Like most of my guitar
envy the fact that the saxophone family and the trumpet are wind
instruments, and not too far removed from the human voice; that
most expressive of all 'instruments.' And so, in order to come
close to accomplishing this, we must seek to play and phrase
in a manner which gives a sense of breathing. If, in some way,
we are not 'singing' what we are playing, breathing life into
a melody or an improvisation, taking breaths between the phrases,
then we are not beginning to come close to what great horn playing
It is also essential
to try and emulate the legato phrasing of horns, that is to say,
we must attempt to eliminate picked strokes wherever possible.
This is what smoothes out the phrases and allows the notes to
rhythmically run together, more or less, without seams. When
you do this, it gives the notes you actually attack more weight
and import, and it is these notes which now serve as contrast,
not the other way around.
Beyond this, when
speaking specifically about the artistry and individuality of
a player like Miles Davis, perhaps his greatest trait which we
could aspire to would be his sense of space and timing, his placement
of the notes. It's not something so specific that one can just
listen to his recordings and 'cop it.' It's much more than that,
but with time spent listening, you might capture your own sense
of what his spirit was about, and then transmit that through
your own playing. When I listen to him play, especially his playing
from the Columbia years, I somehow always see a little boy, alone
in his room, just playing his trumpet. And that is a feeling
I can easily and always connect with for I understand it well.
-- Steve Khan (Guitarist
& Author) New York City, April 2002
Note: A very special thanks to my
good friend, Steve Khan, for supporting our efforts at Vision
Music, and for contributing his insightful thoughts on such a
valuable subject, strongly related to all of the above
lesson editions for Just Jazz Guitar Magazine.
Be sure to visit Mr.
Khan's website at www.stevekhan.com. You'll discover a wealth of
transcribed solos, original songs, books, and more.
-- Mark Stefani