The Rifftides blogroll near the end of the right-hand column now includes a link to pianist-arranger-composer Mike Longo’s new website. Longo’s site is replete with practical tips to musicians about developing and refining their craft. By way of example, it also presents videos of his trio and his New York State Of The Art big band. Here, the band plays “No More Blues,” aka “Chega de Saudade.”
Longo’s site contains archive clips of him playing with his mentor and former employer Dizzy Gillespie and Gillespie’s longtime partner James Moody.
As interesting to musicians as the clips—perhaps even more interesting—Longo offers suggestions for improved practice and performance techniques. Some of them are specific, as in his adamant warning not to practice using a metronome. He begins the section by cautioning that the clicking of a metronome is not a pulse.
What is a pulse anyway? The sound of your heart beating. It produces a throbbing, pumping kind of feeling as opposed to the monotonous, soulless clicking of a metronome.
Elsewhere, Longo tackles mistaken guidance about the nature of harmonic content in jazz.
One of the problems musicians have when trying to learn how to solo over changes lies in the misconception regarding chords. Chords and harmony are two separate issues. Harmony can best be described as Motion. The motion of the tones of one voicing moving into the tones of another in a melodic fashion. Chords may best be described as arrested motion.
He follows with annotated examples of how great jazz improvisers use chords to develop flowing lines of melody. Such particulars may be of interest not only to professional and developing musicians, but also to laymen interested in deepening their knowledge of how jazz is made.