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“Um-chick” and “Chick-um”

"Um-chick" and "Chick-um"
I want to say a little bit more about improvising in root position. Now the natural thing to do is to play the roots first and then the chord - “Um-chick” as I’ve called it. If you do that for the first few bars you get this
In other words we are back to stride piano and that’s not what I want to do. I want to get in roots and I want to get in chords. What we can do in this piece, and in probably others as well, we can simplify things by just having 1 chord to the bar. We did it with bars 5 and 6 if you remember. Originally it was was over split bars A minor7, D7, we reduced it to just D7. Well we can do that throughout. I’ve written a version there which just has 1 chord to the bar. If I play the tune just to give you an idea of how it works.
So we’ve got um-chick and I want to do a little bit of improvising on this.
That’s um-chick for improvising. Let’s have a look at chick-um, that is doing it in the other
order: playing the chord first and then the root. A wonderful exponent of this was Bill Evans. If you have a look at some of his solo work he does some lovely stuff where he plays chords and puts the root in after he’s played the chords. Let’s have a go at chick-um.
It sounds slightly artificial. But the idea of of getting the chord down and the root afterwards is an important one and I’ll call it chick-um even though it might not be regular patterns of it. What we can next do is to mix the 2 approaches.
The other thing we can do which is perhaps closer to what we have been used to is to pretty much improvise in voiced position and just put in some roots occasionally so that we can centre the improvisation - a bit like this.
OK, um-chick and chick-um.
We investigate what I call “Um-chick” – playing the root first and then the chord in root position in the left hand – and then playing the other order which I call “Chick-um”.
You can download the chart for “Um-Chick Chords for Satin Doll” in PDF format at the bottom of this step.
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Learn Jazz Piano: III. Solo Piano and Advanced Topics

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