Author Archives: tgcleary

Midnight Donna’s Turnaround 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, in a plot twist I won’t spoil for you here, … 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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Six Degrees of Bud Powell, Part ii-V-I

Note: as in previous posts, I have included YouTube links for some of the recordings mentioned; however, as always, readers are encouraged to purchase the recordings themselves, as YouTube considerably limits a listener’s ability to fast forward and rewind, which … Continue reading

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Six Degrees of Bud Powell

In a recent appearance on the NPR quiz show ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”, the actor Kevin Bacon was asked how he felt about ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’, a game which was invented by college students in the 1990s … Continue reading

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‘Oh, play that thing!’ – the use of transcribed solos in the jazz tradition

In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, Yankee pitcher and five time World Series champion Mariano Rivera was asked how he prepares to face a particularly difficult hitter: Rose: Tell me about studying for a hitter.  How do you study … Continue reading

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‘The melody round the melody’: the art of the short solo piano rendition

(Note: While I have added YouTube links for some of the examples in this post, a number of the most crucial examples are not available there; the reader is urged to purchase the original recordings through a legal source of … Continue reading

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American Tunes

When the University of Vermont announced that Wynton Marsalis would give the commencement speech at its 2013 graduation proceedings, it added serious star power to the event, given his well-established career as a cultural spokesman.  Marsalis also had a personal … Continue reading

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Conversation Pieces, Part Two: Carla Bley and Horace Silver

Many great improvisers, in addition to creating extended solos in which they are the main melodic voice, are also masters of the musical dialogue known as trading.  (This is discussed in detail in an earlier post.)  As I mentioned in … Continue reading

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Conversation pieces from Joe Henderson and Charles Lloyd

‘Y Todavia La Quiero’ by Joe Henderson and ‘Sweet Georgia Bright’ by Charles Lloyd are two tunes that provide a good introduction to jazz and improvisation on the piano.  Their chord progressions are made mostly or entirely of chord changes … Continue reading

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One half step of separation: Miles Davis and Ray Vega (a.k.a. the half step between the root and the seventh in the seventh scale)

To follow up on my recent post about great diatonic solos on the the blues progression, this current post is about solos that alternate between using the G 7th scale diatonically and occasionally adding the half step between the root … Continue reading

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