Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

The tune “All Blues” in root position

The tune "All Blues" in root position
Let’s have a look at a blues in waltz time. Actually, I’m going to look at probably the most frequently played waltz-blues of all time, which comes from the epoch making Miles Davis album “Kind of Blue”. This is the fourth track which is called “All Blues”. Strictly speaking, it’s not in waltz time, it’s in 6/4.
Although it’s a skeletal blues in nature it has a subtlety in it. If you look at the chords, once the introduction is out of the way, it goes G7 for 4 bars, C7 for 2 bars, G7 for 2 bars and then if it went D7, C7, G7, G7 it would be a skeletal blues. It starts off going D7 but in the tenth bar it splits into E flat7 for half a bar and D7 for half a bar. In fact they’re not, strictly speaking, just D7, they’ve got a special colour, they’re sharpened ninth chords which gives it a special sound. That’s the structure, it’s pretty (much a) skeletal blues. It’s build around a bass lick on G7
and then the horns - which consists of Canonball Adderley on alto and John Coltrane on tenor - play in thirds a little rhythmic phrase.
Then the drums, obviously, plays time - on brushes. That’s what goes on in the first 4 bars, when you get to the fifth bar which is C7, the B natural changes to a B flat amongst the horns, but the bass lick stays the same - the bass lick stays on G7 rather than C7 (although later on it changes), so you get.
and then back again to G7 for 2 bars and then you get this seventh - D7 with a sharp ninth - 1,2,3,2,2,3,
and then I think the horns play something like
to support the tune. What about the tune? I will now play the tune for you. Miles only kind of sketches the tune and, in fact, when he plays it the second time he plays it slightly differently. I’ll give you a good idea of how the tune goes. I’ll play the bass lick underneath it so that we’ve got some reference frame for the time. It goes like this.
On the chart I’ve tried to put as much information as possible, but there’s lots of parentheses there because what I’ve tried to do is write it (with) enough information for you to play this as a solo piece. In the next section we’ll play it with a playalong. So playing it as a solo piece, I’m going to stick under the 2 horns - to make it more triadic - I’m going to add the seventh, so you get this.
Notice I’m doing a grace note - B flat going to B - that’s staccato, the second chord. The third chord - that’s got a grace note going from D flat to D, then staccato. So the lick goes.
Then I try and put the tune over the top. I can’t play it very well with the whole of the lick, so I’ll play the top end of the lick and I’ll probably miss it out at the beginning. So it goes
so that I can play It is possible to play with more notes but it’s harder. Then when we get to the C7 section
I’ll put in a fuller chord, and then a little grace note
and I need to really spread that D7 sharp nine chord between the 2 hands
and then
I’ll play the tune for you now. I hope I’ve given you enough information to show you what I’m doing on the sheet. I’ll play it like on the album with 4 bars of bass, 4 bars of lick from the horns and then the tune - a twelve bar sequence just played once.

We discuss the structure of Miles Davis’s tune “All Blues” before playing it in root position.

You can download the chart for “All Blues” in PDF format at the bottom of this step.

This article is from the free online

Learn Jazz Piano: Advanced and Solo Playing

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now