HOW TO SOLO
How to solo is the name of my new eBook which has been released today. With the aid of over 150 illustrations I will show you the way forward with your soloing.
This is the fourth in the series of my eBooks ‘Learn Jazz Piano.’
To give you an idea of the contents, here are some short extracts from chapters 1 -5.
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 playing from a chord chart or lead sheet.
Lead sheets are littered with 7 chords: major 7, minor 7, dominant 7 and diminished 7. In most cases they are there for a good reason, with each note serving a harmonic purpose. But there are times when naming the 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
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.
The first section of this chapter considers 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.
Dominant 7 chords
Because the dominant 7 is such a versatile chord, I’m recommending five scales that can be used with it:
- Mixolydian mode
- Lydian Dominant
- Whole tone scale
- Altered scale
- Diminished 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♮.
Here, I have encircled two targeted notes. In the following example, each target note is approached from a whole step above and then a half step below.
You can encircle any chord tone that is played on the downbeat. This can be achieved In a variety of ways, but your aim is to ‘surround’ the note from each side before striking it.
In this book I take the lead sheets from some well know jazz standards and illustrate routes through the chord charts that will take your jazz solos to a whole new level.
In chapter 5 I demonstrate this with Duke Ellington’s Take The A Train.
In chapter 7 I use ‘All Of Me.
Chapter 8 takes the A section of There Is No Greater Love.
In chapter 9 I analyse Irving Berlin’s How Deep Is The Ocean.
Yesterdays by Jerome Kern is used in chapter 11.