“The Cape Verdean Blues” is, in my opinion, one of Horace Silver’s most effective compositions. He takes an infectious melody and supports it with the very best aspects of his compositional style. The melody consists of two main motifs that are stated either in unison or with a simple diatonic harmony between the piano and sax. The rhythm section plays a calypso rhythm under the chord progression. The melody and the left hand accompaniment of the piano play off of each other in a call and response. What makes all of these devices work even more effectively is that they continue through the whole song creating a feeling of suspension. It also gives the impression that the entire song, solos and all, was written down and rehearsed. The rhythm section maintains its groove as Horace Silver creates a left hand/ right hand dialogue in his piano solo. Joe Henderson substitutes his tenor sax for Silver’s right hand during his solo… What I love so much about this way of interacting is that the musicians grab onto riff and work at it like a dog chewing on a bone. It takes a great deal of maturity to work a motif over and over and continue to find something new…
“THE CAPE VERDEAN BLUES”- MELODY
“THE CAPE VERDEAN BLUES”- JOE HENDERSON SOLO
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THE JODY GRIND- depending on the day and my mood, my favorite Horace Silver record. Silver augments his tried and true hard bop concept with nods to soul jazz, latin music and post bop. I love the more ambiguous chord progressions that he uses on this record. “Mexican Hip Dance” is a 32 bar (ABAB) song in 3/4 time by Silver. It moves between a straight 8th note, double time feel (when I hear it I think about the Mingus record, TIJUANA MOODS and of flamenco dancers) and a jazz waltz. The A section has the horns harmonizing a syncopated rhythm against a quarter note bass line. and a tight hi- hat/ rim shot drum pattern. At B, the rhythm section moves into a rumbling jazz waltz as the horns play an arpeggiated line. Woody Shaw follows the melody with a brief solo that is funky and oblique at the same time… Love it!
“MEXICAN HIP DANCE”- MELODY AND WOODY SHAW SOLO
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JUNIOR COOK- “BLOWIN’ THE BLUES AWAY”
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These two solos are from the classic Pete La Roca Blue Note outing called BASRA. The record features Henderson and Kuhn along with La Roca and Steve Swallow on drums and bass. The song “Eiderdown”, composed by Swallow is a 40 bar composition (A A1 B A), 8 measure A sections and a 16 bar bridge. It’s a great blowing tune. The chords in the A sections evoke a modalish, post boppy kind of vibe while the bridge has a more straight ahead feel. Henderson and Kuhn both deliver compact, chorus long solos full of great ideas…
JOE HENDERSON AND STEVE KUHN- “EIDERDOWN”
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The INTERVAL MATRIX E-book
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Click HERE to visit the INTERVAL MATRIX sample page.
This is a transcription of the first chorus of Bill Evans’ reading of the Johnny Mandel classic, “A Time For Love”. It’s from the Bill Evans album ALONE. I’ll call this a sketch because it’s far from perfect- there are voicings that are just too hard to pick out due to the quality of the audio. I gave it my best shot and think think the transcription gives a pretty good idea of what’s going on. Anyway, the record is fantastic, I love this recording. Check it out…
BILL EVANS- “A TIME FOR LOVE”
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“Fuchsia Swing Song” comes from Sam River’s album of the same name. It’s a 32 bar song written over the chord changes of the first half of Cole Porter’s “Night And Day”. Rivers varies the melody each time he plays it so I wrote out my best guess. For this lead sheet transcription, I used the stock changes to “Night And Day”… FUCHSIA SWING SONG features Sam Rivers on tenor sax along with Jaki Byard, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. A great record that straddles the border of “inside” and “outside” jazz improvisation.
“FUCHSIA SWING SONG” LEAD SHEET
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Here’s a song (contrafact) I recently wrote that is based on the chord progression to “Sweet Georgia Brown”, and is inspired by Jackie Maclean’s “Dig” and the complex melodies of Lennie Tristano. It’s a tricky, twisty chromatic line with lots of rhythmic displacement. Check it out and play it if you like it…
This Cannonball Adderley solo transcription is from his album THE CANNONBALL ADDERLEY QUINTET PLUS that features his brother Nat on coronet, Victor Feldman on vibes and piano, Sam Jones bass, Louis Hayes drums and Wynton Kelly sharing the piano chair when Feldman is on vibes. Cannonball’s solo on “Arriving Soon” is another example of his confident beat, beautiful sound and strong grasp of the bebop and jazz vocabulary. The solo form is kind of a 12 bar minor blues that stays on the one chord and has a 4 bar turnaround. There’s a 8 bar bridge that is probably played on cue.
CANNONBALL ADDERLEY SOLO ON “ARRIVING SOON”
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Here is a set of interval exercises I wrote out starting from a minor 2nd and going up to a perfect 4th. I wrote out each interval in 4 different directions (up interval/ down line, down interval/ down line, up interval/ up line, down interval/ up line). I didn’t write in any barlines, note stems or time signatures. Print out the exercises and supply your own. Fill in 4 note groupings, triplets, five note groupings, etc. Make the first note a pick up, make the first 2 or 3 notes a pick up. Do the exercises in 4/4, 3/4, 7/8, etc. Let your imagination run free. Adding variety to the way you practice these exercises will make them more interesting and memorable.
Part 3 of the series of ear training exercises. In this exercise, you approach each chord tone from a half step below. Now this part of the series of exercises is a bit more difficult because the approach tones are generally not a part of the scale. As a result, they are often quite dissonant and hard to hear. With effort and patience, your ear will eventually become used to them…
CHORD TONE EXERCISE PT. 3
Here’s the next part of the ear training exercise I began in the last post. In this exercise, you approach each chord tone from a scale step above…
CHORD TONE EXERCISE PT. 2
Today’s jazz musician has to deal with a peculiar situation. Opportunities to develop under the tutelage of a battle tested mentor or in a stable working band are few. At the same time, there is a staggering amount of educational material available via the internet. While the benefits of personal interaction with a more experienced musician is invaluable, the internet provides many great educational resources.
There are countless You Tube videos of clinics given by master musicians: Kenny Werner, Hal Galper, Clark Terry, Rufus Reid, Bill Evans, Joe Lovano, Christian McBride, Stefon Harris, Bruce Forman, Bill Fielder, etc. the list goes on and on and on. They deal with a variety of topics from issues relating to specific instrumental techniques to general concerns about performance and practice.
I go online every so often to see if I can find new material to check out. I’ve been looking at videos by Hal Galper and Kenny Werner because they draw distinct lines in sand regarding the psychology of performance and practice, something that I think about a lot. I’ve especially enjoyed Galper’s videos because he is able to address the two issues within the same lecture…
Galper’s book FORWARD MOTION has given me many ideas about how to create stronger melodic lines. I’ve taken some of that information along with some suggestions given by Garry Dial, one of my college teachers from way back, and Matt Otto, a classmate of mine from college who recently did a clinic about ear focusing on ear training, to address some of my issues with more fully negotiating chord changes.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about ear training, wondering how I can learn to hear more. I’ve always had a pretty good ear. Luckily, my first instructors encouraged me to play what I heard. Because of that encouragement, I feel comfortable relying on my ears as the final judge even when I play things that aren’t “correct”. There are many things I hear well but, even after all these years of improvising, there are things that my ear doesn’t process quickly enough.
While in college, Garry Dial told me about outlining chord tones to build strong melodic lines, approaching them from above and below, chromatically and diatonically. That information now seems so logical but back then, stubborn old me didn’t put any time into studying it. After listening to clinics by Matt Otto and Hal Galper, I’m reviewing Dial’s lessons, practicing them as an ear training exercise.
Here’s what I am working on now:
I use the chord progression of the first A section of “Autumn Leaves”. Since the tonal center is Bb Major, I use a Bb drone (that I downloaded from Matt’s website) as a reference to sing over. Over the drone, I first sing the roots of the progression followed by the 3rds, 5ths, 7ths and so on up to the 13ths.
There are certain rules I think about as I do this, mainly regarding the 11th degree of a Major or Dominant Chord and Dominant Chords that resolve to a i Chord in minor. I sing a #11 on all Major and Dominant Chords unless it specifically states that it has a natural 11th degree (a C7sus4 Chord for example). If a Dominant Chord is resolving to a i Chord in minor, I imagine the chord as a product of an Altered scale. 5ths, 9ths and 13ths are flatted, 11ths are sharped. Also, if a minor Chord is static (not part of a moving progression), I sing the natural 7th degree. I sing a b5, b9 and b13 on min7b5 chords.
I sing the the notes in quotations over the chords listed before them:
Cmin7 “C” F7 “F” BbMaj7 “Bb” EbMaj7 “Eb” Amin7b5 “A” D7b9 “D” Gmin7 “G” G7b9 “G”
Cmin7 “Eb” F7 “A” BbMaj7 “D” EbMaj7 “G” Amin7b5 “C” D7b9 “F#” Gmin7 “Bb” G7b9 “B”
Cmin7 “G” F7 “C” BbMaj7 “F” EbMaj7 “Bb” Amin7b5 “Eb” D7b9 “Ab” Gmin7 “D” G7b9 “D”
Cmin7 “Bb” F7 “Eb” BbMaj7 “A” EbMaj7 “D” Amin7b5 “G” D7b9 “C” Gmin7 “F#” G7b9 “F”
Cmin7 “D” F7 “G” BbMaj7 “C” EbMaj7 “F” Amin7b5 “Bb” D7b9 “Eb” Gmin7 “A” G7b9 “Ab”
Cmin7 “F” F7 “B” BbMaj7 “E” EbMaj7 “A” Amin7b5 “D” D7b9 “G#” Gmin7 “C” G7b9 “C#”
Cmin7 “A” F7 “D” BbMaj7 “G” EbMaj7 “C” Amin7b5 “F” D7b9 “Bb” Gmin7 “E” G7b9 “Eb”
I don’t concern myself with singing rhythmically, I concentrate on hitting the pitches precisely. I use the piano as a reference when necessary. If you have an Mp3 player, you can download the drones and practice these whenever you feel the urge.
Once you are comfortable with singing the Chord tones, try approaching them from above by a diatonic step:
Cmin7 “D” to “C” F7 “G” to “F” BbMaj7 “C” to “Bb” EbMaj7 “F” to “Eb” Amin7b5 “Bb” to “A” D7b9 “Eb” to “D” Gmin7 “A” to “G” G7b9 “Ab” to “G”
Practice the other Chord tones (3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th) the same way.
Try approaching the Chord tones from a half step (chromatically) below:
Cmin7 “B” to “C” F7 “E” to “F” BbMaj7 “A” to “Bb” EbMaj7 “D” to “Eb” Amin7b5 “G#” to “A” D7b9 “C#” to “D” Gmin7 “F#” to “G” G7b9 “F#” to “G”
Practice the other Chord tones the same way.
Try combing the diatonic step above with the half step below:
Cmin7 “D” to “B” to “C” F7 “G” to “E” to “F” BbMaj7 “C” to “A” to “Bb” EbMaj7 “F” to “D” to “Eb” Amin7b5 “Bb” to “G#” to “A” D7b9 “Eb” to “C#” to “D” Gmin7 “A” to “F#” to “G” G7b9 “Ab” to “F#” to “G”
Practice the other Chord tones the same way.
Reverse the order, going from half step below to diatonic step above, then to the Chord tone.
Cmin7 “B” to “D” to “C” F7 “E” to “G” to “F” BbMaj7 “A” to “C” to “Bb” EbMaj7 “D” to “F” to “Eb” Amin7b5 “G#” to “Bb” to “A” D7b9 “C#” to “Eb” to “D” Gmin7 “F#” to “A” to “G” G7b9 “F#” to “Ab” to “G”
Practice the other Chord tones the same way.
Below is a link to the A section of Autumn Leaves” and an Mp3 audio example of the exercise.
After getting the sounds of the Chord tones and Approach tones in your ears, try putting an Aebersold track on and singing them rhythmically. Try them out on your instrument… The good thing about using “Autumn Leaves” as a practice model is that the A section contains many of the chords that improvisors deal with regularly: Major 7, Major 7#11 minor 6, minor 7, minor 7b5 and ii-Vs in Major and minor. These exercises and be adapted to any chord progression.
I really love something that Hal Galper says in one of his lectures: He asks the class, “Do you have problems hearing?” Most of the students say they do. His response to that is, “No you don’t, you play exactly what you hear… You have to learn to hear more vividly to build more sophisticated solos.” He also says that certain players play fast because they are able to hear faster. Practicing hearing is often neglected by musicians even though our ears are our most important asset. I think these exercises are a great way to expand hearing and gain a more intuitive understanding of Chords and progressions.
So there you go…
CHORD TONE EXERCISE PT. 1
Takes 3 and 4 of “Exercise In Swing” from THE COMPLETE SAVOY RECORDINGS… Lester Young was such an amazing improviser. These takes and the ones in the previous post are the same in that they are pristine miniatures of his seemingly effortless melodicism. But each has a slightly different quality. Take note of the rhythmic variety between and within each take. How Young at times floats over, then at other times digs into the groove, sitting firmly in the bull’s eye center of the beat. His emphasis on certain parts of the beat has an incredible effect on the mood of the music…
LESTER YOUNG- EXERCISE IN SWING TAKE 3
LESTER YOUNG- EXERCISE IN SWING TAKE 4
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These two solo transcriptions are from a Lester Young compilation called THE COMPLETE SAVOY RECORDINGS. They are two takes of a variation on rhythm changes…
LESTER YOUNG- EXERCISE IN SWING TAKE 1
LESTER YOUNG- EXERCISE IN SWING TAKE 2
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