Sept. 15, 2020

Lester Leaps In

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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 discoverlearnplay the jazz standard by legendary jazz saxophonist Lester Young, Lester Leaps In. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:

Discover
The Jazz standard by Lester Young (the Pres), Lester Leaps In
Learn
Historical Facts, Form, Chords Changes, Melody, Harmonic Structure of Lester Leaps In
Play
Lester Leaps In using Melodic Treatments and Improvisation

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Episode Outline
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Demonstrations/Exercises
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Closing Comments

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Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music
JazzPianoSkills

AMDG

Transcript

Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today is tune Tuesday. For those of you new to jazz piano skills. Every month, we dedicate a Tuesday to exploring a jazz standard. We learn some significant and historical facts about the tune, like the composer, the year, influential recordings and so on. We learn about the form of the tune, a ba, ba, B, A, B, A C and so on. The chord changes, we take a look at the correct chord changes of the tune the melody, the harmonic DNA or the Roman numeral analysis like 251 and effective practice approaches as well. Basically, we put the tune under a microscope to thoroughly discover, learn and play it. All of this, we simply call tune Tuesday. And likewise, if you are indeed new to jazz piano skills, I want to personally invite you to become a member. Go to jazz piano skills comm and join it's very easy. Once you activate your membership, you will have full access to all of the educational content and resources. The educational podcast guides the interactive courses the weekly masterclasses the private community plus personal and professional support. I share I will share more information about all of these aspects of being a member of jazz piano skills and the benefits later in today's episode. So I have already mentioned that today is tune Tuesday. And the tune we are going to tackle today is a classic, a jazz gem composed and made famous by a jazz legend. And I am speaking of none other than the one and only jazz saxophonist Lester Young, the press the tune Lester leaps in. Now I did not just blindly throw a dart at the jazz repertoire dartboard and land on Lester leaves in? No. I did not blindly do that. There's a method to my madness. Which by the way, there's always a method to my madness. With regards to my teaching approach, and materials. The Jazz classic Lester leaps in is the perfect tool for achieving three specific goals with today's jazz panel skills podcast, Episode Number one, Lester leaps in is going to reinforce the iconic progression that we explored with our last tune Tuesday on August 11. At that time, we explored George Gershwin's I got rhythm so how do these two tunes Connect? Well Lester leaps in is one of many great jazz standards that utilizes the exact same chord changes have I got rhythm, rhythm changes. Number two, the melody of Lester leaps in is simple and perfect for applying the various melodic treatments that we just spent the last four weeks dissecting and applying two basic arpeggios for minor dominant and major sounds. And last week, we applied the melodic treatments to the all important to five one progression. And finally number three, the bridge like I got rhythm uses a standard circle of fifths motion with pure dominant chords. And not only that, with this tone with Lester leaps in, there is no melody for the bridge. It's a bridge consisting of eight measures using four dominant chords only, making it perfect for some improvisation development using chord tones, only, at least for now, right chord tones only. So, with taking a look at Lester leaves in we will reinforce rhythm changes, apply melodic treatments, and experiment with improvisation, Lester leaps in is the perfect tune for today's tune Tuesday. But before we go any further, let me bring the ensemble in right now and play a chorus of Lester leaps in, we can then begin to talk about it and begin our exploration to help us discover, learn and play this vintage tune that every jazz musician and I mean, every jazz musician should have in their jazz repertoire. So here we go. Lester Young's letter Lester leaps in, let's check it out. What a great tune. What a fun tune to play. Now I played it at kind of a snappy tempo, which it is typically played. In fact, it's, it's typically played even a lot faster. However, we will be playing it much slower, right? Because we want to apply our melodic treatments and we want to experiment with improvising through the bridge using chord tones only. I played it at 160 beats per minute. All the demonstrations will be played at 100. And the play long tracks that you can access at jazz piano skills and use for practicing are at at 101 20 I always recommend practicing at slower tempos when you are initially learning to tune or when you are working on applying various and specific jazz piano skills like we are going to do today with our five melodic treatments. Okay, with all that being said, it's time to discover, learn and play. Lester Young's Lester leaps in and today you're going to discover this all important vintage and iconic jazz standard. Lester leaps in, you're going to learn historical facts form, chord changes, melody and harmonic structure of Lester leaps in and you're going to play Lester leaps in using various melodic treatments and improvising using chord tones. So regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, whether you consider yourself a beginner, an intermediate player, advanced player, or even if you are an experienced professional, you will find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson. This episode exploring Lester Young's Lester leaps in to be very beneficial. Let's begin by gaining a little historical perspective of this jazz classic. Lester lifson was first recorded in 1939 by the Count Basie, Kansas City seven and As I already mentioned, the tune is based on the chord progression of George Gershwin's I got rhythm, milestone recordings and American music identifies Lester leaps in as one of the milestone recordings in American history and American music. While jazz calm rated the 298 check this out 98 on a scale of 100 commenting that count bases Kansas City seven recording is a classic performance a must have for all jazz fans. So be sure to check that out. Right Count Basie, Kansas City seven play in Leicester leaps in now. Lester Young was born August 27 1909. And he died March 15 1959. Way too young. And he grew up grew up in a musical family learning the basics of trumpet violin and drums. And by the time he was 1010 years old, he had joined the young family band. Now, clashes with his father led him to leaving the band when he was 18. And the result of his review, and basically was the result of his refusing to tour in the Jim Crow South. He joined the Bostonians at that time where he chose tenor saxophone as his primary instrument. So glad he did right. And while he had a pattern of working, returning home than leaving to work again, he left home permanently in 1932. To join the Blue Devils. Westar the Pres. moved in 1933 to Kansas City, where his laid back style of plans Sachs was in sharp contrast to the driving Coleman Hawkins style. At that time. He coined the term Lady Day for his friend Billie Holiday. And she came up she was the one actually that came up with the nickname pres for him. Right president of jazz in 1944. Young was drafted into the Army or like many other black musicians and unlike right on number of white musicians, he was put into the regular army rather than serving in a band and was not allowed to play his saxophone. This did not work out well for Lester, especially when marijuana and alcohol were found in his possession and he was court martialed. His composition DB blues, is thought to be based on his year in detention barracks. In the 1950s, his health had declined although in 1955, a hospital stay led to improved health. But it was not long after that. March 1959 when Lester Young died so many great recordings of Lester Young, you need to check out so many great renditions of this town Lester leaps in that you need to check out. So be sure to go to YouTube. Right? Do a little search and check out some of my favorites of course I already mentioned count Macy, Kansas City seven Lester Young's original recording of course check that out. There's a crate recording Sonny Stitt performing Lester leaves in Charlie Parker as well. Bill rock watrous trombonist man, check that version out smoking band and smoking tempo. Harry James has a great version of Leicester leaps in, as does Oscar Peterson, at a ridiculous temple again as well. I also like Gil Evans, recording featuring Cannonball Adderley. I could go on and on and on. Again, so many great recordings of this tune Lester leaves in blackout an hour this weekend. Do yourself a favor blackout an hour this week and go to YouTube, search for Lester leaps in, sit back, and enjoy. Okay, let's play Lester leaves in. And let's apply our five melodic treatments to this melody and the five melodic treatments again, to refresh your memory. We're going to do a single note treatment, obviously just a single line, a unison line treatment, an octave plus a fifth treatment, the locked hands treatment and the quarter or fourth he structures treatment right. So as I mentioned in previous podcast, I always have associate the single note treatment with bud pile the unison line treatment with Oscar Peterson, the octave plus fifth treatment with red Garland, the locked hands treatment with George sharing and the chordal structures or for the structures with Herbie Hancock. And not only are we going to apply our five melodic treatments that we have been studying over the past month, we are going to improvise through the bridge of the tune using chord tones only. Remember, if you cannot improvise using chord tones only, it does not somehow magically become easier when adding scale tones and non scale tones. If you are a jazz piano skills member, you can access and download the illustration Guide, which outlines all of the chord changes for Lester leaps in along with the scale and arpeggio relationships. Likewise, you can download the lead sheet Guide, which contains a copy of the tune along with a breakdown of the A and B sections. Both of these educational guides along with the play along guide are fantastic tools to use while practicing check them out at jazz piano skills.com. In fact, if you're listening to this podcast episode, at jazz panel skills.com, you will see the links for these educational guides directly beneath the podcast player. Just simply click on the link, open up the guides. And you'll know what to do from there. So check it out jazz piano skills.com. Okay, so let's do demonstration number one are, we're going to apply the single note treatment, just going to play the melody play the tune using a single note melodic line. Okay, so and when we get to the bridge, right, this is an A B A forms of 32 measures long. Each section, the A section eight measures long, the bridge or the B section eight measures long, right, so you have three a sections, and you have that B section 32 measures in length the tune. So I'm going to play through the melody, again, using a tempo of 100. Very slow, very relaxed, very comfortable. We're going to play the melody using a single note melodic line. And when I get to the bridge, the circle of fifths motion and by the way, we're playing in the key of B flat. Alright, original key of I got I got rhythm, well not the original key but the standard key of I got rhythm and also the standard key of Lester leaps in. So we're going to be playing in the key of B flat. So when we get to the bridge, I'm going to improvise using chord tones only. That's it. No approach tones. Oh, and circling target notes, no scale tones, no outside notes, just the core tones. Okay. So single note melodic line, improvising the bridge using chord tones, only at a tempo of 100 very relaxed. So let's bring the ensemble in. And let's check out Lester leaps in utilizing a single note melodic approachment melodic treatment. Here we go. Let's check it out. What a great tune right? You know, here's one of the marks of a great tune. Regardless of what tempo you play it, right, you can play in a smokin tempo like Oscar Peterson. You can play it as a ballot. You can play it as a slow tempo like we're doing today in these demonstrations and everything in between and regardless of the tempo, right, regardless of the temple, the tune sounds fantastic. And you can certainly say that about Lester leaps in it really makes no difference. difference what tempo you play this tune. Man, you play with the right articulation in the right field at any tempo, and it's going to sound fan tastic. Speaking of time and field Did you notice in the bridge, I was improvising again, using chord tones, not trying to get fancy, just trying to play with a nice articulation. Nice feel play in time, use ascending and descending motion use space, right? This is what makes jazz sound great. It's not notes that make jazz sounds great sound great. It's your articulation your feet, your feel your balance between sound and silence. When I say that, again, you're balanced between sound in silence. So as we move forward, and we look at the other demonstrations here within this lesson, keep these aspects of playing jazz in mind. Keep them at the forefront of your mind. Okay. So here we go with demonstration number two. Same tempo 100 right Lester leaps in. Now I'm going to play the melody using a unison line and play I'm doubling the melody in both hands. Right I got that I got them. playing the melody in the right hand, playing the melody in the left hand, two octaves apart. Very Oscar Peterson ish. And again, going to keep it nice and comfortable, nice and relaxed. When I get to the bridge or the B section. I'm going to improvise using chord tones. And and then come out of that back into my unison line between the two hands. Okay, so here we go. Let's do leaps in 100k, a B flat, a b a form using a unison line melodic treatment. Let's check it out. Here we go. Very, very nice. You know, I've said it the last couple weeks in the last few episodes, podcast episodes. It's amazing to me. Right? When you just add a unison line, play the melody as a unison line between the two hands. How that just radically changes the sound of the melody, right? This is the artistic side of playing jazz, right when you can start making decisions about how you want to play a melody. Now you're you're thinking artistically, and this is the highest form of thinking in music right when when you start when music starts to shift from being a mechanical process to an artistic process. So it's amazing. I really, I get blown away every time when we start adding His melodic treatments to a melodic line, how it just radically changes the sound of the melody. So with that being said, let's go on to demonstration number three. So again, Lester leaps in, again, tempo 100. Again, key of B flat. This time, however, we're going to play the melody using octave, an octave in our right hand with a fifth dropped in between the octave. Very red garland like okay, it's going to have a nice chime effect. So talk about changing the sound of the tune. Wait, see, check this out. Right. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's play Lester leaps in 100 very relaxed, using a red garland approach. octave melody played in an octave with the fifth dropped in between. So let's check it out. Here we go. What I tell you, right, really nice. I love that sound. Not the easiest to play. It's challenging. It's going to take some practicing, but it's well worth it. Because it's such a nice sound to be able to incorporate into your plane, no question about it. Just a reminder to all of you jazz panel skills member members out there. If you ever need help, I am always one click away. Seriously, send me a quick voice message using the speakpipe widget that is nestled directly beneath the podcast player at jazz panels. skills.com click on that little widget and send me a voice message and I will send one back to you with an answer. It's a very cool technology that allows the two of us to interact and engage with one another very easily. And if you're listening on iheart radio or Spotify, Apple Pandora or any of the other popular podcast directories out there, you can use the link speakpipe.com forward slash jazz piano skills to access the widget so that you can send me a quick voicemail message and that link again is speakpipe.com forward slash jazz piano skills. If you are a scaredy cat and afraid to send me a voice message, then you can post your question in the private jazz piano skills forum or the private jazz piano skills Facebook group and let the community let the jazz piano skills community help you always happy to help or you know what? attend the Thursday evening jazz piano skills masterclass at 8pm and get your answers to all of your questions get answers to every one of your questions face to face. I look forward to seeing you online Thursday evenings 8pm Central time. Okay. I provide you with so many ways to get help. So definitely please take advantage of the opportunities. As you know my entire goal is to provide you with the very best jazz piano lessons. The very best jazz piano educational materials and resources and the very best jazz piano support that's available anywhere today. Okay, so now let's go on to demonstration number four. So now we're going to play Lester leap Sen. Again, same tempo 100 very relaxed, very comfortable. We are now going to play the melody however using a locked hands treatment, or George sharing approach. Okay, so we're going to split the octave between our right hand and our left hand and we're going to fill the octave in between, in between the active with chord tones, it's a great sounds a very dense, very lush, very, very thick. It's a beautiful sound. So, again, and when I get to the bridge, I'm going to improvise using chord tones only. And then coming out of the bridge, go right back into the George sharing, locked hand style locked hands treatment. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble back in. And let's listen to Lester leaps in again. And 100 key of B flat, nice and relaxed, using the locked hands approach made so very popular and famous by Mr. George Sherry. So here we go. Let's check it out. Wow, is that a great sound or what? Right? Again, not necessarily an easy treatment to apply, but definitely worth your effort, time and effort to get this skill underneath your fingers so that you can begin utilizing it when playing tunes like Lester leaves in. It's a great sound. If you are again if you are a jazz piano skills member. Before I play the final demonstration of the day, I want to encourage you to tap into the jazz piano skills interactive courses. They are fantastic. And the courses make up a sequential curriculum that uses a self paced format to help you thoroughly study the essential jazz piano skills that you need to command in order to become an accomplished jazz pianist. And each course is packed with detailed instruction and illustrations. I give in depth educational talks when within each course. There's interactive learning media to tap into there's traditional guides and worksheets that you can download and utilize high definition video demonstrations of me playing the jazz piano skill and all 12 keys. There are play along tracks and lead sheets to take advantage of. And of course professional and personal educational support is always just one click away. And mobile access to these courses. So easy, right? Whether you're using these courses on your desktop computer or your laptop, your tablet, your phone, your your TV, or even your watch right cannot make it any more accessible than that. So be sure to check out the jazz piano skills interactive courses at jazz piano skills.com definitely a resource that you want to take advantage of. Okay, so now let's take a look at our final demonstration today. We're going to play Lester leaves and again, keeping the temple very relaxed 100 nice and comfy Boom. Now we're going to play interpret the melodic line the melody using chordal structures beneath that melody or fourth the structures as I'd like to call that right? made very popular by Herbie Hancock. So this is got a great sound to write just that. It's just another way to add variety to your playing another way to treat a melodic line. So let's check this sound out. Let's bring the ensemble back in less less. Let's listen to Lester leaps in, again. 100 key A B flat, a BA form, very comfortable using chordal or voices. Fourth, the structures made popular by Herbie Hancock. Okay, so let's check it out. Let's take a look. Let's take a listen and see what we think. Here we go. Is that cool? Or is that cool? That's great stuff. Wow. So look what we've done today, we've taken a classic, a vintage jazz standard. Written by the great Lester Young Lester leaps in, we've taken this great jazz standard. And we've utilized that, to apply five different melodic treatments. We started with a single line single note treatment. We then moved on to the unison line treatment. We then applied the octave with the fifth dropped in between treatment, the locked hands treatment. And then finally, the quarter or the fourth he structures treatment. All five treatments radically change the sound of Lester leaps in you, as the artist can pick and choose when you utilize or apply. What treatment at what time does this all make sense now. In other words, you do not want to as a jazz pianist, be one dimensional. You want to be artistic, you want to be able to choose and play melodic ideas based upon preferences, your preferences and not based upon limitations. If you're making decisions, musical decisions based upon limitations, it's not artistic is the opposite. So keep all of that in mind. So not only did we apply the five melodic treatments, we also took advantage of that open bridge right that bridge those eight measures written without a melody, no melody, inviting us to improvise. So we took advantage of those eight measures. an improvised practiced art improvisational skills utilizing chord tones only. And again, as I mentioned earlier, if you cannot improvise using chord tones, it does not somehow magically get easier when you add scale tones and non scale tones. So Wow, we really squeezed every ounce of value You out of Leicester leaps in by applying our five melodic treatments and working on our improvisational skills. What an amazing tune Tuesday Did I not tell you, Lester leaps and the perfect tune for this tune Tuesday to kind of put a bow on our exploration over the past month of melodic treatments and wallet while doing that at the same time, work on our improvisational skills as well using chord tones. Pretty darn cool. Well, I hope you have found this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring the vintage and classic jazz standard by Lester Young, the Pres. Lester leaves in to be insightful, and of course, beneficial. Don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass. 8pm, central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson in greater detail. And to answer any question you have about Lester leaps in hand any question you have regarding the study of jazz, in general, awesome. As a jazz piano skills member, be sure to use the educational podcast guides for this podcast lesson, and the jazz piano skills courses to maximize your musical growth. And likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills forums, and private Facebook group. Get involved. Make some new jazz piano friends. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com. That's Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by speakpipe found on the jazz piano skills website in the educational podcast guides and the jazz piano skills courses. Well, that's it. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano