OK, disclaimer time. This is a project to provide playalongs for my students as they approach their exams. Yes, the drums are sampled, yes, everything's ahead of the beat, but that's the way it is! Not aiming for perfection here, but at least a rhythmically and harmonically reliable track for practise.
Of the many skills I learned from studying with Pete Churchill, the ability to write a decent part for the rhythm section has been undoubtedly the most useful.
I've often thought that time spent transcribing themes is just as important as that spent transcribing solos; it sharpens the ear and the mind, and forces you to challenge your own notation.
Music software is practically useless for this task; a 2B pencil, or Pentel JM208 for the brave, are your best options here. And 10-stave paper gives you plenty of room.
Here's my part for the title track from The Nightfly.
Throw me an email if you'd like it in PDF format.
I have mentioned this before, but make no apology for doing so again; not only is the harmony off the scale, this countermelody has the most beautiful shape.
People often ask me how they can improve their ears and recognition of chords; I honestly think that working out small chunks of non-improvised but harmonically interesting music is the way forward.
Check out how explicit those natural ninths are on the half diminished chords. 11ths on minor chords. Flattened 5th on dominants. In popular music!
Studio version: http://open.spotify.com/track/6ZP8gvoFu3bR5MkH03ORE6
Live version here: (it's a tone down and there's no counter-melody but still...!)
Those crazy jazz-rock dudes loved add2 chords so much they adopted the Greek letter mu as a moniker!
But they also taught us two other crucial things about that chord;
1. That it sounds best in first inversion
2. That it must be used sparingly
Above you can see one of a thousand uses, this time judiciously placed in the chorus of Fagen's 'Morph the Cat'.
Say you're blowing on a 7#9 bluesy vibe, C7#9, let's say.
We know that the dominant diminished thing is cool, but it can sound a bit synthetic.
So there's a handy way of reconnecting with the blues, combining triads to make a cool melodic shape.
In this phrase the late, great Kenny Kirkland nods to both Herbie and McCoy. The pentatonic construction is straight out of McCoy's bag whereas the note choices employ a technique often used by H.H. - using the major third over a 7sus chord gives a super rich colour to the melody.
This works so well because the 3rd (usually a pretty ordinary note) becomes a tension due to it being replaced in the lower chord by the 4th, it's muscular next door neighbour.
A quick trick is to play the pentatonic scale on the same root as the 7sus chord.
Here's the track (phrase at 1:32)
RIP Kenny Kirkland, you did so much for jazz piano.
One of my great heroes, Richard Tee, can be heard on the majority of R&B records of the 70s and beyond - he revolutionised 'pop' piano and keyboards through his understanding of the gospel tradition. I remember saving up for his instructional video and wearing it out - but these days it's so easy to watch - just click here
1. In your L.H. outline a C7 chord. Don't worry about the 5th, it's often unnecessary in its unaltered state.
2. In your R.H. play a major triad a tone above the root. Triads sound best in second inversion.
The '64 concert is one of the great records in jazz - here's Herbie Hancock's reharm from the start of his solo on Stella by Starlight. George Coleman plays up until bar 9 of the sequence - then this beautiful re-harm kicks in at bar 13. Just top-line and chords here, wih original changes shown above for quick reference, but I think it gets the point across. Enjoy! STELLA REHARM BRUBECK