Access monthly jazz standard studies, and courses: LEARN MORE

Gilad Hekselman “Hearts Wide Open”

Because listening to jazz is so important to the jazz musician, Learn Jazz Standards is starting to promote the albums of current jazz artists. It’s important to be familiar with old classic recordings, BUT we should really all stay current on all the great jazz being produced today! Jazz is alive and vibrant with many newer artists-and our goal is to promote great albums and help spread the word!

Gilad Hekselman is a phenominal guitarist and we are proud to promote his 2011 release of “Hearts Wide Open”.
Since his arrival to New York in 2004, Gilad Hekselman has been earning a reputation as one of the most promising guitarists in New York. In only four years this native Israeli has shared the stage with many top names from the New York jazz scene including Chris Potter, Mark Turner, John Scofield, Anat Cohen, Sam Yahel, Jeff Ballard, Gretchen Parlato, Avishai E. Cohen, Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, Ari Hoenig, Tigran Hamasyan, Aaron Parks, Greg Hutchinson, Reuben Rogers, François Moutin and Eric McPhearson. He has played the Blue Note, The Jazz Gallery, Smalls, 55 Bar, Dizzy’s Club, Minton’s Playhouse, and toured in Switzerland, Japan, Scotland, Canada, Norway, Hungary, and Israel. He has also played in world famous Jazz festivals such as Montreux JF, Duke Ellington JF, San Francisco JF and Tel Aviv JF.

Gilad Hekselman performing “Prelude to a Kiss”

Chi Chi

Chi Chi is a jazz blues in Ab by Charlie Parker. Bird recorded this track in 1953 at his last significant recording session before he passed away in 1955. This same recording session also yielded classic recordings of Confirmation and Now’s the Time.


It is worth noting that I did not use Bird’s changes for the pdf or for the play along. I took these changes from a recording by Alan Broadbent. Broadbent’s changes are very similar to Blues for Alice changes, but are not the original changes.
Bird’s original changes on the head are as follows:

Ab7 | Db7 Ddim | Ab7 | Ebm7 Ab7 | Db7 | Dbm7 | Cm7 | Bm7 | Bbm7| Eb7 | Ab7 F7 | Bbm7 Eb7 |


The solo changes are are more like:

Ab7 | Db7 Ddim | Ab7 | Ebm7 Ab7 | Db7 | Db7 | Cm7 | Bm7 | Bbm7| Eb7 | Ab7 F7 | Bbm7 Eb7 |


Ab7 | Db7 Ddim | Ab7 | Ebm7 Ab7 | Db7 | Db7 | Ab7 | Fm7 | Bbm7| Eb7 | Ab7 F7 | Bbm7 Eb7 |


Depending on the chorus, they played one of these two sets of changes or something similiar. It’s worthy to note that, while it’s convenient to think of a tune as having one set of changes, in reality the harmony of most tunes can vary in subtle or not-so-subtle ways depending on the recording, or even from chorus to chorus depending on what the musicians feel like playing.  The harmony of a tune should not be thought of  as a static concept, but rather a dynamic concept.  I know a bass player who likes to learn ten sets of changes for a tune if he can find that much variation in recordings he checks out.  He’s an incredible player, and his attention to detail shows up in his playing!


“Beatrice” is a tune written by the famous jazz musician and composer Sam Rivers who passed away in December of 2011. Sam Rivers was a very prominent and influential jazz artist and will be missed.


Many musicians love playing this tune. The melody is lyrical and modern, and the chords are a unique combination of modal harmony and traditional harmony (ii-V-Is). Musicians often call this tune when they want to play something hip. This is definitely a tune you’ll want to have in your repertoire!

Body And Soul

“Body and Soul” is a popular tune written in 1930 by Johnny Green.
This is one of the most commonly played jazz ballads of all time. It was first recorded by Jack Hilton and his Orchestra and later it was used as the theme for the 1947 film “Body and Soul”.


Perhaps one of the most popular versions of this tune is Coleman Hawkins’ famous 1939 recording, considered to foreshadow the coming of the bebop style. This tune is most commonly called in the key of Db Major.

Tamir Hendleman “Destinations”

Because listening to jazz is so important to the jazz musician, Learn Jazz Standards is starting to promote the albums of current jazz artists.  It’s important to be familiar with old classic recordings, BUT we should really all stay current on all the great jazz being produced today!  Jazz is alive and vibrant with many newer artists-and our goal is to promote great albums and help spread the word!

Tamir Hendelman is incredible jazz pianist, and we are proud to promote Tamir’s 2010 album “Destinations.”   Give it a listen!  With Marco Panascia on bass and Lewis Nash on the drums, this is a very hard-swingin’ album!  Great stuff.  Tamir Hendelman has quickly become one of the top young jazz artists to emerge within recent years, and is one of my personal favorite jazz musicians on the scene today.

Have You Met Miss Jones

“Have You Met Miss Jones” is a tune written by Richard Rodgers for the musical comedy “I’d Rather Be Right”in 1937. Lyrics were written by Lorenz Hart.

This tune has been recorded and performed by many notable jazz musicians. It’s a common jam session tune and very important to know. This tune is most commonly played in the key of F Major.

Giant Steps

“Giant Steps” is a tune written by the legendary tenor saxophonist John Coltrane for his ground-breaking 1960 record “Giant Steps”. This tune highlights a Coltrane innovation that jazz musicians call “Coltrane Changes“. It focuses on three tonal centers: B Major, G Major and Eb Major.

This tune has become very famous in the jazz world and is known as one of the more difficult tunes to improvise on. It is best to ignore the key signatures on the charts provided because as I said there is more than one key center.

This tune is often called at a fast tempo, however, we have provided you with a play-along as a medium bossa and a fast swing. Slower tempos are great for practicing Giant Steps. However, you should also be able to play Giant Steps at faster tempos.

Straight No Chaser

“Straight No Chaser” is a 12-bar blues head written by Thelonius Monk. It was first recorded on Monk’s Blue Note Sessions in 1951. The song was originally written in Bb, but later it became popular in F as well due to Miles Davis’s famous recording on his hit record “Milestones”.
This blues head is a common jam session tune and important to be familiar with. The Straight No Chaser play along is in the key of F, as is the Straight No Chaser pdf chord chart, but it is important to be able to play it in Bb as well.

Transcribing Jazz Solos: Is It Better to Write It Down or Learn It Only By Ear?

Ok, so you’ve probably been hearing that you need to transcribe jazz solos for a long time, but what is the transcription process?  And what is the benefit to transcribing?  Why would one take all that time to learn a solo?  Or learn a melody by ear?  We’ll discuss all of these questions, but first let’s talk about what transcription is on a basic level.

Transcribing, in a nutshell, is either:

A) Learning to play a jazz solo (or lick, or tune) by ear


B) Writing down a jazz solo (or lick, or tune) that you learn by ear from a recording.

You can also combine these two basic approaches, and hit multiple levels of learning by both learning to play the solo first AND THEN writing it down.  There are benefits to both approaches, and combining them will reinforce your learning.

Here are some of the benefits of transcribing in general:

  • Transcribing helps build your ear
  • Transcribing helps build your vocabulary of jazz licks
  • Transcribing helps your technique-especially if you learn to play along with the recording!
  • Transcribing helps you analyze how others approach the changes to a tune.
  • Using transcription you teach yourself how to improvise better by learning from the masters.

Here are some of the benefits of learning to play a solo by ear (without writing it down):

  • You will REALLY learn the solo, and will remember it longer than if you just write it down.
  • There’s an intangible thing that happens-the solo becomes a part of you.  You internalize it, and the solo becomes part of how you conceptualize a particular tune.
  • The way you approach soloing over the tune you transcribed is influenced on an unconscious level by the solo you learned over that song.

Here are some of the benefits to writing down a solo:

  • It is easier to analyze the solo when it is in written form.
  • It is easier to reference in a teaching situation.
  • You can save it for later in case you forget the solo.
  • You can pass it out to others so they can play it or analyze the solo.
  • You may be able to learn the solo faster, (though you may not internalize it).
So here are some options:
1.  Learn the solo on your instrument completely by ear
2.  Write down the solo (for analysis), and don’t learn to play it
3.  Write down the solo, and then learn to play it
4.  Learn the solo first, then write it down
5.  Use the 80-80-80 Method:  Listen 80 times, Sing 80 Times, Play 80 Times
(perhaps this would be the 800-800-800 Method…whatever you need to do!)
The approach you use should depend on your goals.  For instance, if you are transcribing a particular tune, you might be transcribing in order to put the melody and chord changes in front of a band for a gig situation.  If that is your goal, then option #2 will suffice.  If your goal is to learn some new licks, you can learn small parts of the solos of other people and transpose them into all 12 keys.  Maybe writing them down might help you in that process, but you may not have to.  Perhaps your goal is to transcribe a solo for other people to learn, such as in a teaching situation.  In this case, writing it down is the way to go.

Let me stress that an intangible thing happens when you learn a solo without writing it down.  It becomes a part of you as you learn to play it.  Still, transcribing by notation is great for analyzing a solo and learning cognitively.

For this reason, I think the maximum benefit you can get out of a solo would be to use the 80-80-80 method  (as described above), and after you’ve THOROUGHLY learned the transcription and internalized it, then you can write it down and save it for posterity (for your teaching studio, for your own benefit if you want to relearn it again at another time, etc.)

I think a balanced approach is good:  transcribing with a purpose in mind.  Transcribing adds ideas into your playing, improves your ear, and increases your technique.  I prefer to learn a solo by ear without writing it down because I think it helps you internalize the solo better.  I’m a piano player, so I’ll add in my own comp over the changes.  It’s good to be aware of a variety of approaches to transcription, try out a few of them, and use whatever method works for you.

Black Orpheus (A Day in the Life of a Fool)

“Black Orpheus” is the most common title for this tune, but the original title is “Manha de Carnaval” (in English “Morning of the Carnival”). It also goes by the title “A Day in the Life of a Fool” which is the first line of the English lyric.


The Black Orpheus play along has some tasty brazillian guitar.  Black Orpheus is most commonly played in the key of A minor, and the Black Orpheus play along and changes are in the standard key.


Black Orpheus was written by Brazilian composer Luiz Bonfa as a theme for the 1959 Portuguese film “Orfeu Negro”(Black Orpheus). There are different sets of lyrics written to this tune. The English verse “A Day in the Life of a Fool” by Carl Sigman is widely known in jazz circles. This song has been performed and recorded by many musicians in and out of the jazz realm.  It’s a very popular tune.