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Learning To Play Jazz!

Updated: 3 days ago

Greetings All!

If you are just getting started with jazz, and/or have been chipping away at Jazz for some time, but - up until now – have not made the progress that you dreamed of making, then - for a number of reasons - this blog might just be worth your while!

Up until the time of this writing, I had chipped away at jazz 'from time to time' or at least had it 'waiting on the back burner' but, I never really 'took off with it' the way I had really hoped.

Then, more recently I took time, a lot of time, to 'build and explore' scales and chords 'completely from scratch'. I made collections of pitches that I really liked against each chord type and then compared my findings-and-preferences with what is considered 'standard' within various jazz styles. While doing so, I reinvented a number of very common scales, chords and concepts that represent important components of jazz - and, ultimately I arrived at a point where I can now hear, understand and categorize jazz sounds much more clearly than ever before.

So, now with all I have learned through many years working hard to build and earn a sturdy musical foundation, I feel now that I am officially ready to 'start fresh at the very beginning' and learn the jazz language the way I 'could have and should have' from the very beginning!

Aiming High!

My personal goal is to approach jazz in a natural way that is going to allow myself and students to model the process that others have used in order to experience creative mastery in mastery. If I am lucky, I will enjoy touching this level briefly from time to time... and, if I happen to become truly skilled in jazz, I will certainly enjoy becoming immersed in this creative space. Either way, I am already happy, so whatever I accomplish is simply going to be 'icing on the cake'! :)

Join Me If You Would Like!

I will be providing Audio, Standard Notation and Jazz Guitar Tab for a bunch of musical examples along the way, so feel free to join me on this jazz journey. Plus, with each example, I will also include theoretical analysis of the notes that are used in each composition!

A Fresh Start w/ A New Instrument!

I have decided to launch my renewed jazz journey using an instrument that I have never studied before! At the time of this writing, I have been learning to play Jazz Clarinet for thirteen days! At this point, I am still just learning how to find the notes and how to control the instrument. However, not knowing an instrument very well can have some advantages… For example, at the moment I can only 'play what I can hear' compared to just flailing around on memorized scale patterns! More on this later!

My First Jazz Tune On The Bb Clarinet!

It might not sound like much, but this is the first song that I learned to play on the clarinet, and doing so - even with of all my imperfections - the fun of 'getting something up and swinging' has me feeling energized, excited, inspired to learn even more!

Shout Chorus From Royal Garden Shout [Take Two]!

Standard Notation + Guitar Tab

Download PDF • 65KB

Royal Garden Shout

Note Analysis – Phrase by Phrase [See Sheet Music Above]

1) 5, 13, 1

2) 1, 9, #9, 3, 1, 1, 1

3) 5, 5, 13, b7, 5, 5, 5

4) 1, 9, #9, 3, / 1, 1, 1

5) b7, 1, b9, 9, / 1, 1 1,

6) 5, 13, #9, 3, #9, 3 / #9, b7, 9, / b7

Next, A First Composition Written On The Bb Clarinet!

Next, after learning to play the shout chorus from Royal Garden Blues, I decided to create a fun jazz-blues composition over a slow tempo. This fun little jazz etude highlights a pretty standard blend of ‘Blues’ and ‘Mixlolydian’ type sounds in an ‘easy-to-learn-and-play’ composition that can easily open the door to the world of more advanced jazz playing!

Nate's Slow Jazz-Blues In Bb [Take Two]

Standard Notation + Guitar Tab

Nate's Slow Jazz-Blues Solo In Bb
Download PDF • 137KB

Nate's Slow Jazz-Blues Solo In Bb

Note Analysis - Phrase By Phrase [See Sheet Music Above]

1) #9, 3, 5

2) 3, b7

3) 9, 1, #9, 3

4) 5, 6, b7

5) 5, 9, 3, 9, b7, 5, 3

6) 5, #9, 3, #9, 3, 5, #9, 1, 13, 5

7) #9, 9, 1, 9, #9

8) 5, 3, 9, b7, / 1

9) #9, 3, 5 / #9, 3, 5

10) 1, #9, 1

What’s Next?

Well, for one I will certainly be practicing the two examples that I shared above. I hear plenty

of room for big improvements in many areas, including intonation and general control of the instrument. Once I have practiced a bit, I will be excited to rerecord and post the updated recordings [which I did do exactly one day after first posting this blog]!.

In addition, I have a handful of tunes that I have selected, and my plan is to practice the main melodies, absorb the sound of the chord progressions and to ‘compose and practice’ solos for each tune. In order to create solos that I like, I will be listening to the jazz greats to hear, learn and make use of ‘the language of jazz’! Once I have composed each solo, I will post it here with Standard Notation, Jazz Guitar Tab and Analysis!

'Easy Jazz Solo' for When The Saints Go Marching In!

I have been working on jazz clarinet for almost five weeks now and I have just recorded an 'easy to learn-and-play' jazz solo for When The Saints Go Marching In! Naturally, I was inspired by Louis Armstrong to learn and play this tune! I definitely hear a lot of exciting room for improvement, and I am feeling energized and inspired to keep going! I hope that you have fun learning this jazz etude, if you happen to take it on!

Also, by now I have had a chance to work through my 'Slow Jazz-Blues Etude' (see above) with a couple of guitar students - they sound great, and it's been a lot of fun!

Standard Notation + Guitar Tab

Download PDF • 56KB

Download PDF • 133KB

Solo For 'When The Saints Go Marching In' In F

Note Analysis - Phrase By Phrase [See Sheet Music Above]

1) 3, 5, 5

2) 5, 1

3) 5, 1, #9

4) 9 / 11, 5

5) #9, #9

6) 1, 3, 13, #9, 1

7) 3, 5, 3 / 9, #5 / 1

One Day Later...

'Easy Jazz Solo' for St. Thomas!

Tenor saxophonist, Sonny Rollins wrote a fun Jazz tune called St. Thomas. I've always liked this one quite a bit, so I am excited to have it on my setlist. One of my goals, while writing the following solo, was to employ colorful jazz sounds over the chord changes without sounding like I was just 'running through scales' in order to 'keep up with the chords'. Through this writing process, I have learned some valuable lessons that I am now excited to carry forward! Plus, in this most recent recording I can hear many areas that are primed and ready for more forward-moving improvement!

St Thomas
Download PDF • 55KB

St Thomas Solos
Download PDF • 71KB

Solo For 'St. Thomas' In C

Note Analysis - Phrase By Phrase [See Sheet Music Above]

1) #9, b7, 1, #9 / 1 / b9

2) 11, b13, 5, b3 / b13 / 1

3) #11, 5, 13, #9

4) b13, b5, b3 / b9, 1

5) b7, b13, 11 / #9, 3 / 1

6) 1, b9, 1, b9

7) #11, #9, 1 / 3

8) b5, b3 / 3, b9, 5, 3

9) 9, 3, 11, 3, 9 / 3, 5, 3 / 1

10) 5, 1, b7, 5 / #9, 3 / 1

'Easy Jazz Solo' for I've Got Rhythm!

One of the most popular sets of 'jazz changes' among jazz composers and jazz improvisers comes from a swingin' tune called 'I Got Rhythm' written by George and Ira Gershwin. If you ever hear someone refer to playing over 'Rhythm Changes', this - I Got Rhythm - is essentially the set of changes that they are referring to. Typically this tune is played over a relatively quick tempo. With this in mind, I set out to create a fun jazz solo that sounds like it keeps up reasonably well while at the same time remains easy to learn and play! Valuable lessons that were learned as I composed over the changes for St Thomas (see solo just above) were carried forward and really helped to complete this project.

Download PDF • 84KB

Download PDF • 82KB

I Got Rhythm in Bb

Note Analysis – Phrase by Phrase [See Sheet Music Above]

1) Bb: 13,1,9 C-7: b7,5,b7,5 G7: 1,#9,1,#11 F7: 13

2) Bb: 5 Eb: 9,3 G7: 11,#9 C-7: 1

3) Bb: 13,1,9 C-7: b7,5,b7,5 G7: 3,5,b7,1 F7: #9

4) F7: 9,1 Bb: 1 Eb: 5, 3 F7: b13,5,11 Bb: 1

5) D7: 1,11,1,11 G7: 5,1,5,1,5,5

6) C7: 1,5,1 F7: 9,5,5,13,1

7) Bb: 13,1,9 C-7: b7,5,b7,5 G7: 1,#9,1,#11 F7: 13

8) Bb: b7,13 Eb: 9,5,5 F7: 9,b13,5,11 Bb: 1

Recording To Make Improvements!

It is now six weeks since I began to play the clarinet, and I have more than a lot to learn! With that said, it's worth noting that the recording process itself has already helped me to grow forward quite a bit. If you are looking for a great way to improve your jazz playing, just record yourself...

Once you have done so, listen to your recording while making mental notes about anything that you would like to improve upon. Then, record yourself again and again (in one session and/or through time) with your absolute best intention to make those improvements a tangible reality. If there are certain improvements that are unlikely to manifest within a single session, you might create and practice musical exercises that you feel are going to help you reach-for and achieve your goal(s)!

Stay Tuned, and I will be back with more!

Thanks for being along for the ride!


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