This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores the Blue Bossa solo performed by Barry Harris in the 1976 Dexter Gordon recording "Biting The Apple"
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Every JazzPianoSkills weekly podcast episode introduces aspiring jazz pianists to essential Jazz Piano Skills. Each Podcast episode explores a specific Jazz Piano Skill in depth. Today you will discover, learn, play Blue Bossa featuring Barry Harris. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
A Barry Harris Blue Bossa Solo
How to develop jazz vocabulary using ideas from Barry Harris's Blue Bossa Solo
5 Minor and 5 Major II-V-I melodies as performed by Barry Harris when soloing over Blue Bossa
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Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music
Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today you are going to discover a Barry Harris Blue Bossa solo. And you're going to learn how to develop jazz vocabulary using ideas from Barry Harris is Blue Bossa solo and you're going to play five minor and five major 251 melodies, as performed by Barry Harris when soloing over Blue Bossa so as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, beginner and intermediate player, and advanced player or even if you consider yourself an experienced professional, you are going to find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring a Blue Bossa solo by the great Barry Harris to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills, if you're a new jazz panel skills podcast listener, I want to take just a couple of minutes right now to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Simply visit jazz panel skills.com To learn more about the abundance and I mean the abundance of jazz educational resources and services that are available for you to use when practicing to help you to become an accomplished jazz pianist. For example, as a jazz piano skills member you have access to all of the educational podcast packets, the illustrations the lead sheets the play alongs that are available for every podcast episode which are over 100 podcast episodes. These podcast packets are great educational guides and tools and resources to use when practicing. Also as a jazz panel skills member, you have access to the online sequential jazz piano curriculum, which is loaded with comprehensive courses. All of the courses use a self-paced format, educational talks, interactive media, video demonstrations the jazz panel skill in all 12 keys, play alongs, and much more. Also, as a jazz piano skills member, you have a reserved seat each and every week in the online weekly masterclass which is an online one-hour lesson with me every single week. And as a jazz piano skills member, you also have access to the jazz piano skills community, which hosts a variety of engaging Forum Podcast specific forums, core-specific forums, and of course general jazz piano forums as well. And last but certainly not least, you have as a jazz panel skills member you have access to unlimited private, personal and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. So again, visit jazz piano skills.com To learn more about all the educational opportunities and how to easily activate your membership. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out and let me know I'm always happy to spend some time with you. Answer any questions that you may have. And to help you in any way that I can. Also, be sure to check out the jazz panel skills blog. Enjoy that whether you are a jazz piano skills member or not share it with friends, you can enjoy reading some additional insights regarding the jazz panel skill of the week and a couple of weeks behind. But don't get caught up over Thanksgiving break. You will find the blog link in the menu bar right across the top of the page at jazz panel skills podcast.com. Or once you land on the podcast page, you can just simply scroll to the bottom and you'll see an entire section devoted to the blog. I take some time at the end of each week to jot down some of my final thoughts about the jazz panel skill explored in the weekly podcast episode and hopefully provide you with some words of encouragement and inspiration as well. So be sure to check out my blog. And always I'm always welcome to some of your feedback your thoughts and ideas as well. Okay, so let's discover learning play jazz piano let's discover learn and play a blue boss a solo by the great Barry Harris transcriptions
I want to talk about transcriptions for a minute. You can not listen to any jazz educator speak. without hearing them bring up the importance of transcriptions. It's usually Number One On The List. They stress all judges, educators stressed the essential need to transcribe. In fact, transcribing is often glorified as the single most important thing you need to do, in order to become an accomplished jazz musician. True. Personally, I disagree with this sentiment, not because transcribing is overrated, because it is not. It is important, but the way we jazz educators often present it is frequently misleading, and therefore commonly misunderstood. Most students, and quite possibly you as well. After hearing jazz educators speak about transcribing, walk away believing that you need to spend hours every day of every week of every month of every year, writing out the entire solos, of your favorite jazz musicians. And then, upon the completion of your incredibly time-consuming endeavor, go to your instrument to begin playing these entire solos over and over, and over again, until you can successfully play the content of these solos at will, in the tunes that you want to play so that you end up sounding like a professional jazz musician. If you have embarked upon this monumental, monumental process, you know firsthand how incredibly laborious this endeavor is. And you also know you have also heard news, you have also felt very little, if any return on your investment. Now, as you are shaking your head up and down in total agreement, which I know most of you are, you're probably asking yourself, yourself, which you should, you should be asking yourself, why is this true? Well, your question is valid. And the results are common and true. Because trying to somehow make someone else's creative thinking your own to the point. You can easily and again it will drop-kick their ideas into a spot within a song that you're playing is a very tall order, which honestly it's never ever worked for me ever. In fact, if somehow you pull it off, it always comes off sounding. contrived, forced. Awkward. At least that's my experience. So all this to say that if this is the impression you have about transcribing that you have formulated after hearing many jazz educators speak about transcribing. Then I hate to break the news to you you've been misguided and your impression of your understanding of transcribing is is wrong. Now, please keep in mind jazz educators do not intentionally misguide any student. We just say things we talk about things we bring up things, making huge assumptions that you the student know exactly what we are talking about. This is naive teaching back. It reminds me of a story that happened years ago when I first started teaching. I was teaching this little boy who was his name actually was John. He didn't go by Johnny which would,
which would have made this story even better, but his actual name was John. But anyway, John was playing this song in his lesson and he kept hesitating. Moving from measure two to measure three. He would always put a slight pause into At the end of measure two, actually, increasing the number of beats from four beats in a measure to like five or six beats a measure before beginning to play measures three. So, like any good piano teacher, I stopped him and I said, Hey, John, listen. You're hesitating at the end of measure two before you begin to play, measure three, and it adds additional beats to the measure. So please take out the hesitation. Okay. John, looks at me smile, she shook his head up and down in agreement and started over again. And once again, John hesitated at the end of measure two, before starting to play measure three. And once again, like a good teacher, I stopped him. John, listen, you. You are still hesitating at the end of measure two before you begin to play measure three. Now John, once again gave me his infectious smile head great smile. And he said, Okay. I will do that. I said, Thank you, John. Thank you. So John started over again, from the beginning measure one. And guess what? Same results. Now, I let out a huge sigh. Let this huge site out and before it could utter a single word John spoke out immediately. And he said, Did I did I hesitate again? I said, it has said as I recall it rather firmly. This time I said, John, yes. Yes, you did. You hesitated again. Now. Let's do it over. And I need you to focus. John, I need you. I need you to concentrate. Right? You can do this right. Let's take this hesitation out of the end of measure two, and just go right into measure three. Okay. Remove the hesitation. John smiled again, shook his head up and down. In agreement, total agreement, he placed his hands on the piano. And as he was about to begin playing, he paused. The silent, this awkward, awkward pause. He took his hands off the piano. He turned his head. And he looked at me he asked Dr. Lawrence. What exactly does the word hesitate? Mean? I sat back in my chair. And I said, John, I think we're making some serious progress. Thank you for illuminating the fact that the problem is me. Not you. He see. I assumed he knew I assumed that John knew what I was talking about when I said hesitate. had no clue. He had no idea what to fix. So for many jazz students, the word transcribing is a is equivalent to the word hesitate. For my young student, John mini jazz students should be asking, Hey, Dr. Lawrence, what does transcribing mean? Well, here's the answer. Are you ready? Transcribing is simply learning melodies. By using your ears, instead of your eyes. That's it. That is transcribing in a nutshell.
The melody you figure out, you learn
by ear that you transcribe could be the melody of a song. It could be a measure of a solo. It could be a melody you're hearing in your head. It could be a melody played by the grandfather clock sitting in your grandparent's home. It could be the melody of church bells ringing. It could be a melody of a commercial, a jingle that you hear on TV. All of these activities is transcribing. In other words, transcribing is not restricted to writing out entire solos note for note has played by your favorite jazz musician. This unfortunately is a very one-dimensional and very limited understanding of transcribing that gives the word a bad rap. And in fact, every Saturday, I send out a tweet I call it standard Saturday, where I provide you with a good set of chord changes for popular jazz standard. And challenge you to learn the melody by ear. I challenge you to transcribe. I know now I know firsthand, some of you cheat. I'm not gonna mention any names, but some of you cheat and look up the melody using a lead sheet from a fake book. But even if you pick out just a portion of the melody by ear, you are on your way to becoming a successful transcriber. So for me, when I transcribe, I take kind of a Michael Brecker approach, where I rarely, if ever transcribe an entire solo, when I hear something I like I will transcribe it. Maybe it's several measures of music, or maybe it may be just a single measure music. And once I have it transcribed,
I then study it. And I study it several different ways.
I'd like to see how the musician approaches the sound. Right? Whether it's majors or major sounds, dominant sounds minor, so on what kind of what kind of motion are they using, primarily using scale motion arpeggio motion, I like to examine the entry and the exit point. So the sound the target notes, its root, the third, the fifth, so on, I also pay attention to direction ascending and descending patterns. And I also liked identify approach tones to the scale tones, such as, like neighboring tones. And then after this type of analysis, I will then play the melodic ideas several, several times, so that my command of the melody that again a command of the melody, that that then can serve as a pathway to discovering my own jazz vocabulary. And guess what,
it's a lot easier for me to remember my creative ideas when playing than it is to try to recall someone else's ideas. Ultimately, ultimately, this is the goal of transcribing. To help you discover learn and play your creativity, your creative ideas, not someone else's. If you approach transcribing, transcribing any with any enter any other understanding or any other goal, the return. As I mentioned earlier, the return on your investment will always remain minimal at best. So the educational agenda for today is as follows. Number one, I am going to present 10 to five one melodic ideas from Barry Harris, his Blue Bossa solo from the 1976 Dexter Gordon album biting the apple featuring, of course, Dexter Gordon on saxophone, Barry Harris on piano, Sam Jones bass, and Al Foster on drums. So, five minor 251 ideas will be presented and five major 251 ideas will be presented. Number two, I'm going to highlight the target notes. Barry Harris used to construct his 251 melodic ideas then I am going to take the target notes that Barry Harris use to construct his own melodic ideas. Want to take those target notes to develop my melodic ideas, my vocabulary. And number four, I will be playing all the demonstrations today all the exercises using the temple that Dexter Gordon used in the recording. And that tempo is right hovering right around 165. And, again, I want to stress as I always do slower tempos are always encouraged and recommended. So everything I'm doing today, begin incorporating that into your practicing at much slower tempos. If you are a jazz piano skills member, I want you to take a few minutes right now. Pause this podcast episode and download access and download print the illustrations and the lead sheets, the podcast packets that you have access to the podcast packets. As I mentioned every week you should be using them when listening to this podcast and of course when practicing if you're listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and on and on and on, then be sure to go to jazz piano skills podcast.com to download the podcast packets and you will find the download links the active links in the show notes. And one final but extremely important note that I bring up every week. If you personally are thinking that the Barry Harris solo on Blue Bossa that we are about to discover, learn and play is in some ways or if you even if you feel that it is all the way over your head, then I would say to you as I always do, relax, chill. Take a deep breath. It's okay. Continue to listen continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by listening to this podcast episode. The fact is all skills are over our heads when first introduced and that is precisely why the first step to becoming an accomplished jazz pianist. The first step to improving our musicianship is to listen. All musical growth begins upstairs mentally, conceptually before it can come out downstairs, physically in your hands. So listen to this podcast lesson now to discover and to learn the play who will come in time I guarantee it. Okay, before we dig in, let's take a few minutes right now to listen to Barry Harris is solo. And as I mentioned earlier, this is from the 1976 Dexter Gordon album biting the apple. I'm not sure we call them albums and I think I'm showing my age here. I guess it's recouped. The official word is recording but the Dexter Gordon you know what I mean? The Dexter Gordon album biting the apple now. I have cut out Dexter's solo. Nothing against Dexter. His soul is fantastic. But today it's all about Barry Harris. So I've modified the recording so that you can hear Dexter Barry Sam Jones our foster play the head of Blue Bossa followed immediately by Barry's solo. Okay. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a little Blue Bossa and Barry. Harris's solo. Here we go.
Good stuff, right? That is good stuff really tasty playing really, really good. So we're going to take this solo today. And as I mentioned earlier, we're going to look at five minor 251 patterns and five major 251 patterns to dig beneath the surface a little bit and see what Barry Harris is doing. So I hope you have the transcription in front of you, if you've access the podcast packets, the lead sheets, you have a copy of the transcription that you can follow along with which will be very, very helpful. So the very first pattern, I want to take a look at measures five, six, and seven. By the way, we're going to look at all the minor 251 patterns first, then we'll look at all the major 251 patterns. But I want to draw your attention to measures five, six, and seven, of course, it's a minor 251, D minor seven, flat five or D half diminish, go into the G seven altered flat nine flat 13 to a C minor seven. Alright, so the target notes you'll see on the transcription, I have them highlighted in yellow. Now target notes, it's always kind of a subjective process, where I think he the notes that he is using as his entry and emphasis and exit points or destination points, right. So the target notes that you see that I have highlighted there, I have the notes C on the D minor seven flat five, I have the B flat which is the seventh of the sound, I have the B flat highlighted, which is the sharp nine of the dominant sound. And then I also have the note G highlighted which is the fifth of the C minor sound. Okay, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to bring in the ensemble, I'm going to play this idea, the bear Harris idea, as written there in the transcription, I'm going to play it several times. And then you're going to see all of a sudden, I go to just play in those target notes that are highlighted. And I'm going to play those target notes several times and get those into my ears. Then I'm going to use those target notes. And I'm going to start constructing some of my own melodic ideas and thoughts using those target notes as my guidepost. Okay. So again, I started off with berries, berries, line, verbatim, exactly as written there in the transcription as he played it, then I'm going to highlight the target notes that you see highlighted in yellow in the transcription. And then I'm going to use those target notes to develop my melodic ideas. And all of this is going to happen in about one minute. It's so the reality I'm just giving you a little snapshot of how I practice but each of these would be played it much repeated many, many more times, right, but you're going to get the idea so let's bring the ensemble in. Let's check it out and see what we think here we go.
Pretty cool, right Ah, see now this is this is what I'm talking about how to study and use a transcription to begin developing your creative thoughts, your creative ideas, your jazz vocabulary. And by the way, just a side note, if you have the illustrations packet, podcast packet in front of you as well, you can see the voicings that I'm using, I have those mapped out the voicings that I'm using in the left hand the contemporary shell voicing so Okay, so now let's go on to the next minor 251. I want to draw your attention to measures 2930 and 31. Again, the chord changes are D minor seven flat five, do you have diminished go into our altered dominant sound G seven to our C minor seven. The target notes I have highlighted there on the transcription is the C for D minor, the seventh again, interesting, right? Is it going back to the seventh again, the B be natural this time on the dominant, which is the third, then C I have highlighted, which is the root of course for the C minor seven. So once again, I want to bring the ensemble in I'm going to play the Barry Harris idea verbatim as he played it, and as notated in the transcription that I'm going to reduce it down to the target notes. And then from the target notes, I'm going to begin building and constructing some of my own melodic ideas again to discover learn and play my creativity. So here we go. Let's bring out somebody and let's check it out to see what we think.
Love it right now you're seeing and hearing the process. This is what we're going to be doing for the rest of the podcast episode with all of these minor and major two, five ones. Our goal is really to take the idea played by Barry Harris, get to the target notes, and then use those target notes as our guideposts in developing to get from one chord to the next chord to the next court and developing our own melodic ideas moving through a minor or major 251. Okay, so our next minor 251 look at measures 3738 and 39 of the transcription, again, D minor seven flat five go into an altered G dominant go into C minor and target notes this time on the half diminished on the two chord, the note G the 11th love the 11th sound on the minor on the minor chord and then the B flat back to I'm sorry, E flat back to the altered an altered sound on our dominant the flat 13 followed by the note G for our minor which is the fifth. So we have an 11th go into a flat 13th go into a fifth through our 251. So I'm going to play Barry Harris's melodic idea several times followed by the guide tones or the target notes I should say. And then begin to develop my own vocabulary my own melodic ideas. So here we go. Let's have some fun. Let's check it out. See what we think.
Love it very efficient, very effective ways to use transcriptions, to use melodic ideas by our jazz heroes, again to use them as pathways, a ways to help us illuminate and discover our own creative ideas. This is the power behind transcriptions. Okay, so now our next 251, minor 251, look at measures 6162 and 63. Now, the target note that he has on the highlighted there, for the minor for the half diminished chord is the note A flat, which is the fifth of the sound. Once again, on the dominant chord, it's going back to the B flat, which is the sharp nine the altered sound, right? You've seen that he's seeing how he loves that altered dominant sound. Of course, we all do. And then on the minor, the E flat, right, which is the third. So the fifth go into the sharp nine, go into the third moving through our 251. So once again, we're going to play the I'm going to play Barry's idea as written in the transcription, followed by highlighting those target notes, getting those notes into my ears, that connection from the two to the five to the one, then I'm going to begin developing my own melodic ideas. So here we go. Let's have some more fun check it out.
Very nice, very, very nice. So now we're down to the final minor 251 that we're going to look at today. So I want to draw your attention to measure 6970 and 71. Once again, it's minor 251, D minor seven, flat five, or do you have diminished go into an altered dominant sound going to our C minor, our one chord C minor seven. So in measures 6970 and 71, the target notes, the D which is the root of our half diminished of our D minor seven flat five. Go into what on our dominant note E flat, which is the flat 13. So we're back to that sound again, followed by g the fifth of our minor sound. So right you notice how the target notes on the minor in the I mean, yes, on the half diminished. And on the on the minor, our primary target notes, right like the root, third, the fifth, maybe the 11th right at occasional 11th on the minor which I mentioned earlier that I love. But on that dominant right. He loves the altered sound demo in first illustration, the sharp nine. And then in the third we had the flat 13. And the fourth demonstration, the sharp nine and now here again the flat 13. So let's bring the ensemble and I'm going to play Barry's melodic idea first several times followed by highlighting the target notes that you have in yellow there on your transcription. And then I'm going to start constructing and exploring and discovering my melodic ideas, my creativity. So here we go. Let's check it out. See what we think.
Okay, so there are that wraps up our five minor 251 ideas. Exercise is taken from Barry Harris's solo on Blue Bossa so now let's turn our attention to the major 251 pattern which is the E flat minor seven to the A flat dominant seven to the D flat major seven that is found within Blue Bossa so we're gonna go back to the beginning I want you to look at measures 910 and 11. The target note for our E flat minor, the root target note for our A flat dominant seven is the G flat, which is the seventh of the sound followed by our target note with on the on the route. I'm sorry, on the the one, the D flat major seven is a flat, which is the fifth. So our target notes are the root, the seventh and the fifth. Pretty straightforward, right? Major 251, E flat minor seven, E flat dominant seven, D flat major seven. So again, want to play Barry's idea first, followed by the target notes, followed by my exploration to develop some jazz vocabulary. So here we go. Let's check it out.
love it love it love it. It's wild, isn't it when you put minor two five ones next to major two, five ones how the sound really, the difference in those sounds really illuminate your ears kind of go whoa. So. So our next 251 Major 251 measures 2526 and 27 measures 2526 and 27. So on the minor. I love it going guess what he's going back to the 11th. The eight the note A flat is our target note the 11th of the E flat minor seven, followed by D flat on our dominant, which is what the 11th I love it. And then followed by f which is the third on our D flat major. So again, I'm playing Barry's idea first followed by highlighting those target notes. And then of course as you know, using those target notes to help guide me through the 251 and developing my own jazz vocabulary. So here we go. Let's see what happens.
Very, very nice. Very nice, right? I love it just again, a very efficient, very effective, very methodical way to explore transcription. And to help you to help me to help all of us tap into our creative side to our jazz vocabulary, that again, will be much easier for us to recall and remember in play and utilize in songs and in the literature that we play, other than trying to replicate somebody else's work for Beetham. Wow, again, but as far as it doesn't work. I'll just leave it at that. So alright, so our next major 251 look at measures 4142 and 43. Again, we're dealing with E flat minor seven going to E flat dominant seven going to D flat major seven. The target note on our E flat minor seven again, once again is the D flat, which is the seventh. Now look what happens on our A flat dominant seven, putting us the target note as written there in the transcription is C flat, which is the note B or the sharp nine for a flat dominant seven, followed by the F for D flat major seven, which is the third. So we're going from the seventh to the sharp nine to the third going to use those guideposts those target notes as our guideposts to help us develop our own ideas. So again, berries idea first, target notes second, my ideas third, here we go, let's check it out.
Good stuff, good stuff, indeed. All right. So now on to our fourth major 251. Look at measures 6162 and 63. Once again, E flat minor seven going to a flat dominant going to D flat major target notes, we're looking at D flat once again, which is the seventh of our minor sound, our two chord followed by F on our E flat dominant, which is an upper extension, which is the 13th and resolving to our D flat major seven on the A flat or the fifth. So again, we have you know, primary chord tones on our two chord and on our one chord and our five chord is up there with an upper and upper extension right with the 13th. So let's bring the ensemble back in let's check it out. Barry solo first, target notes second, and then finally my ideas. Exploration of my ideas third, so here we go. Let's check it out. Let's have some fun
Love it. Absolutely love it. All right, so guess what we're down to our last major 251 from the Barry Harris Blue Bossa solo. So look at measures 7374 and 7573 74 and 75. Target note on the, on the minor guess what the 11th Here we go again, he loves the 11th sound on that minor, followed by what I'm just gonna bet it's an upper extension of some kind or an altered sound. Sure enough, it's the note B on our A flat dominant seven which is this sharp nine followed by an A flat on our major, which is the fifth of the sound. So for the 11th on the minor sharp nine on the dominant fifth on the major gonna use those guideposts again to help us create to develop jazz vocabulary. So as I've done throughout the entire podcast today, Barry's solo Barry's idea first the target notes second followed by my improvisational ideas and thoughts third okay here we go let's check it out.
Wow, it never, ever, ever fails, right? We always unpack a ton of information in each and every podcast episode and today. Again, no exception right. We explored a tremendous solo by Barry Harris on the classic jazz standard by Kenny Dorn Blue Bossa I want to encourage you again as jazz piano skills members I want to encourage you to print out to utilize the jazz, the jazz podcast, the jazz panel skills podcast packets, right to use the illustrations for the voicings the lead sheets has the app has the transcription with the highlighted target notes. Use these voicings in the transcriptions to help guide you with your practicing right so you've heard me say this over and over and over again right your conceptual understanding determines your physical development. So spend some time studying the jazz panel skills, the podcast packets right spend some time studying those and utilizing those when practicing and the time you invest in studying the illustrations and the transcription the packets is time very well spent. And and I say it every week the return on your investment cannot be adequately expressed impossible, has always be patient. Developing mature improvisational skills takes time. And transcription study is one essential component of the process. Right so begin structuring your improvisation development your transcription study After the plane demonstrations that I modeled for you today in this podcast episode and you will begin to see you'll begin to feel and hear your progress I guarantee it. Well, I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson, exploring a Blue Bossa solo by Barry Harris to be insightful, and of course beneficial. Don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member I will see you online next Thursday. Not this Thursday evening. It's Thanksgiving and by the way, I want to wish you all you and your families a very happy very blessed Thanksgiving holiday. So we will gather online not this Thursday, but next Thursday 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring the Barry Harris Blue Bossa solo in greater detail and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Again, as a jazz panel skills member, be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, the play logs for this podcast lesson. And of course, be sure to tap into the jazz panel skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community. Get involved, contribute to the various forums and make most importantly, make some new jazz piano friends. Always a great thing to do. You can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 my extension is 211 by email Dr. Lawrence Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by SpeakPipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. While there is my cue that's it for now. And until next week, enjoy playing Blue Bossa solo by the great barriers. Enjoy the journey and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn, and play jazz piano
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