1983 he was voted Baltimore’s best piano player by Baltimore magazine.”


Not forgotten and essentially still on the front burner, simmering, is the book I will be writing.  I’ve brought to paper the points I will take from 37 out of 69 selected books, though I keep finding books and ordering them; three are on my “to do” list.  Many of these books I need to re-read again; I’m finding what I annotated when I first read them is not necessarily what I want to pull out of them for this project.  They are interesting to read, having learned a lot as I have moved on. I have much work to do before I will actually do the writing.

Much of the material will gravitate out to a blog rather than go into the book (be patient). One example I found is interesting to say the least.

Along with that and the latest Occurences, I’ll leave you with this:


A self-empowered individual

—free, responsible, rational, intensely creative—

is possible and necessary.


uncertainty, crises, skill

uncertainty crises skill

I was feeling pretty good about the progress I’d made in the craft of writing — but then I read the first few pages of The Echo Maker by Richard Powers.   

In a recent re-arranging of office and library, the book had jumped into my hand: ‘remember me? This was set aside for later.  It’s later’

You can read all the kudos about it yourself but, for me, it’s a lesson in how to write and I shall enjoy finishing it. 


If you’re into reading e-books, you might want to click on this link from booktalk’s bookbub 


music compilations of jazz for studying, reading and working









There are lots of lessons in writing on my bookshelves, including the course of writing creative nonfiction and the as-yet-unfinished brilliant-but-difficult-to-slog-through Building Great Sentences. 

And the fifty-odd books on the craft, plus all the handbooks, thesauri, dictionaries, and other tools.   And the 45 e-mails from writing craft groups tucked away for safe-keeping.  And the list of writing “assignments” from within the book The Butterfly Hours, whose author Patty Dann taught a class at a local writer’s collaborative. 

I added sixteeen of the topics listed on pages 128-129 to my own personal file of topics to write about; so far I’ve finished five of them.


Here’s one:


My functionality with the typewriter started in high school, the easy (?) elective of touch typing class in which I labored but never really learned. I could not break myself of the habit of having to look at the keys, nor could I master using more than one finger and one thumb per hand. I did not have a typewriter at home; all high school papers were done in cursive. 

Today, cursive is a dinosaur. 

Today, typewriters are a dinosaur. 

Soon, even typing will be a thing of the past. 


I made a significant leap forward when I worked the graveyard shift in college for a telephone answering service.  While there was some limited ability for sleep, I used the time — the phones went silent except for important calls from the hospital to the physicians, or calls for urgent service by towtrucks, or when the ambulance company was out on a call and I had to answer the line — to type up my college papers. I got through much of high school and almost all of college on the ability to write an expository paper. They had to be typed.  And my employer had an IBM Selectric.

All I had to do was to pay for the ribbons. 


By the time I got out of college, society’s approach to letters was changing.  Some genius who worked for An Wang created the word processor:


My father, who tracked job markets for the state department of commerce, wrote to the company on behalf of my niece, then in high school, to ask the company what the new tool was all about.  He got an answer, which I preserved in my archives somewhere, from some recent high school grad who worked for the p.r. department at the company in Lowell, MA whose office towers still command a major gateway to the city. 

The letter is a classic. It will probably bring serious dollars on an Antique Roadshow in the year 2035.

The company has long since fallen to the vagaries of competition and change, but the basic functionality of the word processing system is that the typist could make changes to the document before it got printed, thus eliminating typographic errors, bad grammar, and even bad writing. The letter is a classic because it was produced on a Wang 1200 but had so many examples of typographical errors, bad grammar and bad writing that it seemed like a parody of itself. 

I first used a Wang word processor right after I took the job marketing a medical symposium; with a Wang WP, I could print out individually-typed-and-addrerssed letters to hundreds and hundreds of addresses.  My bosses thought I was a wizard. I needed only to sit by and maintain the feed, pull off the product, fold it up, and stuff it into the envelopes. Some fellow named Nierenberg ( Andrea’s father ) had already taught me the value and art of personalized direct marketing.  Soon thereafter, I was running a one-day seminar to introduce computers to physicians; I was utterly dumbfounded when some of the brightest people I’d ever known would only very tentatively approach the subject or even touch the input device. They were mini-masters at trauma surgery but how to make a brain-in-a-box sing and dance was new to them.

Sometime thereafter I went to worked for a start-up producing cable TV shows for pediatricians and the company handed me the latest in IBM computers; I never could figure out to use the damn thing. But that never held me back; we got 15 shows in the can and I was already at work on a new franchise for orthopaedic surgeons when they informed me that I was fired because I’d failed to sell enough air time to advertisers, a task that was nowhere mentioned in my job description. 

A few years later, I took over running an association of business executives who worked for companies like Prime and Digital Equipment.  On the first two days of the job, the office staff told me the annual invoices for membership (the organization’s first and major source of income) were due to go out and the DEC system with its 10-inch floppies couldn’t be made to merge the membership database with the invoice form. Calls to the nearby company proved useless; the technical support staffer sent over by our very own internal contact through our vice president and their international director proved useless. 


A quick phone call and some research turned up the idea that we could buy an Apple Mcintosh with custom-made software for association management tasks for $5,000 proved irresistible, thus earning me enmity with the Board that I could never outrun. 

The Mac ran faultlessly for the 14 months I was there. The invoices were sent out with a three-day delay, thus saving the corporation’s sizeable capital equity, enough so they could purchase an office condo after I left, but I got run out on a rail. 

But I had found Apple, bought two for my kids to use in high school and later college, and when my son moved out of the house in his senior year, I had a tool I could learn to use on my desk. I wish I’d had the cash to buy stock. Sorry, Joe. 

When I again found myself unemployed because I’d mastered a DOS computyer so well that I made more money at ten cents a line than my department director, I started drafting an e-book on performance psychology


I once met a girl (or should I say she once met me?), and we talked until two and then she said it’s time for bed and crawled off to sleep (if she could) surrounded by her daughter and her dog. 

But while she was awake, she convinved me to take a Briggs-Myers psychometric test that, when it was completed, told me I was an iNTp who loves play, languages, and complex systems, amd specially games that coax analogies, patterns and theories from the unseen. So it’s no surprise that I’ve had a fascination for wargaming.  One of those nights we talked about her desire to run off 900 miles on a whim to help take care of people in a major disaster, but I talked her out of it.  It took me two hours, after which she challenged me (nop, she held my feet to the fire until it was finished and found a home) to write this

Some people think this nation is headed into a crisis larger than any its faced in 80 years (a major disaster), and the world has changed a lot since the Depression era. See the three articles below or scroll quickly through the last handful of entries at Occurrences Foreign & Domestic








No matter how your glasses are tintedI’m just going to park these here  for easy access and safe-keeping so I (and you) can watch them at your leisure.  


Crisis Management Wargaming (4)



The Secret to Successful Crisis Management in the 21st Century – Melissa Agnes TEDx Talk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQGEPEaEWtg (18)


How to write the best crisis management plan for your business by Tony Ridley (13)



Better Risk Assessments, Management, Tools and Metrics by Tony Ridley (15)



How to Conduct a Tabletop Exercise (18)

A tutorial for campus administrators and crisis response team members







At the Wargaming Table: Tactics – Strategy – Game Theory (40)



In this lecture during the 2013 Yale Presidential Inauguration Symposia, University Provost Polak offers a sample of his popular undergraduate economics course. As the William C. Brainard Professor of Economics, he is an expert on decision theory, game theory, and economic history. His work explores how individuals choose when faced with uncertainty and how societies choose when faced with inequality.

[67 minutes]



“Ceptre: A Language for Modeling Generative Interactive Systems” by Chris Martens



“I See What You Mean” 

by Peter Alvaro


I love query languages for many reasons, but mostly because of their semantics. Wait, come back! In contrast to most systems programming languages (whose semantics can be quite esoteric), the semantics of a query (given some inputs) are precisely its outcome — rows in tables. Hence when we write a query, we directly engage with its semantics: we simply say what we mean. This makes it easy and natural to reason about whether our queries are correct: that is, whether they mean what we intended them to mean.

Query languages have traditionally been applied to a relatively narrow domains: historically, data at rest in data stores; more recently, data in motion through continuous, “streaming” query frameworks. Why stop here? Could query languages do for a notoriously complex domain such as distributed systems programming what they have done so successfully for data management? How would they need to evolve to become expressive enough to capture the programs that we need to write, while retaining a simple enough semantics to allow mere mortals to reason about their correctness?

I will attempt to answer these questions (and raise many others) by describing a query language for distributed programming called Dedalus. Like traditional query languages, Dedalus abstracts away many of the details we typically associate with programming, making data and time first-class citizens and relegating computation to a subordinate role, characterizing how data is allowed to change as it moves through space and time. As we will see, this shift allows programmers to directly reason about distributed correctness properties such as consistency and fault-tolerance, and lays the foundations for powerful program analysis and repair tools (such as Blazes and LDFI), as well as successive generations of data-centric programming languages (including Bloom, Edelweiss and Eve).

Peter Alvaro



Peter Alvaro is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of California Santa Cruz. His research focuses on using data-centric languages and analysis techniques to build and reason about data-intensive distributed systems, in order to make them scalable, predictable and robust to the failures and nondeterminism endemic to large-scale distribution. Peter is the creator of the Dedalus language and co-creator of the Bloom language.

While pursuing his PhD at while UC Berkeley, Peter co-developed and taught Programming the Cloud, an undergraduate course that explored distributed systems concepts through the lens of software development. Prior to attending Berkeley, Peter worked as a Senior Software Engineer in the data analytics team at Ask.com. Peter’s principal research interests are databases, distributed systems and programming languages.











jazz brain

jazz brain

Your Brain on Improvisation  (a 20-min. TED talk by a physician/surgeon and muscian)



Click on this link for large image:





Giant Steps




Bobby Watson – Being a Student and Being a Teacher


IRockJazz caught Bobby Watson on his recent visit to Chicago, and he discussed how he came to be a Jazz musician, how he picked the alto sax, and his view of Jazz education now. Don’t miss the quote Bobby recalls from Art Blakey when he visited University of Miami as a guest lecturer and addressed the students “You come here to get your diploma, you come with me to get your education”

Interested seeing more great interviews? Visit www.irockjazz.com


Ever hear of “trading fours?”

It’s that back-and-forth trade jazz musicians do when they’re engaged in a musical “conversation.” One musician will play four bars of music, and the other will respond with four bars of her own. This improvised call and response is one of the things that makes jazz music so … jazzy. (Here’s an example of trading. Notice how the bass and piano cut out at regular intervals.)

Scientists at Johns Hopkins wondered whether studying the brains of musicians actively engaged in trading fours might shed light on the relationship between music and language. Under the direction of Charles Limb, an associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the School of Medicine, researchers placed musicians inside an MRI machine, gave them a special (see: non-magnetic) keyboard, and told them to have at it.

Here’s what researchers discovered: The brains of jazz musicians engrossed in spontaneous, improvisational musical conversation showed activation of brain areas traditionally associated with spoken language and syntax, areas that are used to interpret the structure of phrases and sentences. But the musical conversation shut down brain areas linked to semantics—those that process the meaning of spoken language.….”





Creative Brains: Music Art and Emotion

University of California Television (UCTV)  [71 minutes]





Secrets of the Creative Brain 

The Aspen Institute (58 minutes)

Nancy Andreasen is a leading neuroscientist and psychiatrist at the University of Iowa whose fascinating research into the creative mind has been informed in part by the stream of remarkable writers who gather there. She is now conducting a study that uses neuroimaging to visualize the creative brain in action, examining both artists and scientists. Her work also examines the roles of nature v. nurture and the relationship between creativity and mental illness.




Creativity, Genius and the Brain

Dana Foundation (93 minutes)


Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D.

Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine

John Kounios, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology, Drexel University

Roberta B. Ness, M.D., M.P.H.

Rockwell Professor of Public Health, Vice President for Innovation

The University of Texas School of Public Health




The Neuroscience of Creativity, Flow, and Openness to Experience – Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D.

BTC Institute  (64 minutes)

BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute

Part of the 12th Annual International Bioethics Forum, “Further Studies in Human Consciousness: Creative Insight”, held by the BTC Institute in Madison, WI on May 25-26, 2013.

For detailed information about the forum and more videos, please visit http://www.btci.org/bioethics



Creative Brains (Scott Kaufman)(20 minutes)




David Lynch: Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain (two hours)

David Lynch, the critically-acclaimed director behind such films as Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, spoke at the University of Oregon on Tuesday, November 8th, 2005. The Lecture is entitled “Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain.” Lynch was accompanied by Drs. John Hagelin, Ph.D., and Fred Travis, Ph.D.





The Primacy of Consciousness – Peter Russell – Full Version (70 minutes)


jazz, piano, brain

Ahmad Jamal, Yellow Fellow

(Live at the Montreal Jazz Festival)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvBYV4pLdgg (14:59) June 22, 2014


{##} {&&&} {##}

How the brains of jazz piano players are different

Jordan, Taylor Sloan, Mic –  A study by Dr. Ana Pinho showed that when jazz pianists play, their brains have an extremely efficient connection between the different parts of the frontal lobe compared to non-musicians. That’s a big deal — the frontal lobe is responsible for integrating a ton of information into decision making. It plays a major role in problem solving, language, spontaneity, decision making and social behavior. Pianists, then, tend to integrate all of the brain’s information into more efficient decision making processes. Because of this high speed connection, they can breeze through slower, methodical thinking and tap into quicker and more spontaneous creativity.

Most shockingly, though, Pinho also found that when experienced pianists play, they literally switch off the part of the brain associated with providing stereotypical responses, ensuring that they play with their own unique voice and not the voices of others. Basically, it’s the opposite of Guitar Center riffage — true innovation like Oscar Peterson:

But piano is a taxing and complex instrument for the whole brain. Real pianists are marked by brains that efficiently conserve energy by allocating resources more effectively than anyone else. Dr. Timo Krings scanned pianists’ brains as they soloed and found that they pump less blood than average people in the brain region associated with fine motor skills. Less blood flow means less energy is needed to concentrate. Though that’s likely true of anyone who’s mastered a nimble task, it only compounds the efficiency pianists’ brains develop through mutating the central sulcus and altering their frontal lobe’s function. In pianists, the change in blood flow frees them to concentrate on other things that are totally unique to pianists — like their own unique form of communication.

It’s a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s one of the coolest things about being a pianist. When pianists improvise, the language portion of their brain remains active — like any musician, playing music is fundamentally an act of communication. But the big difference for pianists is that their communication is about syntax, not words. Dr. Charles Limb’s study showed that when pianists solo, their brains respond as if they were responding in a conversation, but they pay attention to phrasing and “grammatical” structure instead of specific words and phrases.

So pianists’ brains actually are different. They are masters of creative, purposeful and efficient communication because of the very instrument that they play. They are the naturally efficient multi-taskers of the musical world.




{##} {&&&} {##}


music videosKoto Song, Dave Brubeck (rare version)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvB_ZNtOb4E (9:49) 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTDYN2yol3I (9:07)

Bill Smith – clarinet

Chris Brubeck – electric bass

Randy Jones – drums

Concord Jazz Festival, Concord, CA


{##} {&&&} {##}


I had an elongated kinesthetic re-awakening that has to do with music, the brain connection, a personal apogee, the choice of instrument, the fact that I am an iNTP, how I am going to learn to play, what I am going to play, and more (see later).

It has to do with the body and muscles and the sudden bodily awareness that much of my musculature needs, energies, future tasks, and future development are bound up in the musculature of being an upright biped.

The suggestion, as yet fully unexplored along with the YouTubes and lessons given to me by my friend the Arkansas Dirt Devil and who is in fact — name him, book him, convict him, throw away the key — the dude responsible for the growing awareness of who and where music resides in me.

He suggests that a keyboard-based approach would work as an instrument; I had perhaps over-reached by suggesting an accordion of some sort (it’s mobile, doesn’t need power). The keyboard will allow (no, if I am attentive and disciplined, it will force) extensive right-left brain-motor-hand growth and rewiring. I’d be tethered, and that’s alright during an intensive learning phase. 

Part of the explosive awareness about the apogee is this:

I have been a pack-rat. I have (or know where I can find) huge volumes of information about deep politics, history, corruption, etc. It can, to a great extent, serve as fodder for future posting, blogging, etc. [Even the posting is getting to be a bore, as almost every place has turned into a snit-fight between players or small cadres. It’s time to move on, kick it up a notch and transform it, or drop it). It can also serve as fodder for lyrics for songs, starter kits for rants and blog entries, and much more.] But the really explosive (and like stupid doh! Zen thwack of the day) was in coming to brutal awareness that it is time to go back to the beginning.

The beginning for me (in the modern day era) was when I rather suddenly became aware of this song playing in my head. The at-first-grievous annoyance became a sandpapery abraisve and stayed for a month or two until, finally, I stopped in the middle of the parking lot and said “Dave Brubeck! Forty Days!”, and then proceeded to remember when and how I could find a copy. A long, long time ago, in a time far, far away, the previous wife had made off with the entire stereo system and virtually all the LP holdings by a couple that were former college radio station DJ and former college radio station general manager. We had the best, and then she had it. And then one day the mental alarm went off with the strangely-haunting melodies and rhythms of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGt0gQ5hjvA

[I wrote and told the story to Dave himself, and he sent this nice postcard of him at the piano in front of a giant piece of art not unlike himself). Yes, and I have, since that time, attended a concert by the new (third or fourth) quartet playing live in Saunders Theater — described by the genius behind an exclusive business of music equipment and recordings as the best place to hear and record jazz in America) (a great experience, thank you very much you know who you are, my funny valentine) and heard Bobby Millitello in an absolutely rocking-and-riveting upbeat elongated rendition of Koto Song with him soloing a flute in a Japanese style, including his chanting (with an inch of separation) over with mouthpiece.

I had this thought…that the best way for me to learn the instrument was to have a light and portable keyboard with strap with headphone wiring that allowed me to work, exercise, train and practice both the left hand and the right hand. What better way to turn myself into a functional auto-didactic-and-assisted learner of music theory and composition than to put into my muscle memory. [I have given myself a six-month objective of identifying and acquiring the right tool.][Note that I have since acquired a five-octave keyboard/synthesizer that I can plug into my iMac and cue up GarageBand.]

And on the other hand (pardon the pun), listening to my already extensive iPod collection of tunes, much of which is piano, in the performance, jazz, and other styles. Therein lies the model which I can replicate (or try my damnedest). And it includes a huge collection from the keyboard of the man who will soon meet his Maker as the greatest living expression of (or at least popularization of) jazz. And much other work, and it’s still growing. But it’s slowing down, that growth, and what better way to pay tribute to Dave Brubeck and his career than to turn it into my own personal library of music education, learning, and perhaps even performance, though the performance I think I want to do goes in a different direction of being a supportive but minor player of bass, harmony and rhythm through a keyboard.

Perhaps it is time to stop the growth and take all those seeds in a different direction as a learning pathway and neuro-muscular re-organization (I can’t yet conceive of how the brain will further explode once the corpus callosum is alive and dancing in the polyrhythms of such things as Take Five (in 5/4 rhythm) or Unsquare Dance (in 9/8 rhythm), or … perhaps a tango, or the aikido of life).

The lesson in the great awakening of apogee I just had, and I recognize that I have a very long way to go (yes, even elementary skool but highly up to-date in terms of graphics, animation, etc.) but here are some first impressions:

There ought to be a test of some sort, a survey of prior orientation and skill, or-as-yet-undiscovered method of determining how best to advance in the world of musical self-expression.

Maybe the choice of instrument has a component of moving to it, which gets to the handheld thing, but both are. Or can be. Yes, the more advanced keyboardist probably has three to seven of them.

But the focus again must be on entry level easy-path to learning theory, notation, language, etc. From there, I move on into other instruments but, in recognition of reality and apogee, a keyboard can remain viable at its elementary level without electrical power. By then, both hands would have been cross-trained in theory, harmony, rhythm, and composition that I can squeeze my vast memory and see what comes.

I do recall sitting on the stage next to the keyboardist in the almost-cult-like group Vanilla Fudge when they played “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”.

There is a book/audio on Eurhytmics with CD on teaching kids music by having them move to the notes played on a piano, walking, bending, moving upper arms, in which bass becomes the heavy muscle memory section, and the hands become the higher-pitched brass, reeds, percussion, etc. In this way, as above, with music piped into both sides of my brain as well as inputted into my movement and muscle memory, I get to become the music.

And this, of course, leads and links to dance, voice, aikido, or wider-scale drama/performance, whether for or with two, or more.

{##} {&&&} {##}



There is nothing extraordinary about improvisation….. A jazz pianist begins playing a theme, takes it through variations, weaves in the second theme, attaches ornaments. The conversationalist draws upon a well-organized hierarchy of knowledge…. In either case, the quality of the performance depends on the depth and flexibility of the learned hierarchy, and the performers ability to exploit better hierarchy quickly, in real time.

Improvisation can be a marvel….the intersection of technique, understanding and creative flair.

Music, The Brain and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination, Robert Jourdain, William Morrow & Co., 1997.



Improvisation is the pinnacle of musicianship. Expressing oneself is a form of communication that is individual, intimate and, when done well, capable of touching the emotions of others. Most improvisation operates within some external design. Improvising requires initiating action rather than responding to someone else’s command; it is an activity that affirms our individuality. Impulse and the realization come from inside, and impulse is the critical element. Improvisation flows from moment to moment, each moment flying out of the previous activity. We find the next step below we are not sure what the next step should be. It requires sizing up the situation, trusting our judgments, and acting upon our own assessments.

Improvisation occurs throughout our day in many ways. A conversation is an privatization, unless we have a prepared speech. As we speak, we pull together the words that express the images, emotions and thoughts in our mind. There is probably no field of activity where improvisation does not occur. Ingenious, impromptu bits of activity often avert disaster. We freely improvise when cooking. Skilled improvisation requires a vision of what needs to happen and the ability to assemble the needed resources. The resources for improvisation are stored as the sensations, the connections and the constructs in our memory. Improvisation excites the memory traces in a lively way, alerting everything available.

Time is an essential element in musical improvisation. When we open to the whole world of knowledge (and we need to do this to explore the maximal number of choices), we cannot review every item with equal consideration. The rational planning part of our mind must back off and give control to the musical impulse. Because the outcome is unplanned, there is always risk involved. The successful improvisation depends on the strength and flexibility of the imagination–its capacity to hold and rearrange impressions from memory. If the memories can be recalled with considerable detail, choices can be made and the results shaped with continuity and with skill.

The Rhythm Inside: Connecting Body, Mind and Spirit Through Music,  Julia Schnebly-Black, Ph.D. and Stephen F. Moore, PhD., Rudro Press, Portland, OR 1997.



Jazz, that uniquely American musical form, is remarkable not only for the magnificent way that it wears its heart and soul on its sleeve, but equally for its structural-improvisational nature, the depth of its musical intelligence, and its raw life force.

The key to improvisation is that you choose to enter an unpredictable arena, well-prepared. You intentionally take your skills away from the safe place to play in a danger zone. Luck has little to do with it–the more background, preparation and courageous readiness one brings to it, the better it goes. One can spend a lifetime getting better at it; making a habit of it throughout life improves the quality of one’s music in one’s life. Improvisation is a fast series of tactical choices with personal skills. So fast is the choosing that they cannot think or plan; they must rely on educated intuition. Improvising happens in the perpetual present tense, and it always comes with risk.

Musicians are not the only ones who improvise. All of us do it every day: when there’s a traffic problem on our usual route and we try another route; when we meet someone new who catches ourr interest; when we dance; when the child asks where babies come from and we stutter a response; when we lie; when we try to express our feelings; when we tell an anecdote; when we order a meal in a restaurant; when we make love.

The artistic skills of jazz are used to improvise a life. We experiment, return, respond, follow intuitions, weave together thematic strands; we play what is there. It’s like standup Divine comedy. Life jazz is our yearning cruising the streets to find undeveloped raw material of daily life. It is the alchemy by which leaden life experiences are spun into gold. It engages all the skills of the artist to play seriously, to make high-quality experiences in the present tense.

The Everyday Work of Art: How Artistic Experience Can Transform Your Life, Eric Booth, Sourcebooks, Napierville, Illinois 1997.


{##} {&&&} {##}


Keith Jarrett – The Art of Improvisation – YouTube (1:16:08)


{##} {&&&} {##}




Music video:

Endless (Keith Jarrett)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqEmBGHHyvA (15:00*) 


[buy the album “Changeless” here: http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1179042/a/changeless.htm ]

The Allmusic review by Richard S. Ginell awarded the album 4 stars and states, “This is a triumph, for Jarrett has successfully brought the organically evolving patterns of his solo concerts into the group format … a genuine collective musical experience.”[2]

This is quasi-orgasmic and I bought it the first time I was aware of it. It played endlessly for a month and longer. It was an elemental part of my recovery.  “Jarrett is a follower of the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff (1866-1949),[19] and in 1980 recorded an album of Gurdjieff’s compositions, called Sacred Hymns, for ECM. Jarrett has also visited Princeton University‘s ESP lab run by Robert Jahn.[20][21]”

*The conversation that begins at about the 7-minute mark between Peacock on bass and Jarrett on piano is, for me, as good as it gets. 


{##} {&&&} {##}


Rhythm, Sound, Improvisation and ‘Life Jazz’


Rhythm is found everywhere…, In machines, nature’s tides, in sunlight and wind, in seasons, in animals and plants, in art and architecture, in the human body’s circular and respiratory systems, in the way we walk, and in music.

The word “Eurythmics” comes from the Greek words meaning “good flow”. The ancient Greeks used the term of your rhythmic to refer to the good form of an athlete in action, or the pleasing shape of the statute. When flow is missing, we say “the athlete is off his game”, or” “I do not like that statue”, or “that architecture is fragmented”, or “that music does not move me”.

 Sensory integration is best supported and expressed by linking auditory stimulation and body movement. This is been dramatically demonstrated by Emile Jacques-Dalcroze and the teachers of the Eurythmics approach. As sound vibrations travel through the air and enter the ear, the aural system transmits them to specific areas of the brain for processing. Information about the body’s arrangement in space and the state of its musculature (relaxed or tense) comes to the brain simultaneously through the proprioceptive system. The visual sense carries images of the activities of others around you, or from within your own mind, from which you take cues and clues. This complex flow of internal messages moving on different branches of the nervous system operates similarly in anyone who must perform with precision and skill–a violinist, a tennis player, or surgeon. [Or machinist…]

Practice moving in time to music, stopping quickly when the music stops, starting when the music starts. In order to move with wisdom and flow to music, you must listen carefully, and you will improve your degree of alertness; it becomes a game of keeping up with the music by clapping, then walking, then moving all of your body in more complex ways. If you feel embarrassed doing this with a close friend,

if you feel embarrassed doing this in the presence of others, that’s okay. So start by trying this in a private setting, done with a close friend, but do it. You may remember playing musical movement games of this kind in kid in kindergarten. It’s okay: let go and be a child again.

Although clapping in time with the beat is a common response to music, walking is a more vibrant expression of the beat….  The action of walking involves the whole body. We feel the movement in our knees, ankles, toes, elbows, head, shoulders, back, hips–all over. Walking uses balance as the principal force to propel the body ahead, supported by evenly-timed leg movements. It provides a greater stimulation for memory impressions than clapping, which lacks the demand of balance and the impelling force of leg movement.…  Walking is a simple, reliable source of stimulation for establishing … a sense of beat which then leads to establishing a beat using all kinds of movements including conducting, clapping, swaying, twisting, stretching and skipping. You can become keenly aware of the the varying intensities of energy necessary to move the specific parts of the body: a hand, whole arm, shoulder, or the entire upper torso. The body offers many ways of moving–each with a different flow of effort, direction, articulation and speed. The body is an instrument in itself.

Different muscles can be used to mimic the different rhythms and music. Slow, heavy rhythms might be reflected by movements in the larger muscle groups such as the legs and torso. Quick, light rhythms might involve the fingers or the tip of the tongue. As you learn greater control over your large muscle groups, you will feel corresponding growth in control over the smaller muscle groups. It is a smaller muscle groups that are vitally important in mastering performance on musical instruments. [Musicians are athletes of the small muscle groups!] Musicians, athletes and dancers often make it look so easy. This apparent ease arise arises from repetitive practice–so that their bodies move smoothly and elegantly, without detectable effort, nervous obstruction, or mental or emotional distraction. Playing games with the natural forces of weight and gravity, and taking risks to find the limits of balance, will enlarge your field of sensation and expression.

Lisa Parker, head of Eurythmics, Longy school of Music, Cambridge Massachusetts: “Once students start to use their whole body, it becomes like new worlds in the language. They find a richer vocabulary of behavior; they discover a lot of equipment in the back closet.”

Soon, if you give yourself permission to play at moving your body to music, you will learn to express the quality and characteristics of the music by the manner of your movement… fast, slow, light, graceful, forceful, tentative, exuberant… By learning to move your body to music, you can learn to transfer the feeling of selected pieces of music to your movement and to your performance… Linking movement with sound will help you increase your perceptions and awareness, focus and improve your attention, allow you to develop finer degrees of muscle control, and enhance your ability to improvise and respond creatively in situations of all kinds. Moving to music encourages the shy, lends balance and flow to the awkward, brings control to the impulsive and sensitivity to the unaware. It harmonizes our bodies sensory systems, the evocative influence of our emotions, and our minds memory and creative functions.

When internal communication flows effortlessly between body, mind and spirit without interference, the level of performance, insight and creativity soars.

Practicing Eurythmics will improve and accelerate your kinesthetic awareness. [Practicing tai chi to music may also help.]

With this enhanced experience of making stronger neurological connections with your proprioceptors, you will enhance your athletic capability as well as your musical one.

The Rhythm Inside: Connecting Body, Mind and Spirit Through Music, Julia Schnebly-Black, Ph.D. and Stephen F. Moore, PhD., Rudro Press, Portland, OR 1997.

[Based on the Dalcroze Eurhythmics approach to teaching music, with accompanying music CD, this book suggests a marvelous way to introduce movement with music and the practice of kinesthetic awareness.]

{##} {&&&} {##}



Father’s Day brought me two gift certificates for iTunes which I just redeemed for five albums:  Keith Jarrett’s Facing You which was described by Esbjorn Svensson as having had a seminal impact on his own work as a jazz pianist; three of Svensson’s albums (301, Seven Days of Falling, and Leucocyte), and Dhafer Youssef’s Birds Requiem

The connection between the Sufism influences on Youssef and the Gurdjieff influences on Jarrett will now inform my own sacred personal dance. Right now, this is playing: http://www.releaselyrics.com/3f9e/esbjörn-svensson-trio-o.d.r.i.p./ 

You will know for sure once you’ve seen the light. 


{##} {&&&} {##}


E.S.T.- Seven Days Of Falling 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyk5kg-r9Fg (5:58) 


{##} {&&&} {##}


Greatest Jazz Pianists

Jazz has had the broadest perspective of all genres in music since its first note to the present day. It is for that reason that this list is presented in the same manner, with respect to all the myriad forms & interpretations of jazz that exist today. 

Criteria: – These jazz pianists were chosen for their originality, versatility, compositional skill, impact and influence in addition to their technical and improvisational playing of the instrument. 

Newly added names are in Red

Edited By: Rick Varner

Last Updated: 09-12-2011









{##} {&&&} {##}


Patricia Barber, Caravan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Xm9VUtJo8k (8:13)



{##} {&&&} {##}{##} {&&&} {##}{##} {&&&} {##}{##} {&&&} {##}

Tuesday night update:


Just now, having received a nice contact comment from Esteban, a guitarist, voting for Art Tatum and The Monk, I find this on Slashdot:

Programming on a Piano Keyboard

Posted by Soulskill  
from the well-tempered-claiverlang dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Here’s a fun project: engineer Yuriy Guts built a Visual Studio extension that lets people program using MIDI instruments. You can write code letter by letter on a piano keyboard. Granted, it’s not terribly efficient, but it’s at least artistic — you can compose music that is also a valid computer program. Somewhat more usefully, it also allows you to turn a simple MIDI input device, like a trigger pad into a set of buttons that will run tests, push/pull code, or other tasks suitable for automation. The extension is open source and open to contributions.