I was practicing my 2-bars-bebop soloing/2-bars comping exercise the other day, when I had another big light bulb moment.
Recently I posted about how I had a hard time switching gears between improvising a bebop line with my right hand and comping with my right hand. Well just a few days ago I made a pretty big discovery: when I comp, I’m feeling a groove, and when I start to solo, the groove goes out the window and I become cerebral.
That’s a very rough way to describe what happens to me physically when I switch between comping and soloing. When I comp, my body feels loose and my ideas flow and I’m really feeling a pulse. Then when I solo, my muscles tighten, I might forget to breathe, etc.
As usual, I feel like a dumbass for taking so long to realize this, but now I know what to do to change the game. Part of what made this light bulb click on is then Ondrej told me that comping needs to just be part of my melodic improvisation, and not separate from it.
Practicing this is deceptively simple: when switching from comping to soloing, don’t tighten up, stop breathing, and throw the groove out the window. And here’s where my Alexander Technique training comes in. I’ve trained my body to tighten up and get stiff when I take a solo, likely because I have an idea in my head that solos are complicated and difficult. Therefore that tightness has become an almost irrepressible reaction.
I’m chipping away at it though.