Today’s post is simple, but one that might take a few moments of reflection if you haven’t thought about it in a while. Who has influenced the way you improvise? Who do you listen to the most? Who, when you listen to them, inspires you to grab your instrument and shut out the rest of the world so you can practice?
Maybe you already do this, but if you don’t-check out musicians that don’t play the same instrument as you. Not everything they play will translate over to your instrument, but you never know what might influence you. If you are a trumpet player…listen to some sax, piano or guitar players, etc.
Let’s take this a step deeper. When was the last time you listened to music that WASN’T jazz for the purpose of finding new influence? Exploring other styles is OK and might give you another perspective rhythmically, melodically or harmonically. Granted, not everything out there will inspire or influence the way you play. However, you won’t know unless you are exposed to some degree.
Go beyond music for influence too. Listen and watch great orators and public speakers. Great ones have a good sense of timing and rhythm in their delivery. If we connect what we do in improvisation to communication-then why don’t we let great communicators influence how we improvise?
I won’t give a full list of who influences me, but here are a few that have recently:
Tom Harrell (trumpet), Alex Sipiagin (trumpet), Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Terence Blanchard (trumpet), Joey DeFrancesco (organ), Pat Martino (guitar), Lionel Loueke (guitar), Brice Winston (sax), Tim Warfield (sax), Bobby Sparks (organ), Michael Gungor (guitar/vocals), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, etc.
Again, that’s not a full list so please don’t be offended if you’re not in the one above 🙂 However, maybe there’s a name in there you don’t recognize or is not in your “style.” That’s OK, but let me challenge you to go beyond your regulars and explore a little bit.
Let me here from you. Who influences and/or inspires you? Finally, please don’t forget to check out the Lick of the Day and my Digital Store. All purchases help go to funding my recording project that I’m starting in March called “Mountain, Move.”
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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