I'll Remember April is next on April 19th

For those in a hurry, here are today's take home points:

  • No jam on April 5th - Easter. Next jam is April 19th.
  • The next featured tune is "I'll Remember April."
  • Christian Tamburr is a fantastic musician!
  • We had tons of fun at the jam today - we always do.

I want to talk about how much fun we had at the jam today, but first, congratulations to the badger basketball team on their win! We could hear yelling from the front bar and knew it was exciting, but not enough to distract us from our own excitement - the energy in the room after the 1st set was electric!

Special guest appearances from Anna, a vocalist visiting from Moscow, and later by Madison's own celebrated vocalist, Gerri DiMaggio, got the crowd pumped. Jazz superstar Christian Tamburr took them to the next level and beyond. Christian played to a very appreciative audience at the Brink Lounge today as part of the MMC concert series and popped into the Fountain to relax afterwards. He was kind enough to play a few tunes with the house band and now I'm kicking myself for missing that concert. Words don't do justice to music like that. Let's just say the 1st set ended with the audience roaring it's approval and everyone, including Christian, grinning.

Christian joined us for another tune in the second set and stuck around afterwards to work out arrangement ideas with John Schaffer for tomorrow's UW concert. That's right, you still have a chance to hear him live. He is playing 7:30 tomorrow night at Morphy Hall in the Humanities Building. More details are on the Madison Jazz Calendar.

Even without today's special guests it was another in a series of great jams, lots of jammers of all ages, a large audience, and really enjoyable music. At this point we don't expect anything less.

Normally, our next jam would be April 5th but that is Easter so it won't be until April 19th. We have another superstar line-up: Dave Cooper - trumpet, Doug Brown - guitar, Brad Townsend - bass, and Rodrigo Villanueva - drums. The featured tune is "I'll Remember April." Learn Jazz Standards has a playalong and other material to help you get started. See you next time!

One Note Samba, and steps to learning a song

Another jam-packed jazz jam, a record 23 jammers, a large audience, and tons of fun. That about sums up today's jam.  We're on a roll, let's keep it going.

Our next jam is March 15th and we'll be joined by Eric Koppa on sax and the Rand Moore Trio: Paul Muench - piano, John Schaffer - bass, and Rand - drums. The featured tune is "One Note Samba." One jammer told me he was having a hard time finding a fakebook version. I have it in Real Book One, page 331. I googled images and it was the 1st one on the page. Lots of other images show up and some may be right but I didn't have  time to check. I recommend an image that has #331 in the top right corner and make sure it's in your key.

This isn't a song I know. You may find some benefit in seeing how I plan to learn it. My method for learning a tune takes time but helps me remember it much better. Here are the steps:

  1. Start with the most famous version (Gets/Byrd) version and memorize the melody. The melody is basic so it shouldn't be hard.
  2. Listen to the bass and see if I can figure out the root movement. Sing it until I can hear it in my head. I use transcribe! for this. It lets you loop difficult parts and EQ to hear mainly the bass.  You can also rig up a foot pedal to start and stop the music so your hands are free. And you can notate text above the music. It is incredibly useful software.
  3. Figure out if the chords are major, minor, or what - sounding the 3rd against the recording helps.
  4. After that I see how my work compares to the Real Book and listen to the recording closely in the spots where we disagree. Usually I'm wrong, but not always - the Real Book is known to have errors scattered throughout.
  5. After that I analyze the harmony and try to make sense of it and relate it to tunes I already know. Because I needed to write this article I cheated and went right to the lead sheet.
    1. We haven't had many tunes with descending chromatic movements but they aren't uncommon. The A section has a descending line 3 times (3 to b3 to 2 to b2), broken up by a 2-5 to four. Practicing ideas over that descending line will be important - it makes up more than half the song.
    2. The bridge starts on four with a 2-5 to b3, then a 2-5 to b2. I recognize this as almost exactly the same as the bridge to Wave, Road Song, and Night of 1000 Eyes. I will add this tune to that list in my mind. Relating a new tune to ones I already know helps me learn and remember them.
    3. The coda is interesting. He cycles to the b2 major which leads into the one chord. The b2 is called a Neopolitan chord and can sub for a 2 or 4 chord in a 2-5-1 or 4-5-1 progression, or it can go directly to 1 like it does here. I like the sound. I'll listen to it a bunch to make sure I have that sound in my ears.

There are additional layers but these are the initial steps. Although this is the method preached by many pros, I fought against learning tunes this way for a long time - it is a lot of work and slow. Now, I'm glad I do it this way. I remember songs much better, my ear is improving, and I'm getting faster at it. If you don't have much time, at least learn the melody from the recording. That's a good starting point.

Addendum: I listened to various recordings of this tune and most are not in Bb, however, that is supposedly the original key and the key the Real Book is in so we'll stick with it. You can use Transcribe! or similar software to adjust the key while you play along with recordings. I found it's possible to sound reasonably good just generalizing in Bb over the descending chromatic section and heard several soloists doing this at times. Rhythmic approaches also work well.

Here's Getz/Bryd: