Archive for the ‘Tunes’ Category

Want to Master Rhythm Changes? Here are Six Solos that You Should Know…

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Here’s a question for you…

Are you making the process of learning to play jazz standards harder than it has to be?

…searching for answers in theory books, obsessing over scales, and turning your daily practice session into a soul-searching quest for your personal sound when you just want to be playing music?

The thing is, learning to play a great solo doesn’t have to be overly abstract or even complicated.

If you want to see results in the practice room, it comes down to something much more concrete: Find someone who sounds good and figure out what they’re doing.

It’s as simple as that. The process is the same for learning to play over a single chord as it is for learning to navigate the progression to a jazz standard.

And it’s the same for learning to create a great solo on Rhythm Changes.  

So if you’re frustrated with your playing, stop guessing, stop worrying about hundreds of scales and stop mindlessly jamming for hours with a play-a-long track.

With some key techniques ingrained from the right sources, you’ll go from scraping by in frustration to playing better than you ever could’ve imagined. 

In today’s lesson we’ve taken 6 incredible solos from the masters and highlighted dozens of specific techniques that you can begin practicing today. 

Ready to get started? Here we go…

1) Lester Young: Lester Leaps In

Before you get obsessed with scales and before you start worrying about turnarounds or ii-V licks, Read More

How to Memorize Even the Most Difficult Tunes Right Now

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Memorize Complex Tunes Now

Some tunes seem to make absolutely no sense, like the chords changes are some random crazy collection of complex sounds…

But with a little know-how, using the same tactics we showed you in our recent lesson on learning tunes quickly, even the most difficult tunes can be deciphered in just a few minutes.

Today’s lesson comes from a recent question we received from a reader:

”I enjoyed your latest post and would like to start memorizing standards this way. However, lots of standards don’t seem to fit this method…or rather I can’t see how to fit them. Case in point, the tune ‘Infant Eyes’. Could you show how to apply the method to a ‘non-standard’ song?

That’s a great question, and if you haven’t read our recent post on how to learn the chord changes of a tune in less than 5 minutes, make sure to check that out before diving into this lesson.

Once you have a firm grasp on the method we use there, you’re ready to apply the concepts to something a little trickier…something like Wayne Shorter’s beautiful composition Infant Eyes.

These chords make no sense…

When you first look at the changes to this tune, the common reaction is, “What the ^%$# is going on?!?!?!”

Infant Eyes

This is a complicated tune in the sense that at first glance, there are few typical progressions like ii Vs or other common chunks of chords that we are familiar with.

In fact, even the key center of … Read More

How to Learn a Tune’s Chord Changes in 5 Minutes or Less

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Learn a tunes in 5 minutes or less

What if I told you there’s a simple little trick to learn chord changes to a tune in a just a few minutes?

That the countless hours you’ve spent reading tunes out of the Real Book can finally come to a close and you can begin to have chord changes live in your head, where they belong.

And the truth is, this little trick’s been staring you in the face. It’s not new, complex, or even something that takes time to learn. You can start using it TODAY.

So is this thing called love?

Take the tune What is This Thing Called Love?:

What is this thing called love chord changes

For years, you’ve probably opened up the Real Book to “W,” flipped around, to the tune— or grabbed your iPad —and read the chord changes as you solo.

This is a fine place to start, but wouldn’t you think that after years of doing this, the chord changes would finally get into your head and you could stop being a Real Book player?

The thing is, simply playing a tune from the Real Book or even trying to memorize the chord changes in a drill-and-kill fashion won’t get you that far.

So many people try this every single day. They recite in their head over and over…

”G half diminished, C7 alt, F minor…”

Thinking that if they just do it enough that the changes will somehow stick.

But, it’s like cramming for a school test. You may have the information the next day, but … Read More

How to Play Cherokee like a Pro: 24 Melodic Tricks for Insanely Fast Tempos

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Have you ever wondered how the best players can play incredibly fast…

Regardless of the key, the chords, or the tune?

I’m not just talking about running memorized licks and technical patterns…I mean soloing at breakneck speed with actual melodic lines over the progression.

Trying to improvise on uptempo tunes is something that can be frustrating for even the best players and the truth is, you hear more than a few players faking it. Unfortunately, most resources leave you with more questions than answers.

But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t specific techniques to practice that will teach you the skills you need. If you’ve been stuck wondering how to create long melodic lines, improvise at fast tempos or create double-time passages you’ve come to the right place…

Today we’re going to show you 24 improvisation techniques for creating melodic lines at fast tempos – taken directly from the solos of the music’s greatest improvisers.

While there are dozens of factors that go to into improvising at fast tempos – technique, time, phrasing, swing, articulation – today we’re going to put these solos under a microscope for one reason. To understand the nuts and bolts of creating long melodic lines at very fast tempos.

And to do this, we’re going to take one of the most well-known standards in the jazz repertoire: Cherokee.

Why Cherokee?

Composed by Ray Nobel in 1938, Cherokee has been played by nearly every important jazz musician to pick … Read More

Killer Triadic & Pentatonic Concepts Made Easy: A Lesson With Kenny Garrett

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Kenny Garrett Triadic Concepts

Kenny Garrett is an incredible musician. He’s arguably had one of the largest impacts on alto saxophone since Charlie Parker…

In fact, when he started to gain popularity, most every alto player in the world had to rethink their concept.

All of a sudden, copying Charlie Parker didn’t seem that cool anymore.

But the thing is, Kenny Garrett built his unique style using the jazz language of his heroes. Besides his huge beautiful dark one-of-a-kind tone, that’s why it sounds so awesome.

Because he mixed his own unique style with the bebop language, it sounds like a natural and progressive evolution of the music.

Today we’ll have a listen and a look into what makes some his lines tick…

Getting into Kenny’s head

It’s always difficult trying to understand a modern player by listening to them play on their own esoteric compositions.

What’s easier?

Studying their playing on a standard or a tune you’re ultra familiar with.

In this lesson, we’ll check out what Kenny plays on the Charlie Parker tune Ornithology, which is based on the tune How High the Moon.

Here are the chord changes to Ornithology so you have an idea about what’s going on with the harmony if you’re not familiar with the tune.

Listen to Kenny Garrett play Ornithology and how effortlessly he weaves through the chord changes and commands the direction of the entire band.

Every phrase he plays has intent behind it and leads perfectly into the next one.

And, somehow … Read More

How to Learn Chord Changes Straight Off a Recording: A Handbook [Free Download]

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Learn chord changes from a recording

Learning a tune straight from a recording is THE way to learn it. But the most difficult part is always deciphering the chord changes…

And it’s certainly not an easy task compared to the alternative of simply grabbing a fake book and looking up the chord changes.

But there are huge benefits to learning the chord changes with your ear straight from the recording rather than just looking them up.

Many times, the chord changes you find in fake books are incomplete or just plain wrong, but the main thing is that you’re missing out on a HUGE growth opportunity every time you just look up the chords, instead of at least trying to figure out the chords for yourself.

The process of figuring out the chord changes to a tune with YOUR ear and mind will help you grow as a musician, greatly improve your ear, and help you to permanently learn the changes on a deep level that you won’t forget.

So if it’s so great to learn the changes straight from the recording, how come people avoid it? Well, simply put: it’s hard.

Or, at least people think it is…

They tried it once, it was difficult, and that was it.

But with the right process guiding you through each step and a little kick in the right direction, you CAN do it.

Download the FREE Handbook on Learning Chord Changes Straight From a Recording

Download the handbook

Download it now and enjoy … Read More

Why These 8 Jazz Standards Should Be Your New Practice Etudes

Friday, May 27th, 2016

why these 8 standards should be your practice etudes

Every musician has spent time in the practice room working on etudes…

Diligently running through exercises that cover various techniques like articulation, the altissimo range, or diminished arpeggios.

This is a good start for most players, but where does the jazz musician turn to develop the techniques that are essential for improvisation? After all jazz is a music that you learn by ear, not from a dusty book of exercises…

Well the answer can be found in an unlikely place: the repertoire of jazz standards that we’re all expected to learn.

By using jazz standards as your etudes, you’ll kill two birds with one stone: learning tunes and developing the techniques necessary for jazz improvisation.

Below we’ll show you how to turn 8 jazz standards into the daily practice etudes that will transform your skills as an improviser.

Before you get started, listen to the YouTube clip of each tune. You can either learn the melody from the recording (a great way to work on ear training!) or find the sheet music. For each tune we’ll:

  • Give you an excerpt of the first 8 measures
  • Show you what you’ll learn and what to focus on as you practice
  • And highlight unique practice ideas specific to each melody

Ready to go? Awesome, time to meet the 8 jazz standards that are your new practice etudes…

1) Moving from Major to minor: Ornithology

One of the first bebop tunes many players learn is Charlie Parker’s Ornithology, a 32 bar melody … Read More

8 Techniques Mark Turner Uses to Dominate the Blues

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

8 Techniques Mark Turner Uses

If you’ve ever listened to Mark Turner you’ve probably wondered the same thing as me…

“What the hell is he playing?”

Rather than coming from the mind of an improviser, his solos sound like the work of an ambitious architect. Complex structures reaching into the stratosphere, lines with impossibly wide leaps, columns of arpeggios, and winding phrases that arch over the chords…

So as a musician, where do you begin when you want to discover the techniques behind his unique sound? For starters, you need to find a solo over a standard that you know inside and out.

And that’s why exactly why we’ve chosen the blues

These days you’ll hear more and more players imitating Mark Turner’s distinctive sound. But it’s not the actual notes in his solos that will make you a better player, it’s the concepts behind them…

The solo

The Mark Turner solo we’ve chosen comes from a live recording he did with the OAM Trio. Give it a listen:

 

On your first pass it probably sounds modern, innovative or even abstract, but underneath everything he plays lies the 12 bar blues form.

And it all works because he has a deep understanding of this form.

One thing to note about this particular version: Instead of the standard I – IV – I progression in the first 4 bars of the tune, this blues utilizes the following substitution:

The result is a minor 3rd relationship that leads to the B7, serving as … Read More

Why Giant Steps is Easier Than You Think… 4 Simple Steps to a Stellar Solo

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

giant_steps_post

Most improvisers cringe when they hear the words “Giant Steps”…

Their hearts start pounding and they frantically try to remember the patterns they’ve worked out over the chord progression.

If you’ve ever tried to play over this tune, I’m sure you know the feeling…

Chords flying by at a breakneck speed, awkward changes, and fingers fumbling to keep up – not exactly the most musical experience.

And it’s even more frustrating when you turn on a recording of your favorite players for inspiration only to hear chorus after chorus of flawless lines:

How are you ever going to sound like that?

But what most players don’t realize is that Giant Steps is actually composed of the basic musical elements that you already know.

And today we’ll show you the 4 steps to making this tune much easier than everyone makes it out to be.

Let me explain…

What makes this tune hard?

The difficulties that most improvisers have with creating a musical solo over Giant Steps stems from three things:

  • The tempo
  • The rate that the chords change
  • The minor 3rd relationships

Many hopeful soloists jump right into the progression at a fast tempo and start fumbling around, hoping that something decent will come out. That’s not going to work…

To start making some progress, you need to take a close look at how the chords fit together in the tune as a whole and create a practice approach that will give you the tools you need.

We’ll take … Read More

How to Practice: A Diagram Illustrating the 3 Essential Pieces to Practicing Jazz Improvisation [Free Download Inside]

Friday, December 25th, 2015

How To Practice Jazz Diagram

Back in September we released a free presentation walking you through What You Should Practice, and in that presentation, we showed you and discussed the 3 essential pieces to practicing jazz improvisation:

  1. Getting new language
  2. Developing language
  3. Working on tunes

But they’re not the easiest concepts to grasp…

So, we thought it might be helpful to give you a flow diagram of how these 3 essential pieces fit together, allowing you to visualize and understand the information more easily.

The result: A beautiful diagram made specifically for you to print out and hang up in your practice room, after all, that’s where you need to remember this information the most!

Here’s a small preview of what it looks like, but download the PDFs below as they’re higher quality:

How To Practice Jazz Improvisation

You can download the whole large diagram, good for digital viewing, or you can download the printable version, conveniently split into 3 printable size pages which you can simply tape together and put up in your practice room.

Download the Free How To Practice Jazz Improvisation Diagram:

We sincerely hope you enjoy this resource and use it in your practice room.

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