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.
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.
The table below describes the function of each boxed note in relation to its chord.
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.
Table showing sweet notes
The video for this lesson will be available very soon.
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:
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
Shearing block chords
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.
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.
Lesson 20 of Play Jazz Piano Online is all about Rhythm Changes.
My Play Jazz Piano Online video course would not be complete without a tutorial about Rhythm changes. Next to a 12-bar blues, this is the most important chord sequence in jazz, and is one that every jazz musician needs to be familiar with. Rhythm Changes is based on the chord sequence of the song I Got Rhythm by George Gershwin. Jazz composers have substituted Gershwin’s tune with their own, but have kept the chord sequence. Actually, there are a few variations of this sequence you need to know, and I take you through the options in this 30-minute video lesson.
In 1930, George Gershwin wrote a tune called I Got Rhythm. Subsequently, jazz composers took to retaining the chord changes but replacing Gershwin’s tune with their own. This may have had something to do with avoiding copyright charges. More importantly, players were drawn to the chord changes, finding them to be an ideal vehicle for improvisation.
Many composers have turned their hand to Rhythm Changes. I suggest that you listen to some of the following:
Lester Leaps In – Lester Young
Anthropology – Charlie Parker
Cotton Tail – Duke Ellington
Rhythm-A-Ning – Thelonious Monk
Oleo – Sonny Rollins
The Theme – Miles Davis
Here’s a chord chart for the A section:
As always, the video comes with 4 backing tracks, sheet music and a quiz. If you want to play jazz piano online get started now!
Jazz piano tuition online would not be complete without Rhythm Changes
Well, I’m about to start work on lesson 20 and it will be called Rhythm Changes. This is based on the tune ‘I Got Rhythm’ by George Gershwin.
Next to a 12-bar blues, Rhythm Changes is the most important chord sequence in jazz, but I’ll tell you more about this nearer the time. But I will say that this is an essential part of Jazz Piano tuition online.
Lessons 18 and 19 were all about mapping a sequence and then substituting the chords. I used All The Things You Are and Take The A Train to demonstrate how to interpret a song structure and then reharmonise it.
I’ve finally completed lesson 19 of jazz improvisation, so you can now download it.
This new 30 minute video shows you how to reharmonise a lead sheet and employ substitute chords to make for a more creative solo. This will take your jazz improvisation to the next level.
Following on from lesson 18, I’ve taken All The Things You Are and substituted many of the chords. I also show you how to do the same with Take The A Train.
Once you see how it’s done, you can do this for yourself with any jazz standard. The most common way to reharmonise a chord is by substituting a dominant 7 with its tritone. This works well when the dominant 7 is about to resolve to its tonic. For example, instead of G7 resolving to Cmaj7 we substitute a Db7, which is three whole steps (or tones) from the original chord.
Lesson 19 of Learn Jazz Piano online is called ‘Reharmonising a jazz standard’ and will be ready in a week or so.
In lesson 18, I dissected Jerome Kern’s All The Things You Are, analysing its structure and breaking it down into key centres. I also stuck to Kern’s original harmony. But in this upcoming lesson we’ll be taking things further by replacing the simple chords with a sequence more appropriate to jazz.
I’ll show you some simple techniques that you can apply to any jazz standard. In fact, in lesson 19 I’ll be giving the same treatment to Billy Strayhorn’s Take The A Train.
The creation of a new, sophisticated chord structure will allow your solos to take on a far more creative journey.
Here are some reharmonisations in the A section of Take The A Train
As always, the 30-minute video will come with 4 downloadable backing tracks, sheet music and a quiz. ‘Reharmonising a jazz standard’ should be ready in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, I suggest you catch up by purchasing lesson 18.