There seems to me to be two ways to learn - whether it's learning soloing or chord voicings for comping or chord-melody - and I'm trying to decide how I should divide up my time.
On the one hand there is transcription - learning solo lines over tunes by the masters, and learning how to apply them, and doing the same with chord voicings. I would say this is by far the easier and more fun method, and it's plenty productive if you manage to adopt and apply all the lines and chord voicings you learn. This is more favorable to me - I feel like I could learn everything I need to know just from transcribing. On the downside, it might not be as thorough of an education as the other method:
So on the other hand, there is practicing the technique. By this I mean, rather than transcribing chord voicings or lines, you practice scales, patterns, and arpeggios - both by themselves and over tunes. And as for chord voicings, you would figure out chord voicings on your own, whether systematically going through drop 2, 3 etc. voicings and applying them, or do as I read Kurt did and just kind of figure them out as you need them for chord-melody playing without learning systematically. This method would be more thorough since you work thoroughly with patterns and scales and chords, rather than just learning the licks or voicings you hear as you transcribe.
Certainly both methods are valuable, but I'm wondering how I should divide up my time, because transcription certainly seems easier and faster. The problem with it to me is that many of the masters had to learn it the hard way, and I would follow in their footsteps - I guess by not spending all my time copying them (sounds contradictory, but it makes sense I think). Let's take Giant Steps for example. If I want to learn how to play it like Coltrane, should I transcribe a ton of Coltrane over Giant Steps, or do what he did and shed the changes with patterns until I got it down? Same with Rosenwinkel - transcribe a lot of Rosenwinkel, or practice the kinds of exercises that he did over tunes? And as for chords, spend more time working with chord voicings myself to find many possibilities, like it seems Kurt did, or go through recordings and learn every voicing I hear?
What's your approach?