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We’ve covered a lot on playing in root position in these last 2 sessions - perhaps more than I originally intended. I want to point out that it’s not in a way central to our story. Our story is about playing in voiced position. If you’ve found the last 2 sessions difficult don’t be daunted by it. Think of these sessions as a resource that you can return to, if and when you have the time. However, some of you will be making progress with it and it’s really an introduction to it because the most important consideration is that you really need to understand how to play in voiced position before you can really understand how to play in root position.
Nonetheless, in this session we met the suspended fourth. That’s important and we need to understand that to play in voiced position. I also introduced you to what I call “Ray’s” chord with the flat 5, flat 9 and then the sharp 5, sharp 9. That’s worth knowing about. If you want to do some exercises then you could copy me by trying to play “You Took Advantage Of Me” using arpegiation. That’s the first exercise that you could do. Then we had a look at this important tune “In Your Own Sweet Way”. If you want a playalong for that then go to volume 105 I think it is of Aebersold “Dave Brubeck”.
I like it brighter than on that album. I played it at 140% of the original tempo.
First of all, you need to understand the tune and secondly we can have a go at playing it colla voce - out of time - using our various techniques for playing in root position.
In particular, playing at least the first few bars using question and answer which is such an important element of playing in root position, as we saw with “Autumn Leaves”. The we moved on to bass lines - a bass line for a C blues - I wrote one out for you. Play that, then have a go at improvising over the top, if you can, if you’re not finding that too difficult. Perhaps one way to do it is to try and essentially learn the left hand bass line and then add the right hand to it.
If you are able to make progress with that then you can think of making up your own bass line on a C blues and on other blues in other keys and add in improvisation over the top. That probably is a bit challenging at this stage. Then we had a look at a sample bass line for “Satin Doll” as a prelude to looking at playing in a duo format - that’s where you have the piano with a horn player, typically.
You can play colla voce with the horn player, obviously, but you might also want to play in time and how do you indicate the pulse? One way is to play a bass line. Another way is to play 4 chords to the bar - a little bit heavy - but you could certainly do it for sections. Another way is to play 4 to the bar using 2 hands together in root position, but using internal fingers - thumbs particularly - to indicate the pulse. So you only play chords, maybe 2 to the bar or 1 to the bar, so it’s not quite so thick - the sound underneath the horn player.
Then we had a look at playing a tune out of tempo - colla voce. We looked at this important tune “How Deep Is The Ocean?”, as I said, one of the tunes that John Taylor plays solo.
As far as I know, there isn’t an Aebersold playalong for “How Deep Is The Ocean?” - at least I couldn’t find one. So we’ll play it in root position colla voce - out of tempo - first and then maybe play it in root position in time. If you feel like extending your playing to improvising on it too then so much the better. Finally we discussed endings and outros. Endings - at the moment we’ve only been looking at endings which involve rallantandos, either just slowing down when you get to the end and finishing, or typically playing the last 4 bars 3 times, the last time of which involves a rallantando, or playing the last 2 bars 3 times with a rallantando.
Then we had a look at the idea of not always immediately going to the tonic, but using some other chords to finish on and then moving to the tonic, or even maybe moving to a different tonal centre for your final chord. Finally we had an introduction to outros. Outros is what I call them. Whether that’s standard terminology I don’t know. I think every musician I’ve spoken to seems to know what I mean.
I suppose it’s obvious: if you know what intro means, what outro means. I suppose that codas are another way of looking at it. This idea of ending a standard musically with some solo piano that picks up on some element of the tune, or some element of the improvisation and kind of winds it down in a musical manner. The chief exponent of outros is Keith Jarrett so go and listen to some of his outros - wonderful. Finally, I’d like you to do some listening if you can. I’d like you to listen to paticular tracks, but I can’t really include them on this course because of issues of copyright, although I can include some of my own.
First of all have a look at “In Your Own Sweet Way”. I’ve given you some YouTube addresses where I think there’s a duo version by Dave Brubeck and then a trio version by Bill Evans, trio version by Keith Jarrett and then John Taylor with the British vocalist Norma Winstone. I have included a track from a recent album of mine made about a year ago with the great British jazz guitarist Jim Mullen - very lucky to have recorded an album with him. We played mostly standards. The final track on the album is “In Your Own Sweet Way”. In fact, I think it was the final track in the recording session and, as I remember it, there was very little discussion.
We said we’d keep an 8 bar interlude in. I think Jim said why don’t you play it out of tempo first and then I’ll play the tune. Whoever wants to solo can solo. The we’ll play the tune - I’ll play the tune again at the end and we’ll just wind down on the interlude. Which is what we did. Just really a test of his consumate musicianship that that was all he needed in order to play the tune with us. I hope you enjoy that. I thought I’d finish off by giving you the YouTube address of one of my favourite jazz pianists and one of my favourite tracks which is Michel Petrucciani playing “Round Midnight”.
There is a consumate musician taking a tune and just doing wonderful things with it. Have a look at that and I hope you enjoy it.
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