JAZZ IN CROATIA: ANALYZING IMPROVISATORY TECHNIQUES FROM STUDENT TO MASTER
University of Delaware
During the summer of 2019, adult jazz students and professors from Israel and America gathered for a week of performances, jam sessions, and masterclasses as part of the first annual University of Delaware Jazz in Istria Festival. During the week, I video recorded students on six jazz standards of varying styles, including a blues, a ballad, and a fast swing, to document the theoretical knowledge and stylistic qualities among developing student improvisers. I compared all recordings to those of famous jazz musicians on historically significant recordings, such as Clifford Brown on “Sandu” and Stan Getz on “Wave.” Understanding how student jazz improvisers compare to masters will help students incorporate more qualities of professional musicians into their playing and demonstrate the natural evolution of improvisational development through transcription analysis. Assembling this framework can also improve the pedagogical approaches of jazz educators and assist them in more easily identifying areas that need improvement in their students’ improvisation. The analysis process included transcribing portions of the solos, analyzing how the notes interact with the chord changes in terms of guide/chord tones, alterations, common gestures, scalar motives, and rhythmic variation, and measuring stylistic concepts based on methods from Paul Berliner’s Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation. The results from my completed transcriptions show that the students emulate some, but not all of the theoretical understanding and technical capability displayed in the famous recordings. Some of the biggest aspects missing from the student solos on a theoretical level were a limited use of alterations, chromaticism, tension and release, and rhythmic variety. In terms of stylistic concepts, some of the student recordings seemed to lack a solid sense of time, melodic inevitability, and storytelling ability through rhythmic and harmonic cohesion.
music, jazz, Croatia