You can play all of the Bird licks and Sonny Rollins solos you want – at the end of the day, without proper jazz articulation, it’s not going to sound like jazz, plain and simple.
Of course, jazz articulation is a pretty massive topic in itself. In this video, I’m going to be focusing on one of the most distinctive features of jazz articulation, which is the concept of “ghosting” notes. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, ghosting refers to de-emphasizing certain notes so they sound so softly that, while they are often audible, they are barely audible. There is also an alternate way of attacking the reed with your tongue to give your notes a different kind of sound altogether. It’s almost like you’re “swallowing” them.
Ghosting notes gives your melodic lines that rhythmic shape that you need in order to truly swing. You can also use the tongue attack used in ghosting for other purposes, such as playing groovy repeated-note patterns in funk and r&b. There’s a lot of possibilities here, so it’s time to stop reading, and press the play button below for the full skinny.
Photo by andynew