All of the musicians I've played with have been improvisers, whether they came from jazz, rock, folk, or whatever.
As an improvisor myself, I've found it difficult to collaborate with trained classical players. It's not for lack of trying, but-while we like to think of music as a universal language-the means of communication were strained at best.
Classical musicians have a hard time with spontaneous composition; jazz players are generally comfortable with loose technique and can adapt to experiments and unexpected shifts.
I'd always chalked this difference up to different kinds of training or lack thereof, but a new study by researchers in Leipzig suggests a deeper neurological basis, at least when it comes strictly to jazz versus classical musicians.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences studied the brains of thirty pianists-half jazz players, half classical. They found, the Institute reports, that "different processes occur in jazz and classical pianists' brains, even when performing the same piece."
It's a conclusion players themselves intuitively understand.