“Blue Bossa” is the most popular standard by the great jazz trumpet player Kenny Dorham. It is one of the most popular jazz standards in the world, and is one of the first tunes that many jazz musicians learn. It is also one of the first latin tunes that many jazz musicians encounter.
“Blue Bossa” is a 16 bar tune. This important standard is 75% in the key of C minor, but modulates to a ii-V-I in Db for four bars in the middle of the tune. Learning to navigate the changes is a challenge to many beginning improvisers when they first encounter this tune. Differentiating which notes are consonant with the C minor harmony key center and which notes are consonant with the ii-V-I in Db is crucial for the beginning improviser and requires attention. Listen to how the masters navigate the harmony and try to emulate the way they approach the harmony by listening. You may even consider transcribing a solo to help you get inside the harmony and improve your improvisation
We have two different play alongs for this standard, the first in a Brazilian Bossa Nova style (as the tune was originally intended) and the second in an afro-Cuban style.
It is worth noting here that from the perspective of a jazz musician, the most important countries for latin music are Brazil and Cuba. Brazil produced the Bossa Nova and Samba styles. Cuba produced and influenced a number of different styles, such as salsa, mambo, rumba, songo, etc. These two play alongs may help you to begin to hear the differences between the Brazilian and Cuban styles. They are both based on straight-eighth notes, but the Brazilian music is generally a little more downbeat oriented, whereas Cuban music is a little more syncopated, particularly in the bass and drums. In fact, in lots of Cuban music the bass doesn’t even play on the downbeat of every measure, often playing the & of 2 and beat 4, whereas the bass plays more on beats 1 and 3 in Brazilian music, with a slight accent on beat 3.
The differences between Brazilian and Cuban music are important to know, and there isn’t a lot of overlap between the music of the two countries. Make it a priority to study and understand the differences between the different styles of the broad category of “latin music.” This opens up a lifetime of study of great music!

30 Days to Better Jazz Playing

Play Along

Videos to learn the melody/changes