Improv on some songs - critique wanted

AmundLauritzenAmundLauritzen ✭✭✭✭
in Gypsy Jazz 101 Posts: 236
I've been working hard on trying to get more fluency in my improv.

I recorded some videos playing on some tunes.
I'd be happy to hear some critique and tips.

I play on an archtop to emulate the electric Django sound.

"All of me":

"Djangos Tiger":

"I love you":

Let me know the good, the bad and the ugly. I can handle it :P


  • Matt MitchellMatt Mitchell ✭✭✭
    Posts: 44
    quite good, really.
    nice light technique.
    rhythm feels slightly soft, maybe tap foot on 2 &4.
    also not many accents here, create some peaks dynamically.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,294
    Wow, nice work Amund!
  • Nice playing Amund.

    In all of Me May I suggest that if you broke up your long windy lines with some rhythmic dyads or triads to emphasize a point your solo would,to my ears, be a little more dramatic.

    Fluid relaxed hand, some sweet phrases, and some that too my ear sounded a bit formulaic.....maybe facile.... Not sure what your story was, nor did I hear a climax or what you were trying to say clearly.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • AmundLauritzenAmundLauritzen ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 236
    Thank you for the replies!

    You are right, Jazzaferri, it is kind of formulaic at this point. I notice it gets less formulaic the more solos I learn, new things show up. But at some chord changes, I don't have so much improvisational material, and then I repeat myself.

    Listening to myself play I can hear some places where it would be nice to put a chord for instance, or a dyad like you say.

    I try to remember these things, but it's so easy to revert to the comfort zone when I play.

    I'm not used to gypsy pick on that guitar, it has .13's on it. So that's why it sounds a bit uneven, or it sounds like I hesitate some places.

    I'm going to work a lot more on storytelling. That's really the number one thing about Django IMO. He's talking through the guitar. His phrasing is constructed like someone would construct poetry. And even though he has licks that show up in different songs, they never sound like licks.

    All that, easier said than done.
    But I really appreciate the input. Having other people critique my playing helps me notice things I don't notice myself.

  • Amund - I personally think you sound great. You play well and play through the changes. You clearly are mastering the technique.

    I think the storytelling comment is spot on and is excellent to work on. I'm not quite there with my technique and I am also using learned solos as a way to expand my vocabulary and technique. I'm working primarily with Django. There's a wealth of material to master and the art of storytelling is certainly one of the things that sets him apart from most of the other players.
  • edited April 2014 Posts: 3,707
    Listening to ones recordings is both humbling and educational most of e time...then every once in a while one of those delightful moments when it all comes together happens.

    I was just listening again to some of the postwar stuff, Blues for Ike Delle Salle Diminushing Echoes of France. Some much more modern phrasing, but always after a flurry of notes, there will be a change of pace a restatement of the same idea with way fewer notes. I have pretty much stopped listening to the new players (apologies to them all) and am back to being left in amazement at DR's genius. Its nigh on 45 years since I spun my first DR record and I still am divining the depths odf his playing.

    I rehearse 4 hours a week with my duo violin partner. I mostly do rhythmic things with adding a moving bass line or a few notes fill.

    We record often and critique openly. If you are not honest with oneself, it's almost impossible to move forward...the hard part is getting the balance right so one doesnt get. Down on oneself. I hope we get to be at the same place at the same time someday. Love to jam with you Amund
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Some further thoughts on developing improv

    5 sources for improv

    Melody....playing around with melody
    Scales....a bag of notes to choose from...sometimes referred to as a horizontal approach
    Arpeggio/chordal......a smaller more inside the box bag of notes....sometimes referred to as a more vertical approach.....prominent in the swing era
    Motif....developing a motif...think the first 4 notes of Ludwig's 5th or the fiest 3 notes of Yesterday.
    Quotations......think playing around with the first part of the melody to I got Rhythm while playing sSwing 42
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • AmundLauritzenAmundLauritzen ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 236
    I put up a video of some of my bebop playing for comparison. Because I have more vocabulary in that style, I play with more liberty and confidence. I play economy picking for that style though, notice the different right hand position. When I listen to that I hear more motivic development than when I play more jazz manouche.

    I think I just need to keep learning solos in the jazz manouche style to build my vocabulary to the point that I can achieve enough fluency to get more flow, make it sound less stilted and awkward than it sounds now.

    So, I guess it's a technique/muscle memory/vocabulary thing. The rest stroke technique is much more difficult to employ in a relaxed way, and it has to be second nature for it to sound musical.
    I feel the more I learn the less I really know.

    The journey never ends...

  • edited April 2014 Posts: 3,707
    A couple of things that come to me.

    Electric is mostly played with a much lighter touch and I hear that in your playing.

    You still sound pretty much like your other posts, just a different feel/groove.

    Something you might think about trying, is going way overboard for a while with short more complex rhythmic playing, lots of syncopation and RESTS. That is the magic in DR's playing, phrasing and rests.

    Think about telling a story. Introduction, narrative, climax, reflection. More tension and release. Tease us, surprise us, yell at us, don't just wander along in the same space...GET MAD.....or got the chops, get your mojo into it.

    As LvBeethoven said, to play music without passion is inexcuseable. I agree with him.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • edited April 2014 Posts: 3,707
    PS. Dont give a rats ass about making mistakes....there are none.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
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