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Bebop Melody Lesson 2 : Donna Lee [BML2]

Donna Lee was the first bebop melody I learned (when I was 16) and it made my melodic and harmonic depth (as well as my general technique – trying to get it up to ‘bebop’ tempo) improve in leaps and bounds. In this video I break down some preferred fingerings (you can see the attached transcription sheet with the entire melody transcribed in notation with TAB) and I also look at parts of the melody I found to be particularly important in terms of the relationship between melody and chords. Parker had a wonderful habit of writing and improvising lines that melded a series of quickly … [Read more...]


Lesson 10: All the things you are – ‘Playing the 3rds’ [JS10]

In this lesson we examine ‘All The Things You Are’, a commonly called show tune Jazz Standard taken from a late 1930’s Musical (A Very Warm May), music composed by Jerome Kern. Please check out this Wikipedia Page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_Things_You_Are  This page analyses the harmony and form. Also, please feel free to download copies of the ‘Harmonic Lead Sheet’ attached to this page. ODD METER Most popularly played in a 4/4 standard meter, I have reinterpreted it into a medium swing 3/4 or ‘jazz waltz feel’. I find that working on common odd … [Read more...]


Bebop Melody Lesson 1: Billies Bounce [BML1]

JGL Bebop Melody Lesson 1 – Billies Bounce (Blurb) Here we examine a 12 bar blues melody by Charlie Parker. I wanted to study his melodies because ofthe melodic and rhythmic interest he generates in his linear structure, often using extensions as target notes (in both higher and lower registers), displacement (as evidenced in the first four bars of this melody and in many other Parker heads), enclosure (where the target note is ‘enclosed by a higher and lower note), chromaticism (target note is approached by a semitone) and many other ‘jazz-isms’ that have become staple concepts in … [Read more...]


Masterclass Lesson 13: Odd Meter – Con Alma, Magreb [ML13]

To close my recital I chose a swing tune that is often interpreted as a 3/4, 6/8 or 12/8. I arranged it predominantly as a 6/8, albeit with a few interesting twists in the head. To introduce the tune, I explore the harmony using wide-interval, disjointed arpeggios that imply the melody (and harmony) of the A sections over an extended intro. Then, joined by drums and bass, a cosy medium 4 is played at letter B, before a 6/8 ‘Magreb’ feel is settled on by the rhythm section, underpinning a displaced melodic line at letter C. Full Arrangement … [Read more...]


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 good 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 … I think this review site on guitars will agree with me on this.[Read more...]


Masterclass Lesson 12: Odd Meter – Countdown, Mixed Meter [ML12]

In this tune I wanted to explore the idea of the 7/4 swing, where the original 4/4 bar is transposed into two bars, one of 4/4 and one of 3/4, creating a ‘swinging 7’ feel. Played at a frenetic tempo, the slightly longer harmonic rhythm still offers challenges in maintaining musical phrasing in the 7/4 meter whilst navigating the many key centre modulations of the Coltrane Matrix. Some interesting metric and stylistic devices are employed during both the bass and drum solos and to conclude the tune. Full Arrangement … [Read more...]


Masterclass Lesson 11: Odd Meter – In Your Own Sweet Way [ML11]

Here we introduce another rhythmic challenge with an 11/8 meter; prompting many long practice sessions, where the aim was to internalise and, as an ensemble, ‘naturalise’ the many possible combinations of 8th note groupings in 2’s and 3’s in a bar. A base rhythm was settled upon; 2, 2, 2, 2, 3; however, pulsing this as an ensemble quickly becomes monotonous and mechanical, so attention was given to exploring a range of other pulses (similar to written ostinatoes), to create a more organic feeling. With this tune I kept the melody freely rhythmically interpreted, as phrasing lines … [Read more...]


Core Lesson 47 Jazz Lines over Standards Series: Chord Tone Soloing – ‘Green Dolphin Street’

In this lesson we take a different tack and work on building related ideas that carry similar themes, either harmonically, rhythmically or melodically. Again it is advisable that you: 1. Print off the attached PDF of the chords to ‘On Green Dolphin Street’ provided in the concert key of C major; you may wish to make multiple copies. 2. Have a pencil ready for altering or adding music or notes to the chart. 3. To get a more solid understanding of the chord changes, adopt a similar process as we did in the earlier videos of this series: write the chord tones (3rd, 5th and 7th) … [Read more...]


Core Lesson 46 Jazz Lines over Standards Series: Chord Tone Soloing – ‘Just Friends’ [CL46]

  In this lesson we build on the ideas developed in the first 3 related videos in this series. Our focus is on playing melodically using lines constructed mainly of chord tones (arpeggio). Again it is advisable that you: 1. Print off the attached PDF of the chords to ‘Just Friends’ provided in the concert key of G major; you may wish to make multiple copies. 2. Have a pencil ready for altering or adding music or notes to the chart. 3. Map out the 3rd, 5th and 7th of each valid chord in notation (or note name) on the staff near each written chord, then find this on your … [Read more...]


Masterclass Lesson 10: Ballad Approaches – Naima [ML10]

Looking to investigate timbre and texture, a sparse drum solo introduces this tune, leading to an open guitar and drum melody-interpretation. Bass joins at letter B; and so begins the only 4/4 tune of the recital (in the hope of serving as a release from the tension of so much metric mayhem). I have also included this tune because it is a favourite of mine, with what I feel is an extremely unique and beautiful melodic and harmonic framework. Full Arrangement … [Read more...]


Core Lesson 45 Jazz Lines over Standards Series: Chord Tones: Resolving towards the 3rd – ‘Summertime’

In this lesson we focus on building lines that resolve towards the 7th of each chord. Again, as in the two prior related videos, I advise you to do the following steps: 1. Print off the attached PDF of the chords to ‘Summertime’ provided in the concert key of Dmi, you may wish to make multiple copies. 2. Have a pencil ready for altering or adding music or notes to the chart. 3. Map out the 7th of each valid chord in notation (or note name) on the staff near each written chord, then find this on your guitar (try it in one place only at first). 4. Try singing the notes you have … [Read more...]


Core Lesson 44: Jazz Lines over Standards Series: Chord Tones: Resolving towards the 5th – ‘Blue Bossa’ [CL 44]

In this lesson we focus on building lines that resolve towards the 5th of each chord. So again, as in the first video, I advise you to do the following steps: 1. Print off the attached PDF of the chords to ‘Blue Bossa’ provided in the concert key of Cmi, you may wish to make multiple copies. 2. Have a pencil ready for altering or adding music or notes to the chart. 3. Map out the 5th of each valid chord in notation (or note name) on the staff near each written chord, then find this on your hollow-body guitar (try it in one place only at first). 4. Try singing the notes you have just … [Read more...]


Core Lesson 43: Jazz Lines over Standards Series. Chord Tones: Resolving towards the 3rd – ‘All of Me’ [CL 43]

In this lesson we focus on building lines that resolve towards the 3rd of each chord. To make this as easy to follow as is possible, I advise you to do the following steps: 1. Print off the attached PDF of the chords to ‘All of Me’ provided in the concert key of C, you may wish to make multiple copies. 2. Have a pencil ready for altering or adding music or notes to the chart. 3. Map out the 3rd of each valid chord in notation (or note name) on the staff near each written chord, then find this on your guitar (try it in one place only at first). 4. Try singing the notes you have … [Read more...]


Masterclass Lesson 9: Odd Meter – Very Early [ML9]

Here we tackle the 5/4 meter as a guitar and bass duo, keeping the pace brisk and thereby augmenting the challenge of improvising fluently over the quick and complex changes of the underpinning harmony. I developed a pianistic approach to chord accompaniment supporting the framework of the melody (in the head of the tune), using broken rhythms to create a tension against the all too tempting ‘Take 5’ 5/4 metric pulse. Furthermore I have focused on keeping a sense of swing and a fluent legato feel over this meter, again emphasising over-barline phrasing. Full Arrangement … [Read more...]


Masterclass Lesson 8: Odd Meter – Along Came Betty [ML8]

I rearranged the original chords and melody of this tune around what could be called a ‘4-and-a-half-over-4’ feel; a fitting description of the pulse phrases generated from the most comfortable rhythmic grouping the trio settled upon for the ‘quarter note accented 9/8’ feel (or 2, 2, 3 and 2 eighth note pulses per bar). Also, to create a more obvious 4 bar grouping to balance the complex metric feel, a 3x3 8th note bass and guitar figure is used every 4th measure of the intro, serving as a resolution phrase. In my improvising I’ve focused on playing lyrically and fluently through the … [Read more...]


Masterclass Lesson 7: Odd Meter – Night and Day [ML7]

A fast 7/8 Latin with a fairly straight ahead ‘bebop’ head arrangement and improvising sections. Emphasis is given to soloing using long 8th note lines based on 7/4 pulse groupings that created ‘comfortable’ phrases linearly across the barline, firstly between sets of two bars and eventually over longer measures. The arrangement commences with an intro vamp based upon a 7/4 rhythmic phrase placed over two 7/8 bars, a metric theme revisited in the B section of the melody. Full Arrangement … [Read more...]


Masterclass Lesson 5: Modal Vamp Approaches [ML5]

Here we investigate different approaches to improvising over static or non-progressional harmony.There are a few points related to common form ‘vamps or modal’ tunes that we should understand if we are to improvise well. 1. The written (valid) chord usually does not change for many bars. This results in long periods where the harmony, regardless of the style / feel / tempo, does not move. 2. A common ‘song form’ of many modal tunes is to play an A section (usually 8 bars), another A section with almost if not identical melody, a B section which modulates to another vamp chord for … [Read more...]


Masterclass Lesson 4: Altered Arpeggios [ML4]

In this video we examine the Altered Scale (melodic minor mode 7) from the point of view of three different related arpeggios. The backing track we have used is comprised of a vamp based around an Ami7, with an Ealtered 7th as the V dominant. Over this E7alt chord we will play these 3 arpeggios: 1. F mi(ma7) with the notes F, Ab, C and E 2. Dmi7(b5) with the notes D, F, Ab, and C 3. Ab+ma7 with the notes Ab, C, E and G While these arpeggio all share common tones, the combination of notes in each series isspecial and holds a particular, unique sound - and so should be learned … [Read more...]


Masterclass Lesson 3: Chord Voicing’s Bb Turnaround [ML3]

In this video we examine different chord voicings for a very common jazz chord sequence - the Bb turnaround, using ‘2 beat’ changes (where the harmony changes every half note or minim). Four Basic Sequences You Should Know In the following 8 bar example, we can see 4 repetitions of our turnaround (2 bars each). • The first is a basic chord sequence (shown bars 1 and 2) using triads and a dominant 7th on the F chord to ‘turn around’ to the beginning of the sequence. • The second is a slightly embellished sequence using 7th chords and a dominant leading G7 in place of … [Read more...]


Masterclass Lesson 2: Seventh Chord Four Note Inversions [ML2]

7th chords are 4 note chords (stacked in 3rds) built upon the four tertian triads (major, minor, diminished and augmented triads). There are only 7 TRUE 7th chords using the possible combinations of either major or minor 3rd intervals, all of which are listed here: • Major seventh (ma7) = 1 3 5 7 • Minor seventh (mi7) = 1 b3 5 b7 • Dominant seventh (7) = 1 3 5 b7 • Minor seventh, flattened fifth (mi7[b5]) = 1 b3 b5 b7 • Minor major seventh (mi[ma7]) = 1 b3 5 7 • Major seventh augmented (or sharp) fifth (+ma7) = 1 b3 #5 7 • Diminished seventh (o7) = 1 b3 b5 bb7 (or … [Read more...]