My mind is on the changes

Some twenty-five+ years ago backstage at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco I asked Hubert Laws some questions about his approach to soloing on the Sonny Rollins tune ‘Airegin’ which I had recently finished transcribing. He thought for a moment and said, “I don’t know what I’m doing …” then added:

It’s a lot of years of playing …
My mind is on the changes …
My fingers are moving …
I guess it’s my spirit coming out.

Hubert’s “my mind is on the changes” remark I’ve come back to again and again over the years as a wonderful piece of advice for jazz improvisers to be aware of. It’s easier said than done sometimes as distractions while soloing with a band can be many. Takes discipline to stay focused on the changes while in the midst of a solo that is being pulled in all kinds of directions, but if you can do it, it’s a discipline well worth having. Highly recommended.

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