Archive: Jun 2010

  1. Seven Steps to Heaven by Brent Jensen, Step 3

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    Here is part 3 of Brent Jensen’s Video series on learning tunes.

    Brent Jensen’s Recordings

    Feel free to listen to some of this awesome material Brent recorded. He’s got some great stuff! It’s just fun to hear a sample of what he has recorded. Also, any purchases of these songs or albums made through this site will help Brent Jensen, Origin records, and this website will even get a little kickback from anything you order through Amazon. We appreciate your support so we can continue the website! Thank you.

    Video’s Handout

    Brent Jensen’s Seven Steps to Heaven (.pdf)

    SEVEN STEPS TO HEAVEN

    by Brent Jensen

    (with thanks to Jiggs Whigham)

    1. Memorize the melody. Listen to a wide variety of recordings of the song. Work on playing the song in different keys, tempos and styles. Try to exhaust the melodic possibilities of the song and absorb it into your subconscious.

    2. Memorize the form of the song (blues, AABA, etc.) and the chord progression. Play through the entire form using root/third/fifth patterns on the changes. Play through the form using whole notes & half notes (background figures) and quarter notes (as in a bass line).

    3. Play through the tune using short, repeated rhythmic patterns (riffs) and note groupings (non-repetitive) of three to seven notes.

    4. Play using long, connected lines (mostly eighth notes) without breaking the flow. Concentrate on creating as much density (ala Coltrane) as possible.

    5. Play using very few notes and relying primarily on color (vibrato, bends, growls, sub-tone, etc.) and space. Concentrate on creating as much space (ala Miles) as possible.

    6. Work on varying articulation by playing through the tune entirely in a legato style and then again in a marcato style. Experience the extremes of each method of attack and work to integrate them more naturally into your playing style.

    7. Work on the elasticity of your time conception by playing “on top” of the beat, “behind” the beat (laying back) and “ahead” of the beat (rushing). Practice with a metronome set for “2 and 4” (ie: the drummer’s hi-hat) and on all four beats (ie: a walking bass line).

    For more posts by Brent Jensen, you can go to:

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 1 (A)

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 1 (B)

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 2

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 4

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 5

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 6

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 7

    44 Essential Jazz Recordings

  2. Seven Steps to Heaven by Brent Jensen, Step 2

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    Brent Jensen, Origin Saxophone Recording Artist and Professor of Jazz Studies at the College of Southern Idaho, tells us how he approaches learning tunes.  This is his third video in the series (Part 1 has two parts).  The original handout is also below as well as text and a .pdf document. Enjoy! Make sure to check out all of Brent’s videos!


    Brent Jensen’s Recordings


    Feel free to listen to some of this awesome material Brent recorded. He’s got some great stuff! It’s just fun to hear a sample of what he has recorded. Also, any purchases of these songs or albums made through this site will help Brent Jensen, Origin records, and this website will even get a little kickback from anything you order through Amazon. We appreciate your support so we can continue the website! Thank you.

    Video’s Handout

    Brent Jensen’s Seven Steps to Heaven (.pdf)

    SEVEN STEPS TO HEAVEN

    by Brent Jensen

    (with thanks to Jiggs Whigham)

    1. Memorize the melody. Listen to a wide variety of recordings of the song. Work on playing the song in different keys, tempos and styles. Try to exhaust the melodic possibilities of the song and absorb it into your subconscious.

    2. Memorize the form of the song (blues, AABA, etc.) and the chord progression. Play through the entire form using root/third/fifth patterns on the changes. Play through the form using whole notes & half notes (background figures) and quarter notes (as in a bass line).

    3. Play through the tune using short, repeated rhythmic patterns (riffs) and note groupings (non-repetitive) of three to seven notes.

    4. Play using long, connected lines (mostly eighth notes) without breaking the flow. Concentrate on creating as much density (ala Coltrane) as possible.

    5. Play using very few notes and relying primarily on color (vibrato, bends, growls, sub-tone, etc.) and space. Concentrate on creating as much space (ala Miles) as possible.

    6. Work on varying articulation by playing through the tune entirely in a legato style and then again in a marcato style. Experience the extremes of each method of attack and work to integrate them more naturally into your playing style.

    7. Work on the elasticity of your time conception by playing “on top” of the beat, “behind” the beat (laying back) and “ahead” of the beat (rushing). Practice with a metronome set for “2 and 4” (ie: the drummer’s hi-hat) and on all four beats (ie: a walking bass line).

    For more posts by Brent Jensen, you can go to:

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 1 (A)

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 1 (B)

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 3

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 4

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 5

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 6

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 7

    44 Essential Jazz Recordings

  3. In a Mellow Tone

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    In a Mellow Tone is a very common standard by Duke Ellington. Musicians of all levels like to play this tune, but I find that it is really a good tune for budding jazz musicians to learn because it has some nice changes that aren’t too hard, but are still a challenge because they aren’t exclusively diatonic. It’s a great tune to help students learn to play changes.
     
    A nice easy tip when learning to navigate the changes to hit the thirds when you are constructing lines. The 3rds and 7ths really highlight the harmony, and I find that highlighting the 3rds is an easy way to for budding jazz musicians to sound like they are really in the changes.

  4. Seven Steps to Heaven by Brent Jensen, Step 1 (B)

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    Here’s the rest of the video Brent Jensen, Origin Records recording artist and Professor of Jazz, did to explain step one of his Seven Steps to Heaven handout on learning and mastering tunes.  Enjoy!

    Brent Jensen’s Recordings


    Brent has made some awesome recordings! It’s just fun to hear a sample of what he has recorded. Also, any purchases of these songs or albums made through this site will help Brent Jensen, Origin records, and this website will even get a little kickback from anything you order through Amazon. We appreciate your support so we can continue the website! Thank you.

    Video’s Handout

    Brent Jensen’s Seven Steps to Heaven (.pdf)

    SEVEN STEPS TO HEAVEN

    by Brent Jensen

    (with thanks to Jiggs Whigham)

    1. Memorize the melody. Listen to a wide variety of recordings of the song. Work on playing the song in different keys, tempos and styles. Try to exhaust the melodic possibilities of the song and absorb it into your subconscious.

    2. Memorize the form of the song (blues, AABA, etc.) and the chord progression. Play through the entire form using root/third/fifth patterns on the changes. Play through the form using whole notes & half notes (background figures) and quarter notes (as in a bass line).

    3. Play through the tune using short, repeated rhythmic patterns (riffs) and note groupings (non-repetitive) of three to seven notes.

    4. Play using long, connected lines (mostly eighth notes) without breaking the flow. Concentrate on creating as much density (ala Coltrane) as possible.

    5. Play using very few notes and relying primarily on color (vibrato, bends, growls, sub-tone, etc.) and space. Concentrate on creating as much space (ala Miles) as possible.

    6. Work on varying articulation by playing through the tune entirely in a legato style and then again in a marcato style. Experience the extremes of each method of attack and work to integrate them more naturally into your playing style.

    7. Work on the elasticity of your time conception by playing “on top” of the beat, “behind” the beat (laying back) and “ahead” of the beat (rushing). Practice with a metronome set for “2 and 4” (ie: the drummer’s hi-hat) and on all four beats (ie: a walking bass line).

    For more posts by Brent Jensen, you can go to:

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 1 (A)

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 2

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 3

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 4

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 5

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 6

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 7

    44 Essential Jazz Recordings

  5. Seven Steps to Heaven by Brent Jensen, Step 1 (A)

    3 Comments

    Brent Jensen, Professor of Jazz at the College of Southern Idaho and saxophone recording artist for Origin Records, has graciously done a handout for us explaining how to improve your improvisation. He also explains several of the steps in videos! Here’s Step 1 (A). Stay posted for more videos!

    Brent Jensen’s Recordings


    Feel free to listen to some of this awesome material Brent recorded. He’s got some great stuff! It’s just fun to hear a sample of what he has recorded. Also, any purchases of these songs or albums made through this site will help Brent Jensen, Origin records, and this website will even get a little kickback from anything you order through Amazon.  We appreciate your support so we can continue the website!  Thank you.

    Video’s Handout

    Brent Jensen’s Seven Steps to Heaven (.pdf)

    SEVEN STEPS TO HEAVEN

    by Brent Jensen

    (with thanks to Jiggs Whigham)

    1. Memorize the melody. Listen to a wide variety of recordings of the song. Work on playing the song in different keys, tempos and styles. Try to exhaust the melodic possibilities of the song and absorb it into your subconscious.

    2. Memorize the form of the song (blues, AABA, etc.) and the chord progression. Play through the entire form using root/third/fifth patterns on the changes. Play through the form using whole notes & half notes (background figures) and quarter notes (as in a bass line).

    3. Play through the tune using short, repeated rhythmic patterns (riffs) and note groupings (non-repetitive) of three to seven notes.

    4. Play using long, connected lines (mostly eighth notes) without breaking the flow. Concentrate on creating as much density (ala Coltrane) as possible.

    5. Play using very few notes and relying primarily on color (vibrato, bends, growls, sub-tone, etc.) and space. Concentrate on creating as much space (ala Miles) as possible.

    6. Work on varying articulation by playing through the tune entirely in a legato style and then again in a marcato style. Experience the extremes of each method of attack and work to integrate them more naturally into your playing style.

    7. Work on the elasticity of your time conception by playing “on top” of the beat, “behind” the beat (laying back) and “ahead” of the beat (rushing). Practice with a metronome set for “2 and 4” (ie: the drummer’s hi-hat) and on all four beats (ie: a walking bass line).

    For more posts by Brent Jensen, you can go to:

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 1 (B)

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 2

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 3

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 4

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 5

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 6

    Seven Steps to Heaven, Part 7

    44 Essential Jazz Recordings

  6. Ceora

    3 Comments

    Ceora is a great bossa, a jazz original by Lee Morgan.  This tune isn’t an easy bossa nova, but it’s well worth the effort to learn.  The tune first appeared on Lee Morgan’s 1965 Blue Note album, “Cornbread.”

     

  7. My Little Suede Shoes

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    My Little Suede Shoes is a very catchy, lyrical tune.  It’s one of the most accessible tunes Bird wrote.  Many of his tunes had angular melodies that some people  unaccustomed to bebop have a tough time following (not you or I, of course, but some listeners have a tough time with bebop.  Try singing Donna Lee…).  However, this is a good melody that even non-jazz audiences will enjoy. It can be played with a swing or latin feel, as you will hear on the youtube recordings.

  8. 44 Essential Jazz Recordings-Guest Post by Brent Jensen

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    Brent Jensen is the Director of Jazz Studies at the College of Southern Idaho.  He is also an amazing saxophonist and recording artist for Origin Records.  Here is his first of several upcoming guest posts by Prof. Jensen on our site.

    Brent has websites you can go check out! I’ve included the links right under his post.

    44 ESSENTIAL JAZZ RECORDINGS

    By Brent Jensen

    ESSENTIAL JAZZ RECORDINGS (.pdf)

    The recordings listed here are taken from a comprehensive statistical survey of jazz critics, record stores and popular polls.

    Miles Davis Kind of Blue (Legacy 64935)
    John Coltrane Blue Train (Blue Note 95326)
    Duke Ellington Never No Lament: Blanton/Webster Band (RCA 50857)
    Charles Mingus Mingus Ah Um (Legacy 65512)
    Thelonious Monk Brilliant Corners (OJC 261)
    Miles Davis Bags’ Groove (OJC 245)
    Sonny Rollins Saxophone Colossus (OJC 291)
    Louis Armstrong Complete Hot 5 & Hot 7 Recordings (Legacy 63527)
    Bill Evans Trio Sunday at the Village Vanguard (OJC 140)
    Charlie Parker Best of the Complete Savoy & Dial Recordings (Savoy 17120)
    Ornette Coleman The Shape of Jazz To Come (Rhino 1317)
    Count Basie Orchestra The Complete Atomic Basie (Blue Note 28635)
    Miles Davis Sketches of Spain (Legacy 65142)
    Clifford Brown/Max Roach Study in Brown (Emarcy 814 646)
    Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers Moanin’ (Blue Note 95324)
    Herbie Hancock Maiden Voyage (Blue Note 95331)
    Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto Getz/Gilberto (Verve 314521414)
    Ella Fitzgerald Ella in Berlin (Verve 519 564)
    Eric Dolphy Out To Lunch (Blue Note 98793)
    John Coltrane A Love Supreme (Impulse! 314589945)
    Horace Silver Song For My Father (Blue Note 99002)
    Gerry Mulligan The Best of Gerry Mulligan with Chet Baker (Blue Note 95481)
    Billie Holiday & Lester Young A Musical Romance (Legacy 86635)
    Chick Corea Light As A Feather (Verve 827 148)
    Cannonball Adderley Somethin’ Else (Blue Note 95329)
    Dave Brubeck Quartet Time Out (Columbia 65122)
    Bud Powell The Definitive Bud Powell (Blue Note 40042)
    Keith Jarrett Standards, Vol. 1 (ECM 811966)
    Dexter Gordon Go (Blue Note 98794)
    Coleman Hawkins Ken Burns JAZZ Collection (Verve 549 085)
    Art Pepper Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section ((OJC 338)
    Wes Montgomery Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (Riverside 36)
    Joe Henderson Page One (Blue Note 98795)
    Lester Young Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio (Verve 521 451)
    Modern Jazz Quartet Django (Prestige 7057)
    McCoy Tyner The Real McCoy (Blue Note 97807)
    Oliver Nelson Blues and the Abstract Truth (Impulse! 154)
    Weather Report Heavy Weather (Legacy 65108)
    Lee Konitz Konitz Meets Mulligan (Blue Note 46847)
    Lennie Tristano Intuition (Blue Note 52771)
    J. J. Johnson The Eminent J.J. Johnson (Vol. 1) (Blue Note 32143)
    The Quintet w/Charlie Parker Jazz At Massey Hall (OJC 44)
    Miles Davis Bitches Brew (Legacy 65774)
    John Coltrane Giant Steps (Atlantic 1311)

    You can learn more about Brent Jensen at:

    http://www.myspace.com/bjensenjazz
    http://www.youtube.com/bjensenjazz

  9. So What (with Miles Davis solo transcription)

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    This jazz standard is the first tune on Miles Davis’ classic record, “Kind of Blue.”  It’s the top jazz album of all time as measured by sales.  It’s sold over 20 million copies, and still sells about 5,000 copies a week.  And it was recorded in 1959.  You should listen to it.  A lot.  It’s one of the most important jazz albums in existence, perhaps the most important.  It even made Rolling Stone’s list of top albums (at #12 all-time).  Rolling Stone can hardly be known for paying attention to jazz, and so it’s an amazing testament to Miles’ album that it would rank at all.  Especially at #12.
    Bill Evans starts this tune out with a nice intro on this tune, but in practice most groups don’t play it exactly like the record.  That would be an interesting thing to do, since most groups don’t seem to go to that effort.  The bass player plays the melody of this tune.  So What has the same changes as John Coltrane’s tune “Impressions,” the latter having a faster tempo and melody.  It makes sense that Coltrane would steal the changes for his own tune, having cut his teeth in Miles’ band and performing So what regularly.

    This is perhaps the first recorded example of modal jazz.  It has very few chord changes.  It’s an AABA form, using Dorian minor harmony.  The B section is a half-step up from the A section.  Most pianists and guitarists, including Bill Evans, like to use diatonic fourth chords when comping.  For example, DGCFA up to EADGB up to FBEAC is a nice progression on the D-7 using diatonic fourth stacks with a third on top.  Play around with it, and LISTEN!  Even non-guitarists and non-pianists should experiment with this idea on the piano to help understand this idiomatic harmonic movement even when the chord doesn’t change.

    I’m including both choruses of  Miles Davis’ solo on this post.  I hope you enjoy!  Learn to play along with the recording, which is also posted.

    Miles So What Solo Transcription (pdf)

    So What-C Instruments (.pdf)

    So What Miles Solo-Bb Instruments (.pdf)

    So What Miles Solo-Eb Instruments (.pdf)