This has been a challenging session - a lot of theory, not quite so much practice. But I hope it’s provided you with a firm footing for your basic knowledge of chords and their voicings. We started off reviewing our basic voicings of chords in the first 2 sections. Then I pointed out that you can have 1 chord that can have more than 1 meaning - more than 1 application. In a sense, all I want you to do is to know that, so if you happen to spot it one day that you’re playing a chord and it has a different meaning - then at least you’ve been sensitised to that fact. Then we had a look at thinner voicings.
I would like you to do some work here. We looked, in particular, at the idea of just using the third and seventh to play a blues. I’d like you to experiment with that a bit. So, perhaps, for your exercise you just play a blues in C, and you do at least 1 chorus where you have the seventh at the bottom and the third at the top, and then 1 chorus of improvising where you have it the other way round. I think that would be worth doing - the so-called guide tones. Then we had a look at bitonality.
We did a lot of theory there but, in a sense, there’s only one thing I really want you to know about which are elevenths - in particular, the sharpened eleventh with the major scale. That’s taking the major scale and sharpening the fourth. Remember it’s the triad over a chord - a pre-existing chord. The chord is a major seventh and you put a triad over the top. In particular C major7, you put D triad over the top, so you can use the triad - notes of the triad - and you can use the notes of the scale, which is the usual major scale but you sharpen the fourth - in other words, it’s a mode of G major.
If you want to give a piece a kind of lift - make it a little bit more sparkly - then you can Lydianise it by sharpening the fourth. Similar sort of thing with the seventh - the idea of sharpening the eleventh. It’s something I do a lot. If I have a seventh I quite often sharpen the eleventh. Remember, again, you have triads that you can use and you have the full scale - which is the usual seventh scale but with a sharpened fourth in it. Then we looked at minor sevenths.
I was a little bit throwaway with bitonality with minor sevenths, because, as I said, basically, if you put triads in from the underlying mode you don’t get anything new for your money. But it’s not quite true, because the minor eleventh is an important chord - an important chord that exists in its own right. In particular, if we take C minor7 and we put B flat triad over the top - the top note is F - and that’s the eleventh. That gives you a particular sound - a particular important sound. I would like you to know that in its own right and I think we’re going to come across examples of it later on. Reharmonisation of chord sequences?
Well we looked, in particular, at “Stella By Starlight” and we saw how Jarrett has reharmonised part of the middle section. I also showed you some reharmonisation of the end, which is what I might call “bop-inflected”, because it’s II-Vs, II-Vs, II-Vs that go down chromatically. That’s a kind of general technique that can be applied. I would like you to have a go at recording with your playalong, using Jarrett’s changes and using the boppy ending as well, so that you can hear that, generally speaking, when you’re playing that with the playalong it isn’t offensive to the ear because, in the end, you get enough resolution of the harmony.
Triads over unrelated roots? Now that is an advanced topic and I don’t want you to make too much of it.
As I said, a little story about the people who are involved in it in this country - or at least I gave you some of the names - I’m not going to give you all the names of jazz musicians who are associated with anything, because I’d go on for ever. In this country I mentioned Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor, in America Keith Jarrett, in Europe Jan Garbarek. There is a kind of story which connects them, because Kenny Wheeler made an album with Keith Jarrett - Keith Jarrett hasn’t made an album with many people - called “Gnu High”. There’s that connection.
In the mid ‘70s Keith Jarrett ran 2 quartets - an American quartet and a European quartet, and they were very different in character. The American quartet with Dewey Redman on saxes, Charlie Haden on bass, Paul Motion on drums, played much freer - much, kind of, darker music - you might say. Whereas, the European group, which consists of Jan Garbarek on saxes, Palle Danielsson on bass, Jon Christensen on drums, played more accessible music, by and large - the tunes were more accessible. For example, there was an album called “My Tune” and the main tune that’s called “My Tune” is pretty easy for non-jazzers to relate to that.
He was running these groups concurrently, writing all the music for them and they were very different in character - quite remarkable. And just to say that then John Taylor, who’s worked mostly with Kenny Wheeler over the years, more recently, has had a trio and the bass player - an international trio, at least - the bass player was Palle Danielsson. You see how these top musicians all realise the richness which these other musicians have to offer, and how they tend to work with each other as a consequence. Then I played the tune “Entering”. I wouldn’t really expect you to play the tune “Entering”. It’s quite challenging. There isn’t a playalong with it, unfortunately.
I mean, by all means, if you want to play it, then play it and improvise on it, but I wouldn’t expect it as an exercise at this stage. Then we looked at chordal shifting. I would like you to know chordal shifting in the context of parallel motion on modal pieces. So if you take “So What” and take your fourths, and you move it up and down on the appropriate mode - notes from the appropriate mode - the Dorian mode, then I would like you to know that. You know about chromatic anticipation of chords in a blues - or in other situations - where you take the chord and you go to it from a chord chromatically above.
The idea, perhaps, in a blues of taking a shape and then taking it down a tone. Those sorts of things we’ve discussed and I’d like you to know about them. But the idea of transitional chordal shifting is an advanced topic and I really don’t expect you to do much with it. It’s something you can look at as you become an experienced jazz pianist. I just want you to know that it’s there and that I use it. Sometimes if you see me shifting the chords from A to B and you’re wondering what I’m doing - I’m probably doing chordal shifting.
I gave you the example of the important tune “On Green Dolphin Street” moving from E flat major7 - when it’s 2 bars of that - to F minor7, the voicing is such that I move the chords down almost intuitively to get from the voicing of E flat major7 down to the lower voicing of F minor7. I’d like you to recognise it when you see me doing it. Then we looked at this important standard “On Green Dolphin Street”. There’s real problems with “On Green Dolphin Street”.
First of all, it’s played in 2 keys: C and E flat. It’s of interest to note that, over the years, I’ve done quite a few gigs with a tenor player called Dave Quincey. Dave Quincey had a group called “If” which in the ’70’s was quite a significant group and it toured the States. In fact, one of their concerts Miles Davis came to - so that was quite a coup. Anyway, if I play “On Green Dolphin Street” with Dave he does one chorus in C, one chorus in E flat, one chorus in C, one chorus in E flat - so that’s a nice way to compare and contrast the 2 sounds. The other problem is Latin versus swing.
Usually the A section is Latin, B is swing, A is Latin, C is swing. That happens for a few choruses and then usually it goes into swing. I suggest you look at Volume 34 where there’s 3 choruses of Latin and swing, and then 4 choruses of swing. Maybe, just concentrate on the 4 choruses of swing to play your tune and to play your solos. You’ll probably find it’s too fast. I quite understand that - that is quite fast. So slow it down to a speed which you feel comfortable with and, maybe over a few weeks, increase the speed a little bit until you get used to playing it at, sort of, medium-up tempo - which was what Volume 34 is.
Finally: Exercises and Listening. I’ve got a track of Bill Evans playing “On Green Dolphin Street”. Bill Evans was greatly influenced by the British pianist George Shearing - a British pianist, although he spent most of his career his career in the States. George Shearing was famous for his “locked hands”, where he plays the chord in the left hand and the improvisation or tune in the right hand, and he locks them together. Evans was very influenced by that and here he plays a solo which is fully locked hands. Then I have Jarrett’s trio playing “On Green Dolphin Street”. Also at the beginning I’ve got a track with Miles Davis’s sextet playing “On Green Dolphin Street” from 1958.
Now “Kind Of Blue”, that epic album, was made in 1959, and not many people know that the sextet actually recorded a few tracks in ’58. I came across it when I bought what was a 10 inch LP. On one side it had music from the film - the French film “L’Ascenseur Pour L’echafaud” and Miles went over to France and recorded with French musicians and created the film music for that - very, sort of, haunting. Then on the flip side of that LP was a thing called “Jazz Track”. There were 3 standards and 1 original - an original called “Fran Dance” by Miles, a tribute to his wife Frances - his current wife, then - Frances who was a dancer.
Then they play “Love For Sale”, “Stella By Starlight” and “On Green Dolphin Street”. It is the classic sextet of Miles Davis trumpet, Canonball Adderley alto, John Coltrane tenor, Bill Evans piano, Paul Chambers bass and Jimmy Cobb drums.
The sextet’s on all 4 tracks except “Stella By Starlight” where, for some reason, there’s no Canonball on that one. But they’re all lovely tracks. I particularly like their treatment of “On Green Dolphin Street”, so much so, that I’ll attach a chart showing you how they play it. Miles extends it in some way, which makes it really interesting - a nice introduction and a nice extension. OK, that’s a lot of information. From now on we’re going to be looking more practically at how we play our jazz piano. So good luck with this session.
Oh yes - I’ve made it clear that in terms of Exercises: thinner voicings, blues with thirds and sevenths, “Stella” - the enhanced sequence - and “On Green Dolphin Street” - tune and improvisation. motivically directed - thematically directed - melodically directed - as you play with the playalong. Good luck.