I say this tongue-in-cheek, but whoever invented the term “Free Jazz” was lying. Jazz is expensive. In order to do it right, that is. Here’s a good check list for the jazz musician. Do you:
- Practice every day?
- Play in the changes?
- Transcribe solos?
- Navigate ii-V-Is easily in all 12 keys?
- Navigate minor ii-V-is in all 12 keys?
- Sight-read well?
- Navigate different style periods effectively?
- Know the music of famous jazz artists on your instrument?
- Know important jazz recordings?
- Understand playing outside the changes?
- Understand the ins and outs of jazz theory? Can you apply it in your improvising?
- Know a large number of standards by heart without using a fakebook?
This is just a short list of the many things expected of a mature jazz musician. It is an expensive art form. There are easier styles of music to master, but jazz is compelling. It has a way of stretching our capabilities, causing us to put forth our best of efforts and rise to a higher caliber of musicianship. Jazz demands a lot of a musician, but it is incredibly rewarding. Even musicians who primarily play other styles of music can greatly benefit from studying jazz because of its demand for musical comprehension.
Jazz is expensive. Embrace it. Live it. Love it. And be sincere in your pursuit of excellence.