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Say That Again

STAHave you ever had a line in your improvisation that came up in the moment that you liked so much that you wanted to Say That Again? But, the progression keeps moving so you had to transpose the line. For some improvisers this scenario can be nerve-racking because you might only know that line in one or two keys. In today’s post I want to share an exercise I use regularly (and one that you should never stop doing) to help not only with ear training, but with confidence in playing in all keys. This exercise in the academic world has a number of different terms associated with it: sequencing, transposing, modulating, etc. However, when I work with younger students I like to not only teach the academic musical terms, but call them something they might find humorous so they remember it. In this case, I like to call this exercise: Say That Again!

It is simple. When you are practicing find a motif, riff or lick (perhaps the Lick of the Day here on this site) that you like. For this example we will use the lick below:

STAmotif

After playing the lick (motif, riff, etc) a few times as written…stop looking at it. Memorize it and play it without reading the notes. Once you have the lick down you are going to Say That Again, but by playing it a half-step up or down (see below):

STA.5down STA.5up

You can continue that pattern all the way up (or down) the chromatic scale. Not only have you played the lick in all keys, but you now can play the lick in half-step motions which can be used for taking a line outside. Another very popular way of doing this exercise is by going up in fourths which is often called playing around the cycle of fourths (see below):

STAup4

Practicing your lick this way gets you to start thinking about moving around one of the most common root progression movements (ex. iim7 – V7- Imaj7 all have root movements of a fourth). The next couple of examples move the lick around major 2nds (up or down the whole-tone scale) and minor 3rds (up or down the Diminished 7th chord):

Major 2nds

STAupM2

STAdownWT

Minor 3rds

STAupm3

STAupDIM

I hope this week’s tip has added some value or benefit to you or your student’s playing in some way. For a challenge this week take one of the licks from the Lick of Day found here on this site and take it through the Say It Again exercise. Over time you will be able to navigate your favorite lines through different harmonic progressions with ease!

Finally, be sure to pick up your copy of Mountain, Move today. Part of the proceeds of each album sale (physical or digital) help the Pearl Alliance and their fight against human trafficking. You can get one at our Digital Store along with both of my books: Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony.

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Targeting Using the Augmented Scale

Targeting Using the Augmented Scale

I wanted to share a fun sound that I have been experimenting with recently. For those that have followed this site the past 2+ years know that I am believer in the concept of targeting. This post will be looking at how you can use the augmented scale through the lens of targeting principles that I outline in my first book, Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose.

What is the Augmented Scale?

Since we have a number of people who visit this site from different levels and abilities we will take a look at what exactly an augmented scale is. An augmented scale is made up of two augmented triads that are a minor third apart. I have also heard an augmented scale called the “minor third, half-step scale,” but not very often. For most in the jazz community (or at least those that know about it) call it the augmented scale. Below is the C augmented scale:

Augmented Scale

Most Jazz educators will tell you that you can use this scale over any augmented 7th chord (for example a C7+) or a x7#11 chord (example would be a C7#11). I agree that the augmented scale works well over those so I am not disagreeing with that usage. However, like a lot of melodic/harmonic devices they can be used with targeting principles. Again, I am not going to outline what those are right now.

Targeting Using the Augmented Scale

However, let’s look at how using the augmented scale to target the “C” below in two different situations cause a unique and powerful sound over the listed progressions:

AugTargetEx1

AugTargetEx2

In my practice time I have been gravitating to this particular sound lately. I love the combination of the minor third and the half-step because of its melodic possibilities. I would invite you to try the above example in different harmonic situations where the targeted note would be a “C.” I hope you have enjoyed this week’s tip and that it has added some value and benefit to your playing in some way!

 

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drumgenius app review

Drumgenius App Review

DrumGenius App Review

If you have followed this blog and have purchased Breaking the Monotony I wanted to share a Drumgenius App Review I recently downloaded. It is called Drumgenius v1.4 by the guys at Projazz Lab. For the record, I was NOT asked to do a review of this app. However, I did want to let you know about the app and how it can be used to enhance your jazz improvisational studies (whether you are a drummer or not). I strongly believe this app can be a powerful resource for my students and use it in both the Modern Jazz Trumpet Routine and my Targeting Master Class.

Drumgenius v1.4 is made for the iPhone and Android based operating systems so it wont matter what type of smart phone you prefer. The app contains (at the time of this writing) around 300 different styles of drum loops that sound great and have a number of applications that you could use. Loop styles range from Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Funk, all types of jazz (straight and swung) and odd meters. For drummers, you can play along with each loop to not only get the feel, but work on timing and groove. For other musicians, it gives you the opportunity to work with a drummer anywhere you have your phone.

You can work on timing, rhythmic creativity and phrasing. For those that have Breaking the Monotony, this app can be especially helpful because a number of the loops come with an option to include the clave pattern over the loop! You can use a number of different loops as a practice aid with just about every chapter in Breaking the Monotony (or Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose)! Another great benefit (especially for someone like me who is not a drummer) is you get proper names and a short history of the drum loop. As a composer I now have a resource to say, “Oh yeah…that is the drum groove I am wanting for this section on my chart. I always wanted to know what that was called!”

To get a feel of what it looks and sounds like, below is their video found on their website as well as Youtube (the video is below).

The app itself is free to download. Along with the app you get 3 free loop downloads that come with the app. You can purchase 3 levels of loop downloads in their app store. The first is 10 loops, 50 loops or infinite (which is all 300 loops or any new updates they have in the future). I did not catch the prices for the first 2 levels because I went straight for the infinite option. It was $9.99. For the iPhone, the app also works in the background so you can continue to use your phone for other features while still listening to the loop.

Since I have made this app purchase I have been using it in my daily jazz practice and have been thrilled with the benefits. There is something to playing duets with a drummer that help an improviser’s time, phrasing and rhythmic creativity. Now I can work on those whenever I have my horn and phone. Overall I give this app 5 stars!

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Discovery- Canada

 

We head North in this week’s Discovery series as we take a trip to Canada. Canada, comprised of 10 provinces in 3 terrirtories,  is the world’s second largest country in total land area. It is so vast that it touches 3 of the world’s 4 oceans. While the majority of Canadians speak English there is a large population of residents in Quebec that speak French. Canada has a rich history in music, art, architecture and history.  Canada has been home to some great jazz musicians born there as well as those who have made it their home. As a trumpet player myself-there are a few jazz trumpet players that most have heard of including Ingrid Jensen and Guido Basso (to name few). The same could be said of a number of other instruments. This wonderful country has embraced jazz in its various forms and is home to a number of clubs, educational institutions and jazz festivals.

As with our past locations, the goal is to introduce you to 3 new musicians each week from different parts of the world. My hope is you will find some new discoveries, support them by buying their albums and by attending their concerts if you are in their area (or they in yours). Another benefit is for you to hear new musicians and how they approach their instrument and jazz. You never know where you might find your next favorite line!

Canada has a number of cities that offer live jazz, but one that stands out to me the most is Toronto. Toronto is home to a number of clubs as well as the Toronto Jazz Festival (which the JKQ hopes to play in the future!). It is held annually around the June/July months and has an outstanding roster each season.

Like mentioned with other great countries; Canada has been the home to a number of jazz musicians known and unknown. Hopefully the musicians below are people you will start checking out (if you have not already).

Brian Chahley– trumpet

Francois Bourassa– piano

Gabe Condon– guitar

These are just a few of literally hundreds of great jazz musicians you can find in and/or from Canada. If you have checked out these musicians above, be sure to check out their websites and albums to support them. I would also highly encourage you to look up other great Canadian musicians and see what this great country has to offer in terms of Jazz.

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Discovery- Sweden

 

In this week’s Discovery series-we take a trip to Sweden. Sweden, a Scandinavian country in Norther Europe, is the third largest country in the European Union in land mass. Like many of the other European destinations we have visited with this series; Sweden has a rich history in music, art, architecture and history.  Sweden has been home to some great jazz musicians born there as well as those who have made it their home. This wonderful country has embraced jazz in its various forms and is home to a number of clubs, educational institutions and jazz festivals.

As with our past locations, the goal is to introduce you to 3 new musicians each week from different parts of the world. My hope is you will find some new discoveries, support them by buying their albums and by attending their concerts if you are in their area (or they in yours). Another benefit is for you to hear new musicians and how they approach their instrument and jazz. You never know where you might find your next favorite line!

Sweden has a number of cities that offer live jazz, but their capital city of Stockholm is home to a number of clubs as well as the Stockholm Jazz Festival (which the JKQ hopes to play in the future!). If you click on the link above it will show you who is playing at this year’s festival which will happen on October 14-20th.

Like mentioned with other great Western European countries; Sweden has been the home to a number of jazz musicians known and unknown. Hopefully the musicians below are people you will start checking out (if you have not already).

Johan Christoffersson– sax

Naoko Sakata– piano

Kristian Brink– sax

These are just a few of literally hundreds of great jazz musicians you can find in and/or from Sweden. If you have checked out these musicians above, be sure to check out their websites and albums to support them. I would also highly encourage you to look up other great Swedish musicians and see what this great country has to offer in terms of Jazz.

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Discovery-Illinois, USA

 

We continue our Discovery series this week by heading to the state of Illinois (U.S.). Chicago, by far the state’s largest city, is one of the world’s largest cities and has a long and rich history of jazz. I am not going to even attempt to list all of what this city has meant to the history and the continued development of jazz. Even outside of Chicago, Illinois is home to some great jazz musicians and some wonderful colleges and universities that produce these musicians. Some of the names listed below you may already know, but I hope to focus on some that you may not.

As with our past locations, the goal is to introduce you to 3 new musicians each week from different parts of the world. My hope is you will find some new discoveries, support them by buying their albums and by attending their concerts if you are in their area (or they in yours). Another benefit is for you to hear new musicians and how they approach their instrument and jazz. You never know where you might find your next favorite line!

Chicago is home to a number of great jazz venues, but in this week’s post I wanted to highlight one of those venues because of what they are doing to support not only live Jazz-but supporting young jazz musicians. The Drake hotel in downtown  Chicago (along with a partnership with the Jazz Institute of Chicago) features the NextGenJazz series, which is a 6-concert series every Thursday night in their Palm Court. I think it is great that a venue supports the next generation of Jazz musicians they way they do.

Like mentioned in previous series; Illinois has been the home to a number of jazz musicians known and unknown. Hopefully the musicians below are people you will start checking out (if you have not already).

Marquis Hill– trumpet

Rajiv Halim– sax

Xavier Breaker– drums

These are just a few of literally hundreds (if not thousands) of great jazz musicians you can find in and/or from Illinois. If you have checked out these musicians above, be sure to check out their websites and albums to support them. I would also highly encourage you to look up other great musicians from Illinois and see what this great state has to offer in terms of Jazz.

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Discovery-United Kingdom

In this week’s Discovery series-we take a trip to the United Kingdom. The U.K., also known as Britain, is off the northwestern coast of continental Europe. Like many of the other Western Europe destinations we have visited with this series; the U.K. is famous for many things from music, art, architecture and history.  The U.K. has been home to some great jazz musicians born there as well as those who have made it their home. This wonderful country has embraced jazz in its various forms and is home to a number of clubs, educational institutions and jazz festivals.

As with our past locations, the goal is to introduce you to 3 new musicians each week from different parts of the world. My hope is you will find some new discoveries, support them by buying their albums and by attending their concerts if you are in their area (or they in yours). Another benefit is for you to hear new musicians and how they approach their instrument and jazz. You never know where you might find your next favorite line!

The U.K. has some of the world’s greatest musicians from all parts. As with our other places in the Discovery series; it is difficult to narrow down just 3 musicians. Among many other iconic jazz spots in the U.K., when I think of the U.K. and Jazz I immediately think of Ronnie Scotts in London. I had the privilege of checking this venue out in person back in the Summer of 2001.

Like mentioned with other great Western European countries; the U.K. has been the home to a number of jazz musicians known and unknown. Hopefully the musicians below are people you will start checking out (if you have not already).

Steve Waterman– trumpet

Ivo Neame– piano

Adam Waldmann– sax

These are just a few of literally hundreds of great jazz musicians you can find in and/or from the U.K. If you have checked out these musicians above, be sure to check out their websites and albums to support them. I would also highly encourage you to look up other great British musicians and see what this great country has to offer in terms of Jazz.

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Discovery-Germany

 

As we continue our Discovery series-this week we will stop in Germany. Like many of the other Western Europe destinations we have visited with this series; Germany is famous for many things from music, art, architecture and history.  Germany has been home to some great jazz musicians born there as well as those who have made their home there. This wonderful country has embraced jazz in its various forms and is home to a number of clubs, educational institutions and jazz festivals.

As with our past locations, the goal is to introduce you to 3 new musicians each week from different parts of the world. My hope is you will find some new discoveries, support them by buying their albums and by attending their concerts if you are in their area (or they in yours). Another benefit is for you to hear new musicians and how they approach their instrument and jazz. You never know where you might find your next favorite line!

Germany has some of the world’s greatest musicians playing at their jazz festivals every year. If you take a look at the Jazzfests.net link you will see a ton of major jazz festivals. There are so many on this list I lost track of how many there were (and maybe it is possible not all were listed too)!

One of my favorite jazz trumpet players (regardless of their location) is Till Brönner. If you have not checked him out you need to check out his version of Little Sunflower below. Like mentioned with other great Western European countries; Germany has been the home to a number of jazz musicians known and unknown. Hopefully the musicians below are people you will start checking out (if you have not already).

Till Brönner– trumpet

Frank Möbus– guitar

Nils Wogram– trombone

These are just a few of literally hundreds of great jazz musicians you can find in and/or from Germany. If you have checked out these musicians above, be sure to check out their websites and albums to support them. I would also highly encourage you to look up other great German musicians and see what this great country has to offer in terms of Jazz.

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