Jazz And Sports: Man vs Zone Defense

By Sam Griffith

In many sports, the coach has to make a decision as to whether play zone of man defense. Each of these type of defenses have specific goals and uses in a variety of sports. When improvising, the performer can absolutely utilize similar principles to adjust to different situations.

For our purposes we will look at micro- and macro- approaches to both of these philosophies and how they can benefit both improvisers and the supporting musicians.

Man Defense

When a team utilizes man defense, it does so because it believes that its athletes have an advantage over its opponents. In some cases this could be because one team has more skilled athletes or maintain a physical advantage. To defeat man defense, the offense must find specific weakness in the opposing player. This can be challenging of course, if the defending player has more skill than its corresponding offensive player.

Okay okay, how does this relate to jazz? Well adapting a similar mindset can be very effective for tackling jazz songs AND performing as a group.

When developing a strategy for improvisation, take a close look at the chord progressions. If we were approaching these progressions from the same perspective a coach would be utilizing man defense, we would be looking for specific chords that we could take advantage of. These should be chords that you are comfortable with. Chords that



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