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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.”

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