Author Archives: tgcleary

What Do You Do With Two? – Great two-chorus solos on the jazz blues progression

In each of the solos I link to below, the soloist makes a change in their improvising strategy in the second chorus in order to create a contrast with the approach in their first chorus. In the comment section, please … Continue reading

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‘Thin-slicing’ the blues: Kavita Shah’s solo on ‘Interplay’ (State Of The Blues, #13)

Kavita Shah is a vocalist raised in Manhattan who studied jazz voice at Manhattan School of Music and incorporates her ethnographic research on Brazilian, West African, and Indian musical traditions into her original repertoire.  Her recording of Interplay, a twelve … Continue reading

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How Red Garland’s first chorus of solo on ‘Blues By Five’ models a number of often overlooked jazz piano techniques (State of The Blues, #12)

(note: some of the links to which WordPress has added a strikethrough to mark them as ‘broken’ seem to actually work. Feel free to email me at the address above or add a comment below with any thoughts on this.) … Continue reading

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Teaching philosophy, lesson rates and policies

In teaching piano lessons, I integrate the study of technique and music theory with work on piano music, from the music of important jazz composers such as Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Mary Lou Williams, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock … Continue reading

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about Tom Cleary

Tom Cleary studied jazz performance at Hampshire College, where his teachers included Yusef Lateef and Archie Shepp, and music education and classical piano performance at the University of Vermont, where his teachers included Sylvia Parker and Elizabeth Metcalfe.  As a … Continue reading

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How to write a ‘one bar blues’

Throughout his career as a composer, Thelonious Monk composed a number of tunes that use the twelve-bar blues progression.  Among these are tunes based on one-bar motives or ‘riffs’ which Monk transposes and alters in various ways, which might be … Continue reading

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Sevenths reaching for the heavens (or other faraway places) (Emulate, Assimilate, Innovate part 6)

In two well-known melodies, one from the late 1950s and another from the mid-1960s, the ascending minor seventh interval is used to symbolize reaching for a not-yet-attained goal.  Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Somewhere’, first performed in 1957 as part … Continue reading

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The Sixth Sense: major and minor sixths in the improvising of Thelonious Monk and Ella Fitzgerald (Emulate, Assimilate, Innovate part 5)

The melody of Thelonious Monk’s blues Misterioso is based entirely on ascending major and minor sixths.  For most of the tune, Monk maintains perpetual motion by building ascending sixths off ascending and descending three-note major and minor scales.  The last … Continue reading

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A swingin’ dialogue: two choruses of Emmet Cohen’s intro solo on Joe Lovano’s ‘Big Ben’ (State Of The Blues, #11)

Below is my transcription of the first two choruses from Emmet Cohen’s intro piano solo from the version of Joe Lovano’s tune ‘Big Ben’ played on Episode 56 of the YouTube series Live From Emmet’s Place.  Cohen’s solo follows a … Continue reading

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Emulate, Assimilate, Innovate, part 4: Taking the fifth – melodic phrases using perfect 5ths

The ‘Cool Blues’ lick was a phrase Charlie Parker used in multiple improvised solos, including his March 1946 recording of Yardbird Suite and his May 1947 recording of Cheryl.  In February 1947 he recorded an entire composition titled ‘Cool Blues’ … Continue reading

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