I set up Jazz Flute Tips to begin a conversation, not to give advice. I think that a lot of flute players come from different experiences playing jazz and so have a lot to teach each other. I hope that this forum will help us all to share our thoughts.
Of course I am happy to put my 2 cents in. I have a lot of experiences of my own. As you can see from the webpage I have recorded a lot and have recorded with some of the most wonderful musicians in a number of jazz styles. And I will share whatever I know with whomever wants to know. But I’m not a jazz educator and my history as a flute player is probably different from most of yours.
I started out as a trombone player and made a living at that for some time. I started playing flute when I quit the business to get an advanced degree in philosophy. I was going crazy writing my dissertation and thought being able to practice would help. I was completely self-taught. I had picked up the basic fingerings somewhere, but for the first few years I didn’t know that the 3rd octave had different fingerings (I just blew harder to play high notes). Although I knew chords and scales (I had done a fair amount of arranging and understood keyboard harmony) when I played flute I improvised completely freely. I fell in love with the fluency with which I could play lines (try playing jazz with just the harmonics in the 3rd octave and see how much that frees you). I found all sorts of sounds coming out of the flute to be fascinating so I didn’t have a concept of a “good” flute sound.
I did a lot of playing with acoustic guitar players playing folk and rock in the parks (it was the mid-70’s) and eventually started to play with some bebop players in Washington Square Park. I began to record myself within the first few years (I have those tapes somewhere, but I have no idea if they are still playable). My first available recording (The Orisha Suites, reissued with my 1967 trombone “cult classic” Cuban Roots) was made when I was playing about 3-4 years. By then I had taken some lessons with a great teacher and woodwind doubler Harvey Estrin who taught many sax players to play flute. I started to take flute seriously and began to learn how to play bebop. I played Jamie Aebersold play-along records for hours every day and began to play bebop with street bands and play gigs. I started recording seriously in 1996 and am up to album 20 (17 have been released and I have new 3 recordings at various stages of completion).
Just to get the conversation started. I see the jazz flute community to have two major parts, classical flute players who want to play jazz and jazz sax players who want to play flute. I’d like these to groups to engage and help each other accomplish their goals. Since I’m not in either of those groups I hope my perspective will add something to both.
I’m really looking forward to what you have to say!