LJS 201: 3 Ways to Start Improvising Organically

Welcome to episode 201 of the LJS Podcast where today I talk about 3 ways to start improvising organically when you play jazz solos. A common problem I hear from subscribers is the struggle to let go of pre-meditating or thinking about what they need to play. It can be tough to let go, “forget” what you’ve been practicing, and just improvise freely. I share some simple ways you can start training yourself to do this better.

Listen to episode 201

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So it’s the beginning of 2020 and in last episode 200 we heard from podcast listeners all about their 2020 jazz and musical goals.

And one of the goals that I heard come up time and time again is the feeling of wanting to be able to improvise freely and organically without having to think about, without being stuck in resorting to licks and scales that they already know.

So, in today’s podcast episode, I will be going over 3 ways to start improvising organically. Actual things that you can start doing right now, at the beginning of the year, to start setting you up for success in your musical goals and start taking your jazz improvisation to the next level.

In this episode:

1. Practice improvising free melodies

2. Re-composing licks

3. Composing your own jazz solos

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Learn Jazz Standards Podcast. If you aren’t already, make sure you are subscribed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

I look forward to having you join me in the next episode!

Important Links

Jazz Blues Accelerator (course mentioned in episode)

30 Stepsto Better Jazz Playing


  1. These ideas make good sense to me. I do the free melodies one, need to work on the other two. One thing I'm trying to do as I start shedding again after about 15 years of no regular practice, and trying not to play the same things I used to… one thing is that I play along with a lot of different kinds of music with different rythms, very different melodies etc., just be ear, so go from Salsa to Afro-Pop, to bebop to a Coleman Hawkins cd to reggae… including over T. Monk solos, where as a sax player you won't be tempted to replicate his piano playing but might be inspired by his atypical spacing, tensions and surprising turns. Last thing I'm trying to do is listen to vocalists, different textures and how they alter melodies, and other non-sax soloists, especially on ballads.

  2. Thanks. for this basic method for soloing. I'm a bass player and I do solo, but not really with any solid methodology behind me. One course I'm working on right now also suggests just compose melodies, and your suggestion of doing that first thing in your practice routine sounds like a good idea. So, I just sat down at the piano and worked on melodic ideas to play over "So What" which I am also working on for the bass for an upcoming gig. As you suggest, sometimes when I solo it just comes out without thinking. Other times, it's very cerebral and doesn't flow in quite the same way. I like to think of soloing as a kind of meditation. When I play piano, I think of it as mediating at the piano like early Keith Jarrett. Sometimes for me, it works, other times, not so well. But good thing that it's gone when it's gone and I really have no idea what I just played!

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