Author Archives: tgcleary

Pairings, part one: Dave McKenna, Bach, Handel and left-hand walking bass

The concept of food pairings is one that I’ve learned a great deal about from my wife, Amber deLaurentis, a great pianist, vocalist and songwriter who happens to be an amazing artist in the kitchen as well. In food pairing, … Continue reading

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The State of The Blues, Part One: Helen Sung’s solo on C Jam Blues

This is the first in a series of posts featuring transcriptions I’ve done of contemporary jazz pianists soloing on the blues progression.  Sometimes in the work of contemporary players such as Fred Hersch, Brad Mehldau and Ethan Iverson (who studied with … Continue reading

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‘You Need To Lift It’: A Visit From Henry Butler

Four of my piano students recently played in a workshop with the great Henry Butler, one of the prime exponents of the New Orleans piano style. (Many thanks Steve MacQueen and Madeline Bell from the Flynn as well as Dr. … Continue reading

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Summer Comping Trip: a play-by-play analysis of two great jazz soloist-accompanist combinations

When I studied jazz performance and composition at Hampshire College, one of my most important experiences in ensemble playing was a class I took at the University of Massachusetts  at Amherst (through the Five College system) with Professor Archie Shepp … Continue reading

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‘Ornithology’: the memory palace of two bebop masterminds

In a recent news story, publishers who represent songwriters Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty contacted publishers for singer/songwriter Sam Smith about  a four-bar similarity between the melody and chord progression of Lynne and Petty’s 1989 hit song ‘Won’t Back Down’ … Continue reading

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Charlie Parker and Alan Turing: Anthropology is ‘The Bombe’

In my Theory and Practice of Jazz Improvisation class at UVM, we study some building blocks of the bebop melodic language which Barry Harris has assembled and codified as the ‘5-4-3-2’ licks.  They are four short licks of between four … Continue reading

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Will The Circle Be Unbroken: reflections and an exercise on the circle of descending fifths and the dominant cycle

When the first keyboard instruments with a twelve-note chromatic scale were introduced around the beginning of the 14th century, they entered a world where years had twelve months and days were measured with a twelve-hour clock.  In addition to the … Continue reading

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Viral Rhythm

The word ‘virus’ is most often associated with negative and harmful microbes, from actual diseases like pneumonia and H1N1 to the fictional virus that kills off most of the Earth’s population in the recent Planet of the Apes movies.  The … Continue reading

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Midnight Donna and Reets in Paris: anagrams, mirrors and the one bar ii-V

In the 2010 thriller movie ‘Shutter Island’, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Edward Daniels, a U.S. Marshal who is plagued by nightmares about an arsonist named Andrew Laeddis,  Later in the movie, it is revealed that the names ‘Edward Daniels‘ and  ‘Andrew … Continue reading

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What is this scale called: Charlie Parker, Barry Harris and the minor ii-V progression

Charlie Parker recorded a number of solos on the chord progression to ‘What Is This Thing Called Love’.   On two of these performances, a 1952 studio version of ‘What Is This Thing’ with a big band and a live … Continue reading

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