Wheatland by Oscar Peterson Jazz Guitar Version

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Somewhere Over The Rainbow

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Shadow of Your Smile

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Chord Chart
 
Backing Track

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Giant Steps Chords

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Godin Guitar Demo Video (Feat Isn’t she lovely)

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12 Bar Jazz Blues in Bb

A short lesson on an old favorite, the 12 Bar Blues in Bb, utilizing a downward (mostly) quarter note pulse as the main rhythmic tool in the comp. I play through two choruses with quite a bit of embellishment, then settle into a ‘stomp’, ala ‘Freddy Green’ style accompaniment.

This style was popularized in the early to mid 20th century, particularly by guitarists in Europe and America who performed without amplification on the bigger ‘git-boxes’ (larger bodied acoustic guitars) in the rhythm sections of small and large ensembles. In order to cut through the sound of louder brass / reed instruments, Many guitarists playing in big bands for example, use this style to this day, to provide a warm, smooth underpinning comp that sits atop a walking bassline, hence the prevalent use of the quarter note rhythmic pulse.

There are other rhythmic elements to making this sound great of course – a subtle use of the upstroke on the swung note, implying the skip beat (the second of the 3 triplet quavers), the use of dynamics to make the down beats accented or slightly louder than the off-beats and lastly the use of the right hand slap on the 2nd and 4th beats of the bar to create stability.

If you have any questions regarding the harmony please feel free to leave a comment!

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The Ibanez George Benson GB10

In this video I improvise over George Benson’s version of Jose Feliciano’s tune ‘ Affirmation’ in B minor.

See the attached transcription sheet, which has the details of all the substitutions and chord impositions I use to navigate the original chord chart. I also play an improvised rubato intro, which is a small exploration of the main harmonic theme of the A section – Emi9 to Bmi9, and a nod to the main melodic theme in some points.

If anyone is interested in some approaches to the specific harmonic techniques or imposed chords please message me!

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Combover Blues

Local Auckland band ‘Blue Train’ plays ‘Combover Blues’ (something I can relate to HA!) – an original composition by Steve Sherriff.

In this line up ‘Blue Train’ are Steve Sherriff – Tenor Sax, Alan Brown – Piano, Cameron MacArthur -Acoustic Bass, Jason Orme – Drums and Dixon Nacey – Guitar.

Another great jam with these talented jazz muso’s from Auckland New Zealand. This tune, a Blues in A minor, presents the improviser with a few surprise chords at the end of the form (see the last 4 bars of the melody transcription provided) – lots of dominant sevenths:

E7 – F7 – D7 – C7 for two beats each and then a Bb7 to an Ab7 for one bar (4 beats) each.

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Nick’s Tricks

Local Auckland band ‘Blue Train’ plays Nick’s Tricks, an original composition by Steve Sherriff.

In this line up ‘Blue Train’ are Steve Sherriff – Tenor Sax, Alan Brown – Piano, Cameron MacArthur – Acoustic Bass, Jason Orme – Drums and Dixon Nacey – Guitar.

Had a great time jamming with these guys – complex tune and I had to memorise this melody by heart and still failed getting it all as I’d practiced it heaps slower, HA! Happy with the solo though; my focus, which I can still recall now a couple years on, was on playing thematically through the changes, trying as best I could to navigate the harmony correctly / respect the changes etc but also develop ideas that connected or added continuity to the modulating sections.

Whether I was totally successful in doing this is questionable (HA!) but I have made it a goal of mine to try and treat faster bebop tunes with lots of changes, especially unfamiliar modulations as with this tune (see the attached lead sheet), with a more organic approach – as in ‘how would I play if there were NO changes’! This didn’t mean I didn’t practice at faster tempos / how to connect chords – it was more about de-emphasizing the tonic of each chord (starting my lines in different parts of the chord, for example from the 3rd / 5th etc) and tying all the chords together more cohesively.

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Andy Irvine Tour 2014 – Reacting

In this video I collaborate on an original song in a clinic with American bassist, composer and music educator Andy Irvine, with legendary Kiwi drummer Patrick Kuhtze at the Auckland Rockshop’s BackBeat Bar.

The theme of the workshop (apart from being all things bass!) was to really open up as a group to listening to what was happening between the musicians. I thought of this as keeping a focus on holding down the groove when comping and trying to interact as much as possible without getting in the way or ‘just coasting’ and playing chords I knew for the sake of playing something. Rather, I would listen to the time being kept by the rhythm section and try and react to this; whether it was dynamically, harmonically, rhythmically, texturally, density etc – all of these musical elements may be examined in this context – my focus is on listening first and playing a response to my environment. A useful technique to practice.

The action starts around the 1:10 mark. Great groove!

 

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Dixon Nacey Improvisation – How Insensitive: Bossa style using Right Hand thumb technique and Backphrasing

Please see attached for the PDF transcription of notation and TAB for my version of the melody and an improvised solo to Antonio Carlos Jobim’s great Bossa tune ‘How Insensitive’.

In this video I was exploring the use of two simple techniques- one a right hand technique that involved using only the thumb to pluck the strings, in order to get a warmer, softer sound, but also using a fair amount of pressure so the notes still really ‘pushed’ through. This is simple to achieve (basically put the pick down and start playing with your thumb – ha!) – but also revealed an unintended and welcome outcome – I had to play slower! So I used less subdivisions (and therefore less ‘faster / bebop’ lines) and instead applied a more lyrical approach.

The second outcome I noticed after practicing this for some time was that I needed to really pull my notes back so that each phrase felt more elastic and loose, and less ‘perfectly’ timed or executed. In this sense, I was trying to emulate the back-phrasing of the great Bossa singers and instrumentalists by placing my notes in the back of the beat, around the strong / downbeats or by playing an entire phrase in a consistent subdivision that was placed entirely behind the beat.

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Andy Irvine Bass Clinic April 2014

Please enjoy this excerpt of a song by Andy Irvine that we did in the ‘Andy Irvine Bass Tour’ clinic at The Auckland Rockshop recently (2014).

This is a jam in E minor that modulates up to a G then back down to E, then has a bridge section based around an A minor. We take turns soloing; I really dug how Andy gets right into the pocket of the groove with Patrick Kuhtze on drums – a real solid wall of sound from the rhythm section that helps keep everything feeling grounded and sitting in the sweet spot time wise. I loved playing with these guys! Please leave comments if you’re interested in having any of the parts to this transcribed!

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Technique Builder 9: C Harmonic Minor – 7th arps 2 8ves Root 5 [TB9]

Now we examine the harmony of the Harmonic Minor scale using tertian steps (3rd intervals – i.e. play a note, skip a note) from this diatonic system to create a 7th arpeggio in its root position. We then complete the octave step and begin the arpeggio from its second octave position which eventually completes the two-octave (‘2 8ve’) form.

We will be releasing a seven-video series based entirely on the harmonic minor scale in the near future, so stay tuned for that!

General practice tips for this Technique Builder Exercise:

• If playing this root 5 (root on the A string) as in the video example, I stay in position for the entire permutation then use a sliding technique to join the two final ascending notes of the arpeggio together and complete the 2nd octave – you may wish to use a one finger per note system on this high E string to turnaround to the descending form – or perhaps move at the beginning of the 2nd octave – there are many ways to play this exercise successfully.

• I would suggest playing through as many as you can and finding the ones that best suit your hands in terms of feel and also give your left hand the most articulate clarity and accuracy; some people prefer not to slide etc – the choice is yours!

• I would also suggest playing in at least the two positions of root 6 and root 5 and eventually, once fluent and strong in a single chosen key, navigate through all 12 key centers (or roots) for harmonic minor.

• As with any technique exercise, strive for clarity, fluency and an overall legato effect – i.e. join all notes together as if the entire exercise was written with a slur across all notes.

• Play at a tempo that is manageable and only progress your speed forward once comfortable. Never sacrifice accuracy at the cost of speed. Try a variety of tempos, keeping clarity as your focus.

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The Contrafact

What is a ‘Contrafact?’
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A contrafact is a jazz tune based on an extant set of chord changes (usually a standard) where a composer uses the chord structure of an established composition to write an entirely new composition. The Gershwin tune “I Got Rhythm” is a perfect example of contrafactual recomposition: the popularity of ‘rhythm changes’ is second only to that of the 12-bar blues as a basic harmonic structure used by jazz composers. (Paraphrased from internet sources).

How will this help my jazz playing?

A great reason for doing this is that you can’t copyright a set of chord changes – only a melody; and as jazz musicians we like to play over changes we’re completely inside – standards and such. So if we rewrite a melody to a familiar song form, we can improvise to our hearts content over our favourite chord progressions in the solo sections.

Writing a contrafact to a tune also has the added bonus of giving us insight into how a composer constructs a series of chord progressions and creates melodic ideas that relate to each other over the entire form. A series of ‘linear’ phrases that bisect the tune and group these chords into a coherent, memorable and listenable piece of music.

It is a great way to look at improvising; as if you are basically writing a contrafact over the changes every time you solo a chorus.

How do I go about writing my own Contrafact?

Take the chord structure of a favourite tune (without altering it) and insert your own set of melodic phrases to form a new, original melody. Here are some ideas to help start the process of composing a new idea for the melody:

• Melodic patterns
• Extracted licks
• Chord melodies that outline the changes in an obvious fashion (spelling through the 3rd and / or 7th of each chord)
• Melodic quotes or references from existing melodies (extract the note intervals or melodic rhythm – if you copy it verbatim you will be plagiarizing!)
• Improvised melodic fragments

The only thing you really must do is NOT be too close or similar to the original melody!

Once the writing journey has begun, try some melodic developmental techniques which may yield great results in terms of writing related content from phrase to phrase. Keep the focus on creating a tune, a story which consistently refers to itself at several points along the way. It is easy to just write a heap of unrelated melodic fragments, but we want to avoid this!

So, with respect to the consequent chordal framework (make sure any newly composed harmonic material suits the chord changes!) –you may like to try:

• Call and response phrases (or ‘antecedent and consequent’ phrases)
• Repeating the melodic rhythm of the first phrase, but changing the notes
• Inverting the melody
• Retrograde / retrograde inversion
• Embellishing the melody by adding one or two notes into the phrase
• Embellishing the melody by lengthening note duration (try one note at a time)

Popular Contrafact Examples

There are many good examples of the contrafact in usable jazz repertoire – Rhythm Changes (taken from the aforementioned ‘I Got Rhythm’ chordal framework) has at least a dozen notable contrafacts, most of which are thanks to Charlie Parker (Anthropology, Moose The Mooch, Sonny Rollins’ Oleo etc).

A favourite I often call at gigs is John Scofields’ “Not You Again” – a cleverly titled contrafact to the standard “There will never be another you”. Also, ‘Weaver of dreams’ has a close enough chordal framework to this tune to be considered a contrafact (depending on which tune came first of course!). Charlie Parker’s ‘Ornithology’ is a contrafact of a Morgan Lewis tune entitled ‘How High The Moon’.

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The Godin 5th Avenue Jazz Guitar Review (Feat Isn’t She Lovely)

Late last year, Matt Walsham (a talented guitarist based in Auckland who manages imports for New Zealand’s largest music goods retail chain, ‘The Rockshop’) called me and said ‘man, have I got a guitar for you to try out’. Knowing how much I loved playing jazz and how important tone, control of sound, build quality and appearance were to me, (aren’t all guitarists vain…?!) – Matt lined up a ‘Godin 5th Avenue Jazz’ for me to put through its paces.

LOOK

I immediately loved it, after playing it for only a few moments in the shop. I’d been given the natural flame finish to vet and thought ‘this is seriously good looking’. On close inspection one can see immaculate binding and finishing as you might expect from a top of the line jazz guitar. In my opinion this guitar is of a very high build quality throughout, certainly in terms of its design, materials and fittings. I also liked the look of the fingerboard, with the smaller off-set position dots creating a more subtle effect – those less experienced in how harmony sits on a guitar neck might find this disconcerting (as in ‘what-the-heck-note-am-I-playing…?) which I tend to not have to rely so much on; so found it no problem.
I would say that overall it is a guitar given more to subtlety and ‘cool’ than any overt ‘look at me’ status or vibe, arguably in alignment with the style of music most suited to it, which I personally dig!

SOUND

What I love most about this guitar is the incredible acoustic tone – ‘springy’ and bright off the sound board, without any ‘boxiness’ where the low mids can sometimes cloud out your sound (particularly as volumes increase at a live gig) common to some of the bigger jazz-box style guitars. This is one of the most live sounding jazz guitars I’ve ever played; there is a distinct and likeable difference between this and other similar models at the top end of competitive brands.

Plugged in – well seriously, it just gets better the more you turn it up. Whatever the secret ingredient inside the custom built mini-hummy is; they got it right. And I really mean that – first run outside of my studio was at a small roomed rehearsal with a vocalist, so I plugged it into the amp (of no particularly great quality) that came with the room and then mixed in a little of the amp tone with the (very cool looking and feeling ebony) volume knob. And voila – brilliant control of tone and a smooth ‘warmth’ as the volume increased. Perfect for smaller, more intimate gigs. When we did that same rehearsed tune at a 100-seater concert hall; the guitar performed brilliantly at around 75- 100% electric volume through an amp; no feedback – great tone.

FEEL

I found the shape and design of the neck and fingerboard (ebony ‘Ergocut’) highly playable, instantly – where I would normally need a good week to get stuck into a brand new guitar, playing a few hours each day etc – this baby played great, literally straight out of the case.
The body, similar in size and shape to say a GB10 (perhaps a little bigger but no deeper, from my memory) was a comfortable fit also. To a certain degree I think we adapt through experience, to new sounds, feels, looks etc – but this guitar needs little of that ‘adaptation’ – a process which can sometimes create too much ‘work’ to do to get a sound or that annoying ‘why am I not happy with this’ indefinable kind of niggling feeling. None of that happened here!

SUMMARY

9.5/10

I think that while it is hard to use the term ‘innovative’ when speculating about a traditional jazz guitar which essentially is built to perform a musical style that is over 80 years old, perhaps you just tweak rather than innovate – and to that end, Godin has used a few different ideas and materials very effectively with the 5th Avenue Jazz Guitar.

Instantly playable, great sound acoustic, electric and anywhere in between, great look.

The only ‘con’ (if you can call it that) is that it is a bit of a one trick pony – it plays jazz, and perhaps associated styles or sub-genres (Manouche, trad, Latin, swing etc) very, very well, but there is no back pick up so you can’t switch it back, put on a tubescreamer and sound like Scofield, but for those who love that jazz-box sound (and something a little more hip and modern) this is pretty close to the ultimate gat for you.
SPECS – from the Godin Website (http://www.godinguitars.com/godin5thavenuejazzp.htm)

5th Avenue Jazz

This very elegant instrument was made with the jazz player in mind. This upper echelon 5th Avenue Jazz features arched back as well as arched top and comes in two all high-gloss custom polished finishes, including Piano Black HG and Natural Flame HG. The Piano Black model consists of Canadian wild cherry top, back & sides and the Natural Flame model features flame maple top, back & sides with Canadian wild cherry core.

Other features include a smooth sounding floating Godin Mini- humbucker jazz pickup in the neck, ebony fingerboard, ebony volume and tone knobs, classic multi-layered binding, high-ratio open geared nickel tuners, engraved floating pickguard, custom tailpiece and adjustable Tusq bridge by Graphtech.

*Includes revolutionary 5th Avenue archtop TRIC case.

Specs

Canadian Wild Cherry archtop or flame maple archtop with canadian wild cherry core (on flame model).
Canadian Wild cherry back & sides or flame maple back & sides (on flame model).
Silver Leaf maple neck or flame maple neck (on flame model). Contoured high-gloss headstock.
High-ratio open geared nickel tuners.
High-gloss Custom Polished Finish.
Ebony Ergocut Fingerboard.
Adjustable Tusq Bridge by Graphtech.
Custom tailpiece.
Engraved floating pickguard.
Multi-layered Binding.
1x floating Godin Mini-humbucker jazz pickup. 1x Volume, 1x Tone (ebony knobs).
16″ (406 mm) fingerboard radius.
24.84″ (630 mm) Scale.
1.72″ (43,7 mm) nut width.
Colors: Piano Black HG and Natural Flame HG

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The ‘Concept’ Practice Method for Improvisation

1. CONCEPT ► 2. METHOD ► 3. PRACTICE ► 4. INTEGRATION + CONSOLIDATION ► 5. EXPRESSION

I often find when considering the ways in which we learn how to play jazz, that the notes we choose are not always the most important element of our playing, nor the phrasing or rhythms used. In fact upon discussing the jazz-learning-pathway with some of the great musicians who have inspired me, I’ve found that the biggest catalysts in their own musical development were often moments of ‘conceptual’ enlightenment; at a gig or clinic, during a lesson or even in a non-performing environment, where the actual notes were a very distant feature and the underlying principles of what and how and why the notes were being played, were far more important.

I believe that a concept can usually be explained and defined, put into words, and given a solid body of text that describes what it is. I also believe that this step is imperative in coming to understand the works of the great jazz artists who have come before us, in that when we transcribe and notate what they play, we should be considering more than just the harmonic, rhythmic and melodic contexts.

The ‘learn-every-Parker-head-and-every-8th-note-rhythm-study-you-can’ method is great for a developing student – in fact, I would give this to all my first and second year undergrad jazz students; but to become a true improviser who wishes to play with any degree of individuality, with your own unique style and voice (let’s face it – that’s the whole point!), it is imperative that as you develop, you do much more than just study the notes.

What I’m getting at is; there must be something behind the notes of those great soloists we’ve all transcribed; an underpinning concept or idea that has given a stand-out phrase or superb melodic line vitality, momentum and meaning. Extracting this concept in an accurate manner is a difficult task. Even when we research the artist we cannot really ‘climb inside their head’ and understand what they were thinking or what concepts they pondered to give rise to their note choices; we can only theorize and extrapolate ideas from what they played on their recordings and said in their interviews.

We often hear about how ideas have changed jazz music history; how Coltrane carried around Nicolas Slonimsky’s ‘Thesaurus of Melodic Scales and Patterns’ book and how it helped him develop the Coltrane Matrix chord cycles (i.e. Giant Steps, Countdown and 26-2). Or George Russells ‘Lydian Chromatic Concept’ which was one of the founding concepts behind tonal freedom and super-imposition and in some ways the precursor concept to ‘modern’ tonally based jazz.

It is my hope that the simple system I’ve developed here will help you come to understand how a concept, no matter how vague or abstract, should be described, methodically applied into a pathway of learning, practiced, consolidated and given a chance to manifest in your playing, in a truly unique fashion.

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, I often find it also gives me an answer to one of the greatest jazz musician questions of all time – what do I practice, right now?

1. CLEARLY DEFINE THE CONCEPT

Anyone can study and practice ‘lick based’ ideas, directly transcribed lines or quotes from melodies – this is a tried and true way for players to build vocabulary, develop language and gain insight into historical perspective. But I would suggest in your next practice session, a more effective method of learning (and teaching) would derive from applying a ‘concept method’ of study. A concept in this instance is purely any generalized musical idea (it is important that you understand and, as accurately as you possibly can, define how this concept relates to and affects your approach to music).

For example – take the common instance of learning a new scale onto your instrument. Instead of just learning this scale by playing the notes from tonic to the tonic octave above and back again – ask yourself why you are learning the scale in the first place. Surely not just to play the scale up and down, every time you call a tune with that scale sound or valid chord, at all your gigs? How incomplete a practice method is this – and yet this is how many jazz students learn to play scales, and continue to practice even as advanced improvisers. I would encourage this type of practice method only in the very early stages of getting to know a scale.

The real problem is; there is no concept for practice; only notes. You have chosen a sound but have not considered the context in which it will eventually end up (i.e. an improvised fragment of harmony and rhythm, as a melodic line). Players with conceptual methodology will always outshine and out-learn players who just run notes / look for speed / don’t consider harmonic context / have no idea of how the scale notes relate tonally etc.

So, using the example above of ‘new scale practice’ (which is constantly re-emerging in my own practice regime), I would firstly define the concept, primarily considering the ‘why’ (although this can get very philosophical!) and then I often find that the ‘how’ or actual method, will follow.

‘I wish to use scales as a means to express my improvised melodic musings in as lyrical and contextually relevant manner as possible’

And that’s it – there is my concept; it embodies my ideals (playing phrases that are melodic and lyrical); it outlines that I will be using scales in an improvised manner (which alludes to the fact that to master a particular scale with the goal of improvising freely and expressively, there will probably be several hundred hours practice involved) and it reminds me that I should remain musically appropriate to whatever context I find myself in (which again hints at a massive amount of harmonic and rhythmic study).

So a clearly defined concept is our first step – it has given me an outline for what I need to work into a method for practice.

2. DEVELOP YOUR OWN METHOD

The ‘method’ part is where you take your concept and invent a set system with quantifiable elements that will help you understand it. You should order these elements in as practical a manner as possible to form a practice system that will help you improve certain aspects of your playing, improvising, interaction or other general musical skills.
Concepts must have a method for application in order that they be effective – and sometimes this is difficult to ascertain; the ‘how to’ aspect is often the hardest part.

Going back to our scale learning example, I doubt that any of the great improvisers would practice scales in such a fashion – ascending and descending from the tonic to the octave and back. They would probably have a dozen different ways in which they would work a new sound into their playing; intervallic patterns, sequences, rhythmic subdivisions, harmonic cycles etc – all of which would likely end up in a structured practice routine.

It is imperative that your defined concept can be integrated into your practice schedule in some kind of unique and useful way – this will become your method.

One example of a good method for scale practice could be the patterns method, which is almost infinite in terms of how it may be configured. In fact, it is possible, should you be creative and persistent enough, that you will find a completely unique pattern, a new organization of notes. In this way the ‘patterns method’ can be totally individualized to suit you as a player and can be a great ‘idea spinner’ for linear phrasing. There are many method books on patterns and many great jazz musicians who use common jazz patterns, arpeggio patterns, mathematical patterns, rhythmic patterns and intervallic patterns, among others.

At this point in our method creation, it is a good idea to reread our concept: ‘I wish to use scales as a means to express my improvised melodic musings in as lyrical and contextually relevant manner as possible’. Practicing scales in any manner of pattern will only ever fall short of this conceptual goal because we have not fully captured the final contextual implications. So the second part of my method building must be creating a practice-chain that takes patterns and applies them in a direct form into a harmonic and rhythmic context.

The ‘3 Step Method’ (or ‘practice-chain’*) for Scale Mastery:

I. Choose a single scale pattern. Define it in terms of start or root note, number by semitone or comparative to the major scale, how many notes the pattern has and the manner in which it repeats, direction, note names etc – every way in which it may eventually come to be useful to you in a musical setting. Go about learning it onto your instrument; guitarists may wish to play it in positions up and down the neck, or a certain amount of notes per set of strings or on one string only (could be difficult depending on the pattern type), or in certain keys or key centre cycles etc. This is the easy part.

II. Once learned onto the instrument, apply your scale pattern directly into a harmonic vehicle for improvising practice. This is where you would play it over a static harmonic moment, a single valid chord (or set of related valid chords) that accurately describes the given scale. Play and hold the chord (pianists) use a loop pedal to create a sound canvas (guitarists), or record a backing track for yourself to play along with.

III. I would then apply rhythm – choose a style or genre, a tempo and meter and play the scale pattern in basic rhythmic subdivisions (use longer values / durations at first) over this static chord accurately and with clarity.

*The reason I have used the word ‘chain’ is because if you break (or skip) one link in the chain it will not be as strong!

Your method should eventually read like a flow chart, with careful analysis, editing and development of each step. It could be 5 steps long or 100; the more detailed you are at the method design stage, the more clearly you will know how to practice and the easier it will be to develop exercises and examples.

3. DESIGN YOUR PRACTICE SCHEDULE

Before we continue our example, I would like to take a few sentences to talk about how important practice is. To me there is really only one main reason for practice when it comes to jazz –to understand something better and through this understanding, creatively control that thing in an expressive, musical way when improvising. Only through practice (and serious study and repetition) can we achieve true integration, consolidation and then ultimately, self expression of the musical concepts we wish to explore. We must have a solid method to follow and we must practice in a focused and studious manner.

Here are some general practice tips for those who are serious about playing jazz music fluently and with confidence:

-Practice at least 90 minutes a day constructively (read through the JGL BLOG on ‘Practice schedule layout’). This is an absolute minimum – it usually takes me about 40 minutes just to warm up.

-Be focused. No distractions, no mobile phone, Facebook, internet, TV. Nothing.

-Choose what you are going to practice carefully.

-Challenge yourself and work as much as you can on things you find difficult.

-Always use a metronome when practicing anything that has time, rhythm and meter.

-Keep a logbook of what you practice and of how long you practice for. This will be your guide to keep track of progress, your way of grading yourself.

-It is a good idea to divide your week into practicing a lot of different things if you wish to be a well rounded player. If more focus is required or something in particular requires special attention you may wish to use more specialized practice routines to deal with only that one subject etc.

-Take time every day or at least every week, to JAM through tunes by yourself and with a group – music should be fun too, even if you want to make it a serious career.

Discipline, routine and a carefully structured approach to practice eventually equals integration and then consolidation of musical ideas.

Now back to our example. We have chosen the concept of ‘scale mastery’ and the method of ‘pattern practice’ in 3 steps as outlined above (choose and practice scale pattern, apply to static vamp then find a relevant musical stylistic application). Now to the nuts and bolts!

-I would first use the arrowed guides above to design a practice schedule, defining an allotted time, choosing an undisturbed area to practice in, keeping a regular schedule so that I could do practice in a routine like fashion. Then, I would let this settle over the course of a week or two, seeing how realistic and achievable it is. I would log every session and re read what I had covered, making any necessary adjustments to the schedule.

Let’s say we are studying the melodic minor mode scale ‘Lydian Augmented’ using the jazz pattern 1235 onto the guitar. I would put a 30 minute warm up together purely playing the pattern transformed (i.e. on every step) through the entire scale, in one key. The next 7 sessions could be one more new key each session; or a new position etc. During these sessions I would start using static vamps (or cycles of the root Lydian Augmented chord sound), thereby implementing my second practice-chain step. After a week or so (once the scale sound and pattern shape and feel are fluent in my playing) I would try and apply it to a harmonic progression in a favourite tune, giving it a tempo, meter and style. If this works, after a short time I would try using it in a jam situation with others.

One thing is important to note here – I am being very patient; allowing myself time to come to understand this scale, the sound and the feel of the pattern, in a focused and detailed manner and respecting the fact that it will take time to get this into my playing.

At this point you could do many things – change patterns, change scales, transform the pattern to include other notes, change rhythmic interpretations etc. But now you have the methodology and practice schedule, the way in which you can invent and follow an idea through to fruition (appearing in your lines in a solo!) is now rock solid.

But the journey is not over yet – in fact it’s just begun!

4. INTEGRATION + CONSOLIDATION

The next step is crucial in becoming an improviser. My take is this: if you are playing something you’ve practiced, you’re not really improvising! So this is where you allow the practiced concept to find its own way into your playing over time, without playing it in an exact, ‘verbatim’ form.

You could develop techniques that help you stay away from playing straight ahead practiced patterns – like random movement, rhythmic displacement etc. But as these are techniques, they may yield familiar or preconceived results. Sometimes it is better to let the original idea digest while continuing to practice different permutations or configurations of patterns; if the fingers know how and where to find the sound, they will go there when your ear hears it, given the right preparation. As long as you keep the original concept in mind you will improve towards that goal of self expression.

Think of the many different ways you can apply your practiced ideas – gigs, jam sessions and one on one lesson. Discussions are also extremely important and a valid way of honing your ideas. With time and dedication your new concepts will become commonplace and you’ll move on to even greater things – everything once consolidated becomes ‘foundation’.

5. EXPRESSION

This type of conceptual, methodical practice will lead to a more individual voice on your instrument – listeners will hear the technique, the hours of practice and devotion you’ve applied to sculpting your sound – but more importantly they will hear your ‘voice’ as it emerges.

Final tips: Be focused in your practice, be patient with yourself in waiting for what you practice to manifest on the gig. And have fun!

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Insights Into How To Comp Jazz Guitar

This is a transcript of an interview I did with Bazi Baker, who was completing his undergraduate degree in 2010 at the Christchurch Jazz School in New Zealand. Some insightful, pertinent questions on comping within a jazz context.

1. What are some things you feel that beginning compers are not aware of or forget to think about?

Volume, dynamic, time keeping, listening to the musical environment, interaction with the band

2. Can you pin point some characteristics you like in a good comper?

Someone who: feels good to play with, is sympathetic to the ideas that soloist / vocalist / lead instrument is playing and who is experimental within the context of the tune and musical environment.

3. Are there any players who have specifically influenced your approach to comping? If so why have they influenced you?

Freddie Green (the quarter note pulse) and Django in the same respect, Ted Greene for voicings and voice leading in a traditional jazz / classical ‘harmonic’ sense, Jim Hall in his open approach to harmony and rhythm in standard tonal jazz music, Kurt Rosenwinkel in ‘modern thinking’ (and Allan Holdsworth in intervallic ‘modern’ comping), Benson, Joe Pass and Wes for traditional ‘chops’ comping, Pat Metheny for his dynamic approach to comping (for yourself) in a guitar trio, Sco for 4ths and grit in comping, Jonathan Kreisberg for his clustered approach to ‘modern’ comping.

4. Are there any players other than the ones above who you admire with their comping?

Sylvain Luc, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Ben Monder, Bill Frisell, Lenny Breaux,

5. When comping under a soloist is there anything you are specifically thinking about or listening out for?

Depending on context: usually in a duo / trio it’s more about holding perfect time and not experimenting too much unless there is serious trust within the group to do so, in a larger group I may not comp at all if there is another harmony instrument comping, or keep it open by not stating the harmony so obviously (or at all) within the chosen notes I use to comp. It’s a very big answer as it varies within each context / group / genre / feel / tempo etc.

6. What have been some ways you have tried to develop your comping style?

Transcribing directly and writing out parts / analysing them, practicing general harmony methodically using parallel techniques (as in find a voicing you dig and take it through the entire range of a chosen scale on the range of your instrument) then applying it to a tune you’re working on / going to play. Lots of rhythmic studies at the moment using comping long notes / short notes on every possible combination of quarter and 8th note pulses (coming up with comping pulse forms like ‘AABA’ in four bar measures etc) and also variations on odd metric forms using ‘Balkan’ 2 and 3 common and uncommon pulses (e.g. playing in 7/4 using 14 8th notes divided like: 232 232 or 322 322 or 223 223 which are common or 223 322 which is uncommon etc). Apart from that LOTS of playing in different groups and with different people.

7. In short what are you trying to achieve when you comp?

Music that feels good for the band, for myself and for the audience –it’s all about context to me.

8. Are there any absolute rules when it comes to comping? If not are there any opinions that seem to be held by every good comper?

I think listening is the most important part of comping because it should tell you about when to comp, how much to comp, how loud you should be etc. But first you MUST memorise the music you are playing – and repeat many times to explore possibilities in a practice context, then you’re ready to listen. Otherwise you’re just reading / freaking out about what you’re doing. Memorisation and internalisation; that’s probably my GOLDEN rule(s).

9. Do you feel that different songs need to be approached differently when it comes to comping?

Absolutely, it’s about context and having a vocab for that context both harmonically and rhythmically. For example, most jazz guys I know find it difficult to play rock or funk, not because they don’t know the harmony / rhythm of the music but because they don’t get the ‘feel’ of the music, they haven’t been around it, experienced the other things that give rock music or funk music that vibe – and some of which aren’t just musical things (for e.g. social / political / spiritual influences on musics etc). It’s the same thing trying to get classically trained musicians to swing well, generally speaking it’s not in built / ingrained because they haven’t listened to and played much of that type of music.

Even within the field of jazz, which has much to do with Swing, Latin, open feel and different meter BUT often has touches of blues (think Scofield) rock (think Wayne Krantz), funk (think The Meters / MMW), fusion (think Allan Holdsworth), reggae (think Ernest Ranglin), classical (think Ted Greene / Keith Jarrett), country (think Frisell) etc: In my opinion this means that a good comper should listen to and draw musical elements
from ALL these other musics to comp appropriately in the range of musics common to jazz today.

10. How much should the characteristics a song determine how somebody comps rather than just their own personal style?

You should always have a sense of self when playing a tune, even if it’s a square gig or that standard you don’t like, or that band you’re not looking forward to playing with – you should always think ‘how am I going to make this particular song / set / gig work well, what are the characteristics of this style that I can stay within and not lose myself and play something I’m not feeling’. In the end I think guitarists, in order to survive in today’s musical community, HAVE to have a sense of the song (and many styles etc) AND a sense of themselves; when booking an accompanist, I think ‘can he/she play this style, that style’ etc and most importantly – ‘how do they feel to play with’, in that style.

11. How much have you learnt about comping form other instruments other than your own?

Lots of voicing stuff from piano, lots of foundation from bass, lots of rhythm from drums and percussion, and practitioners on those instruments here and abroad. I spend between 4 and about 12 hours a week on Youtube, checking out what the world of music has to offer. If I only listened to guitarists I think I’d be very limited in what I can play.

12. In short how do you think comping styles have changed throughout the history of jazz?

Nowadays with technological improvements for guitar in particular there are so many ways to get expressive and dynamic effects like distortions for sustain, mod effects and delays and reverb that can dress up / make the guitar sound bigger etc – it’s easier to hide behind these things. In the old days you had your guitar and your fingers; no amps, no effects – you had to be good! Nowadays the good players can augment that with technology to go into new areas of accompaniment that were never dreamed of 70 years ago. Music styles have changed in jazz too, for example, part of the new ‘sound’ of modern jazz (as in post 1990’s metric modulation / complex harmony and rhythm) within a band environment is very rarely played on a ‘jazz guitar and amp’ old school (1960’s) set up – the sound is too dated, as beautiful as it is. So context, technology,fashion and era dictate guitar sound (not just for comping of course) nowadays.

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Plurality

A plurality exists when a chord has more than one harmonic context or usage. This concept applies to all triad and most 7th chords that are commonly used in jazz repertoire.

This is great for simplifying voicings of complex chords onto the fret-board of the guitar, being a notoriously hard instrument to ‘visualise’ chords on. If you spend some time studying these shapes and relationships you’ll be able to voice chords and lines along much simpler to ‘see’ and play chordal positions, by thinking of the primary triads or 7th chords at the top of the voicing; rather than trying to voice all the notes of a written chord (or settling for common voicings etc).

Listed below are the most commonly used primary and secondary ‘plural series’ of triads > 7th chords > 9th chords.

Primary plurality:

1. C major has the notes C, E, and G, add an A below and they now form the top 3 notes of an Ami7 chord.

2. C major has the notes C, E, and G, add an Ab below and they now form the top 3 notes of an Abma7(#5) chord.

3. C minor has the notes C, Eb, and G, add an Ab below and they now form the top 3 notes of an Abma7 chord.

4. C minor has the notes C, Eb, and G, add an A below and they now form the top 3 notes of an Am7(b5) chord.

5. C diminished has the notes C, Eb, and Gb, add an A below and they now form the top 3 notes of an A dim7 chord.

6. C diminished has the notes C, Eb, and Gb, add an Ab below and they now form the top 3 notes of an Ab7 chord.

7. C augmented triad has the notes C, E, and G#, add an A below and they now form the top 3 notes of an Ami(ma7).

So we have constructed a basic ‘chord series’ by adding a 3rd below the tonic of each chord in the series. Therefore a C triad could = Am7 OR Ab+ma7!

Secondary plurality:

8. Abma7 has the notes Ab, C, Eb and G, add an F below and they now form the top 4notes of an Fmi9 chord.

9. Abma7 has the notes Ab, C, Eb and G, add an E below and they now form the top 4 notes of an E+ma7(#9) chord.

10. Ab7 has the notes Ab, C, Eb and Gb, add an E below and they now form the top 4 notes of an E+ma9 chord.

11. Am7 has the notes A, C, E and G, add an F below and they now form the top 4 notes of an Fma9 chord.

12. Ami7(b5) has the notes A, C, Eb and G, add an F below and they now form the tope 4 notes of an F9 chord – or tritonally substitute the bass (F) to a B to form the top part of a B+7(b9) chord.

13. Ab+ma7 has the notes Ab, C, E and G, add an F below and they now form the top 4 notes of an Fmi(ma9) chord.

14. Ami(ma7) has the notes A, C, E and G#, add an F# below and they now form the top 4 notes of an F#mi9(b5) chord.

We now add a note below to form a 9th chord from some of the 7 chords given above. Learn the relationships from 9th to 7th to triad chords also, i.e. Fm9(b5) = Abmi(ma7) = B+ triad. There are also many more plural forms in common use, some of which will be covered in a Master Class Video here on JGL in the near future.

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Kurt Rosenwinkel and Jonathan Kreisberg Transcription Study: Part 3

Here is part 3 of my studies on Kurt Rosenwinkel and Jonathan Kreisberg.

I extracted 8 concepts for improvisation from my transcriptions of these two great players and then composed the concepts into my own lines (as written ‘soli’) over newly composed harmonic progressions.

The effect that this had on my playing was massive! I really struggled with playing the same ideas over and over and so this approach helped me think of new ways of playing my (rather stale!) vocabulary, rhythmically, harmonically and melodically. Please feel free to download the PDF of my studies (Transcription, actual study text and MP3 recordings of my tunes).

Enjoy and please leave comments!

‘Windows’ is a fast 3/4 swing (220 – 230bpm) by Chick Corea. Again the soloist
improvises over the melody form.

line of interest windows

Uncommon triadal superimposition: On beat 2 of bar 3 Kreisberg superimposes a first inversion C# major triad arpeggio against the traditional harmonic framework (B Dorian or possibly Melodic minor is commonly used here). This is what many practitioners refer to as sounding ‘out’, where a soloist will deliberately choose to play notes against the written changes. When a soloist resolves to (or stays on the strong tones of) the changes it is loosely termed ‘in’ or ‘inside’ playing.
Use of advanced harmonic language: After the ascent of the line (beat 1+ of bar 4), the C# major triad changes to an A# minor triad which is a semitone below the B minor tonic chord. This can be derived from the F# Harmonic Major scale but could also be the utilisation of chromatic ‘side slipping’.
Linear non resolution: The passage of notes does not resolve within the bar or in the measures following by linear means; instead chords are sounded to ground the listener in the original (extant) harmony of B minor.

interpreted passages

Triadal superimposition: To begin I have inserted a F minor triad arpeggio against the Ami11 (‘out’ sound) at bar 9, acting as a dom7V sub derived from E altered (could also be interpreted as an Ab6, in an anticipation of the harmony at bar 10), then utilised two 7-10-11 clusters on the Bmi11 and Gmi11 to imply a resolve (‘inside’ sound). Over the Abma7 at bar 10 I have superimposed an Ami triad arpeggio (outside) in a restatement of the harmony of the preceding bar which moves through a chromatic Eb to an inverted G major triad over the Fmi chord (outside). This infers a Lydian minor sound (C Harmonic minor or C Harmonic major 4th mode) which is chordally resolved at the end of bar 10 by a 3-5-9 voicing of Fmi9 (inside). I have started bar 11 ‘inside’ with a Cmi9 (or Ebma7) arpeggio which descends chromatically to a D maj triad arpeggio (outside) against the Eb sus (normally a Db/Eb would be used here). Bar 12 begins ‘inside’ with a G major triad arpeggio then continues this arpeggio against the C/Db (outside). Bar 13 is all ‘out’ harmony (unresolved within the bar), with an F# major arpeggio against the Emi13, an A# minor arp against the Bmi11 and a G# minor arp against the Gmi11. These triads have all been used to state the diatonic but unrelated harmony of three F# major derived triads (I, II and III), against the changes with the purpose of using harmonic particles that are strongly related to each other (and therefore relatively melodic) but not related to the written chord changes in a primary tonal sense. This could be further described as ‘tonal centre superimposition’. It is possible to derive a set of chords and tonal centres that relate to the changes (even if they modulate), then play notes from a tonal centre outside of these possible choices. Bar 14 is ‘out-in-in-in’ with a G major triad chord played against the F minor but quickly resolved to an Ab minor over F (Fmi7) then arpeggios that are inside the Cmi and Ab7 chord scales. Bars 15 and 16 use an ‘out-in’ form through usage of triad chords that quickly resolve.

Use of advanced harmonic language: Repetitive usage of Harmonic minor and Harmonic major derived triads which can be further developed into usable jazz language upon practice and application.

This was an interesting conceptual study in that it posed many questions about melody; some being: How is melody that is ‘outside’ made to sound ‘right’ to a listener? What are some basic guidelines to melodic inside and outside principles? If every possible tone is related to every possible other tone or set of tones (chords) in some way then how do we define truly out playing? Some answers could be thus:
• The terms ‘in’ and ‘out’ are only useful in a general, subjective sense: harmonically advanced players may hear and use many sounds beyond diatonic or (clustered / unrelated / heavily altered or substituted harmony) which to them is ‘inside’ material but to others may be too dissonant to grasp or relate to and is therefore termed ‘outside’.
• Generally, if an outside line resolves to an inside sound within a certain physical time frame (as in a few seconds but not necessarily within one bar), the casual listener accepts its usage.
• With study, ‘in/out’ forms may be described for any set of chords; this could be any tonal centre (T.C) that has no direct relationship with the written chord set diatonically, or chords drawn from this foreign T.C.

bars 65 72 of the solo

Musical concepts extracted:

• Chromatic usage: Insertion of descending chromatic tones between the 7th and 6th, 6th and 5th, 3rd and 2nd and 2nd and tonic scale degrees of E maj throughout entire passage.
• Extended continuous passages: Linear passage begins at beat two of bar 65 and continues into bar 73. This could be a particular line or lick of Kreisberg’s or a series of interconnected fragments of practiced vocab.
• Traditional passages in modern form: Kreisberg plays ‘traditional vocab lines’ found commonly in 4/4 time but over this 3/4 meter these lines anchor, pivot or change direction on the weaker downbeats (beats 2 or 3) in most bars. This creates a harmonic pulse in rhythmically unexpected places (rhythmic tension).

after rythimic tension

Chromatic usage: Insertion of descending chromatic tones throughout further developed by using ascending tones over bars 21-23.
Extended continuous passages: Linear passage begins on beat one of bar 17 and continues into bar 20.
Traditional passages in modern form: I have inserted traditional vocab lines over the 7/4 meter of this piece which anchor on the strong beats (beat 1, beat 4 and 6) throughout bars 17-21. Then, to create rhythmic pulse tensions I have utilised chromatics that run through change points (thereby not indicating the strong beats or change points) and also broken the 8th note passages up over bars 21-23. I have also stated a rhythmic fragment in bar 24 that is repeated in a displaced manner.

Post recording summary of Rosen Koncept

Rosen Koncept is a total of 40 bars, comprised of 5 lots of 8 bar progressions, each of which correspond to one set of extracted concepts. These were developed and reworked into my own conceptual ideas, on which I based the lines that are written in this final solo. The concepts I utilised are summarised here.

Concept set 1: Intervallic usage, Fragmented scale usage, Semitonic resolution, Out of phase harmonic anchor pulse points. Instead of picking up into the solo form I have started on beat one of the first chord in my new progression. The chords are modulating in a transitional fashion back towards an imagined A major resolution at bar 5 but then a true modulation into Db min takes place. I have sculpted my lines so that over each bar (and the entire measure of 8 bars), the melodic structure of all the notes combined is lyrical and yet the conceptual ideas I have extracted from Rosenwinkel’s original solo are in tact and recognisable. A common element of strong resolution within the melodic structure of a line is when the tonic, 3rd, 5th and 7th of a chord are played on the strong beats (downbeats). Here, this melodic concept is developed by anticipating (playing the preceding weak beat) or delaying (playing the following weak beat) these stronger harmonic tones (1, 3, 5 or 7) onto weaker rhythmic beats. The melody is still stated, even if a little earlier or later than expected, so to the listener’s ear the line is still functional.

Concept set 2: Poly rhythmic grouping, Pattern utilisation and development, Out of phase harmonic anchor pulse points. While obviously derived from Rosenwinkels’ lines, this particular reinterpretation of the ‘scalar transformation concept’ explains how a scale may be practiced in isolation using mathematically applied formulae such as 1-4-5, 2-5-6, 3-6-7 etc. Using this tool, a player may derive many non traditional (nontertian) fragments or ‘germs’ of initial ideas that may be applied across modulating or unrelated harmonic contexts and may also group these in non-linear resolution rhythmic forms (grouping across singular or multiple bars or measures). This is a common
element of Rosenwinkel’s improvisations, where he combines these concepts into a flowing organic note structure that whilst giving the impression of tension or dissonance still ends up sounding musical.

Concept set 3: Pattern usage with large intervallic and scale fragments, Pattern inversion, Rhythmic displacement. From this set of concepts I have extracted one particularly valuable idea; an arpeggiotic description of major 13, minor 13 and dominant 13 chord families by way of 1-5-9-10-13-14 (Rosenwinkel) or 1-6-9-10-13-17-14 (Nacey) formulae. These arpeggios outlines both primary tones and extensions in a manner which is inherently melodic and can be utilised directly into an improvising situation that uses major 13, minor 13 or dominant 13 chords (or simplified primary chords where these extensions are applicable).

Another musical idea is generated here: the usage of tertian arpeggios sounds more melodic when the initial arpeggio is played ascending (or descending) then when the next harmony set (chord change etc) occurs, the opposite motion is used. So there is a ‘pivot’ (change of direction in the flow of notes) usually on or near the chord change point in the bar. In this way (which I have termed ‘close movement’), the melodic imprint is more ‘flowing’ from one sound to the next rather than intervallic and ‘jarring’.

Utilised in combination this concept set can be useful in diatonic situations or if the harmony is transitioning or modulating.

Concept set 4: Continuous subdivided passages, Odd groupings, Pattern embellishment / resolution. Using continuous passages of triplet quarter notes in a 5/4 meter has a destabilising (rhythmically tense) feel; unless (and this is rare) the division of the bar is a minim (2), minim (2), quarter note pulse (1). Commonly a 5/4 bar will be divided 3:2 or into two lots of 5/8 so the triplet quarter note rhythm, which resolves every two beats, fights against this common pulse. I carried the pattern through the first four bars of the measure (25-28) then reversed and broke the pattern up rhythmically which, again, has a particularly tense rhythmic feel. There are three separate rhythmic layers at work here: the meter, the pulse and the grouping which must be taken into consideration when creating practice routines around these concepts. A student must insert these rhythmic ideas into a harmonic context and then assess whether the overall result is melodic and musical (is it creating tension, developing an idea, creating a dynamic within the solo).

Concept set 5: Grouping against pulse, Transitional pattern modulation via superimposition. To precede a chord change (such as the I minor changing to the IV minor), Rosenwinkel commonly substitutes a functional chord at a point after the initial harmony has been stated, over which he superimposes notes that outline a new chord or master scale. This acts as a transitional catalyst into the coming harmonic change. While this is common practice for jazz improvisation, interestingly the harmony used as a transitional function is not limited to a dominant chord, routinely used when moving towards a chord a 4th above – particularly in a minor blues. Again, Rosenwinkel applies
the concept of grouping notes in an uneven fashion against the pulse. This is a great tool for rhythmic tension which I utilised by taking the 5/4 meter, dividing it into triplet 8ths and then using 5 note groupings of a scalar pattern over the chord changes.

Post recording summary of Kreisbergian Mindset

Kreisbergian Mindset is 24 bars in total, broken down into 3 lots of 8 bar progressions each of which correspond to one set of extracted concepts. These were then developed and reworked into my own conceptual ideas, on which I based the lines that are written in this final solo. The concepts I utilised are summarised here.

Concept set 6: Displacement, Development by melodic rhythm insertion. The rhythmic displacement of melodic ideas can be achieved mathematically; an improviser may take a fragment of a line and begin the line at any or all of the other possible divided points in the bar. Composing musically sensible and melodic passages (rather than ‘mathematical / patternistic’ sounding passages) using displacement as a tool might then be developed by inserting notes or rests in an organic fashion.

While this seems arbitrary, a good method could be as follows: define the set of
possible start points for a given linear fragment (say 3 consecutive 8th notes) into a selected bar division (say quarter note down beats) then practice each displaced fragment in isolation (repeatedly playing the fragment on beat one for some time then play the fragment on beat two etc). Repeat this step now with each bar consecutively (starting the first 3 8th notes on beat one, bar two the pattern begins on beat 2 etc) and examine the spaces between the notes (this will be a three and a half quarter notes). In these spaces insert improvised linear fragments of unequal value (longer or shorter) and of varying harmonic content. Repeat until thoroughly practiced, write out / record and evaluate the most ‘organic’ or musically appropriate set of passages.

Concept set 7: Triadal superimposition, Use of advanced harmonic language.
Superimposition in this context is playing harmony that is not diatonically or consonantly relative to the written chords. There are many possibilities for triadal superimposition over any given chord; considering function, alteration of chord by interval etc. To find a way to apply this concept, an improviser could define the set of diatonically relative chords (from mode scales) and consonant variations then use this ‘first level’ of substitutions: major triads based of the points that are not diatonically in the scale. The same could be done for all the non relative minor triads. For any major scale derived harmony there would be 9 non relative major and minor triads (there are 3 strongly related major / minor triads in any major key centre). Once this is described and practiced (tonic note against all ‘outside’ triadal superimpositions) a set of ‘harmonic conclusions’ may be drawn from the subjective point of view of the improviser and then applied into appropriate contexts (musical moments where the improviser ‘hears’ them).

Concept set 8: Subdivision, Chromatic usage, Traditional passages in modern form. Playing continuous notes at tempo is not a new idea, (bebop artists were playing in this fashion as long as 70 years ago) but the language (the structure of notes used, the order and direction of notes, the rhythmic groupings etc) is constantly being developed. Here I utilised scale fragments, arpeggio tones, inside and outside playing, chromaticisms, rhythmic groupings and common jazz vocabulary to create a continuous passage of notes with a mix of both modern and traditional approaches. A great method to develop an improvisers ‘personalized language’.

Summary
‘Conceptual extraction method’ formula: transcribe selected piece(s) note for note,
isolate and mark passages of interest, extract the concept(s) from the chosen lines, write a new context (different from the original), compose original linear passages and insert them into the new context, practice the passages (and the harmonic framework), record and analyse.

I have extracted many concepts and discovered methods for the application and development of these concepts into new musical contexts. While the concepts are certainly useful in isolation, there is a much greater overall effect when they are merged together in certain combinations (described above as concept sets). Once written into a selected harmonic and rhythmic context by way of linear passage, they must be practiced, recorded and analysed to be truly effective as improvising tools or practicing methods.

I believe this research holds great value for instrumentalists interested in improvising in a modern jazz form and for researchers interested in deconstructing and analysing modern jazz improvisation.

I am interested in refining my work here through future research by way of; further development of modern improvising tools by conceptual extraction, other instrument transcription and developing singular concepts into multiple usages through derived practice methods.

Full Lesson Transcription

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The Lion: Samson Nacey Haines Trio

The Lion is an up tempo 3/4 swing, which centers around a basic melodic theme with a lot of shifting harmonic underpinning by way of modulation and progressive chord movements. The recorded version was captured live in studio and features Kevin Field on Piano with my trio (Ron Samsom on drums and Kevin Haines on Upright bass). Kevin is a harmonic master so he tore up the changes fairly effortlessly on a ‘read through’ – after I’d spent the better part of 3 weeks practicing it! I hope you enjoy and as always feel free to leave comments and questions.

 

The Lion

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