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Arabian Waltz - Rabih Abou-Khalil

Here's one I've been asked for a number of times.  For some reason, I never got around to it before.  This tune first appeared on Rabih Abou-Khalil's album Tarab, and later on the album Arabian Waltz.  It's the…

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Qurb - Anouar Brahem

This is a lovely piece by Anouar Brahem, one he has rarely performed.  The main recording available is Thimar, with Dave Holland and John Surman. 

This album was my first experience with Brahem's music; it came out in 1998…

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The Whole-Tone Pentatonic Scale

This is a sound that (if memory serves) I first noticed when transcribing John Coltrane's solo on "I Hear A Rhapsody" from his 1957 album "Lush Life."  I don't think I've ever come across anyone discussing this particular scale, so…

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"Zhivago" lick, Part 2

(Note: Originally published November 2009 - accidentally deleted, so reposting)

In the previous post, I put up a transcription of a signature line from Kurt Rosenwinkel's solo on "Zhivago" from The Next Step. The line is basically planing a…

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Anouar Brahem - The Astounding Eyes of Rita

I've always been a fan of Anouar Brahem.  He's one of the first oud players I heard and is partly responsible for inspiring me to learn the oud in the first place (along with Rabih Abou-Khalil).  After met Simon Shaheen…

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New Year - Old Posts

Once upon a time, I tried to blog about things I was practicing related to jazz.  Over the past several years, I've been much more focused on Arabic music and the oud, but I thought I'd repost my old musings…

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Key-oriented perspective

It's very common in jazz education to encourage a chord-oriented perspective on improvisation. In many ways, this makes a lot of sense and can be a valuable way of analyzing the music. However, it runs the risk of one failing…

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"Bill Evans"-derived Rootless voicings for guitar, part 2

Here are more rootless voicings for guitar, based on the "Bill Evans" left-hand style voicings.

These are mostly drop-2 chords, so unlike Evans's close voicings, these are open voicings. This does change the character of the sonority considerably; if the…

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Digital Patterns

Okay, I haven't posted in a year. Here's a little worksheet of common patterns that are often used by modern improvisers. John Coltrane was probably the first to make notable use of these kinds of patterns, which he did on…

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Ear Conditioning

Here's an (IMHO) excellent exercise that trains your ears and works on connecting your hearing and improvising. I forget where I got the initial idea, but this the the procedure I've developed and found helpful:


Take a chord progression (maybe…

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Maj7#5

Update: I linked some parts to my previous posts on Augmented Scale ideas.

Over at the All About Jazz forum, someone asked for suggestions about how to approach Maj7#5 chords. As this is a sound I'm fond of and…

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Guitar Players: Learn all the notes--update

As a follow up to the previous post about how to learn the notes on the guitar neck, I made a graphic to visually represent the "white notes" on the guitar.  This is what you should 'see' when you look…

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Starting and Ending Phrases, Cont'd.

One specific idea for using wider intervals in the beginnings and endings of phrases is to land on a chord tone and leap two chord tones up or down.  This is effective at both the beginnings and endings of phrases…

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Starting and Ending Phrases

Large intervallic leaps and interesting rhythms can make phrases more compelling.  The most effective place to use both devices is at the beginnings and endings of phrases.  Intensifying one's focus on how one starts and concludes improvised musical phrases has…

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Wayne Shorter: El Gaucho

Just thought I'd share a transcription I did a while ago.  I think it's pretty accurate, but there may be some some mistakes or typos (since I do these primarily for my own use, I'm generally not too obsessive about…

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Kurt Rosenwinkel: Zhivago

Here transcription of "the lick" from Zhivago. I've deconstructed it and will post some of what I came up with in the next post.

Note that he's using his weird tuning so there are some unreachable low notes for a…

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More Augmented Scale

Here's a continuation of the previous Augmented scale study, using three maj7 chords.

Since the augmented scale can be related to three augmented tonics, it makes sense to me to relate it to the harmonic major (major b6) scale on…

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Triads in the Augmented Scale


Here's an an older one from my workbooks. I've spent a lot of time exploring the possibilities for using various triads in improvisation. They create such strong lines and have a compelling internal logic an musicality.

These examples are pretty…

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Triads in the Diminished scale

I haven't posted anything to the blog in a while (obviously), but not because I haven't had anything to post! I'm just a bit of a perfectionist and it's been hard to find the time to put stuff into a…

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The whole Whole Tone

I like the whole-tone sound, but it can get kind of boring and predictable (true of all the symmetrical scales, but especially the whole tone, since it has the most repetitive pattern . . . whole step, whole step, whole…

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Two Triads Connected by Chromatic Passing Tone

Okay, here's the first post . . . ready?

This is something I've been working on. It was inspired (somewhat secondhand) by George Garzone. Garzone has a whole triadic concept for improvising that I don't know a whole lot about…

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