Category Archives: Learn Jazz piano eBooks

I now have written three Learn Jazz Piano eBooks.

Building your Jazz Repertoire part 2: Latin

Building your Jazz Repertoire part 2: Latin

Jazz repertoire part 2:
10 Latin tunes

The world of Latin American music is vast and would take a lifetime of study. What we are looking at here is a small collection of tunes with a Latin feel; songs that are likely to come up when playing with other musicians. I’ve tried to keep the list short, as it’s easy to get overwhelmed with too many choices. I’ve marked essential songs with *.

All these tunes have a straight 8 feel rather than swing.
The compositions of Carlos Jobim are of particular interest as they don’t follow the usual II – V – I  patterns.

You will find the complete list of ‘Building a Jazz Repertoire’ in book 3 of Learn Jazz Piano.

Here’s the link to book 3

 

At some stage you might find yourself comping behind vocalists singing this repertoire. A good reference is the Getz /Gilberto album (1964).

If you’re looking for an easy tune for starters I’d go for Blue Bossa.
Try Desafinado for something a little more advanced.

So here are my 10 choices of Latin tunes to build your jazz repertoire.
Although many artists have recorded these  tunes, I’ve provided you with suggested listening.

———————-

Blue Bossa*

Composer: Kenny Dorham

Listen: Joe Henderson

———————-

Con Alma

Composer: Dizzie Gillespie

Listen: Wes Montgomery

———————-

Desafinado

Composer: Jobim

Listen: Dizzy Gilespie

———————-

The Girl From Ipanema*

Composer: Jobim

Listen: Stan Getz

———————-

How Insensitive

Composer: Jobim

Listen: Oscar Peterson

———————- 

Meditation

Composer: Jobim

Listen:  Joe Pass

———————-

Manteca

Composer: Dizzie Gillespie

Listen: Red Garland

———————-

Nica’s Dream*

Composer: Horace Silver

Listen: Art Blakey

———————-

Song For My Father

Composer: Horace Silver

Listen: Horace Silver

———————-

Wave

Composer: Jobim

Listen: Paul Desmond

———————-

jazz repertoire
Jobim

I have now produced 22 videos for my online  Lean Jazz Piano course.

Click here for my online video lessons.

 

Great jazz albums part 4

Great jazz albums part 4

Great jazz albums

This is the final instalment of my list of great jazz albums. You can find the complete list in book 3 of my eBook Learn  Jazz Piano. Here’s the link:

http://www.learnjazzpianoonline.com/book-3.html

I begin with my favourite jazz musician of all time: John Coltrane, and to chose just one album is almost impossible. However, it has to be a recording with McCoy Tyner, The obvious choice would be A Love Supreme, but I’ve chosen My Favourite Things because you can hear his approach to standards.

For the same reason, I’ve chosen Herby Hancock’s The New  Standard.

Chic Corea’s output has been and continues to be varied  in genre but Acoustic Band  gives you an insight into his approach to standards like Autumn Leaves and So In Love.

Exactly the same goes for Keith Jarrett. His standards trio, for me, has never been bettered.

So here goes…

————————

Artist: John Coltrane

Instrument: sax

Title: My Favourite Things

Date: 1961

Piano: McCoy Tyner

————————

Artist: Wayne Shorter

Instrument: tenor sax

Title: Juju

Date: 1964

Piano: McCoy Tyner

————————

Artist: Herbie Hancock

Instrument: piano

Title: Maiden Voyage

Date: 1965

————————

Artist: Herbie Hancock

Instrument: piano

Title: The New Standard

Date: 1966

————————

Artist: Wes Montgomery

Instrument: guitar

Title: Smokin’ At The Half Note

Date: 1965

Piano: Wynton Kelly

————————

Artist: Stan Getz

Instrument: tenor sax

Title: Anniversary

Date: 1987

Piano: Kenny Barron

————————

Artist: Chic Corea

Instrument: piano

Title: Now He Sings, Now He Sobs

Date: 1968

————————

Artist: Chic Corea

Instrument: piano

Title: Akoustic Band

Date: 1989

————————

Artist: Keith Jarrett

Instrument: piano

Title: Standards

Date: 1983

————————

Artist: Keith Jarrett

Instrument: piano

Title: Bye Bye Blackbird

Date: 1993

Great jazz albums
Keith Jarrett

And here’s the link to my video course:

http://www.learnjazzpianoonline.com/lessons.html

Recommended jazz albums

Recommended jazz albums

Recommended jazz albums – part 3

This is part 3 of my list of recommended jazz albums that I think you should be listening to. You can find the complete list in chapter 10 of  Learn Jazz Piano book 3.

I’m starting with another essential Bill Evans album and this time it’s live. I was fortunate enough to see him at Ronnie Scott’s in 1980.

For learning jazz pianists (and I count myself among them) there are certain piano players that I find more accessible and I’ve listed two of them below: Horace Silver and Wynton Kelly.

Anyone that knows me will not be surprised that I’ve included two Monk albums. The eccentricity of Monk often overshadows his unique approach. I feel it’s a mistake to assume that he’s playing strange and dissonant voicings just  to be different. In fact, everything he plays has a logic and purpose.

My one ‘guilty pleasure’ in this list is the inclusion of Andrew Hill.  Again, he is an acquired taste, but a true original.

I’ve not included Oscar Peterson in his own right as you can hear him supporting the great sax player Ben Webster in his 1959 album.

—————

Artist: Bill Evans

Instrument: piano

Title: The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings

Date: 1961

—————

Artist: Charles Mingus

Instrument: bass

Title: Ah Um

Date: 1959

Piano: Horace Parlan

—————

Artist: Ben Webster

Instrument: sax

Title: Ben Webster With The Oscar Peterson Trio

Date: 1959

Piano: Oscar Peterson

—————

Artist: Wynton Kelly

Instrument: piano

Title: Kelly Blue

Date: 1959

 —————

Artist: Hank Mobley

Instrument: tenor sax

Title: Roll Call

Date: 1960

Piano: Wynton Kelly

—————

Artist: Art Blakey

Instrument: drums

Title: Mosaic

Date: 1961

Piano: Cedar Walton

—————

Artist: Horace Silver

Instrument: piano

Title: Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers

Date: 1954

—————

Artist: Dexter Gordon

Instrument: tenor sax

Title: Go!

Date: 1962

Piano: Sonny Clark

—————

Artist: Andrew Hill

Instrument: piano

Title: Point Of Departure

Date: 1964

————— 

Artist: Art Blakey

Instrument: drums

Title: Mosaic

Date: 1961

Piano: Cedar Walton

—————

Artist: Thelonious Monk

Instrument: piano

Title: It’s Monk’s Time

Date: 1964

—————

Artist: Thelonious Monk

Instrument: piano

Title: Monk Alone

Date: 1962 – 1968

Recommended jazz albums
Monk

Happy listening!

Paul

Study jazz piano: Suggested listening part 1

Study jazz piano: Suggested listening part 1

Three ways to study jazz piano

Three ways to study jazz piano are playing,  studying and listening.

Playing: I can only continue to encourage you to seek out other musicians. One of the  best ways to  study jazz piano is by playing with other people, whether with friends, with your teacher, at an evening class or summer school etc etc. Whatever gets you beyond just sitting at home and playing to backing tracks, the interaction and communication with other musicians is essential.

Studying: Hopefully, my learn jazz piano course and eBooks are helping you, but there is an ever growing number of resources now on the internet. Studying, of course, includes practice, and this doesn’t  just mean strolling through your favourite tunes and licks!

Listening: This brings us to today’s blog. How much jazz are you listening to? In a way, this is the easiest way to learn jazz piano, as you don’t need to be doing anything consciously. Just letting the music in without trying to analyse it will really inform your playing. Before I give you my recommendations, here are two pieces of advice:

Firstly, don’t just listen to the music you like. For years, I steered clear of 20’s and 30’s jazz, considering it old fashioned. Big mistake! You can learn just as much listening to Lois Armstrong as John Coltrane.

Secondly, don’t just listen to jazz pianists because that’s your instrument. Listen to how, for example,  great sax improvisers fashion their phrases.

So here’s the first in a series of recommendations. You’ll find the full list in book 3 of my Learn Jazz Piano eBook. Here’s the link to my books:

http://www.learnjazzpianoonline.com/jazz-piano-ebook.html

For each album, I’ve given you the pianist on the session, when the leader is other than a pianist.

Artist: Louis Armstrong

Instrument: trumpet

Title: Hot 5’s and 7’s.

Date: 1926 – 1930

Piano: Earl Hines

—————————–

Artist: Louis Armstrong

Instrument: trumpet

Title: Louis Armstrong Plays W. C. Handy.

Date: 1954.

Piano: Billy Kyle

——————————-

Artist: Lester Young

Instrument: tenor sax

Title: The Lester Young Story

Date: 1936 – 1949

Piano: Teddy Wilson and Count Basie.

—————————-

Artist: Charlie Parker

Instrument: alto sax

Title: The Complete Savoy Sessions

Date: 1944 – 1947

Piano: Bud Powell.

——————————

Artist: Charlie Parker

Instrument: alto sax

Title: Jazz At The Town Hall

Date: 1945

Piano: Al Haig

—————————

Artist: Bud Powell

Instrument: piano

Title: The Amazing Bud Powell

Date: 1951

——————————-

Artist: Coleman Hawkins

Instrument: tenor sax

Title: The Bebop Years

Date: 1939 – 1949

Piano: Teddy Wilson, Earl Hines and Hank Jones.

 ————————-

Artist: Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus

Instrument: Piano and bass.

Title: Money Jungle

Date: 1962

study jazz piano
Duke Ellington

To be continued…

Here’s the link to my video course.

Learn Bebop scales part 2

Learn Bebop scales part 2

Here is  Learn Bebop scales part 2. This is an extract from my forthcoming book ‘How To Solo.’. It will be the 4th in the series of my eBooks Learn Jazz Piano.

You can purchase books 1, 2 and 3 by clicking here.

Learn Bebop scales part 2

In my previous blog I illustrated the Bebop Dominant scale in C. Take another look before continuing.

Fig 45

learn bebop scales
Bebop Dominant scale of C

Bebop Dorian scale

The Dorian mode is usually associated with minor 7 chords.

To transform the Dorian mode into the bebop Dorian scale, we insert our chromatic passing note between steps 3 and 4.

For reasons that will soon become apparent, I’m illustrating this scale in G.

Fig 46

learn jazz piano dorian bebop scale
Dorian bebop scale

Now compare the C bebop dominant scale: fig 45 (see above) with the G bebop dorian scale (fig 46) and you will notice that these two bebop scales share the same passing note.

Their respective chords are Gmin7 and C7: II – V.

We can therefore employ the same notes to play any II – V phrase.

Fig 47

learn jazz piano bebop scales
II-V sequence

Bebop melodic minor scale

By adding one extra note to a scale, more bebop scales can be created.

Add a note between 5 and 6 of the melodic minor to create the bebop melodic minor.

Fig 48

learn jazz piano bebop scales
Bebop melodic minor scale

Bebop half diminished scale

In order to create a bebop scale to fit a half diminished chord (min7(5)), use the minor bebop scale 3 half steps up from that chord.

Fig 49

Bebop scales part 2
bebop half diminished scale

There is much debate as to which note to add when playing these scales. There’s something to be said for the argument that if a minor7 chord is functioning as a II, then adding a note between 7 and 8 (rather than 3 and 4) results in more chord tones occurring on downbeats.

Fig 50

learn Bebop scales
minor chord options

If you wish to look further into this subject I would recommend David Baker’s How To Play Bebop.

I have now produced 22 video lessons in my Learn Jazz Piano course. You can find them by clicking here.

You can find part 1 of ‘Learn Bebop scales’ below.

bebop scales part 1

bebop scales part 1

Using bebop scales in your jazz solos is easier than you think!

Chapter 4: of Learn Jazz Piano book 4

I don’t believe that most of us can learn jazz piano by instinct alone and bebop scales should be a part of your vocabulary.

The key is getting the right balance of instinct and theory. Here are some more tips to learn jazz piano, This time we are looking at bebop scales.

I’ll begin by stating the obvious.

Major and minor scales have 7 notes.

Most jazz tunes are in 4/4.

Solos are usually built from eighth notes.

Taking these three facts into our playing, a major scale in 8s and in 4/4 time, looks like this.

Fig 42

bebop scales
Downbeats of major scale

You’ll notice that beats 3 and 4 all fall on weak notes of the chord.

In order to make these downbeats fall on the chord tones, we can add one extra note to the scale.

Fig 43

bebop scales
Adding the extra note

This extra, chromatic passing note that occurs between steps 5 and 6 is the

Bebop major scale.

Bebop major scale

Fig 44 shows the C major bebop scale ascending and descending.

Play it in swing 8s with the marked accents on the downbeats. Notice how effectively this added note drives the phrase along.

Fig 44

bebop scales
Major bebop scale 

Bebop dominant scale

Because the bebop dominant scale is paired with a dominant 7 chord, our starting scale is the Mixolydian mode.

Once again, we will be adding an extra, chromatic passing note, but this time between steps 7 and the root of the Mixolydian mode.

Here is the C bebop dominant scale ascending and descending. The passing note is B♮.

Fig 45

bebop scales
Bebop dominant scale

 Book 4 of learn jazz piano is still in preparation but you can purchase books 1 – 3 if you follow the link below:
http://www.learnjazzpianoonline.com/jazz-piano-ebook.html

 

 

Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube

 Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube

Click here for my new  Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube

This Learn Jazz Piano video on YouTube is a short recap about the relationship between a major scale and its seven chords.

Here are the 7th chords that belong to F major.

 Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube
7 related chords in F major

To purchase my Learn Jazz Piano videos click here.

Here’s a summary of the lesson content:

Lesson 1 – From scales to chords

  • Soloing over the Pentatonic scale
  • Mastering intervals
  • The V – I concept
  • One formula to construct all major scales
  • 7 chords, one family
 Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube
7 chords, 1 scale

Lesson 2 – Building a chord sequence

  • Chord sequences
  • The relative minor and its scales
  • The family row of minor triads
  • Soloing in a minor key

Lesson 3 –  Mastering every key

  • The circle of 5ths
  • How to play in any key
  • Preview of the II-V-I sequence
  • Introduction to the turnaround

Lesson 4 – Swing time

  • Learning to swing
  • The construction of 7th chords
  • How to interpret chord symbols
  • Shells – how not to upset the bass player

Lesson 5 – Walking 3s

  • Turnarounds part 2: I – VI – II -V
  • Walking 3s and 7s: the seeds of vertical improvisation.
  • How to use passing notes.
  • Voice leading

Lesson 6 – Extensions

  • Extensions: how to use 9ths, 11ths and 13th.
  • Know which extensions work with which chord.
  • Voicing a chord using extensions.
  • Introduction to Modes.

Lesson 7 – The II-V-I sequence

  • Master the II – V – I sequence in all keys
  • Seven soloing techniques over II – V – I
  • Alterations: know your sharp 11 from your flat 13
  •  Flat 9s and the diminished chord

Lesson 8 – How to comp

  • Comp like a pro
  • Find the best chord voicings
  • Use the right extensions
  • Build up to a five-note comp
  • Explore rhythmic variations

Lesson 9 – Modes

  • Know your Mixodydian from your Dorian
  • Grasp the connection between modes and chords
  • The art of modal soloing and comping
  • How to play ‘So What’

Lesson 10 – Autumn Leaves part 1

  • Playing your first standard
  • Learning the melody
  • The comp
  • The shells
  • The solo

Lesson 11 – Autumn Leaves part 2

  • Taking Autumn Leaves to the next level
  • How to fill out the melody
  • Comping with alterations
  • Soloing with vertical improvisation

Lesson 12 – The Blues part 1

Play with confidence over the blues.

  • How to solo creatively
  • The minor blues
  • Blues in 12/8
    Plus lots of tips, tricks and licks!

Lesson 13 – The Blues part 2

  • Taking the blues beyond the basics.
  • Chord changes that turn blues into jazz.
  • Lydian dominant & diminished scales.
  • Rootess left-hand voicings.

Lesson 14 – Bebop blues

  • Left hand 4-note rootless voicings
  • Constructing the Bebop sequence.
  • How to solo over a Bebop blues
  • Comping over a Bebop blues

Lesson 15 – Rootless voicing

  • Constructing left hand rootless voicings.
  • Applying  rootless voicings to II-V-I and turnarounds.
  • Adding the alterations: b9, b13 etc.

Lesson 16 – Tritone substitution

  • Diminished theory
  • Soloing over diminshed chords
  • Using diminished scales over dominant 7ths
  • Mastering tritone substitution

Lesson 17 – Putting it together

  • Now put your knowledge to work!
  • Combine learned techniques to play a jazz standard.
  • Rootless voicings + tritone substitution
  • Altered and diminished scales

Lesson 18 – Decoding a standard

  • Analysis of ‘All The Things You Are.’
  • How tunes are structured.
  • Identifying key centres
  • Connecting melody and chords
  • How to learn tunes

Lesson 19 – Reharmonising a standard

  • Chord substitution
  • How to reharmonise a tune
  • All The Thing You Are: advanced
  • Take The A Train reharmonised

Lesson 20 – Rhythm Changes

  • Next to a 12-bar blues, Rhythm Changes
    is the most important chord sequence in jazz.
    Master all its forms in this vital video lesson.

 

For my Learn Jazz Piano eBooks click here.

 Learn Jazz piano video on YouTube
My eBooks

Practicing Jazz Piano: THE 3RD GOLDEN RULE

Practicing Jazz Piano: THE 3RD GOLDEN RULE

Practicing Jazz Piano

Golden rule number 3:

Identify II – V – I sequences

1)   II – V – I 

practicing jazz piano
learn jazz piano II-V-I sequence in Bb

This is by far the most important chord sequence when practicing jazz piano, and you need to recognise it in its major and minor forms. Here’s the sequence in Bb major. And here’s the sequence in G minor. 251 G minor Both the major and minor II – V – I sequences share the following features:

  • A perfect 4th interval (5 half steps) separates each chord.
  • The II chord is minor.
  • The V chord is a dominant 7.
practicing jazz piano
G harmonic minor scale

But there are also differences: In the minor version, chord II is usually min7(b5), also known as a half diminished. This is because the sequence is based on the harmonic minor scale. Look at the harmonic minor scale of G. Notice that note 6, Eb, is the same flat 5 note contained in the II chord: Amin7(b5). Now look at the tonic chord (the I chord) for both the major and minor sequence. I have purposely left it as a triad. This is because it can be played either as a 7 chord or as a 6 chord. For example, the II – V – I in G minor could end as Gmin7, but could equally end like this: min251 ending in 6

2)   II – V sequences

You will come across many II – V sequences that don’t resolve to the tonic. However, when soloing, use the scale that it ‘wants’ to resolve to. This is known as the key centre of the sequence. Here’s a string of four major II – V’s, in which I improvise through their key centres. 4 major key centres, new Press play (below) to listen.

practicing jazz piano
2 minor 25 key centres

And here are two pairs of minor II – V’s, in which I use their tonic harmonic minor scales for my solo. Press play (below) to listen.

Learn much more about the II – V – I sequence in video lesson 7 of Learn Jazz Piano.

Here’s the link.

You can also read about this topic in Learn Jazz Piano book 1, chapter 13.

Get my Learn Jazz Piano book here.

learning Jazz piano book 4

learning Jazz piano book 4

I’m currently working on learning jazz Piano book 4, in my series Learn Jazz Piano.

Here is an excerpt.

Click here to get Learn Jazz Piano eBooks 1 – 3!

Chapter 1: The trouble with 7 chords.

Because this book is primarily concerned with soloing over chords, I’ll start   with the chord that seems to be everywhere: the seventh. I suggest that it is often written and used incorrectly. This is of great importance to you when you’re playing from a chord chart or lead sheet. A jazz lead sheet seems to be littered with 7 chords: major 7, minor 7, dominant 7, diminished 7. In most cases it is there for a good reason, with each note serving a harmonic purpose. But there are times when naming a chord as a seventh is misleading. The problem arises when we consider the most important harmony notes within a chord: the two notes that identify it. These two notes, sometimes described as guide tones, are usually 3 and 7, because in most instances they serve a vital harmonic function. 3 tells us whether the chord is major or minor, then 7 completes the picture. Example        C + E + G + Bb Note E is a major 3rd. Note Bb is a minor 7. Therefore the chord is C7 (i.e. C dominant 7). 5 is of much less harmonic importance. If it were omitted in the above example, the chord would still clearly be a dominant 7. Here is a VI – II – V – I sequence. Each chord has just three voices. Notice that the first three chords, although described as 7, don’t require 5 to establish their identity. What they do require are 3s and 7s. Notice how each 3 becomes a 7 without needing to move, while each 7 becomes a 3 by moving down a half step. Fig 1

learning Jazz piano book 4
3s and 7s
learning Jazz piano book 4
Tonic chord

Now look closely at the final, tonic chord and how it is approached by its dominant 7. The 3 of G7 moves up a half step, but to the 1 of the C triad. This final tonic chord does not require a 7 in order to establish its harmony. And here lies the problem. Perhaps out of habit, perhaps out of laziness, this chord is often still written as a major 7. Fig 2   This final chord could be Cmaj7, but it can equally be C6 or just a C triad. Don’t assume that you are obliged to play a 7 just because the lead sheet states maj7. The scale of C major will work over all these variations, because the chord is essentially a major triad. So play the chord that suits your purposes. Another scale that will work here is the Lydian Dominant, but I’ll examine this in chapter 3.

Learning Jazz piano book 4 should be ready sometime in 2014.

Click here to get Learn Jazz Piano eBooks 1 – 3!

The best way to use this book is in conjunction with my learn jazz piano video course. http://www.learnjazzpianoonline.com

Introduction to Learn Jazz Piano eBook 4

Introduction to Learn Jazz Piano eBook 4

The best way to use this book is in conjunction with my learn jazz piano video course.
http://www.learnjazzpianoonline.com

Introduction

Over the years, many accomplished classical pianists have asked me to teach them jazz improvisation. It has never ceased to amaze me that they can sight read a Mozart Sonata, yet are usually totally unable to improvise. They are equally amazed that ‘we’ can just sit at the piano and make up stuff. Apparently, for a number of these talented classical musicians, the subject of improvisation was virtually ignored in a three-year music degree course, even though great composers such as J. S. Bach were famed for their improvisatory skills.

These gifted classical pianists yearn to improvise, but often become fearful at the prospect of no longer reading the notes in front of them. They marvel at the way we seem to be conjuring flurries of notes out of nowhere, as though we’re performing magic. And in a way, we are, although a lot of work has been put in before the magic can be created.

It could be said that improvisation is the highest form of music. We seem to be creating new and spontaneous compositions, but the truth is that our improvisations have both structure and logic. There are certain rules that we are following (or breaking). Moreover, our seeming spontaneity is  both consciously and subconsciously influenced by the generations of master jazz musicians that have gone before us.

Much has been written about the harmonic language of Bill Evans, and indeed, behind the sheer beauty of his playing, there lies a logical structure. But a more interesting case is Thelonious Monk, with his alleged eccentric approach and wrong-sounding notes. Yet, when analyzed, everything Monk plays has logic and structure.

In order to create a meaningful solo, two seemingly contradictory skills need to be in place: harmonic and rhythmic understanding, alongside an empty mind. Once the understanding is in place, this empty mind takes over and is totally alert, like an antenna. Once you have put in the preparation and are fully awake, you are ready for anything.

For eBooks 1, 2 and 3 follow this link.

learn jazz piano
My eBooks