Welcome to my site where in today’s post I want to talk about a free jazz exercise that will help unlock your creativity. I truly hope this post will add value and benefit to you and your student’s playing. If this is your first time visiting this site, welcome and please feel free to have a look around. I would also like to invite you to check out my books (Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony) at my Digital Store.
In Part 3 of my Duets mini-series I mentioned a type of call and response duet (Free Jam) that is done with no pre-determined progression or key center. I wanted to expand that thought to personal practice and share an exercise that I’ve done over the years that has really helped unlock my creativity. It’s a very simple exercise to describe, but one that takes some time to get comfortable.
Like the call and response duet, there is no pre-determined progression or key center to reference. Here it is: Grab your instrument, decide a tempo and start playing a continuos string of random eighth notes (syncopation and occasional rests are fine).
The idea is to not play pre-conceived ideas or licks. You want to find new note relationships that you might not normally explore. This frees up your creative mind because you are not stifled by trying to make your line fit in a chord progression.
The next step is to listen to yourself. If you found something you liked…figure out what it was and transcribe it. You are allowing your creativity to make new connections. You never know what you may discover about yourself and your playing by doing this exercise. Personally, I try and do this exercise once a week for 10 to 15 minutes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tip and find it beneficial to your playing. Try taking some time out this week to play some free jazz!
Jason Klobnak is a versatile trumpet player that has been performing as an active musician, author, clinician, composer and educator. His band, J's Ruckus, is Denver's blend of Post-Bop, Soul, Gospel, and Hip-Hop. They perform infectious and up-lifting originals for audiences hungry for a memorable live experience. J's Ruckus released their latest album, Suck Less, in March of 2020 and their first EP, Sermons, in July of 2019. Both were recorded live in front of an audience. Suck Less was recorded to a packed auditorium at Arapahoe Community College's Waring Theater in Littleton, CO. Sermons was recorded in front of a sold out crowd at the Soiled Dove Underground. The JKQ (the Jason Klobnak Quintet/Quartet) is Mr. Klobnak's Hammond B-3 centered groups. The JKQ released their third full-length album in March of 2018 called Friends & Family. It has been very well reviewed, on numerous Top 10 lists for Jazz radio stations across the country (including Denver's KUVO 89.3FM which named it May 2018's CD of the month), and in Jazzweek's Top 100. Each composition was written for specific family and close friends (that might as well be family). Their second album, New Chapter, was recorded in part thanks to the Pathways to Jazz Grant from the Boulder County Arts Alliance. In 2015 and 2016, New Chapter was in the Top 75 on the Jazzweek charts and on the Top 10 playlists for over a dozen radio stations worldwide. Their first album, Mountain, Move made the Best Recordings of 2013 list from AllAboutJazz.com by C. Michael Bailey. His very well reviewed Christmas single, Hark the Herald, in 2016 as part of a creative project with musicians James Roberson and Nathaniel Kearney Jr. Besides the JKQ, Mr. Klobnak is a B.A.C. (Best American Craftsman-custom trumpet), Denis Wick (mouthpiece and mutes) and Westone Audio endorsed artist (ES20 and Tru Customs). Mr. Klobnak has played and recorded for numerous groups ranging from jazz, soul/R&B, indie-rock/pop and gospel. In addition to performing, he has also written two improvisation-based books called Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony and is currently an adjunct professor and brass instructor at Arapahoe Community College. Mr. Klobnak holds a bachelor degree from Drake University (Des Moines, IA) and a Master’s degree from the University of Denver, Lamont School of Music (Denver, CO).
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