The Good: It gives you a wide array of tools, clichés, patterns, theoretical approaches, etc to use at your disposal The Bad: It gives you a wide array of tools, clichés, patterns, theoretical approaches, etc to use at your disposal
I haven't played traditional jazz for over 4 years now. When I did, I was playing a regular house gig and totally immersed into jazz theory, where my musical training was totally beneficial and necessary. It has taken me almost that entire 4 years to purge most all of that shit out of my brain (consciously at least to the point where I can't easily retrieve it on the fly). Now when I play free improv, I am not recalling all that theoretical memory, but the main thing I struggle with now is finger memory. For example, my fingers are just used to playing certain modes, patterns, voicings, etc. I fight it constantly but can generally be successful at playing spontaneously.
I am getting ready to play piano. I've been playing the piano more lately. I can't read music on the piano, nor could I play a mode or chord quickly if you asked me to. I could figure it out with my knowledge of chord theory, but it would be useless in a performance setting. Because I have no finger memory or immediate recall of theory and musical training at play or intervening when I am on the piano, I am finding that my improvisations are really, really fun and liberating. They feel totally unrestrained and expressive in the raw sense. The cool thing is that I have the finger agility to express myself on the piano, I just couldn't tell you what I am doing. Consider this an experiment. If someone asked me if I planned on taking piano lessons, I'd say hell no. I want to keep my relationship withe instrument pure, raw, and without any skills or knowledge that will eventually intervene in my playing. But we'll see how long I can maintain this, because occassionally I will play a freely improvised chord, and my brain says...hmmm, that sounds suspicously like an Dom7b5b9. I'd rather not know. I am sure over time will develop my own cliches, but for now I am going to take advantage of the newness.