Who is Your Favorite Musician?
This post is for musicians but could be interesting reading for a person who likes music or somehow connected to it one way or another.
If you are a musician and especially jazz musician, there is one question that I would like to ask you - "Who is your favorite musician or musicians?" Throughout the years of my professional life as jazz saxophonist I have realized that this is a question that you should ask yourself and have a clear answer that by the way can change throughout time. There are many reasons why you should do it but I would like to talk about one of them.
Being a professional player, you should understand that you, as a performer, should be flexible when it comes to playing in different style of jazz (in my case) music. Listening, transcribing, studying, imitating, understanding different styles is essential and should be a part of your professional development. I recommend spending a few months on one style and truly understand and master it before moving to another and do it in chronological way, meaning you go from learning Dixieland to Early Swing, then Swing, then Bebop and etc. Once you learn it how would you be able to recall all the information associated with certain style and switch from one style to another in your playing, especially if you are performing tunes in various styles in one performance. How are you able to "unload presets" of Dixieland and "load presets" of Post-Bop fast? The answer is simple.
All you need to do is to have at least one favorite performer in each style and while playing in this style perform this piece "in the style of" this particular musician. You will not have to keep in mind all you learned about this style (articulation, timing, phrasing, etc.) but can easily imagine what your favorite player would do and how he or she would perform this particular piece. With that being said, you sure will have to transcribe, study, imitate, and learn from this person as part of your learning process, so once it has been done, imagining and performing "in the style of" this player shouldn't be too difficult but may of course require practice.
That is what I do to switch from one style to another and I hope it will help you as well.