Tuesday, December 1, 2009

April in Paris

A quick Parker transcription. It gets me everytime. Even at slower tempos, staying so close to the melody, the lines are absolutely gorgeous.

April in Paris

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sea of Green

Composition of the week.

The exercise here is to use more 16th notes, and "shift gears", going from 16th, to triplets, to 8ths.

I have a little fun with Tynerisms on the bridge. I thought it just screamed for it.

Here it goes:

and a quick recording:
Sea of Green

Friday, October 23, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009


Composition of the week.

This composition, like the last, uses only triplets. In addition, ghost notes are added, breaking the flow.

And a quick recording:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Darn This

Composition of the week.

Different than usual, the point of this exercise is to create a line exclusively with triplets. Add to that the fact that I wanted to do long lines. The result's a little wild.

Here we go:

And a quick recording:
Darn This!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Parker's Mood

Another Bird transcription. Another masterpiece. I'm going through the first 2 choruses of

Parker's Mood

More Charlie Parker to come ...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

East of Cyprus

Composition of the week:

and a quick recording:
East of Cyprus

Composed in Rosegarden, recorded in Logic.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

White Whale Drive

Composition of the week.

and a quick recording:
White Whale Drive

(recorded in Logic, composed in Rosegarden)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Embraceable You

Another Charlie Parker transcription. This is probably the best solo I've ever heard. I never realized just how much was going on in Charlie Parker's ballads until this.

This is a ballad played at a slow tempo. There are a few solos before this one. Everyone is playing swing eights, taking it easy and melodic. Bird comes in, and everything is taken to a whole new level. Swing 16th are the new rules. Pick up the track from to see what I mean. Parker still keeps a ballad feel throughout, he's just re-inventing how to play them, right there and then. I cannot imagine having to solo after Bird that day.

Despite the slow tempo, I had to slow this down considerably to hear the individual notes. My teacher tells me him and Lennie used to learn Bird's solo on a record player set up at half speed, with everything an octave down. This is basically it.
I dropped the usual sax voice in favor of the good old acoustic.

More Parker to come. For now, this is
Embraceable You

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's not much really

Composition of the week. I have a couple more ready, just need to create the blog entry.

Here we go:

and a quick recording:
It's not much really

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Now's the time

Usually, I slow down Bird recordings to play along to them. In this case, he takes it a a reasonable tempo, somewhere around 130. So I decided to play along at normal speed. All was good for an entire chorus. And then he puts you right back where you belong. I ended up skipping a couple of lines :).

I need to do more Charlie Parker.

For now, here's
Now's the time

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tweet Tweet

Last Composition for a short while.

and a quick recording.
Tweet Tweet

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Billie's Bounce

4 choruses of Charlie Parker. Some parts are very tricky to play. Nevertheless, this is quite addictive.

Here I am on top of Bird playing Billie's Bounce

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A blues? Perhaps.

This one can be found on the Savoy Sessions.
Charlie Parker blowing over a blues. A Parker kind of blues. 12 bars in C Major with these basic changes.
CM7 | D-7 G7 | CM7 | G-7 C7 |
FM7 | F7 | CM7 | E-7 A7b9 |
D-7 | G7b9 | CM7 | CM7

The chord are flowing. 16th notes @200 bpm are used to play fast passing chords, while the swing 8th provide a good tension release. It's unbelievable someone could chain chords this fast (listen to the original, it's slowed down to 150 or so here), go so high in the register while keep complete control over the tone, and -- of course -- not get lost.

So here I am as Bird, playing 3 choruses of Perhaps.

Mind blowing...

Friday, July 3, 2009

My Whole Love

Composition of the week.

I discovered Rosegarden for Linux. And it's just absolutely awesome. The note editor is really good, I'm able to quickly enter notes using my keyboard, editing is convenient, chord notation is very intuitive. 5 minutes, my sheet is complete.
The output uses Lilypond, and looks much better.

A few things worth noting in this line. First, I purposely overuse the whole tone scale, and that's where the title comes from. Also, I slip in a couple of pitch grouping technique. Metaphors for the Musician explain this concept in details. In bar 5, 6 and 7, I use groups of 3.

In bars 21 and 22, I use rhythmic grouping, a series of triplets which gives a 2 against 3 feel. It's a technique that creates a sense of randomness. I heard Charlie Parker use it all over the place, and this always comes unexpected. This is also difficult to apply because counting is more difficult. The last 2 8th notes help me get back to a normal flow.

here's the sheet:

And, as usual, a quick recording:
My Whole Love

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Composition of the week. Nothing too special except for slipping in a couple of Fitzgerald quotes.

And a quick recording:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Charlie to Charlie

Leaving Charlie Christian and into the world of Charlie Parker.

Different level of technique. Lots of stretches for those big wide chords.

Here I am as Bird:
Moose the Mooche

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Composition of the week.

and a quick recording:

It's not you, it's me

The title of the composition of the week.

and a quick reference recording:
It's not you, it's me

The last of Charlie

One last Charlie Christian.

Breakfast Feud

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tense Love

Composition of the week. I wanted to do something with more tension.

and a quick recording:
Tense Love

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Getting Melodic

Over you, composition of the week.

And a recording for those who can't read / play:
Getting Melodic Over You

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What wind?

Quick chorus with Charlie Christian, Benny and Basie.

Fun stuff, here's
Gone With What Wind?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Y Spot

Composition of the week:

And for those who can't read / play, a quick recording:
Y Spot

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Solo Flight

I found the original on Youtube, unfortunately with very poor quality but it'll have to do.

Here's the original:

And me as Charlie:
Solo Flight

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Take It or Leave It

Composition of the week:

And for those who can't read / play, a recording:
Take It or Leave It

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Benny's Buggle

Latest solo. I'm playing along with Charlie Christian.

Here it is:
Benny's Buggle

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Composition of the week,
here it is:

And a complimentary recording:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hello Charlie

Leaving Basie and Lester Young, we are now moving to the 1940, into the wonderful world of Charlie Christian.

So here's a short, sweet solo on Six Appeal. The sound of my electric guitar is pretty decent in the alto register but rather thin in the soprano.

Enough talk, here I go pretending to be Charlie.
Six Appeal

LH Arrangements - Solar

Going through a new phase again. Man are we going through this stuff quickly.

Anyway, for the next 12 weeks, I will write LH arrangements of jazz standards.

The first one, chosen completely randomly, is Solar.
Here are the arrangements:

And a complimentary recording:

Keep Your Coat On

Composition of the week:

And for those who can't read / play:
Keep Your Coat On

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Last but not least

One last Prez, but wow! what solo!

The next master I'll study will be a guitarist. Can you guess who?

For now, here:
Oh Lady be Good

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bad Apple

Composition of the week.

and for those who can't read of play:
Bad Apple

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swing me to Sleep

It's the name of the composed line of the week.

Here it is:

And for those who don't read or play:
Swing me to Sleep

Friday, April 17, 2009

Let's Boogie!

I'm running out of ideas for these posts titles ...

Oh well, continuing on the Lester Young journey, another stellar solo by the master. The title is "Boogie Woogie" and this is again with the Count Basie orchestra.

Here I am as Prez again:
Boogie Woogie

Friday, April 10, 2009

More Prez

Can't get enough of that stuff. A few more of those to come. Today is Honeysuckle Rose, with the Basie orchestra.

Basie's actually ripping it up on this tune, playing some good stride. Lester uses a lot of repeated figures, mostly around the Bb blues scale.

So here I am being Lester Young again:
Honeysuckle Rose

Yves' Tune

In a new phase with Dave. A new exercise is to compose solo lines over familiar chord progression.

So here's it goes. I call it "Yves' Tune". You can figure out why.

Sheet below, and for those who can't read / play, a sample mp3:
Yves' Tunes

Friday, April 3, 2009

New Prez Release

Another quick transcription. More technical than the previous, I had to slow it down a bit.

I've listen to so much Basie as a kid, it's good to finally play for him.

Here's me as Lester Young:
Tickle Toe

Keep playing.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lester leaps in

Here's another quick one. Lester's just so smooth. This one is labeled under Teddy Wilson w/ Billie Holiday. You can also find it on Prez + Lady Day compilations.

The tune's 'Foolin' Myself'

Here's the source:

Don't you love youtube?

Here's me being Lester for a quick moment:
Foolin' Myself

One Last Louis

Before I leave Satchmo for the world of Prez, one last short transcription.
S.O.L Blues, Louis with the Hot Seven in 1927.

The source first:

I took the chorus at 2:00 or so.
Here it is:
S.O.L Blues

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ella elle l'a

I have been very busy with music lately. I now have the privilege of studying with Dave Frank, and he's really turning things around for me. Anyway, one of my assignments this week is to work on Duke's 'A Train'. So I thought I'd pick up a version from youtube.

Here's the source first:

I started by transcribing the bass on the first chorus, just to find out the changes. Then I transcribed the first solo. Ella is just really amazing.

And here's a quick recording:

This is a quick break from the few Armstrong transcriptions I'm working on now, and for the next two weeks.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Back to Pops

Some will argue that he invented Jazz. Or Swing. None will argue that he is probably the most important American musical personality ever.

Transcribing Louis Armstrong is an excellent exercise and reveals a couple of things:
- Simple, clean lines, close to the melody
- Lines are often repeated, but the swing feel changes
- The arrangements are ... pre-Duke?

So here's Struttin' With Some Barbecue. Me playing my digital keyboard (trumpet voice) on top of Satchmo :). Can't say that wasn't fun. What else? Even my wife likes this type of music.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Chapter 3

One of the most famous books amongst jazz pianist is Mark Levine's Jazz Piano Book
I recommend getting a copy of it.

The first "real" chapter is chapter 3. Chapter 3 talks about shell voicing. As a basis for everything else in the book.

That chapter suggests working on 14 tunes. I worked on them, completed the exercise and recorded each tune. It's an excellent selection of tunes for several reasons:
- They're all standards
- They cover a range of tempos and keys
- They have lots of ii Vs lots of key changes.

And here they are, one by one:

Tune UpD180First one I recorded. I used the rhythm from my keyboard and chose a tempo of 180. This is an easy tune.
Ask Me NowDb70One of Monk's tune. Love it. This is a difficult tune to play, with lots of modulation and chord changes. I took it slow at 70bpm, same as the recording I have of Monk. I learned this by playing on top of him to try and emulate the style.
Come sundayBb65Duke Ellington. Not my favorite, so I had a bit of a hard time hearing the melody, until I found this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpoBvXJapHM whom I thought sang it really well. I just transcribed the melody from him. Thanks!
FourEb160I have a few recordings of this, including Joe Henderson & Wynton Kelly. Great records, but somewhat far from the original melody. So I transcribed a jazz band I found on youtube. At 160bpm. Not an easy tune, but pretty fun.
Here's that Rainy DayG145Another one that wasn't a favorite. Until I found this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvJ5yPD0l9o. So I went ahead and transcribed it off of that. Learned it well on top of Frankie. Then added Aebersold, bumped up the tempo to 145. I had this tune in my head for the last 2 weeks. Very catchy. I really had to play this to enjoy it.
Lazy BirdG178Not the most played. I have one recording of this. Keith Jarrett who plays it at an amazing speed. But... he plays the head just like it is. So I just transcribed that, took it down to 178bpm and off we go.
Little B's PoemF-140I was not familiar with this great jazz waltx by Bobby Hutcherson. The only tune in the list in 3/4. I really enjoyed this. Tempo of 140.
All the things you areAb130This was like a free one. Recorded in a couple minutes.
Satin DollC130Pretty easy tune to learn. Recorded in a few minutes also.
CountdownBb304Now we're getting serious. This is an insane tempo of 304. I can barely make it through the head for a few seconds, I cannot imagine soloing on this. If you haven't heard the original, pick it up. Coltrane starts with a solo and plays the head in the last few seconds of the tunes. One of 3 of Coltrane's tunes in this list.
Darn That DreamG60What a relief from the previous tune. This is taken slowly at 60bpm or so. I don't particularly like this tune, it's too slow for me. I transcribed the head from this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyEcP6OPk4Y
CherokeeBb270 What a beautiful standard. Searching for Cherokee on youtube turned out some ... interesting results. No need for transcribing here, this one's in. The tempo's makes it challenging. Another one I can't imagine soloing on. The track comes from an Aebersold album called "Burnin', Only for the Brave". I thought that was funny.
Moment's NoticeEb270 Another of Coltrane's gem. Very fast at 270bpm. I didn't have a recording close enough to the original, but I found a great version by lot2learn. I stole the melody from there. So thanks Roger!
Giant StepsEb310Now why did Mark have to put this in there? This is often considered the ultimate test in jazz. Again, I cannot imagine soloing on it. Someone on a forum told me recently: " On a gig just calling that tune usually gets you some nasty looks. Try calling it in any other key and see if you live to see another day.". I thought that was very funny. Well the head itself is very difficult, especially at the tempo of 310bpm. But what beautiful, absolutely gorgeous harmonies and modulation. It's a real pleasure to have that melody under your fingers.

So that's it. 14 tunes. I bought this book about 2 years ago. I can finally move on to chapter 4: "Sus and Phrygian Chord". Why would anyone want to play chords that my spell-checker doesn't know about?