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Do Jazz Players Hear Everything They Play?

POSTED ON June 17, 2016   |   3 Comments

A reader sent me a thoughtful series of questions:

I’ve been reading through The Living Jazz Tradition and thinking about what you and many jazz educators write about: the importance of being able to play what you hear. I understand that in terms of playing jazz heads, simple melodies, tunes etc…. But I was listening to this interview with Lee Konitz and he raises a good point that the interviewer in turn seems to struggle with the answer:

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Playing Changes Part 8: Secondary Dominants

POSTED ON June 02, 2016   |   Post A Comment

The Playing Changes series presents and expands on concepts from my book, The Living Jazz Tradition: A Creative Guide to Improvisation and Harmony published by CMA Press.

Index of Playing Changes articles

Secondary Dominants

Hearing, internalizing, and improvising over secondary dominant harmony is essential for playing jazz repertoire from the 1920s through the 1950s.

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Playing Changes Part 7: Learning Tunes Functionally

POSTED ON May 12, 2016   |   Post A Comment

The Playing Changes series presents and expands on concepts from my book, The Living Jazz Tradition: A Creative Guide to Improvisation and Harmony published by CMA Press.

Index of Playing Changes articles

The first article in the Playing Changes series helped you visualize and hear melodies by thinking in scale degrees. This concept also applies to hearing tonal harmony.

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Playing Changes Part 6: Color Tones

POSTED ON April 30, 2016   |   Post A Comment

The Playing Changes series presents and expands on concepts from my book, The Living Jazz Tradition: A Creative Guide to Improvisation and Harmony published by CMA Press.

Index of Playing Changes articles

Color tones are pitches added to a chord that change the sonority, but not the function.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Pacheco Photography (more…)

Playing Changes Part 5: More Diatonic Harmony

POSTED ON April 18, 2016   |   Post A Comment

The Playing Changes series presents and expands on concepts from my book, The Living Jazz Tradition: A Creative Guide to Improvisation and Harmony published by CMA Press.

Index of Playing Changes articles

ii – V7 – I Progression

Diatonic harmony is the foundation of jazz standards through the bebop era. One of the most common chord progressions is jazz is ii–V–I.

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Jazz Pilgrimage to Davenport

POSTED ON April 02, 2016   |   Post A Comment

I’m visiting friends and family in the Midwest this week, and I paid a visit to the childhood home of the great Bix Beiderbecke in Davenport, Iowa.

Bix’s music was magical, and his life was cut tragically short when he drank himself to death at age 28. He is one of my favorite jazz artists, and I half-jokingly say I trace my lineage back to Bix: a white musician growing up outside a major city who learned to play jazz by listening to recordings.

1934 Grand Ave, Davenport, Iowa

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Playing Changes Part 4: Primary Chords

POSTED ON March 17, 2016   |   Post A Comment

The Playing Changes series presents and expands on concepts from my book, The Living Jazz Tradition: A Creative Guide to Improvisation and Harmony published by CMA Press.

Index of Playing Changes articles

Primary Chords

Countless folk, gospel, classical, blues, and country songs are based on primary chords: I, IV, and V.

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Playing Changes Part 3: Inversions and Voice Leading

POSTED ON February 12, 2016   |   Post A Comment

The Playing Changes series presents and expands on concepts from my book, The Living Jazz Tradition: A Creative Guide to Improvisation and Harmony published by CMA Press.

Index of Playing Changes articles

Voice leading is how individual parts move as the harmony changes. Having a mastery of voice leading is the key to playing smooth melodies through chord changes.

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Playing Changes Part 2: Intro to Tonal Harmony

POSTED ON February 06, 2016   |   Post A Comment

The Playing Changes series presents and expands on concepts from my book, The Living Jazz Tradition: A Creative Guide to Improvisation and Harmony published by CMA Press.

Index of Playing Changes articles

Tonal Harmony

Jazz standards from the New Orleans, swing, and bebop eras are based on a system of chords and scales known as tonal harmony. This system originated in European classical music from the common practice period—roughly 1600 to 1900. Tonal harmony serves as a foundation for many styles of music, including pop, rock, folk, blues, country, and gospel.

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The Biggest Mistake Jazz Educators Make

POSTED ON January 30, 2016   |   4 Comments

Why do so many students lack the confidence to improvise? The way we teach plays a huge role.

Courtesy of Flickr/Evonne

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