Alex Terrier has studied, performed and recorded with some of the greatest musicians both in Europe and the US. A demanded musician and acclaimed instructor, Alex shares his knowledge and thoughts with you. Read More

Herbie Hancock, Possibilities

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I just finished Herbie Hancock’s memoir, a must read to anyone remotely interested in Jazz. Easy to read and really interesting, I learned so much about Herbie. You can find the book on Amazon.

herbie hancock possibilities

I would like to share some some extracts, perhaps some will start a conversation:

“We all have a natural human tendency to take the safe route – to do the thing we know will work – rather than taking a chance. But that’s the antithesis of jazz, which is all about being in the present. Jazz is about being in the moment, at every moment. It’s about trusting yourself to respond on the fly. If you can allow yourself to do that, you never stop exploring, you never stop learning, in music or in life”

Have you taken the safe route at some point, or the unsafe one? What do you do when you have to make a choice?

“I had been playing classical music since I was seven, so I was pretty good at reading music, but Don could do something on my instrument that I couldn’t. He was creating the music himself, in the moment, rather than reading it off a page. […] “Man, how did you learn to play like that?” I asked him.” […] Don laughed and said, “Well, if you like what I did, the first thing you need to do is get yourself some George Shearing records.” He told me to listen to how Shearing played and then try to imitate the parts I liked.”

How was the first time you heard jazz music? How did you feel? I remember I was in total amazement when I saw a big band for the first time, it was a shock, I couldn’t move and I stayed right in front of the saxophone section for the all concert, I think I was 6 or 7.

“At every moment onstage players are making choices, and each choice affects every other member of the group. So each player has to prepared to change directions at any given moment.”

That’s a quality of jazz music I often talk about. When you improvise, you have to react to what’s going on, and you always have multiple choices, actually it’s really infinite, but the key is to be able to make a choice and go with it! That’s what practicing is about. Only my two cents. What do you think?

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