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The ‘B form’ voicing of the major ii-V-I: chord voicing, scale outline and a related melodic pattern

The melodic pattern in step 3 of this sheet can also be contrapuntally combined with the melodic pattern in the post on ‘A form’ voicing of the major ii-V-I progression.  The Sonny Rollins pattern shown here is only one of … Continue reading

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The ‘A form’ voicing of the major ii-V-I: chord voicing, scale outline, and a related melodic pattern

The melodic pattern shown in the third section of the sheet below is only one example of many patterns related to the ‘A form’ voicing of the ii-V-I progression.  When I practice a lick through all twelve keys, I find … Continue reading

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‘Now What?’: a modal melody collage

My improvisation class at UVM begins by studying tunes and chord progressions that were common in the swing and bebop eras, including the blues (in the form of the Charlie Parker tune ‘Billie’s Bounce’), ‘Stompin at the Savoy’ and rhythm … Continue reading

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Pairings, part two: left hand walking bass with right hand chordal comping by Kenny Barron, John Coates Jr. and G.F. Handel (or, Spring Comping Trip)

The piano, more than any other instrument, has the capacity to evoke the sound of a group of players.  In the Dave McKenna version of ‘C Jam Blues’ that I transcribed in the last post, it could be argued that … 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, Part 2: an exercise and reflections on the circle of descending fifths and the dominant cycle

My exercise ‘Jody, Donna, Four Brothers and Koko’ is the second in a series of exercises including licks from ‘Donna Lee’ (the first, ‘Midnight Donna and Reets in Paris’ is in an earlier post.)  Besides ‘Donna Lee’, other sources I … 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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