In this lesson George gives an overview of the first project you will be undertaking, the F7 blues. These classic jazz changes are probably one of the first chord progressions that anybody ever blew a solo on. George shows you how to put the elements together so you are quickly playing a recognizable jazz line. Here George also discusses the importance of time in jazz and how playing against the rhythm is a fundamental aspect of jazz music.
- [Instructor] In this lesson, we're going to get an overview of the first project we're undertaking here in our jazz piano lessons, and that's to play an F7 blues, classic jazz changes, you know, it's probably one of the first chord progressions that anybody blew a solo on, and we're going to put the elements together and we're going to try and put them together relatively quickly so that you're making a line, a really nice recognizable jazz line, as fast as possible.
The F7 blues has four chords in it, basically. (piano) That's F7, B flat 7, G minor 7, and C7. We're going to learn a scale that works on each of these chords and it's a little bit different than the scales that you might already know and I'll explain why in our next lesson. Then we're going to learn something called an approach pattern, and that's a little hinge that kind of connects our lines together.
You'll recognize it from any jazz solo you've probably ever heard, and that's (piano) that's the first one. There are four of those, and you'll find that with just these two tools, you can actually be making a very nice line and kind of improvising your way through the changes. The next thing we're going to do once we get that under our fingers, the basic principle, is we're going to start to do some technique exercises that use these scales and that approach pattern.
When we practice jazz, at least when I practice jazz, it's a different thing than, you know, classical exercises. You might be familiar with the Hanon exercises, (piano) that kind of thing where the objective is to strive for consistency and you're kind of building the musculature you need. With the jazz exercises, I like to try and make them sound like a jazz line, so I do play Hanons to warm up, but I play them like this.
(piano) That kind of thing. And we're going to do that with these scales and with the approach pattern. Later we're going to get into practice Hanons that way. As we work on our exercises, we're going to work on our time, because a really critical element of jazz, the thing that makes it jazz as a matter of fact, is the time that we're playing things in, and the time is there not just to sit within, but to work against, and great jazz musicians since the very beginning, since Louis Armstrong, since before him, it's always been a thing of laying back against the time.
You play consistently back behind the beat and while we're doing exercises, you know, there's a lot of merit to playing right in the beat, for example if you expand beyond playing straight ahead swinging jazz into playing more funk-based or Latin-based jazz, but as we practice I guess my point is that we can work on other aspects of our line and we can work on them in such a way that they're isolated. Part of our brain isn't working on what the line is, because that's a given, it's an exercise.
As we work on those exercises, when we get a couple lessons down the road here, we're going to talk a lot about technique and especially about the idea of being relaxed as we practice. Jazz is not an uptight art. Jazz is a very relaxed thing. As intense as it can get, it's important that you be relaxed, so we're going to work on that. We'll work on some ear training, because the ear is really king in jazz, and you'll find as you learn to play that playing a great solo is some kind of combination of things that are under your fingers already in a way and then stuff that just seems to spring from the forehead of Zeus, stuff that's purely in the moment.
Miles Davis had a classic quote one time where he said that if he played one new thing a night, he was happy, and of course he's being kind of hard on himself there, but it is a combination of things, it's not wrote, but it's things that you can easily access, you start to find that you think of things as a sequence of notes, rather than which note per, you know, follows what. We're going to transcribe a little bit of Kind of Blue. I think we'll start with Freddy Freeloader, which is a great jazz, it's really a classic standard from Kind of Blue.
Wynton Kelly played a killer solo on that. If we could all swing like Wynton, you know, there would be nothing left to learn. Miles also played a really beautiful solo on that, and this is a good way to get your feet wet transcribing, which accomplishes so many things, and we'll get to that in the transcribing lesson. We need something for our left hand to do while we're playing a solo, and so we're going to start to discuss a basic left hand concept that we can use to sort of fortify and punctuate and outline the harmony that we're blowing on.
And finally, we're going to do a good look, we're going to start to look at two-handed harmony and comping, which is a really really important subject. I mean jazz harmony, it doesn't just apply to your soloing. The thing that's going to get you hired eventually as a jazz pianist, likely as not, is your ability to comp behind a soloist. I spent many many years as a sideman with Michael Brecker, David Sanborn, various artists like this, and the ability to put what they want to hear behind them was just as important as my ability to step out and take a solo in front.
So that's an overview of where we're going. Let's dig right in and learn our first set of scales on an F7 chord.
Note: This course was recorded and produced by ArtistWorks. We're pleased to host this training in our library.
- The blues in F
- Building a scale out of the F7 chord
- The B flat 7 bop scale
- The G minor 7 bop scale
- The C7 bop scale
- Practicing guide tones