A good part of the beauty of all music would be the groove. Think of a style of music and the groove creates the mood. The body physically responds to good groove. You relax, you tap your foot, you start to sway. It’s not exactly subconscious. You can restrain yourself from the feeling but in general it’s something that’s almost instinctual.
It might be fair to say some people have been caught up in the intellectualization trend in jazz. That’s cool but while you are thinking about sixteenth notes and harmonic substitutions remember to think even more about the groove. In fact, just like it would be ideal to internalize complex harmonic movements and rhythmic patterns, just feel the groove.
You can practice feeling the groove in music. Most of the time we don’t think about it because it’s part of a larger cultural event. We go to the club, they are playing hip hop, everyone knows the words and at least sort of how to dance it. When was the last time you went anywhere that people were at a club, dancing to jazz, singing the lyrics? Maybe if you had a time machine.
Anyways, so beside the aside, here’s some simple ideas to expand your sense of classic swung jazz. Who better than checking out Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson, and Ed Thigpen?
Here’s the track (thanks YouTube). Do these exercises (preferably for the entire song):
- With the strings muted, lock in with the hihat on 2 and 4
- Tap your finger against the guitar like Ray Brown does against the bass
- Play quarter note comping of the changes (blues in C) – try to lock in with the drums and specifically the hihat
- Try to play along with the melodies and solos
- Play your only solos over the entire song
Hope that helps!! I think it will!