Jazz is primarily about rhythm and articulations, those tricky bits that are impossible to notate. Harmony is like math, fun for many and much easier to get your head around for most. Or so beginners believe. But when the moment of truth arrives at a jam session theory goes mostly out the window and instinct kicks in. Adam Maness explores this theme in his video "Why do I still suck".
Jorge Mabarak, on Facebook, puts it well, theory is a tool. I propose that rhythm is the key. And ear training is the secret to unlocking the mystery.
Here is a practice time breakdown that may work for you:
If I can help, please call me.
You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
I'm a professional pianist and music educator in West Toronto Ontario. I'm also a devoted percussionist and drum teacher.