'Heard melodies are sweet
Those unheard are sweeter'—John Keats
The need to be creative runs through all art forms and jazz music is no exception.
Each great work of art brings with it an element of self-discovery, a certain kind of uncertainty where the artist/creator expresses his or her deepest feelings about life. In other words, the individual creator discovers himself through his creations. Thus in inner drive of the creative mind must be spontaneous or induced ,in the sense in which Coleridge uses it (Biographia Literaria) – in a more than usual state of mind, where the inspired moment is a species of creative intuition. We do of course have creative tuition in the great pantheon of jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Charlie Parker , Duke Ellington et al. But are the young jazz musicians of today developing their own individual voice enough or are they allowing mastery to replace creativity? They have today published mountains of books on how to play jazz—books on comping, on the melodic minor and many theory books. We also have over a hundred Jamey Aebersold –'Play-a-long theory books. Young jazz players use these books with the thought that they will arrive at improvisational fluidity. This jazz pedagogy is in essence a uniform system bent on providing young jazz players with the necessary tools for mastering harmonic substitutions, scales, licks or rhythmic phrasing. While this system is a well-tested method for jazz improvisation, however, we must acknowledge at the same time the need for a certain kind of uncertainty as a precondition for creativity. We must stress as well in this jazz pedagogy the central place of one's own individual voice, that ability to stand above the 'mastery' of the rules of jazz improvisation game and cultivate one's own originality. Those great jazz musicians mentioned above all managed to balance their individuality with the dictates of a vast tradition that they had inherited.
Read more: The Individual Voice in Jazz Music