Bookmark and Share

Question and Answer

Question View

Login to Post
--- Mar 24 1999 Go to category
Subject: Pat on phrasing - MUSICIAN magazine
Category: Improvisation/Soloing
From: musician  magazine (usa)

You mentioned the importance of phrasing. That seems to me to be the key to your playing.

Pat’s Answer:

That's the area where most horn players have a hard time with guitar players. Their phrasing just doesn't feel that good to them. So many guitar players, if they were trumpet players, they'd be tonguing every note; it would be I ta-ta-ta-ta-ta. P You can't sell a line with that kind of phrasing. With somebody like Paul Chambers or Clifford [Brown] or Joe Henderson, there's so many details in the way that they phrase, and so many guitar players don't even think about that. They're just going along, and what happens down here ["holds up left and right hands " ] is like, "Well, that's just what I gotta do to get it out."

>Your sense of phrasing is in some ways remarkably similar to Ornette's. Both of you share that knack for getting the most out of a simple melodic idea: repeating it with different accents, introducing a related counterphrase, twisting it, turning it around harmonically or rhythmically, working it for all it's got.

You just hit it right on the head. That is development in a linear or--that word again--narrative way of playing. When I think of the best improvisers I've been around, Ornette would be right at the top, but also Gary Burton, Sonny Rollins, Herbie, Paul Bley, Charlie [Haden]. All of those guys have one thing in common, which is, every idea that they have, they let it be itself, to its natural conclusion. So many improvisers that I hear, especially younger guys, it's almost like soundbites: They play this, then it's over, then they play that, then that. The best solos that I've played, it's really one idea. You take that one idea and you find a way of going with it to the end. That's something that I always encourage musicians to think more about, because that's something that non-musicians can respond to, a style that expands on single ideas so that anyone, musician or not, can follow the line.

>And you also tailor your approach to fit the context. The duo record you did with Haden, for example, is quiet, with lots of space, and so your solos are more economical. On "Our Spanish Love Song," you keep playing the same note, whereas in a more complex setting you might have repeated a fuller phrase instead.

Sometimes reduction is an entry point into development. People tend to think development means expansion. But not always. Sonny Rollins is a great example of that; he'll just keep reducing things down to an essential point. It's also useful to find common notes, common tones that can connect things throughout a piece. On the tag of "Our Spanish Love Song," there's a point where it always keeps coming back to the same note. I can't say that I intended to echo that [in the solo], but it can be effective.