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Usually when playing along with jazz standards we check out the changes before we start, the changes define the song.

I was wondering if it is possible to not have a predetermined set of changes before the song starts, but to be able to improvise them as you are playing.


Related questions, with answers:

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    I've been there and done it. It takes both players to listen well, and be able to move together. Sadly, no recordings, but it can, and does happen, and it's magic when it does. No need to even have a key in mind, it's uncanny, but wonderful when it happens. Not very often though... – Tim Mar 6 at 20:27
  • Phish improvises lots of music and changes, but you don’t have to agree ahead of time to take turns. You just have to know each other and listen carefully. Hand signals and/or signal riffs don’t hurt either. – Todd Wilcox Mar 6 at 21:31
  • I'm voting to reopen as this now asks about a very specific technique in jazz. It most often occurs in two contexts: when the soloist "plays outside" the chord changes, and the rest of the band follows. Some great examples of where to hear that are in the classic Coltrane quartet, in the Joshua Redman quartet from the 90s (check out Brad Mehldau's solos and listen for how bassist Christian McBride follows Brad away from the chord changes). – jdcode Mar 14 at 21:11
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    Right, @jdjazz isn't the concept of free jazz based on improvising every aspect of music? – user1079505 Mar 14 at 21:22
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    Free jazz crossed my mind too. I didn't include it because I think it's more accurate to say that free jazz doesn't have defined chords. When playing free jazz, I think the goal usually isn't to improvise agreed-upon chords that the entire band plays together at the same time. The structure of everyone playing the same set of chords isn't usually there. That's different from playing outside the changes, which tends to follow a more predictable pattern (e.g., a half-step up, etc.) and often involves staying on a single "new" chord for a longer period of time (allowing the band to catch up). – jdcode Mar 14 at 21:32

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