Notes by Darren Sterud
“This I Dig Of You” is an often overlooked classic jazz standard and the tune-of-the-week for our next jam on Jun 16th.
The form is simply ABAB’. The A section is essentially in Bb over an F pedal, and the B section is a series of ii/V progressions. The second B section ends with a classic ii/V back to the top.
The easiest way to sound great over the A section is to use a simple Bb major scale or pentatonic scale. As you look at the changes its Bbmaj/F Cmin7/F Bbmaj/F.
The B section is a series of of ii/V starting on Ebmaj. The focus point here should be the half step motion when the changes are C#min to F#7 then down Cmin to F7.
Take a listen specifically to Hank Mobley and his version and listen to the true simplicity in his soloing.
This is a great tune to call at any jam and to have the ears of any house band perk up.
Yes, we have a jam today. Sorry, we didn’t post any helpful hints about the tunes-of-the-week: Hot House, and What is This Thing Called Love. These tunes share the same chord progression which is mostly 2-5-1s. The focus for this week, then, is working ideas over 2-5-1 progressions.
We had another terrific jam yesterday with students and others from all over Madison sitting in. Videotape from yesterday isn’t ready yet, but in the meantime here is a special moment from a few weeks ago: Middleton HS student Eli Bucheit mixes it up with Dave Cooper and the pro’s. Check out the grin on Dave’s face near the end of Eli’s solo (around 3:40) and during the trading that follows.
from Dan Wallach, Jam Educator
How many times have we said, “It’s only a blues”? By saying this, we may be unintentionally negating some of the possibilities available within the structure of the blues. Too often we improvise in this form using ideas that are comfortable instead of taking risks. This week, I will suggest some strategies to help avoid our own personal clichés in approaching the tune Straight, No Chaser by Thelonious Monk, released on the album with the same title in 1967.
My first idea is to think about the melody of the tune, and incorporate its feeling and style into one’s improvisation. This tune is very chromatic — it would make sense to have that be an aspect of the improvisation. Ideally we should strive to have an experienced listener be able to identify not only that we are playing a blues, but what blues.
Another approach is a general suggestion for any blues, or a tune with non-blues changes. Force yourself to play the tune and several chorus’ of improvisation with no harmonic support. If necessary use a metronome to help keep time, but use no additional aids. Think about playing in a way that is simple and straight forward enough to keep your place comfortably in the form. One method to check yourself is to record this practice, and be your own “Board of Harmonic Responsibility.”
Lastly, never lose touch with the expressive, emotional side of this music. Jazz with or without a chord progression must, on some level, have a blues impulse. How to execute this is a deeply personal decision.
Have fun exploring these methods and, as always, listen to the original recording first.
See you all on Sunday,
An image of the Tutti Music Player that provides split-screen videos of professional musical performances to practice with.
Working with Band in a Box and Jamie Aebersold recordings is helpful for learning jazz tunes and practicing improvising. Now a New Orleans start up appears to have developed the next best thing. If you have an Ipad and are a developing jazz musician the Tutti Music Player app might be worth checking out. If I had an Ipad I certainly would. Read more about it here.
Dave Cooper has posted a thorough write up of things to think about when preparing to improvise over “Scrapple From the Apple.” In particular, it’s a good idea to spend time working out different approaches over the bridge. See his article for ideas.
is the tune for our next jam on May 5th. Dave Cooper will be playing trumpet/flugelhorn and our educator. He’ll have some material to help you with this tune shortly. In the meantime you can get a head-start with the videos (including a playalong) from LearnJazzStandards.
It was good to see all the new faces at today’s jam. In addition to some of Dan’s students we haven’t seen in a while, we had a group of 4 students from one of Johannes’ classes. In one of his “Intro to Jazz” type courses it is a requirement for his students to attend and play at a jazz jam. This was the 1st time any of these young people had performed at a jazz jam. They did great! We may have another group join us at our next jam in 2 weeks.
Speaking of next time, we finally completed the schedule of educators and house band performers for the next 8 sessions. It is up on the schedule page. Tunes aren’t listed yet but we’ll have the tune for next time posted within 2 days. Sorry for the delay.
from Dan Wallach, Jam Educator
This week’s featured tune is Insensatez or in English, How Insensitive. This tune was written by the great composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. He loosely based his tune on the wonderful Romantic period composer Fredrick Chopin’s prelude No. 4. Because of this the harmony of this tune is both non-conventional and complex. That being said, I will suggest a protocol for approaching this tune in various steps. Each step becomes more complex. Any of the tiers I will suggest can be used as an approach on their own.
- First, as I always suggest, listen to several recordings of this tune including the original.
One of my favorite recordings is the one featuring Stan Getz.
- Especially on this tune, it is a necessity to learn the melody well to help you keep your place in the form. Practice singing the tune on “la” — unless your Portuguese is strong, then sing the lyrics. Keeping the form of any tune in the initial learning stages should be a primary goal.
- As the harmony takes many twists and turns, playing a solo that is strongly based on the tune is a fine path. Use your knowledge of the chords to embellish the melody. Remember that some of our greatest jazz performers often played with the original rhythms nearly as much as adding extra tones as a method of improvising. Rhythm is equally as important as non-melody tones.
- If you feel comfortable doing a chord-by-chord analysis, do so. Look for familiar chord progressions. We will use the following progression, How Insensitive Chords, as it is straightforward without extra substitutions or turn-arounds.
I hear this tune as being in D minor. That being said, the first two bars are the tonic, and the second two move to the dominant, 1-5. The next four bars do the same thing a whole step down. The next four bars, I would read the chords literally without trying to find a harmonic link. A good argument can be made for the Bb being the sixth. The next four bars are a familiar cycle of a minor 2-5-1. The next four bars I believe are best analyzed at face value instead of looking for a familiar progression.
The next four are the familiar pattern of 6-5-1 in a minor key. The next two bars seem to be F7 on their own followed by a 2-5 to A minor. The final four bars are a repetition of the 6-5-1 pattern.
I look forward to seeing all of you at the Jam!
By Eric Koppa, Saxophonist and Jazz Educator
One of the most used song forms in the jazz idiom is the AABA song form. Rhythm Changes is a 32 measure form that adheres to the AABA formula, also known as the “Standard American Song Form,” and may be the most well-known jazz progression, after the popular 12-bar blues chord progression. There have been countless melodies written over this song form, dating back to the early 1920s. “I’ve Got Rhythm” may be one of the more memorable and widely recognized melodies and is a good place to start when learning melodies to play over Rhythm Changes. We’ll be focusing on two modern melodies for the April 7th Madison Jazz Jam, Lester Young’s (1940) “Lester Leaps In,” played often by Charlie Parker, and Sonny Rollins’ (1954) composition “Oleo,” made famous by Miles Davis.
From a theoretical perspective, Rhythm Changes presents an excellent improvising exercise, illustrating fundamentals like ii-V7-I chord progressions, circle of 4th patterns on the bridge, and many chord substitution variations, as well as ‘quoting’ opportunities. As a practice exercise, solo instrumentalists can benefit from playing the bass line and outlining the chords with a metronome. The repeating I-vi-ii-V bass line pattern on the “A” sections of the form is a common chord progression in most jazz standards, and outlining the chords in a diatonic fashion in either quarter notes or eighth notes is a good exercise for a beginning or advanced improviser.
The most common key to play Rhythm Changes in is the key of Bb (the keys for “Lester Leaps In” and “Oleo”). Following are a few examples to work with to practice the bass line and outline the chords. Though there are a multitude of substitution and chord alteration opportunities over Rhythm Changes, I’ve presented a basic harmonic approach to understanding and internalizing the chord progression. Example 2 demonstrates what can be done by incorporating diminished passing chords as well as a chord substitution on the “A” section. Remember to practice slowly and with a metronome for maximum effectiveness. Practicing with another horn player and taking turns covering the bass line and improvising is a fun improvisational exercise and will help both of you develop a better sense of time and where beats 2 and 4 are.
Click the exercise image below to view a downloadable pdf.