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Old 05-30-2012, 11:29 AM   #1
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Jazz improvisation thread

Post about the art of jazz improvising in this thread.
Theory, practice, questions, answers, philosophy. Whatever.

I'll start with a youtube video of a jazz guitarist I've been into since I heard him with Chris Potter Underground in London several years ago, Adam Rogers. This video is from a workshop where he demonstrates changing tonal centres on "Have You Met Miss Jones" (which is, coincidentally, the tune John Coltrane probably based his Coltrane Changes on, which has 3 tonal centres). Without further ado, here's Adam:



If you're really interested in working on this, I'd advise transcribing it yourself to really get it under your skin, but for the interested and lazy...


Last edited by Toll; 05-30-2012 at 11:29 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 03-06-2017, 02:14 AM   #2
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

Sorry for bumping an old thread, but I noticed this was the only jazz thread, and thought I would bump it rather than starting a new one.

I'm pursuing a Bachelor's in Jazz performance (guitar) at University, and I'm having a pretty difficult time with some stuff, like the charts. For instance, I'm now working on Giant Steps by Coltrane, and for example it says G. I think, ok, G major, easy peasy. No! It's actually G maj7. Ok .... so the next chord is D7. Easy enough, right? Wrong. Sad. Low energy. This actually means play D9! I don't get it. Is there something I'm supposed to be inferring that I'm not getting? It says to play one thing, but my instructor says to play something else. I don't get it.
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Old 03-07-2017, 01:48 PM   #3
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

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Originally Posted by AllCowsEatGrass View Post
Sorry for bumping an old thread, but I noticed this was the only jazz thread, and thought I would bump it rather than starting a new one.

I'm pursuing a Bachelor's in Jazz performance (guitar) at University, and I'm having a pretty difficult time with some stuff, like the charts. For instance, I'm now working on Giant Steps by Coltrane, and for example it says G. I think, ok, G major, easy peasy. No! It's actually G maj7. Ok .... so the next chord is D7. Easy enough, right? Wrong. Sad. Low energy. This actually means play D9! I don't get it. Is there something I'm supposed to be inferring that I'm not getting? It says to play one thing, but my instructor says to play something else. I don't get it.
G = Gmaj7
Gmaj7 would be a common substitute in jazz for the I chord. The V chord (D7) can also be extended to the D9 or dominant 9th by adding the 9th to the D7. Doesn't change the key, just adds more chord tones.
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Old 03-25-2017, 02:36 AM   #4
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

Hey thanks for the reply guller. I'm guessing these extra tones are all in the key and will be harmonious, rather than dissonant?

I've learned from my guitar professor that there's basically a lot of "groking" you have to do when reading charts. So that's a thing. This jazz stuff is pretty hard.

I have a scholarship audition tomorrow and I'm pretty damn excited about it. I'm going to do Tune Up by Miles Davis, and Little Sunflower by Freddie Hubbard. I plan to open with a joke:

"I felt like I should mention I'm kind of having a bad day. Someone told me to break my leg and I was pretty offended." Maybe break the ice a bit.

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Old 03-25-2017, 02:44 AM   #5
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

Freddie Hubbard is pretty bitchin!

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Old 03-25-2017, 03:00 AM   #6
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

I just picked one of these up and let me tell you, these are freakin awesome for working on jazz! Lay down the rhythm/chords and get it looping, then you can play the head and improvise over the changes. I needed to get one of these way sooner. I'm very much a purist and thought I would never go digital, either amp or in the effects chain, but I heard that I should get one of these and wow I'm glad I did!



https://www.amazon.com/Electro-Harmo...o+harmonix+720
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Old 03-25-2017, 10:02 AM   #7
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

This is super awesome. Saw a video this girl did of Tune Up when I was working on it, and found this video. It's ****ing sweet!


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Old 03-25-2017, 02:14 PM   #8
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

Well I totally bombed the sight reading, but I did pretty well on Little Sunflower and Tune up. My guitar instructor accompanied me and he's such a great guy, really set me at ease! I've been pretty freakin nervous and anxious, but I think it went pretty well!
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Old 03-27-2017, 02:41 AM   #9
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

Some killer ****in jazz right here!


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Old 03-27-2017, 11:36 PM   #10
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

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Hey thanks for the reply guller. I'm guessing these extra tones are all in the key and will be harmonious, rather than dissonant?
Not at all. It wouldn't be jazz then.

In a way, it's simple though. Everything* is based on the ii min7 - V7 - I maj7 progression. There are only three types of chords: major chords, minor chords, and dominant chords. Every* chord will have at least a 7th, perhaps a 9, 11, or 13. The 5, 9, and 11 can be flattened or sharpened for "color." That's why you often see chords like Dmin7b5b9.

That's simplified, because real songs can have chord substitutions, circle changes, or just seemingly random **** too. Always look for the ii-V7-I. It may be well-disguised, but it's usually in there somewhere, similar to how so much western music is built on the I-IV-V7 in some way.
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Old 03-28-2017, 02:13 AM   #11
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

Hey thanks for your post, Lawnmower Man!

I'm starting to get a pretty good understanding of the II -- V7 -- I progression. Quick question about it specifically though, is the II always minor? Could it be major or dominant?

Speaking of dominant chords, so I get that there's major, and then there's the different forms of minor, and then there's dominant, which is neither major nor minor. What confuses me is why do they call it a dominant chord? Is it related at all to the fifth scale degree, which is the dominant?
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Old 03-28-2017, 05:28 PM   #12
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

The ii is almost always minor. I use a * for terms like always because there are always exceptions, but the core theory is the minor ii chord. Could substitute another chord in though, or add a chord to the progression. I'm writing something now that has a Imaj13 - VI add 11 - ii min7 - V7 / V7+5 progression. It's really just a play on the ii V I.

And yes, dominant chords are built off the 5th scale degree in diatonic scales but add the 7th to the triad. They are "dominant" because of the tension they set up that is resolved by playing the tonic (I) chord. It's pretty much the harmonic setup for all 12-tone Western music, not just jazz.
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Old 03-28-2017, 11:00 PM   #13
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

One way you could justify making the ii a II7 is by substituting in a secondary dominant, which is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

Example: Key of C major (jazz chords)

ii / V / I would be Dmin7 / G7 / Cmaj7

but D7 is the dominant chord of G major, so you can sub that chord in and get that tension setup twice:

D7 / G7 / Cmaj7.

In fact, we could just keep working backward and subbing in dominant chords, like

E7 / A7 / D7 / G7 / Cmaj7, which, relative to C major, is

III7 / VI7 / II7 / V7 / I.

That's a chain of secondary dominants, which is sometimes called the ragtime progression.
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Old 03-29-2017, 07:28 PM   #14
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

Thanks so much for your posts! I just want to make sure I understand, which I think I'm starting to.

So for simplicity let's assume major scale/key. So the fifth scale degree tone should always be dominant in order to properly resolve the tonic? For instance if we were in E major, and our I chord was E maj7. The V chord should be dominant, meaning a B dominant variant?

Likewise, let's say I play a dominant chord anywhere on the neck (of guitar - main instrument). This will always be the sol (fifth scale degree) of a key?
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Old 03-30-2017, 08:35 PM   #15
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

That's the theory. But again, you could do whatever you wanted.
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Old 04-04-2017, 03:38 PM   #16
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

Do you know of any good book or video resources or general tips for getting jazzy chord changes down? I can get the straight chords, but I fail at making it sound swingy and jazzy and walking like.
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Old 04-06-2017, 09:16 PM   #17
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

the Joe Pass Hot Licks videos
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Old 04-29-2017, 11:26 AM   #18
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

more essential videos,

john scofield - jazz-funk
danny gatton - telemaster
jaco pastorius - modern electric bass
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Old 04-30-2017, 05:04 AM   #19
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

Any tips for ukulele and jazz improvisation?

Naturally something simple but even so good sounding to start with...
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:32 AM   #20
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

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Originally Posted by Lawnmower Man View Post
the Joe Pass Hot Licks videos

Thanks for the recommendation, will check these out!
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:32 AM   #21
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

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Any tips for ukulele and jazz improvisation?

Naturally something simple but even so good sounding to start with...

Do you know your major scales and relative minor scales?
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Old 05-12-2017, 03:15 AM   #22
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

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Do you know of any good book or video resources or general tips for getting jazzy chord changes down? I can get the straight chords, but I fail at making it sound swingy and jazzy and walking like.
Hi cows. Heres some exercises I do on piano that are really helpful learning alterations of dom7 chords, tritone subs, and just changes in general:

First is playing ii7-V7-Imaj7 through the cycle. This should be down pat. I dont know how voicings are on guitar but do not just play 1-3-5-7 for these chords. Set up a backing track for the bass line, or learn to walk and comp simultaneously, and play 3-5-7-9 on the ii chord; 3-6-7-9 for the V and 3-5-7-9, and 3-5-6-9 for the I chord. So omit roots from your voicing. This will teach you all the 9ths and 13ths for all the chords in all the cycles.

So first you do Dmin7-G7-Cmaj7. Then go up a fourth and do the progression in F. So Gmin7-C7-Fmaj7. Etc... around the cycle. Then practice inversions on your voicings.

Then practice the same thing with b9 for the dominant chord. These are commin and sound cool. Then do b13 #9 on your dominant chords. These are all the altered dominant voicings now.

Next for tritone subs I like to practice down chromatically like this:

Cmin7-B7-Bbmin7-A7-Abmin7-G7-F#min7-F7---> etc... Start the next round on C#min7 to make sure you play them all. What you should notice here is that the 4-note voicing for the dominant chords in this pattern, for instance on B7 one voicing is A-C#-D#-G# (7-9-3-6) and these are the exact same notes you would use on an Falt7 chord, only on F it would be 3-b13-7-#9. To me this is the coolest thing. Play Cmin7-B7-Bbmaj7 and Cmin7-Falt-Bbmaj7 using that same voicing on the dom7 chord too see and hear it.

I have lots more feel free to ask away and best of luck practicing
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Old 05-14-2017, 08:44 AM   #23
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

PLBlow, thanks very much for your routine! I'll have to run through this, will probably ask some questions about it.

Thanks!
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Old 05-16-2017, 05:09 PM   #24
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

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Do you know your major scales and relative minor scales?
Will look into them
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Old 05-20-2017, 02:51 AM   #25
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Re: Jazz improvisation thread

Here's my version of jazz. It's just a working draft, have a lot of work to do on it. Don't even have bass yet, but I like it.

I'm not exactly straight jazz, I'm kind of an outsider in the straight jazz world of the University jazz program ...


https://www.dropbox.com/s/fkfv80ifpi...fJazz.mp3?dl=0
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