Afternoon in Paris

Our next jam is this Sunday, April 3rd and the featured tune is "Afternoon in Paris." The pianist John Lewis wrote this song and, while it's not commonly played, it is a great song and has the chord progression we've been focusing on: a series of keys descending by whole steps. The home key is C major. It is fun to play and not difficult to learn. The melody is a sequence and it sounds good to use the same device when soloing - play an idea and sequence it through the keys. You will sound like you know what you're doing and it gives the audience something to grab onto.

Chord charts and playalong tracks are available on Learn Jazz Standards.

The Chicken

It's easier to write a calm post after a week goes by. Lately, I'm super pumped up after the jam.  The venue, the music, the crowds.... everything has been outstanding. Our next jam is March 20th and I expect it will be more of the same.  As always we'll have a super band. This time it will be Joey Banks - drums, Lucas Koehler - bass, Paul Hastil - keys, and Ken Hoffman - saxophone.

For the last several months our featured tune has either been a standard with chord progressions that descend by whole steps, or something simpler like a blues. For our next jam on March 21st  we feature "The Chicken." This song has a blues-like progression and a funky rhythm. It was written by James Brown's band leader Pee Wee Ellis, and popularized among jazz musicians by bassist Jaco Pastorius.

With a song like this rhythm is king. You can get a lot of mileage out of playing harmonically simple (pentatonics, chord tones), rhythmically interesting ideas, and playing them with feeling. Over the I7 IV7 vamp you can use scale tones from the  major blues scale based on the tonic, and play off the chords as well.  You might want to start practicing by singing lines over the form and trying to find them on your instrument.

I'm not sure "The Chicken" is available in a fake book. This site has a concert version. Make sure to transpose it if you don't play a C concert instrument. Here are a couple of versions to check out: