Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsWe are going to have a look at the beginnings of motivic improvisation using “Blue Monk” as our basis and a playalong track. In order to do that we first of all need to play “Blue Monk”. Rather than play it in the middle of the piano I am going to play it an octave higher because it stops the two hands crashing into each other. It turns out to be rather high on the piano when you play it up here, in which case we can use the upper of the two voicing positions for our B flat blues. That is to say, we use the thirteenth voicing for B flat7 as our first chord - as opposed to the ninth voicing.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsLet’s go through the chords. Bar 1, B flat7, thirteenth voicing. Bar 2, E flat7, ninth voicing. Bar 3, the home chord. Bar 4, the home chord. Bar 5, E flat7, the ninth voicing. And then … E diminished, and what I am going to do is use an inversion of E diminished - I am not going to use that version of E diminished rooted on E, because it is quite a jump then back to B flat 7 which is the next chord; whereas if I use this first inversion, if you like, of E diminished it’s quite easy to get back to B flat7.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 secondsIn fact, if you don’t like using this chord because it’s a 4 note chord - and all the others we are using are 3 note chords - then simply omit the B flat note and then notice what happens … we just go up chromatically to the thirteenth voicing of B flat7. This is something we will be looking at later on. OK, then after our E diminished we are back to B flat7 for 2 bars. Then, as usual, F7 bar 9, E flat7, bar 10 (both with the ninth voicing), and then the home chord. When we get the E diminished, the scale that goes with it is C sharp diminished … the mode of C sharp diminished rooted on E.

Skip to 2 minutes and 29 secondsSo what we’ll do is we’ll play the tune in the first chorus and in the second chorus we’ll do some scalic improvising. When we get to that diminished bar we’ll just run a bit of the scale - just to get us ready for our motivic improvisation.

Playing "Blue Monk" with a playalong

We play the tune of “Blue Monk” with a playalong.

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This video is from the free online course:

Learn Jazz Piano: I. Begin with the Blues

Goldsmiths, University of London