Friday, March 27, 2015

3, 5, 7 Exercise

Here is a versatile coordination concept that I often use when working on new groove ideas.  For lack of a better name I simply call it 3, 5, 7, because what we are essentially doing is implying 3, 5 and 7 (8 or 16) over 4/4.  By implying odd time signatures we can play over the bar line and build longer phrases with a more fluid sense of improvisatory time playing while also strengthening our coordination over a new ostinato or grooves.  In general I try not to think of this exercise in terms of one time signature being implied over another.  I’m not trying to see how many mathematical permutations I can achieve.  I’m simply trying to further develop coordination and facility in improvising.  Remember, music, not math.

There are a number of different ways you can use this concept.  As I’ve been doing a lot of samba stuff lately let's start with that as an example.  Say you’re working on some of the patterns from the Jazz Samba Builder.  You’re comfortable with many, or all of the combinations, and now you want to start playing longer phrases and improvising.

Try, say, the second ride cymbal pattern, with the first bass drum pattern, and upbeats on the hi-hats, which would look like so:

With the left hand, then, try each of the 3, 5, and 7 exercises (the note values will be cut in half).  You can orchestrate them as a rim click, or lightly on the snare.  As with the Four Limb Warm-Up exercise, these will naturally resolve after an odd number of bars, but you should work in more common phrases, like 4, 8 and 12 bars.  The best way to do this, of course, would be to play along with music rather than using a metronome.  Each of them would look like this:

Once you’re comfortable with each of them, you can thicken things up a little bit by adding a “skip” note.  Any time you have note followed by two 8th note rests, play two notes instead of just one, which will look like so:

Applied to the previous exercise:

We can also achieve some great textures by applying this to the ride cymbal.  Use the same feet patterns as before and play the 3, 5, and 7 patterns on the ride cymbal.  With your left hand you can fill in the gaps:

Or for a sound with a little more depth I like to play the snare drum on all of the 16th note upbeats (this fits the samba feel particularly well), like so:

If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, you can try to play some of the left hand patterns from the Jazz Samba Builder sheet while you play the 3, 5, 7 ideas on the ride.

You can also apply this concept to your feet, and any number of different types of grooves.  Use it to develop coordination, longer phrases, soloing ideas, etc.  Once you’re comfortable with whatever way you try to orchestrate these ideas, start improvising with them by stringing them together and mixing and matching.

Although I have notated some examples for you here, I recommend that whatever you apply this concept to you do so without reading.  Learn to feel these ideas rather than trying to think of one time signature over another.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Philly Joe Jones - "How About You?"

Well, after a busy first part of the year it's high time for the first Philly Joe Phriday of 2015!

After the great response I received from the last PJP, where we looked at comping, I decided to do another; this time from a lesser known, but killer record by a bari sax player named Serge Chaloff.  Chaloff played bari in most of the great big bands (Ellington, Basie, Jimmy Dorsey, Woody Herman) and is considered the first bebop bari sax player.  Unfortunately, like so many jazz greats of the time, Serge died young.  He, like Jones, battled heroin addiction, but was able to get himself clean before dying of spinal cancer.

In this recording of How About You? we again hear Philly Joe teamed up with Sonny Clark and bassist LeRoy Vinnegar.  Check out the last PJP post for some notes about Philly Joe's ride pattern, shaping, etc.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Solo Transcription - Antonio Sanchez, "Jackalope"

So, I finally got around to watching Birdman the other night, and besides being a very cool movie, the score is everything it's cracked up to be.  This led to me pulling out a bunch of Antonio Sanchez stuff to listen to during all the driving I've been doing lately.

One of my favorite projects that Sanchez has been a part of is the New Gary Burton Quartet.  I saw this group a few year ago at Ronnie Scott's and was blown away.  Gary Burton is, of course, Gary Burton.  Not much else needs to be said there.  Rounding out the group is Julian Lage - who is still only 27 years old yet plays with the maturity of someone far beyond his years - and bassist Scott Colley.

So, in honor of Sanchez being snubbed by the Oscars, here is a transcription of his solo on the tune Jackalope from the NGBQ album Guided Tour, which, if you don't have it yet, is totally worth checking out.