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: 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: 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:
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?

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