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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsYou will see that I have exhibited for you the tune, our very first blues, “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” but over a standard blues sequence, whereas when we met it before it was over a skeletal blues sequence. The thing I want you to notice is bar 10 - G7. Now when we first saw it, it was the other way round in that bar 9 was G7 and bar 10 was F7. Remember I said it’s that way round but there was a version the other way round which I called a “guitar blues” sequence.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 secondsIndeed, when we had a look at the minor blues sequence and we looked at the 'Trane version of the minor blues sequence, there bar 9 was A flat7 and bar 10 was G7. With the standard blues sequence it turns out that bar 10 is G7 - the first thing I want you to notice. I think you’ll find when we use our Aebersold playalong the chords match better what the bass player is playing. The bass player will, if you listen to it, often play the roots of the chords in the bar where we have them. Finally, what I want to look at is playing this in the middle of the piano.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 secondsIf you play with the hands separated there are no problems … But when you try and play it in the middle of the piano then you get clashing. Yet I personally feel it sounds much better in the middle of the piano. We can indeed play it like that if we sacrifice some of the notes in the left hand. In fact it turns out that all we have to do is sacrifice the top note of the chords on occasions and that’s not really going to affect the definition of the chord.

Skip to 2 minutes and 6 secondsFor example, if I take the lower voicing for C7, namely the ninth voicing because I am going to play the tune in the middle of the piano and miss out the top note, then I am left with E and B flat, but the assumption is that the bass player is going to be playing or implying the root C, in which case the bottom note E is the third - major third - and the top note B flat is the minor seventh, and you see that defines for you C7.

Skip to 2 minutes and 36 secondsSimilarly when we get to the second bar, assuming the bass player is playing or implying the root F, then the bottom note is the minor seventh and the top note is the third - or the tenth, if you wish - and that with F defines the chord F7. Now we can get the tune underneath … When we get to bar 6, for example, then we can play the whole of the thirteenth shape. A problem occurs in bar 8 where we have A minor 7, and that would be our voicing which is closest to our starting position for the voicings, the lower voicings, but the tune is … That may suggest that we have to sacrifice the top two notes.

Skip to 3 minutes and 32 secondsWell we do have to sacrifice the top note but not the second if we play the chord and the tune going down together like this … which we can do and is which is what I will do. I’m going to play the tune once and then improvise. It’s a normal thing when you are playing a blues to play the tune twice at the beginning and the end and than whoever is going to solo solos in between. The key thing I want to get at is in the soloing I’m going

Skip to 4 minutes and 5 secondsto only be using two scales: the full blues scales of C and F, but I am going to be using hot licks as my resource. By hot licks I mean musical phrases hopefully which are idiomatically correct, that is that they’re “bluesy” in character. So I hope using this approach you feel that the music sounds more authentic.

The tune "Things Ain't What They Used To be" over a Standard Blues Sequence

We consider playing the tune “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” over a Standard Blues Sequence in the middle of the piano.

You can download the “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” chart in PDF format at the bottom of this step.

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This video is from the free online course:

Learn Jazz Piano: II. Improvising on Jazz Standards

Goldsmiths, University of London

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