8 June 2013


I have received several emails from people who tell me they are trying to learn to play traditional jazz with the help of my blog. Some seem to be seeking a magic formula and think it is to be found in the stuff I write about chord progressions.

This is worrying. It's time to warn you not to take me too seriously. am no expert. I am a self-taught ever-struggling learner, especially in matters of chord progressions.

Note this: confidence and boldness when improvising are often more important than knowing the tune's chord progression by heart.

In 1997, when I had started taking a serious interest in the music, I closely observed the trumpet-player Marc Caparone at the High Mountains Jazz Festival in Oregon.
Marc Caparone
He was playing some amazing solo choruses and I could tell from his fingering that he was often using notes that seemed quite alien to the chord progression. Yet he was producing some really exciting music.

I had the good fortune to bump into him later and I mentioned this to him.

His reply was unfortgettable: 'That's right. I don't let the chords get in the way!'

Maybe that's the best approach to take.