[This micro-story is adapted with permission from the Appendix in “Easy Touch-Style Improvisation,” a method book for playing two-handed touchstyle bass, by Traktor Topaz and Henri DuPont.)
Los Angeles, January 29, 1969: There was this jazz piano-player named LaMont Johnson, who was a roommate in our large house on Western Avenue. He lived from October 1941 until October 1999, but back then 30 years earlier, at that time he was very much alive. He bristled with energy.
He was very, very good as a piano player, ranging from funk to jazz and it all rocked. He had played and done recordings with Woody Shaw toward the end of bebop, and with Ornette Coleman, George Benson, and other luminaries of jazz.
I mention him because I had decided to learn how to play music. I wanted to learn how to improvise like he did, making up new songs on the fly. That’s what drove me. I wanted to be learn how to improvise.
And so it was that I asked him a simple question —
What are the good notes?
What are the notes to play?
Now, although he could play the “good” notes, Continue reading