Viewing: Improvisation - View all posts

Updated Events 

Hey, just a quick note to say I've updated my calendar to reflect some Jazz Festival events, most notably the 24 hour jazz ramble which takes place from 10AM Friday to 10AM Saturday next weekend.  I'll be on at noon with Mark Ferguson playing some Bill Evans music in the style of his overdubbed pianos records.  I'll also be part of Ed Lister's quintet at 9PM.  The whole event takes place at the Record Centre on Wellington.

I also had a blast playing all types of Indian music at City Hall last week for the…

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Indian Music 

I've started rehearsals with Vinay Bhide for a show May 10th at noon at City Hall.  Vinay has asked Mike Essoudry and me to join him to play what we feel fits in the performance of two pieces.  One is based on the Raga Rageshri, on which I have previously written an original piece, "Pas De Deux".  In the key of C, the notes for improvising are Bb-C-E-F-A-Bb-C and the downward notes are C-Bb-A-F-E-D-C.  After a few minutes of getting it in your ears, an accidental G sounds glaringly wrong.

I've also been…

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Solo Piano - listening and playing 

Not a lot of shows coming up with all of my accompanist work looming, but I thought I'd share some things I've been checking out.

I've been listening to Keith Jarrett's Radiance, and album I couldn't get into when it first came out.  Now that I've been doing more solo playing and my ears have improved, I thought it would be good to give it a few more passes.  The concept is that he takes an idea from the previous improvised piece and forms a new piece out of it, and de-emphasizes melody, contrary to a lot…

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Forbidden Musical Devices 

During World War II, Hitler's regime forbade certain musical ideas and devices that didn't conform with their idea of artistic music.

From New Dutch Swing

It [de jazzwereld's guideline for entertainment music in 1940] was mostly a detailed roster of forbidden devices and practices: plunger mutes, growls, smears and other dirty timbres, ostinato basses, background riffs repeated more than three times, charts written by black musicians, washboards, the use of the word 'jazz' were all off-limits.

How many…

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Jazz Standards- 16 you should know. 

This past weekend I moderated a jam session for Jazzworks at the new Ottawa Bluesfest Music School.  I prepared a handout on tunes to know that I wanted to make available to all my students and those who couldn't make the jam.

For the last few months I have been looking over many other people's lists of standards, as well as pooling my peers for their opinions on the matter.  There are tons of great lists out there, from the great book by Ted Gioia to lots of websites.  I even remember coming across regional…Read more

Music Note Sudoku 

I often encourage students to practice randomized chord patterns by picking a chord type or two, and then moving them through a tone row.

For instance CMaj7 - Ebmin7 - FMaj7 - F#min7 - Dbmaj7 - Dmin7 - BMaj7 - Emin7 - AbMaj7 - Bbmin7 - GMaj7 - Amin7.
And the opposite Cmin7 - EbMaj7 - Fmin7 - GbMaj7 - C#min7 - DMaj7 - Bmin7 - EMaj7 - Abmin7 - BbMaj7 - Gmin7 - AMaj7.

I had great breakthroughs in my playing working through newer chord types that I didn't realize were coming slower to my fingers than I thought…Read more

Bud Powell Un Poco Loco - part 2 

Once I realized that the actual improv going on was just over a C-pedal, I was curious to know what kind of material Bud would play.  Generally it's melodic, beboppish, but the adventurous parts are especially exciting. 

Click here to hear his solo slightly slowed down.

Click here to hear his solo on Alt take 1.

Click here to hear his solo on Alt take 2.

Instead of writing a huge analysis of these solos, and how they compare, differ, etc, I thought I would just point out some of my favourite juicy bits.  Even…Read more

Interpreting a melody - My Funny Valentine (part 3) 

After getting the ball rolling with three worked-out versions of the first eight bars of My Funny Valentine, and then looking at how three singers performed them, it was only natural to find three great instrumental versions to look at.  Keep in mind that this is the first time the melody is being stated in the performance- although with a song like this there is a lot of familiarity with the original on the part of both listener and performer.

Sonny Stitt - from a Quincy Jones' collection.  It was really…Read more