The tune-of-the-week for our jam on March 16th is Corcovado. Also known as Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars, it is a bossa nova song written by Antonio Carlos Jobim in 1960.
Most people play the real book version of this song and we will too. The original version, however, gives insight into Jobim’s intentions, and is helpful for analysis of the chord progression. A pdf of the original is available here. Chord charts and videos are also available at Learn Jazz Standards.
The progressions of Corcovado may seem intimidating at first. Rather than worry about all the theory just keep in mind the essence of many Jobim songs is chord change by descending (chromatic) voices. Focus on making the half step changes between chords and you’ll be off to a good start.
Listen to Gilberto, Jobim, and other bossa nova originators and you’ll hear simple, beautiful melodies. Use your ears and try to play your own beautiful melodies. You’ll likely have more success with this approach than worrying about what scale to play over each chord.
If you crave harmonic analysis here is a quick outline of one way to think about Corcovado (Jobim’s songs often yield to different harmonic interpretations):
The form is ABAC and the A sections are in F, and the B and C sections are in C. On a macro level it is about 4 moving to 1. First the 4 key (F) is established in A and then it moves down to the tonic (C) in B and C. In B it never makes it to the tonic because the turnaround leads back to the 6 chord, a false cadence. In the C section it takes an additional 4 bars (12 rather than 8) but this time makes it all the way to the 1 chord of C.
For our next jam Eric picked “All the Things You Are.” This is one of those “must know” jazz standards commonly called at jams. The melody is memorable and not hard to learn. The harmony, though, is more involved than some of the other tunes we’ve been learning. Start learning it but if you don’t have it together by March 2nd come and play a tune you’re comfortable with.
You can find a playalong, chord sheets, videos, and analysis at learn jazz standards. When learning jazz songs start by listening and singing the melody repeatedly. When you can sing it by memory then pick up your instrument and play it. This is the way to get the tune in your memory so it sticks and is useful for improvising.
Next isolate out the bass line and identify what is played on the downbeat of each measure. This is a good start to figuring out the chord changes. If you’re stuck, listening to the chording instruments can help. If you’re really stuck then it’s okay to look at the sheet music. Try not to look at it until then. There is no substitute – jazz is for the ears, not the eyes. If you can sing the roots of the progression you can hear it and are ready to start improvising.
The ultimate goal of improvising is to play ideas you hear in your head. During practice it’s also helpful to analyze the harmony. It helps with memorization and may suggest ideas your ear isn’t generating. Here is another site with detailed analysis and here are a few thoughts of my own:
- The 1st 5 chords (6-2-5-1-4) are the same as “Fly Me to the Moon”. Try singing ”Fly Me to the Moon” over this section - it fits perfectly. The melodies in this section both highlight the 3rd of each chord, too.
- After that the songs take different paths. “Fly Me to the Moon” continues on around the cycle of 4ths while “All” takes a less traveled path. I hear the Dbmaj as a pivot chord (pivot chords are common in the current key and in the key being modulated to): a 4 chord in Ab and the start of a b2maj-5-1 progression in the new key of C. Here the b2maj is acting like a 2 or 4 chord (see Neapolitan chord for more) and leads smoothly into 5-1 of the new key, but with its own unique sound.
Super Bowl vs Jazz Jam? No contest once again. Someone even remarked there should be a Super Bowl every Sunday. We had one of our larger turnouts of the last 3 months: 19 jammers (9 from high school or college) and a large audience of jazz fans taking it all in.
Expect more of the same at our upcoming jam on Feb 16. Dan Wallach will be our educator and he always brings in many young jammers. He’ll be joined by Dave Stoler – piano, John Mesoloras – bass, and Milwaukee’s Devin Drobka on drums. This is Devin’s 1st time in the house band. He is regular in Johannes Wallmann’s trio on Saturday nights at the Fountain and is an enthusiastic teacher.
The tune-of-the-week is “All Blues. As the 1st song on one of the most popular jazz albums of all time, Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue,” it’s surprising we haven’t featured it previously.
Be absolutely sure to listen closely to the original. The Real Book changes are not accurate and do not convey the original mood and feel of this song.
At least be aware that on the original the bass continues to pedal G over bars 5 and 6 whereas the Real Book indicates C7, the usual four chord in a blues. It’s played both ways so keep your ears open. The four chord tends to send it in a bluesy direction, certainly an option, but if you want the original feel emphasize G minor and limit blues licks throughout.
Here is all you need to learn this song: a recording of the original. Learn the 4 bar interludes and try to figure out the harmony line for your instrument. Ideally, we’ll have a horn section to play the harmony lines and a lead voice playing the melody.
Our next jam is Sunday Feb 2nd. Some people might be shocked we’re holding the jam during the Super Bowl, but that’s just a football game. Let’s get real, this is a JAZZ JAM!
Last year we had a large turnout during the Super Bowl and we expect the same this year. Check out this week’s terrific rhythm section: UW-Madison professor Johannes Wallmann on piano, UW-Whitewater lecturer Brad Townsend on bass, and the New Breed’s Michael Brenneis on drums. The Youngblood Brass Band’s Tony Barba will join us on tenor sax and as our educator.
The Tune-of-the-week is Henry Mancini’s “The Days of Wine and Roses.” It is a 32 bar ABAC form and the A section is fairly routine except for the D7b5b9 in bar three which creates interesting possibilities. The 1st 4 bars of B are a 3-6-2-5. The next 4 bars make most sense to me as a 3-6-2-5 of V7. This sequence is worth looping to get in your ear and under your fingers. The C section is somewhat similar to the B section of ”Night and Day,” and the A section is similar to the A section of “East of the Sun.”
Although we haven’t featured ”East of the Sun” yet, the point is that recognizing similar sequences and chunking these tunes together is a helpful memory aid (for a list of tunes with similar chord sequences see Ralph Pratt’s tonal centers page).
Learn Jazz Standards has chord charts and videos and a practice track is available on Ralph Pratt’s site. My experience is it’s best to learn the melody by ear and be able to play arpeggios through the changes prior to using practice tracks. You’ll avoid wasting time with aimless noodling, and appreciate knowing the tune well enough to keep it together if your rhythm section starts floundering.
Tony emphasizes the same points:
It is so much easier to solo over this song if you have the melody memorized. Phrases come quite easily if you can hear the melody running through your head during your solo. And of course make sure you can hear the difference between the B and C turnaround portions of the song. If you play piano or know a guitarist or pianist, it’s a good idea to run through these chords and use your ears to hear how the harmony moves.
Our next jam is this Sunday, January 19th with trumpeter Dave Cooper as our educator. Joining him will be Dave Stoler – piano, Keith Lienert – drums, and John Mesoloras – bass. Dave picked Au Privave as the tune for us to focus on.
The first thing you might wonder is how is it pronounced and what does it mean? From researching the web it seems it is not an actual word so can be pronounced however you want. Regarding its origin, here is a quote from a forum offering a reasonable explanation:
… a Frenchman posted the following, “ I’ve always heard that it’s a phonetic mis-transformation of the french “Après Vous” (like “After you” I guess), that you say when holding a door for someone, from a time CP was playing France.”
…”That makes sense, because Max Roach recorded the tune in the ’50s as “Apres Vous.”"
Au Privave is a 12 bar blues with a few extra chords inserted into the basic framework. Bar 4 is a 2-5 into the 4, bar 6 is a backdoor to the 1, bar 8 has a 2-5 into the 2, and bars 11 and 12 are a 1-6-2-5 turnaround. If that sounds like gobbledygook or too much to think about, remember you can simply play notes from the blues scale, play basic jazz-blues changes, or the more advanced changes of Au Privave. The choice is yours. Play at the level you are comfortable at.
Sometimes we have so many jammers that we repeat the tune-of-the-week to accommodate everyone. If we have lots of jammers this week we’ll do Au Privave in different keys (F, Bb, Eb) to keep it interesting.
The Tune-of-the-week for our upcoming jam on January 5th is “On The Sunny Side of the Street.” Trombonist/vocalist Darren Sterud will be our educator and we’ll have Paul Hastil on keys, John Lombardo on drums, and Lucas Koeller on bass. It’s always hard to predict but with some colleges/schools on break it may be a large turnout.
You can find a playalong, chord chart pdfs, and selected videos at Learn Jazz Standards. They also use “Sunny Side…” as an example in another article about learning melodies from the record.
“Sunny Side…” has a very common bridge. It is worth practicing the bridge in all keys because you will see this bridge and variations of it in many other tunes. For a lengthy discussion about this bridge see Chapter 5 in Jerry Coker’s, “Hearing the Changes.”
We now have the schedule up through April of next year so you can look ahead to see who’s playing and what the tunes are.
We wish you happy holidays and a happy New Year!
I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving weekend. Good people, good food, good music. Hey, that sounds like the jam we had yesterday!
Our next jam is Dec 15th and Tony Barber will be back as our saxophonist/educator. He’ll be joined by Johannes Wallmann on piano, Brad Townsend on bass, and Keith Lienert on drums. That’s about as good as it gets!
Tony selected ”Body and Soul” as the tune-of-the-week. Ballads aren’t called much at jams and may be partly why the art of ballad playing is often neglected. This session will be an opportunity to develop ballad playing skills. Learning to uniquely interpret the melody is one of these skills so it wouldn’t surprise me if Tony divides the melody among the soloists. That means it will pay to really learn the melody and variations.
You can find a “Body and Soul” playalong and chord sheet here. That site also has a good sampling of artists putting their spin on this classic. Listen closely to as many as you can.
I didn’t see that coming. We often shrug off competition from Packer games but I didn’t expect a record turnout. The room was packed for almost the entire jam and we set a record with 25 jammers! We had groups of students from West HS, Sun Prairie HS, Middleton HS, UW, a home schooled student, and lots of non-students.
The only glitch was the PA system did not work. It was hard to hear Dan and the band’s comments, and made it difficult for the vocalists and flute player. Sorry about that. Hopefully it will be fixed for next time.
Our next session is Dec 1st and trumpeter Dave Cooper is our educator. He will be joined by the Rand Moore trio: Rand – drums, Paul Muench - keys, and John Schaffer – bass. The tune-of-the-week is Sandu.
Sandu is a blues in Eb written by trumpeter Clifford Brown. We played Sandu last year and you can find Dan’s notes here. On this site you will find chord lead sheets, a play-along, and videos.
If you haven’t started learning tunes directly from recordings Sandu is a good tune to start with. Software like Transcribe! lets you slow it down in the faster spots and makes learning a tune off a recording much easier. Listen closely to the original version by Clifford Brown. You will hear inflections, accents, etc., and remember the tune much longer. If you have the time pick out a few licks you like and practice working them into your solos.
After a jam like that I sometimes feel bad for Mary. I come home all pumped up and she has to endure my endless jabbering. I guess it’s my way of reliving the fun. If you weren’t there here are a few highlights:
- For most of the jam the room was full. Better yet, there were many new young faces in the audience. Among the newcomers were 2 UW students (including a French horn!), a U of Minn student, 4 West HS students, a student from Edgewood HS, and a sixth grader from Mount Horeb. While most of the high schoolers were there just to scope it out, Marie from West HS played on quite a few tunes. After watching her have a good time the rest promised to bring their instruments next time.
- Duane and Margie from Black River Falls made the trip again. They always sound great and their positive energy lights up the room. Vocals are a nice change of pace; vocalists you are welcome to join us!
- Others from out-of-town were drummer Devin from Chicago and guitarist Piers from England. In the past we’ve had jammers from New York, New Orleans, San Antonio and other places around the country. No matter where you’re from we aim to make the jam feel like home!
- The house band sounded great as always. Highlights for me were Paul’s solo on “Blame it on my Youth,” and Joey’s accompaniment on “Red Clay.” John sounded especially melodic on his bass solos all night, and Eric was flawless as usual. He can take any tune and sound like he’s been playing it his entire life.
- It’s hard to mention ”Red Clay” without also mentioning Lucus’ new electric bass and hand slapping skills on that same tune – jammer highlight of the night for me.
I could keep going but that’s enough for now. Time to start thinking about the next jam. In 2 weeks Dan will be back as our educator/saxophonist and joined by Dave Stoler, Nick Moran, and Michael Brenneis. Another all-star lineup.
The tune-of-the-week is “Night and Day,” possibly Cole Porter’s most popular song. Rather than a 32 bar AABA form it is a 48 bar AAB form (some argue for ABABCB). We’ll do the version found in Real Book 1 – it’s in C major. A playalong, chord sheet, and youtube videos can be found on this site.
The descending chromatic chord and melody sequence is the most distinctive part of this song. Playing ideas that descend chromatically come naturally here. If you’re not sure what to play listen to videos or recordings and transcribe what sounds good to you.
With midterms, a late Packers game, and a jazz benefit at the Brink Lounge it isn’t surprising the turnout today was lighter than usual. That didn’t stop us from having a good time and making some beautiful music!
On November 3rd Eric Koppa is back again as our educator/saxophonist. He’ll be joined by Paul Hastil - keys, John Mesoloras – bass, and Joey Banks on drums.
The tune-of-the-week is “Star Eyes.” This site has a discussion and analysis. A play along, chord sheet, and videos are handy on this site.
According to the last site the tune is most commonly played at jams in Eb. We’ll take their word for it; I’ve never played it and I’m not sure Eric has lots of experience with it either. Real Book 2 has it in F and Real Book 3 in Eb. Ideally, it’s best to learn it in both keys but unless I hear from Eric let’s plan on Eb.
Addendum: Reliable sources (John Mesoloras, and Matt Olson) confirmed Eb as the correct key.