Can you play as simply as Miles Davis did on “Blue Haze?”
It’s a question worth asking, and if you can’t, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and your jazz piano playing by discovering the answer.
“Blue Haze” is a slow blues that Miles recorded in 1954, and it represents his complete break from the pressure to play fast bebop like he did as a member of the Charlie Parker Quintet. Oh yes, Miles still played fast when he chose to, but the simple, lyrical qualities that he began exploring while still a member of Parker’s group are now brought to the forefront of his playing.
He trusts simplicity more now.
Listen to Miles’ trumpet solo, which begins at 1:20, after the piano solo by Horace Silver.
Miles Davis: Blue Haze
Can you play this simply? And if not, why not?
Is it because you aren’t listening closely enough to each note? Is it because yo can’t slow down your adrenaline enough to relax fully? Is it because you’re so used to flying through bebop licks that you don’t yet know how to construct clear, logical phrases? Is it because you’re afraid you won’t sound impressive with just a few notes?
It could be any of these reasons, or another. But whatever it is, it’s worthy of investigation. Dig deep, see what’s holding you back, and learn to trust in simplicity. Once you can fully tap into this, the music will start to flow in a whole new way and yes, your “fast” playing will be transformed as well!
PS – Here’s my latest Journey Through The Real Book video on which I apply some of these ideas: Rodgers and Hart’s “Falling In Love With Love.”
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