Backstory to “The Jazz Flute”

 

When I initially took up playing the flute, I was only interested in classical music. Except for a brief enchantment with Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain when I was a teenager, the jazz genre didn’t interest me.

The main problem was that I didn’t understand what jazz was about.

Some years later, a friend and excellent jazz vibes player, John Obenar, took me in hand and explained the process of improvising on the chord changes of a tune. What I learned was that most jazz improvisation is variations on a theme — or, more accurately, the harmonic implications of themes. So I started to learn how to play jazz on the flute, and eventually joined a number of improvisation groups in Illinois and California.

Myself in the days when I played flute in the San Francisco group Thesis

Myself in the days when I played flute in the San Francisco group Thesis

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