I was cleaning out these old music magazines from the studio and I came 
across this ancient interview with Coleman Hawkins, widely considered 
one of 
the greatest jazz players ever.  The interview is reprinted here from 
the 
late ’40s.  I noticed whenever I had read this the first time (must have 
been like when I was in college) I underlined this section where he was 
talking about improvisation.  I am a huge fan of improvisation, in 
fact 
I have almost no attention span for music that doesn’t involve improv. 
Coleman Hawkins says this “If you want to be a great improviser, play 
the 
melody over and over until you can hear it in your head even when you’re 
playing something else… you can have all the jazz vocabulary in the 
world 
but there is no substitute for really knowing the melody.”

I remember reading this and I have recalled it about a million times to 
myself over the years.  I had just forgotten where it had come from.  I 
got 
to thinking how incredibly on the mark this is and how the concept applies to just about any profession or activity.  A lawyer employs 
improvisation constantly, say in a trial for example.  But the best 
lawyers 
are the guys that know their case (the melody) so well that they can 
hear it 
in their head even when they’re improvising.  A good presenter will 
field 
questions and be able to improvise and answer on the spot but always 
with an 
ability to circle back or draw from the theme.  I think the same can be 
said 
for most worthwhile professions. That’s a thing I love so 
much 
about music – that it’s both reflective and definitive of life 
simultaneously.  While it’s a great analogy of life, it is also, to me, 
so 
much more eloquent.