Category Archives: playing jazz piano video lessons

There are now 22 learning jazz piano video lessons and 3 eBooks.

Finding the sweet notes

Finding the sweet notes

In video lesson 24 of Learn Jazz Piano  I focus on how songwriters employ ‘sweet notes’ to add that spine tingling effect to their melody. I then relate this to jazz improvisation and show you how to employ this technique in your solos.

Here’s an extract from chapter 10 of my eBook ‘How To Solo’, where I deal with this essential topic. To purchase the book follow this link.

Chapter 10

Here are two tunes that target sweet notes to great effect.

In  the first eight bars of Victor Young’s Beautiful Love each sweet note occurs on beat 1 and above the chord.

fig125

The table below describes the function of each boxed note in relation to its chord.

Note Chord Function
A Em7(b5) 4
F A7(#5) #5
F Dm7 3
C Gm7 4
A C7 6
A Fmaj7 3

 

Blue In Green, credited to Miles Davis but probably composed by Bill Evans, has a cyclical structure that never seems to resolve. I recommend that you first revisit this tune by listening to track 3 of the Miles Davis album: Kind Of Blue.

In the following example, rather than writing out the complete melody, I’ve illustrated just the target notes, plus a suggested left-hand accompaniment.

blue in green targets+ rootless

  • Table showing sweet notes
Bar Note Chord Function
1 E Gm6 6
2 C A7 #9
3 A Dm7 5
3 G G7 1
4 F Cm7 4
4 D F7 6
5 E Bbmaj7(b5) b5
6 C A7 #9
7 G Dm7 4
8 C E7 #5
9 B Am7 9
10 F Dm7 3

 

The video for this lesson will be available very soon.

How to solo

How to solo

How to Solo

My learn jazz piano video course is now around half way through the series ‘How to solo.’  There now follows a summary of these lessons so far with a link to each lesson.

Lesson 21:  Connecting hands
In this lesson I take you through techniques to incorporate your left hand. These include the following:

Stride
Walking bass lines
Shearing block chords
Drop 2 and left hand voicings

Click here for link to lesson 21

——————-

Lesson 22: Choosing the right scale
This lesson guides you through the best scales and modes to use over your chords and focuses on the following topics:

Using the Lydian mode over major chords
Choosing Dorian or Aolian over minor chords
The use of Lydian Dominant, altered scale etc over 7th chords
Choosing Locrian or Locrian 2 over diminished chords

Click here for lesson 22

——————-

Lesson 23: putting scales to work
This lesson guides you through many soloing options

Bebop scales
Effective use of passing notes
How to encircle notes
Soloing over Satin Doll

Click here for lesson 23

——————-

 

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

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

 

 

Learning Jazz Piano lesson 22 now available

Learning Jazz Piano lesson 22 now available

Learning Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams

Here’s video lesson 22

‘HOW TO SOLO, PART 2.’

The second video lesson in this series is called ‘Chords and their scales.’

In lesson 22, I take the 4 chord types and pair them with all their scales and modes. The obvious pairings are as follows:

  • Major chords: major scale
  • Minor chords: dorian mode
  • Dominant 7 chords: mixolydian mode
  • Half diminished chords: locrian mode

But this is just the beginning. If you want to play creative solos, there are far more options when we dig deeper. For example, I illustrate five scale options just over the dominant 7.

Get lesson 22 here!

This lesson is a follow-on from lesson 21, ‘How to solo, part 1.’

Here’s a summary of the lessons 1 – 20:

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
learning jazz piano
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.

___________________________________________________________________

Jazz Piano eBooks

These latest lessons are based on book 4 in my series of eBooks. You’ll find extracts from this book in the lesson packages, but as I’m still working on book 4, it’s not yet available. You can purchase books 1, 3 and 3 here:

Click here for eBooks
learning jazz piano
My eBooks

_______________________________________________________

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.

Lesson 21: study jazz piano with Paul Abrahams

Lesson 21: study jazz piano with Paul Abrahams

Study jazz piano with Paul Abrahams

Click here for lesson 21

‘CONNECTING HANDS.’

I have now produced 20 videos in the series ‘Study jazz piano with Paul Abrahams.’

This is the first video lesson package in the series ‘How to solo.’

When soloing, most of us get busy with our right hands at the expense of our left. The left hand usually takes a back seat and is left with the supporting role of marking out chords, usually on beat 1 of every bar.

In this lesson we’ll get your left hand into the action, using the following techniques:

  • Walking bass lines
  • Stride
  • Shearing block chords
  • Drop 2
  • Left hand chord placement

I’ll be providing plenty of soloing ideas that work with these strategies, but the main focus is to integrate your right and left hand.

learn jazz piano with Paul Abrahams
Block chords (Someone To Watch Over Me.)

Click here for new lesson

Here’s an extract from my forthcoming book:

We should all strive to become two-handed pianists. Unfortunately, most solos consist of a line of single notes in the right hand, supported by chords in the left. This is just one approach and should not be the default sound of ‘jazz piano.’ If the right hand is taking most of the load, then the left at least needs to be integrated, serving a musical function. However, there is no reason why the left and right hand shouldn’t take equal roles. Listen to Brad Mehldau and Stan Tracy for inspiration.

Because, for the most part, the right hand takes on the primary role, I’ll spend the first section of this chapter looking at how the left hand can make a meaningful contribution, rather than just marking out the time. I’ll then suggest strategies where the left hand can become more of an equal partner.