Saturday, October 8, 2011


This is Jamey Aebersold!  Did you ever wonder what that guy looked like - the one who counts off all those play-a-long albums?  Well here is on the saxamaphone with guitarist Dave Stryker at a masterclass.  Outside of that, I think you'll like what Dave has to say, he's great at breaking everything down so you can understand what's up.  Rhythm section, please listen to this, and take some mental notes.

Bad, Badder, Baddest!!

This is Clifford Brown people!  This clip is from a live jam session in Philly, and is possibly his last recording.  The story from Max Roach goes like this...

On a rain swept, early morning in June, 1956, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Clifford Brown, along with pianist Richie Powell, and Richie's wife, Nancy, who was driving, was killed when their automobile hurtled over an embankment.

Various persons close to Brown can think of reasons why the accident never should have happened. Like most tragedies, this one is encased in "if's." Roach recalls vividly the minute details of incidents leading up to the accident-and away from it.

"The whole thing just never should have happened," Roach said.

"Instrument manufacturers had been after us for some time to use their instruments. We never consented before. Every once in a while, Brownie would bring a new horn on the job, but he always went back to his old one. Well, this time, we had three days off between jobs, and Clifford and Richie went home to Philly, and I came to New York. We were supposed to open in Chicago's Blue Note that following Wednesday. I called Brownie from New York to tell him what time and where to meet me on the turnpike, and we could come on into Chicago together. He said no, he had decided to go get a new horn."

Max paused a second. Then he said, "If he hadn't decided to get that horn . . . Anyway, we agreed to meet in Chicago. I was going to go on so I could get some sleep before working, so I left in time to arrive in Chicago around 3 in the morning. Brownie left Philadelphia in time to get to Elkhart, Ind., around 9 to get the horn and come on in to Chicago. The girl was driving. It was raining, and they were killed."

It should be noted that Clifford Brown was just 25 years old.

I know the recording quality is not hot, but just sit back and soak in the content.  This is a tune called "A Night in Tunisia" originally made famous by the Charlie Parker quintet.  

Senor Blues

This clip is loaded with goodies, but I'd pay special attention to Horace Silver's piano solo starting at 4:10.  It's a masterpiece in motific playing.  Listen to how each new idea gets reworked and rediscovered.  I like the little quote from Charlie Parker's tune "Ornithology" in there.  Also that hip line at 4:38.  When I listen to this tune, I'm reminded of how fun it is to play jazz, and how cool it has always been, and will continue to be with you on the scene.  Get out your Aebersold's people, and start experimenting. 

The Power of Music

I feel bad, I have left you with that elevator music post since June 16th.  That said, I hope you enjoyed it and have a new appreciation for that kind of thing. I'm back, and to kick things off appropriately, I'm going to come at you hard with a true tale about the power of music.   

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Joy of Easy Listening

The BBC has done it again.  This is the first clip of a documentary on that music we all know and love called "easy listening."  As you'll discover, it has a lot to do with the arranger bringing out the best in a hook.  This short will bring you back to the days of the record player and other electronic gadgets you've never heard of, like tuning knobs on televisions.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Check out John McLaughlin on Cherokee

Most people don't think of John McLaughlin as this kind of player, because they are familiar with a lot of his other work that is modern, but here he is burning up "Cherokee" - a jazz standard which is required repetiore for a bebopper.  It just shows you once again how important it is to be, rather than appear to be - esse quam videri.  Don't be a poser, learn your stuff, hit the practice room, so that you can be a jazz musician, and not a fraud.  Tell me, do you think after checking out this clip, that John McLaughlin spent some time in the shed?  The rest of the band isn't too shabby either.

Computer generated improvisation?

So you've learned your licks, you've figured out what scales work on what chord, you've got your voice leading down.  How is it any different if a computer does the same?  Is a computer capable of playing soulful sounding improvisation?  Is it possible for a computer to react to jazz changes and improvise, given some fancy programming code? 

Below is a computer generated solo using George Garzone's Triadic Chromatic approach - you can look back a few posts and find more on the concept.  I've also used the band in a box program and heard some computer generated Joe Hendersen-esque soloing. wasn't that bad.  I even stole a lick - shhh, it might be listening.  So listen to this...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Very Superstitious!

Young jazzers, dig this, many of jazz's rising young talents in one room...

Gig with Jamey Aebersold

Listen to this guy, he's on his "gig" with Jamey Aebersold.  Even though jazz band is over, you can still gig with the best of them right there in the comfort of your own room.  This is a tune called Moments Notice by John Coltrane.  It's got a lot of II-V chord progressions in there, and it moves along quickly.  I like Brandon Lee's lines and phrasing, he's really got the hard bop style down pat.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stevie Wonder fans, dig this!

I've had Esperanza on here before, and she deserves a second look if you missed the first clip.  This performance is just...WOW!  She might even be more deserving than the Bieber of her Best New Artist Grammy award.  Notice the key changes happening, notice the impecable tuning on the bass, notice her ability to get in the moment in front of Stevie Wonder and the LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD!!!  There is a bass player you know who needs to see this immediately - even the hair fits!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pat Metheny (and his hair)

This is some nice playing right here.  Just sit back and look out the window (or stare at his hair) as you take this one in.

You should try and create beautiful melodies like Pat has every time you play.  Please don't emulate his hair. 


Jamming in space near the end of this video.  It's almost a blues scale!  I hope the neighbors don't mind.  On a side note, a baseball cap might be a good investment.

Picard isn't too shabby either...  shmaltzy perhaps, but not shabby.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools prank!

I enjoyed this one, and I'm a blog, so I can only imagine what you will think of it...

FYI, the orchestra teacher and the first violinist are in on it, don't be frightened.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Phoa Constrictor!

Click HERE to dig the latest and greatest.

Swing Dancing!

"If dancing were any easier it would be called football." ~anonymous
While this clip is older than dirt, you will love the swing dancing at the end (2:42).  It features Slam Stewart playing some bass and Slim Gaillard at the piano.  You can't go wrong with Slim AND Slam in your rhythm section.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Grammy Band

This is a little clip of last year's Grammy band.  
These are some of the best young jazz musicians in the country.  If you were impressed like I was with Josh Shpaks audition performance, give the trumpet solo at 4:39 a listen - Adam O'Farrill was this year's 3rd chair (the jazz improv chair) trumpet player, and I think you'll see why.  Click HERE for the complete roster.

What is that guy playing?

Have you ever listened to a jazz musician and wondered, what is that guy playing?  I, your blog, have.  Look at this one, it's the lead sheet (the unembellished melody with chord changes) at the bottom and what the musician actually plays at the top, with captions!  Take a look, it might give you some insight on what to do.

Louis Armstrong, simply the best!

This clip is unreal.  It's also mandatory viewing for all high school hipsters.

The Chromatic Triadic Approach...a.k.a. the what?!

If you are a theory monster who eats scales and chords for breakfast, then you might want to spend your lifetime mastering this concept, it's all the rage.  Click HERE to be redirected to a little pamphlet explaining tenor player George Garzone's Triadic Chromatic Approach to jazz improvisation.

This is the core concept as it is explained in the pamphlet...

Core Concept: For the soloist to outline the changes at the same time as the
rhythm section is redundant! Lines generated by the "chromatic approach"
provide a harmonic "carpet" that enhance the rhythm section, rather than
repeating it.
The combination of the triadic and chromatic approaches enables the
improvisor to move away from thinking solely about specific notes and
towards about contour and overall sound. For instance, lines derived from
the major triad exercise will generate a sound very distinct to lines derived
from minor triads, even if at first it might sound like random notes!

Here is George in action...

You aren't going to find a more spontaneous improviser than George.


Dizzy Gillespie is more than big cheeks and a funky looking trumpet.  Dig it...

The New Thing

These two clips of the Robert Glasper Experiment taped at a Berklee demo kind of blew my mind when I saw them.  It's very free, and I wouldn't say entirely polished, but there are some really brilliant musical moments in there.  The first is mellow, the second is crazy.  You might want to start with the second for a real wow, and then work backwards, I did.  Check them out, this is very representative of today's sound...

Someone to check out...Gregory Porter

Gregory Porter warms up the room with his sound.  I'm once again reminded of how important your tone is.  What Mr. Porter has (aside from a great musical feel, pitch, a hip hat and a bunch of other really good stuff) is a unique voice.  You need that too.  Do you like this guy?  If you do, why not leave a comment?

Didgeradoo, or didn't you?

I'm not going to draw any jazz parallels here, this is just plain cool.  Crank up the sound for a real treat.

Free jazz, for life!

First check out a youngish Charles Lloyd with his quartet featuring Keith Jarret on piano.  This clip happened in 1968!  This is some beautiful music making right here, close your eyes and listen.

Now check out a more recent Charles Lloyd working it out with drummer Billy Higgins.  How cool would it be to be that age and still have that kind of playing experience with friends and fellow musicians?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Why Your Music is Important"

"Sweet" Sue Terry has some valuable insight she'd like to share.  She is a wonderful alto saxophonist, and an inspiration to musicians everywhere, hopefully her words will inspire you.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Compliment the soloist

Hey, you look nice in those pants!  
While that may or may not be true, that is not the kind of compliment I was referring to in the title of this post.  I was referring to the magnificent drumming by Greg Hutchinson.  He is responding to everything he hears and setting up soloist Joshua Redman beautifully all while maintaining the groove and feel of the song.  He is complimenting the soloist through his subtle touch, and strong interest in what he is playing.  This is performance at a very high level, and a level you should all strive to attain.

What is your motive?!

This rendition of Charlie Parker's bebop head "Perhaps" by the Aaron Goldberg trio is great for a lot of reasons, but the reason I want to highlight is for it's clear cut example of motific playing on the piano.  Listen carefully to the the first couple of phrases at the very beginning of Aaron's solo (I'm calling him Aaron like I know him, although I am a blog, whatever that is, and I do not).  There...good, did you catch that first phrase?  Now listen to how he moves that little phrase snippet all around over the piano.  He is elaborating on that first phrase, and at the same time reinforcing the weight and the meaning of it.  He stretches it sometimes, he messes with it's rhythm, he changes it's pitch and it's shape. This is how a solo can's not the only way, but it is a nice way.  He is telling a story with that first phrase and he does it beautifully.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Would you like to play at the Grammys?

Josh Shpak is playing at the Grammy Awards this year, and he is in his high school jazz band just like you.  Here is his audition video for the Grammy band.  Pretty cool, eh?  I love his flow of ideas, and how he makes the most of every phrase.  He's got that Lee Morgan-esque punchy articulation when he wants to pop it in there, and best of all, he is interactive with the rhythm section.  He's listening to them, they are listening to him, and they are feeding off of eachother.  You can do this!  It just takes a lot of practice, a lot of experimentation, and group of friends who are as excited about making music as you are. 

Who knew Mr. Bean could conduct?!

Happy Holidays everyone!  As I prepare in the darkness of my band room to embark on another "secret mission" I just want to quickly pass along how very proud I am of each of you.  You've come a long way musically to be accepted in the group, and you continue to prove at each rehearsal that you deserve to be there.  Now...if you can follow my conducting like this brass band follows Mr. Bean then we will be all set.  This is classic...

Monday, December 20, 2010

"Jazz is an accident...glad to have happened"

If you follow one piece of advice on this blog, it's to go rent the movie "This Is Spinal Tap."  It's satirical awesomeness.