Stephane Wrembel was one of 20 stellar professional musicians who shared his take on practice with me, and one thing he said sticks out more than anything else. He stressed that there is no magic trick, no gimmick, no special technique to practice. He said, “You just have to do it.” Even after talking to so many people about practice, it’s not clear to me whether learning to practice can be taught. Everybody I spoke with said that, for the most part, they just had to figure out how to practice. It’s an intensely personal exploration. Still, I do believe that the more information you have while you’re learning, the better.
Wow. I’ve always been a fan of Max Roach as soon as I first heard him, but this is some of the best playing I’ve heard, not only from Mr. Roach, but from everybody in this quintet. Eddie Kahn, after flying through some nimble-fingered walking bass delivers one of the most interesting upright bass solos I’ve heard in a while, and the way he locks in with Max Roach on drums is as tight as the bond of close friendship. Abbey Lincoln recently passed away, but her gorgeous contra-alto voice lives on powerfully in this music. Clifford Jordan’s fat tone on the tenor; Coleridge Perkins (I think) and his artful comping on piano, accentuating hits with Max Roach, who kills that drum set in the tastiest way: clean, and with total respect and communication with the other musicians, and even at these speeds is so relaxed and easy-sounding. Wheeew! This is great stuff. This is what practice sounds like.
There’s a reason jazz musicians (and other musicians, and actors, chefs, etc.) move to NY City, Chicago, or other large metropolitan areas. They are places, as Russell Malone says in this short vid, where there are more opportunities to get your behind kicked. And when you’re learning and striving to get better, that’s exactly what you need.