This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores Chat Baker's solo on Autumn Leaves.
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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 Chet Baker's, Autumn Leaves. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
Standard Rhythmic Vocabulary found in Classic Jazz Language
How to use Quarter Notes and 8th Notes to create Rhythmic Vocabulary Patterns
12 Classic Rhythmic Vocabulary Patterns used for developing a sense of time, proper jazz articulation, and improvisational ideas
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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 jazz legend Chet Baker's tremendous solo on autumn leaves. You're going to learn how Chet Baker rhythmically camouflage is major and minor scales when improvising and you are going to play major and minor 251 progressions, applying traditional rhythmic vocabulary to traditional scale and arpeggio motion. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner and intermediate player and advanced player or even if you are a seasoned and experienced professional, you will find this jazz panel skills podcast less than exploring Chet Baker's autumn leaves to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills. If you are a new jazz piano skills listener podcast listener, then I want to personally invite you. To become a jazz piano skills member. Simply visit jazz piano skills.com to learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials and services that are available for you to use as you practice and study jazz piano for example, as a jazz piano skills member you have access to all of the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, the player logs that I develop that I produce, and make available for you to access and download for every podcast episode every week. As a jazz panel skills podcast member you also have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum which is a loaded curriculum with comprehensive courses, all of them using a self paced format, educational talks, interactive media video demonstrations play alongs and more. Also, as a jazz panel skills podcast is jazz piano skills a member you have access to the online weekly master class as I like to say you have a reserved seat, which these master classes are in essence a one hour online lesson with me each and every week. And also as a jazz panel skills member you have access to the private jazz panel skills community, which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast specific forums, course specific forums, and of course general jazz piano forums as well. These forums are out there and ready for you to enjoy each and every day. Last but certainly not least, as a jazz panel skills member you have unlimited, private, personal and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. Again, just visit jazz piano skills.com to learn more about all the educational opportunities that await you, and how you can easily activate your membership. If you have any questions, any questions at all, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, I am always happy to spend time with you. And I'm always happy to help you in any way that I can. I also want to remind you to check out the jazz piano skills blog. Whether you are a jazz piano skills member or not, you can enjoy reading some additional insight regarding the jazz piano Skill of the Week, you will find the blog link in the menu bar running across the top of the page at jazz piano skills podcast.com. Or once you land on that page, if you want just simply scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll see an entire blog section. I take some time at the end of each week to jot down some final thoughts about the jazz panel skill that we just explored in the weekly podcast. And hopefully provide you with some words of encouragement and inspiration as well. So be sure to check out my blog and let me know what you think your feedback as always is welcome And is always very much appreciated. Okay, let's discover, learn and play jazz piano let's discover, learn and play. Chet Baker's autumn leaves. The last three weeks we set out to discover learning play some common rhythmic vocabulary found in jazz literature. In jazz solos. Of course,
we focused on familiar quarter note, eighth note combinations applied to standard chord scale relationships, like 251. We did this as a way to begin recognizing and hearing linear thinking, linear composition linear improvisation. So I thought, why not take a solo from a big time jazz musician and see if, indeed, the use of fundamental quarter note eighth note rhythms is present. And to see if this big time jazz musician is truly thinking linearly horizontally when soloing by utilizing one scale, rhythmically played over a series of chords. Well, who better to put under the spotlight under the microscope than jazz legend Chet Baker. So I immediately grabbed his famous autumn leaves solo, and I did a little analysis. But before I walk you through the analysis, let's sit back right now let's just sit back and enjoy Chet Baker's solo on autumn leaves. Check this out.
I never tired listening to this rendition of this timeless classic. Just a quick side note. As pianists I want to encourage you to listen to as many instrumentalist and vocalist as possible. Listen to their melodic phrasing and articulation listen to how they breathe and how their breathing shapes their improvisational lives. As pianist, unfortunately, we are not required to breathe when playing our instrument and sadly, our plane our improvisation oftentimes sounds like run on sentences, no periods, no breathing. And it is for this reason I tell students all the time that when we play when we improvise, we shouldn't be trying to emulate great instrumentalists like Chet Baker. his solo on autumn leaves, as we will soon find out through our analysis is the perfect example of why I say what I say. Okay, autumn leaves, is a tune that very cleverly alternates between a major 251 and a minor 251. If you have not listened to my December 15 2020 podcast episode dedicated to autumn leaves, I want to encourage you to do so especially in conjunction with today's episode. So Alright, with all that being said, we have a ton to get through today. So let's let's get after it. So the educational agenda for today is as follows number one, we're going to isolate and analyze how Chet Baker approaches each major and minor 251 progression in autumn leaves. Number two, we will then experiment with improvising over the major 251 and the minor 251 found in autumn leaves using one major scale and one minor scale number three, when improvising, we will use pre determined entry and destination points to explore scaling arpeggio motion utilizing various rhythmic vocabulary, just like Chet Baker, and number four, I will be playing all demonstrations all major and minor 251 progressions today using any Temple of 160 which is very snappy. So as always, I highly recommend using much slower tempos 6575 85 whenever you begin to physically explore a new jazz piano skill. So if you are a jazz piano skills member, I want you to take a few minutes right now to download and print the illustrations and the lead sheets for this podcast episode. You have access to all of the podcast packets and you should add just as a little reminder, you should be absolutely using them when listening to this podcast episode. And of course, you should be using them when practicing. And if you are listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, I Heart Radio Pandora, so on and so on. Then be sure to go to jazz piano skills podcast.com to download the podcast packets you will find that links the download links within the show notes. And one final but extremely important note that I am now including an every podcast episode. If you are thinking in any way that Chet Baker's autumn leaves, and the improv is a Torii exploration of major and minor 251 progressions that we are about to discover, learn and play are in some ways or even if you feel they are all the way over your head, then I would say to you Okay, so what? Continue to listen continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by listening to this podcast episode. The fact is this all skills,
every single skill is over our heads when first introduced. And that is precisely why the first step to growing as a musician is listening. The first step to improving our musicianship is listening or musical growth begins upstairs mentally, conceptually, before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So listen to this podcast. Listen now to discover and learn. Worry about the play later. Trust me, it will come in time. Okay, the very first thing I want to do is I want us to walk through I want to walk through all of the major two, five I've won lines played by Chet Baker and autumn leaves. So hopefully you have the transcription in front of you, it's included in your lead sheet in your lead sheet packet that you have downloaded. So, the very well first of all, Chet Baker, we're playing this in the key of A flat major or F minor, right, four flats. So I want to draw your attention to the very first three measures. We have a B flat minor seven and E flat dominant seven, A flat major 7251 in the key of A flat and look at that melodic line. Do you see any accidentals? No, there are no accidentals through that entire 251 progression, which tells you that every note being played is within the key. All right. So listen to this line.
The entire line is the A flat major scale stretched out over the 251 over the B flat minor, the E flat seven, and the A flat major. And just adds rhythmic variation to the scale, right. In fact, the very first measure is one of our rhythmic vocabulary exercises that we explored the last three weeks, a quarter note followed by three pair of eighth notes, there it is, very first measure. Now I want to draw your attention to measures nine through 11. Again, 251, and the a flat in the key of A flat major B flat minor seven to E flat dominant to A flat major. So listen to what Chet Baker plays here.
Simply A flat major scale, stretched out over the entire 251 progression. He has some nice arpeggio motion on that A flat major seven, launching from the third and moving straight up to the ninth, right, the third, the fifth, seventh ninth, I actually did play through measure 12 that included the D flat major seven, which is the four chord in the key of A flat. But even with the addition of the D flat major seven, guess what, it's still all the eighth, A flat major scale stretched out over all four of those courts. Now, let's take a look at measures 21 through 23. Again, another 251 progression in the key of A flat, B flat minor seven, E flat donruss seven, A flat major seven. Let's check out with Chet Baker plays now.
Again, simply the A flat major scale the notes of the A flat major scale stretched over the 251, B flat minor E flat dominant seven A flat major notice the nice arpeggio launching from the third of the B flat minor that D flat going straight up to the 9/3 up to the ninth classic vocabulary. So now I want to draw your attention to measures 39 through 41. Okay, check out this line
actually play through measure 42 that includes the D flat major, which is the four chord in a flat but nevertheless that entire line 39 through 42 is all the entire line is made up of the A flat major scale stretched out over that 251 and the four chord and again just varied rhythmically. Right. Okay, so now look at measures 47 through 49. It's another 251 and a flat B flat minor to E flat seven to A flat major. Check out this improvisational thought.
Again no accidentals. No right? no sharps, no flats no natural signs right it's just all pure scale motion. A flat major scale moving through that B flat minor seven that E flat dominant seven and that A flat major seven asked tail motion linear thought, changing up at scale rhythmically. Okay, so now, the last one that I want you to look at measures 59 through 61, again, 251, B flat minor seven, E flat dominant seven, A flat major seven. Listen to what Chad Baker plays here.
Again, all pure scale motion A flat major scale over the 251, or the B flat minor seven, E flat dominant seven, A flat major seven. Now it's also important to note when you're looking at this lead sheet, and you look at those lines that we just looked at the 6251, Major 251 improvisational lines, notice they're all using quarter note, eighth note rhythmic combinations. This is why we spent three weeks the previous three weeks exploring quarter eighth note combinations, rhythmic combinations, absolutely the core of jazz playing the very heart of jazz playing. And you see it right here in Chet Baker's playing. So now what I want to do is I want to take some time, I'm going to play improvise over 251 in the key of A flat major, just like Chet Baker, and I'm going to begin with using a route entry, I'm going to play from a flat up to the seventh, the seventh is going to be my destination, the G just that the G right the note G. So it's the A flat major scale from the root to the seven. And I'm going to improvise over to five one, B flat minor seven, E flat dominant seven, A flat major seven, using that melodic fragment of the A flat major sound, starting from the root, and moving to the seventh. And trying to create some rhythmic variation, some utilize some rhythmic vocabulary that we literally spent three weeks, three weeks exploring. So here we go. Let's check this out. Let's bring the ensemble in. And let's do a little improvisation of our own, based off of what we've just learned from Chet Baker. Here we go check it out.
Very nice. Now, you know what I forgot to mention, I'm actually playing the trumpet, trumpet sound, not physically playing the trumpet blind playing the trumpet sound and emulating a trumpet player in honor of Mr. Chet Baker. And then I'm also playing the piano in the background as well. Utilizing by the way utilizing the primary, two handed voicings that I have done podcast episodes, covering those shapes and sounds as well. So okay, so now, I want to do another demonstration of play improvising over the 251 progression in the key of A flat, B flat minor, E flat dominant seven, A flat major, but now we're going to shift our entry point to the third. So now my range is going to move from the third to the ninth of A flat major. It's going up that B flat from a starting on the C and moving up to the ninth, the note B flat and I'm staying within that range. And by the way, when I'm improvising when you zone in on the trumpet player playing improvising, right I'm only playing notes of the scale. Nothing outside At the scale, I'm trying to mimic what we just learned from Chet Baker, doing the exact same thing on his solo, or an autumn leaves. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble back in, let's do a little improvisation from the third to the ninth of the A flat major scale, and see what we come up with. Here we go check it out.
Not bad, right? In fact, if you did not know, if I did not tell you that I was only using the notes of the scale, I bet you would think there was a whole lot more going on than just that. I know I do. Alright, and when I listened to Chet Baker, so I'm thinking, Wow, man, that's fantastic stuff, some pretty fancy smancy plan. And then you go to analyze, you take a look at it, and you find out what he's using the scales, the notes of the scale. And he's thinking linearly over that 251 progression over that B flat minor, E flat seven, A flat major. And in using that notes that scale over all three of those chords, or all four of those chords if you include the D flat major. So now I'm going to shift the entry point, once again, I'm going to start on the fifth of the A flat major scale. And I'm going to have my destination point be the 11th. So I'm starting on E flat. And I'm going up to my D flat, pure 11th. Right, I'm going to stick within that A flat major scale that I only in mode, if you will, from the fifth to the 11th. So let's bring down sample and let's do a little improvisation and see what we can come up with sticking with only the notes of the A flat major scale from the fifth to the 11th. Here we go. Check it out.
Pretty darn cool, right. So let's do one more, let's do one more region, we're going to have our entry point, be the seventh of the A flat major scale and go all the way to the 13th have a flat major scale, which is the note half. So I'm going to work within this range from the seventh to the 13th using only those notes, when improvising. And I'm going to just focus on rhythmic variation as I play over the 251 progression. Again, just like Chet Baker, so here we go. was bringing out sabalan Let's check it out.
You know, I love practicing in this way where I actually take a sound like the A flat major scale. And I establish an entry point and a destination point within that sound, it could be from the root to the seventh or from the third to the ninth, or from the fifth to the 11th, or the seventh to 13th. And I love to isolate those regions because they present a whole different tambor whole different sound within the sound, if you will. And then once I get done isolating a sound and improvising, then I like to kind of open the floodgates and literally give myself the full range of motion from the root all the way to the 13th and back. So that's what I want to do right now I want to bring the ensemble back in, have a little fun improvising through the entire A flat major sound as I improvise over 251 and a flat, B flat minor seven to E flat dominant seven to A flat major seven. So here we go. Let's have some fun. Let's check it out.
Well, that's a pretty exhaustive exploration of the 251 and A flat major modeling are playing in our approach after the approach that Chet Baker utilized on his solo over autumn leaves. Now I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast episode that autumn leaves, cleverly uses a major 251 and also a minor 251. So let's take a second now and take a look at how Chet Baker handles the minor 251. In autumn leaves that G minor seven, flat five or the G half diminished, going to the C seven flat nine or altered sound resolving to the F minor seven. So I want to draw your attention to measures five through seven to begin. Okay, so let's take a look at what Chet Baker's do doing Listen to this.
So what Chet Baker is thinking here is the F harmonic minor scale, right? So F, G, A flat, B flat, C, D flat. So he's using an all scale tones through this entire line using the F harmonic minor scale which handles the minor 251. So now, draw your attention. I want to draw your attention to the next minor 251 and measures 17 through 1919 and 20. Right again, we have another g half diminished G minor seven flat five go into a C dominant seven flat nine, go into an F minor 7251 minor 251. So let's listen to what Chet Baker plays here. Check this out.
Wow. Again, pure f harmonic minor scale, nothing outside the scale. And he's playing that scales stretched over that minor 251 sounds pretty darn hip, just playing the scale, would you not agree? So now let's take a look at measures 25 through 27. He changes it up just a little bit. Let's listen to it, and then we'll talk about it. Here's what he's plays.
I love it, he ends that line on the minor major seven sound right? Why you cannot get much more pure than that. That's the F harmonic minor scale, indeed, with that minor, major seventh. But he does add, he does add some approach tones, some neighboring tones in here, right? If you look at measure 25, he's got that F sharp that passing tone from the G down to the F natural that F sharp passing tone. And then he actually uses a lower neighboring tone, that E flat going into the E natural on the C dominant seven. Other than that pure f harmonic minor scale. So now look at measures 30 and 31. Let's know what he plays here. Let's do that again. What's happening here is pretty darn close to the F harmonic minor scale. It's the F harmonic. It's the F minor blues scale is what he's playing here. At least that's what I'm thinking right? Listen to this. So that F minor blues scale. So he's got that be natural, and they're long with that B flat. So he's got the, you know, the sharp four sound. works great. It sounds great. So now let's look at the last minor 251 measures 55 through 57. And let's check out what Chad Baker plays here.
Guess what, pure f Harmonic Minor Scale stretched out or that g half diminished G minor seven, flat five, going to the C seven flat nine going to the F minor seven. Wow. So now I want to do the same thing that we did with the the major 251 I want to improvise over our minor 251 or G minor seven flat five g half diminished to the C seven altered flat nine flat 13 sound resolving to the F minor. And we're going to utilize the same approach I'm going to start with root to the seventh as my destination pure harmonic minor scale. And I'm going to use only those notes to improvise over my minor 251. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's check it out. Here we go.
I love it. Absolutely love it. I love the minor 251 sound anyway, right to begin with. And it's just, it's just a great classic sound. So now we're going to do the same thing right, we're going to shift our entry point to the third. And we're going to travel to the ninth, right so we're going to get this whole different region of the sound. So now bring the ensemble back in, let's improvise using only those notes from the third to the ninth, utilizing the harmonic minor scale stretched over our minor 251. Here we go. Let's check it out.
So very, very cool. No doubt about it. So let's continue to march on, we're going to now shift our entry point to what? Yes to the fifth. And we're going to travel to the distance of the 11th. So now, our sound is this. Beautiful, I'm going to stay within that region within that region of the sound utilizing only those notes, no accidentals. No, not no neighboring tones, no half step approach mints, passing tones, anything, just those notes. So here we go. Let's bring out sample and let's have a little fun. Let's check it out. Here we go.
Night nice. So we have one more region, right one more region to explore from the seventh of the harmonic minor scale to the 13th. So it's gonna go from our E natural up to our D flat. Once again, I'm going to just stick with that region of the sound. And I'm going to stick with those seven notes. Again, no neighboring towns, no passing tones, right, no accidentals, just those notes of the harmonic minor scale. So let's bring our sample in. Let's have some more fun. Let's check it out. Here we go.
Awesome, as I mentioned earlier, right, I love to practice this way, I will isolate a region of a sound from the root to the seventh, or from the third to the ninth from the fifth 11th, from the seventh to the 13th. And I will stay I will limit myself to that region into those notes and create within those parameters. So importance established parameters when you practice your creativity, and it's from those parameters, that your creative awareness is heightened. Okay, so now, we're gonna open the floodgates just as we did with the major 251. And I'm going to give myself the liberty to travel from the literally from the root of the sound all the way to the 13th of the sound and back. So now let's bring the ensemble back in. And let's open these floodgates a little bit and have some fun. improvising over our minor 251 G minor seven, flat five c seven, flat nine flat 13 and F minor using the F harmonic minor scale, here we go check it out.
It always amazes me that after spending a little time just a little bit of time with a classic solo like Chet Baker's autumn leaves, how often almost always reveals a simplistic approach being used by the artist to create great melodic, linear improvisational ideas. It is very apparent that Chet Baker uses fundamental chord scale relationships when improvising, it's right there in his soul. It is also apparent that Chet Baker uses fundamental quarter, eighth note rhythmic vocabulary when improvising, again, it's right there in his solo, fundamental CT scan relationships, and fundamental rhythmic vocabulary. Do you think we tend to overthink when we play when we improvise? I can tell you right now. It's an affirmative. Yes, we do. I've been teaching jazz piano as y'all know, and improvisation for 35 plus years. And I tell you, every student, every single student, tries to do way too much when beginning to improvise. The general consensus by every beginning jazz student, is that all the greats in jazz, like Chet Baker, are improvising with superhuman powers that allowed them to combine combined superhuman notes with superhuman chords using superhuman rhythms. And what did we learn today Chet Baker is doing nothing superhuman. He uses fundamental scales and arpeggios with fundamental chords, expressed using fundamental rhythms. Well, I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson, exploring Chet Baker's autumn leaves to be insightful, and of course to be very beneficial. Don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member. I typically see you online Thursday evenings, but not this week. I'm taking this week off. I'm taking my oldest son to college. So think of me I'll be shedding a lot of tears here this weekend. So But typically Thursday evening masterclasses are 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode, exploring, of course, Chet Baker's solo anomalies we'll do that the following week in greater detail, and of course the following week I will be back to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general during that masterclass. Again, as a jazz panel skills member, be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets in the play lines for this podcast lesson and for all of the podcast lessons. Awesome. Make sure that you're utilizing the jazz piano skills course is when practicing to maximize your musical growth. And likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community, get involved, contribute, make some new jazz piano friends always, always a great thing to do. And remember, you can always reach me by phone 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email Dr. Lawrence, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy Chet Baker's autumn leaves, enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano
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