Dennis Mitcheltree at our next jam

Our next jam, March 3rd, promises to be extra special.  We always have a great house band and this one is no exception: Johannes Wallmann - piano, Nick Moran - bass, Rodrigo Villanueva - drums.  The difference is we'll be joined by LA saxophonist Dennis Mitcheltree as our educator.

Joyce Markle, one of our regular jam audience members, authored a feature story on Dennis' visit on Madison Jazz. Dennis has three performances while in Madison and the jam is one. This is a rare opportunity to be play with and be mentored by an accomplished sax player from LA (and NY before that). Don't miss it!


March 3rd is our next jam and the tune of the week is Jobim's, “Wave.” Chord chart pdfs and a playalong can be found here. Following the usual approach to learning a tune, it's best to memorize the sound of the melody by singing it, and do the same with the chord roots. Practice embellishing the melody. When that feels good it's time to analyze the chord progression.

I have to warn you the rest of this article is technical. If it seems like gibberish I recommend Jerry Coker's, “Hearing the Changes,”a good resource for understanding and learning to spot common progressions.

Wave is usually done in D. The form is AABA, but the A section has 12 bars rather than 16. While it doesn't sound like a blues, an easy way to think of it is as a blues with substitutions. Like a blues, Wave starts on the l chord, moves to the 4 in bar 5 and in the last 4 bars has a turnaround back to the l.

Let's break it down in 4 bar chunks. You'll need the chord chart in front of you.

Bars 1-4: Starts on the 1. Bars 3&4 are a 2-5 to the 4 (Am-D7-G). The Bbdim in bar 2 can be understood in several ways. Bbdim can be found within both Em7b5 and A7b9 so either works. Choosing Em7b9 you get a 6-2-5 to the 4 or choosing A7b9 you have the A dom to Amin progression, which is common. Here are the variations:
| Dmaj | Em7b5 | Am | D7 |
| Dmaj | Em7b5 A7b9 | Am | D7 |
| Dmaj | A7b9| Am | D7 |

  • Bars 5-8: 4 maj to 4 min to 1 is sometimes called a minor plagal cadence. It is a common progression. Here a dominant 3 chord (F#7) has been substituted for the 1. This begins a cycle back to 1. These subs can be used over a blues. We saw this same progression in the last 8 bars of, “All of Me.”
  • Bars 9-12: this is a 2-5-1 (leading to the minor instead of major) with a little spice thrown in, a b6 dominant preceding the 5.  The b6-5-1 progression is a basic minor blues turnaround so you can get bluesy here or ignore the b6 if it's too much to think about. The last 2 bars are a 1-4 vamp, same as the intro.

The bridge is a pair of 2-5-1's beginning on the 4 chord and making it's way back to the 2 to set up a 2-5 turnaround to the A section. “Road Song” has this same bridge in a different key.

Here's Stan Getz: [youtube=]

The original sounds like elevator music but a close listen reveals good stuff in there: [youtube=]

New Videos

Sunday's jam was a good one as usual: good music, good energy, and a good time. We had at least 60 people including many new faces. We managed to fit in 21 jammers, 10 of them from high schools or colleges.

We have some video if you want to see what it was like. Mark Ramirez recorded the first three songs and they're up on our media page and our YouTube channel (thanks, Mark!). We plan to record periodically and we'll let you know when something new is posted. If you are in a video and want it removed just let us know.

Our next session on March 3rd promises to be extra special. We'll say more about that soon. We just wanted to get the video out tonight.

All of Me with Dan Wallach

All of Me, written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons in 1931, has become a staple of the jazz standard library.  This tune has been performed widely by many jazz and popular music greats.  Perhaps my favorite recording is of Louis Armstrong.  Please take the opportunity to listen to this recording.  We are treated to Armstrong playing the tune, singing the tune, and even doing some scatting.  (Note:  The recording is in Db, but we will be playing it in the key of C.)

I think this tune allows for different approaches depending on one’s experience level.  If you have less background in theory, I recommend a melodically based improvisation.  Play the tune and slowly add variations on the melody, mixing in connecting notes that sound good to your ear.  Never fully leave the tune, but play a highly embellished version of the melody.

For those players who are well versed in jazz theory, consider this analysis to guide your harmonic improvisatory choices.  The tune starts on the 1 chord for two measures.  The harmony then shifts to the 3 chord for two bars.  This chord is altered from standard 3 chord to a Dominant seventh.  Think of this as the 5 chord in A harmonic minor.  In the second four bars we shift to the 6 chord, the “wrong” chord quality as it is a dominant seventh.  For these two bars think 5 chord in D harmonic minor.  Bars seven and eight are the naturally occurring 2 chord in C major (D Dorian).

Bars nine and ten return to the 3 chord as a dominant seventh.  Bars eleven and twelve start a more common progression of six–two as a dominant two bars apiece, the standard two-five-one. The next eight bars are an exact repetition of the first eight.  Bar twenty-four travels to the 4 chord still in C major. The next measure goes to F minor -- consider melodic minor.  We end the form with a 3-6-2-5-1 progression -- all the conventional chords in C major except the 6 is a dominant, which is not particularly abnormal.

- Dan