This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores standard Rhythmic Vocabulary found in classic jazz language.
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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 Harmonized Diminished Scales. 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're going to discover standard rhythmic vocabulary found in classic jazz language. You're going to learn how to use quarter notes and eighth notes to create rhythmic vocabulary patterns. And here we're going to play 12 Classic rhythmic vocabulary patterns used for developing a sense of time, proper jazz, articulation, and improvisational ideas. So as I always like to say, regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner an intermediate player, an advanced player, or even if you are a seasoned and experienced professional, you will find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson, exploring rhythmic vocabulary to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills if you are a new jazz piano skills podcast listener, I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. 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. For example, as a jazz piano skills member you have access to all of the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, the playlists that I produce and develop and publish for every weekly podcast episode. These are invaluable practice tools, so you have access to them, be sure to use them. As a jazz piano skills member you also have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum. This is a curriculum that is loaded with comprehensive courses using a self paced format, educational talks, interactive media, video demonstrations, play alongs, and much more. As a jazz panel skills member you also have access to have a reserved seat for the online weekly master classes which are in essence, a one hour online lesson with me every week. And as a jazz panel skills member you also have access to the private jazz piano community, which is a great way to make some new jazz piano friends. The community hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast specific forums, core specific forums, and of course, General jazz piano forums, as well. So be sure to check those out. And last but certainly not least, as a jazz piano skills member, you have 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 of the educational opportunities, and how to easily activate your membership, there are several membership plans to choose from. So check it out. If you have any questions, please let me know I am always, always happy to help you in any way that I can. I also want to remind everyone to check out the jazz piano skills blog. Whether you are a jazz piano skills member or not, you can enjoy reading some additional insights 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 you can just simply scroll 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 my final thoughts about the jazz piano skills 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 let me know what you think. Your feedback is always, always welcome and is always very much appreciated. Okay, let's discover learn and play jazz. Let's discover, learn and play some rhythmic vocabulary. So why is it so difficult to improvise?
Why does everyone when starting out, or Heck, even after years of study, find it challenging to improvise musical ideas that sound like chairs? I mean, how hard can it be right? I mean, you have a chord in front of you. And you have been taught to play a specific scale that goes along with that core, there are a match made in heaven. In other words, if you have a C minor seventh chord, that you have to improvise over. And you've been instructed to use the following seven notes, C, D, E flat, B flat, when improvising over the C minor seventh chord, because all of those notes fit perfectly over the chord. Which is another way of saying there are no wrong notes in that scale. It's foolproof, you can't make a mistake, no wrong notes. I don't know about you. But that sounds like a pretty good jazz deal to me. I bet this sounds very familiar to a lot of you listening because that is precisely how jazz improvisation is typically taught. we, all of us jazz teachers love to teach what we love to call chord scale relationships. It's a fancy schmancy name, that sounds really good. And basically, what it says is that this chord goes along with this scale, or this scale goes along with this chord. And of course, this is great. This is great information, all of us do indeed need to understand chord scale relationships. Otherwise, we are left to simply guessing at the notes to play and I promise. If that is your approach, you're going to guess wrong. The odds are heavily stacked against you. But we also need to know that the awareness and understanding of chord scale relationships is only one piece of the improvisational puzzle. Once I teach some fundamental chord scale relationships to a student, I encourage them to begin experimenting and exploring the chord scale relationship to begin improvising. Now, this is a huge step. Because I am asking the student to begin playing music without music. In other words, we have no sheet music, no lead sheet in front of us. Just a musical sound, major dominant, minor half diminished diminished, that is going to be played harmonically and melodically at the same time, harmony in the left hand, a chord and melody in the right hand, a scale Whoa. This is definitely stepping out of a young jazzers comfort zone, for sure. But it is a jump that we all have to make at some time in our journey. Otherwise, we never develop improvisational skills. So let me give you an example of how this typically goes. When I push when I gently encourage a student to take this monumental step. So the student is in my office and I say to the student today, we're going to improvise we're going to actually put into practice we are going to apply our understanding of CT scan relationships. So we're going to take our C minor seventh chord, and they go Okay, got it. Right, C E flat, g B flat. We're gonna play that chord in the left hand. Students gone. Yes. So far, so good. Now in the right hand, we're going to play the C minor scale. I always start with the Dorian mode, C minor scale, C, D, E flat, F. B flat. student's gone Great. So far, so good. Everything makes perfect sense. Then I say to them, okay. out, you can play any of the notes of that scale over the top of that C minor chord, you cannot go wrong, there are no wrong notes here, students going fantastic, I cannot make a mistake.
Correct. So I'm going to put a background track on I'm going to have an ensemble play along with us, I tell the student, we're gonna place this in a musical context, we're just going to play C minor seven, there's not going to be any chords that come before that C minor seven, there aren't going to be any chords. After that C minor seven, we are just going to sit on top of that C minor seventh. And I'm going to allow you to improvise using the notes of that C minor Dorian mode or that C minor scale students gone. Got it. Perfect. Let's do this. So here we go. So I put the background track on the play along track, put it on, and here is what I get. Let's check this out.
so the student gets done improvising, sitting there on the bench. I'm watching the student. They're processing information, they finally look up at me they go, you know, Dr. Lawrence, I gotta tell you, your chord scare relationship approach. makes sense to me. Right, I got a chord, the scale goes with that chord chord goes with that scale. But I gotta be honest with you, man, your approach. And I'm just not digging it. Because when I utilize your approach, your chord scare relationship approach, I just kind of, I kind of sound like I'm just wandering, you know, it's, it sounds like I'm just kind of picking out notes randomly here. And I'm just kind of wandering. And I look at them and I'm in agreement. And I say to him, I said, Well, you know, you don't want to sound like you're wandering. They say why? And I said, because you're wandering.
That scenario right? There, happens in my office almost every single day. So, how do we define wandering in the jazz world? That is a great question that definitely needs to be answered. So, let me give you one. Wandering is when one plays harmony chords, and melody scales, void of any rhythmic definition, when I say this, again, wandering is when one plays harmony chords, and melody scales, void of any rhythmic definition. re listen to the example I just played for you and listen carefully to how I am playing the C minor seventh chord correctly in my left hand. And I am playing all the right notes in my right hand. But there is absolutely no rhythmic definition zero to my plane. And because of that, I sound like I am what sounds like I am wandering, which is exactly what I'm doing. So the next great question that needs to be asked is, well, how do I go about practicing rhythmic definition? How do I go about developing rhythmic vocabulary to go along with my chord scale relationships, so I don't wander Well, that is exactly what we are going to do today. So the agenda for today is as follows. Number one, I am going to present 12 rhythmic vocabulary patterns for you to study and practice to develop your sense of time, proper jazz articulation, and improve your improvisational skills. Number two, I will be playing each of the 12 rhythmic vocabulary patterns using the C minor Dorian mode. Number three, I will be playing each rhythmic vocabulary pattern from the root of the C minor scale the Dorian mode and from the root to the seventh of the sound, so from C to be flat number four. And as an added bonus, I will be using two handed contemporary minor voicings that I presented in the June 29 podcast episode to create harmonic fills in between each rhythmic vocabulary pattern so you only thought those voicings are going away, they're not. And number five, I will be playing all demonstrations today all rhythmic vocabulary patterns using the tempo of 140. The play alongs and the play along tracks are at 120 and I highly recommend using slower tempos even much slower than 120 6575 85 always use slower tempos when ever you begin to physically explore a new jazz piano skill. 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, the podcast packets, you have access to all the podcast packets, and you should be absolutely using them when listening to this podcast episode. And of course, you should be using them when practicing. If you're listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora on and on and on, then be sure to go to jazz panel skills podcast.com to download the podcast packets, you will find the download links in the show notes. In one final but extremely important note I'm mentioning this from now on for every single podcast episode that I ever do. If you are thinking that the jazz panel skill today that I am presenting, that you're about to discover, learn and play these rhythmic vocabulary patterns if you are in any way, thinking that these skills are over your head, then I would say to you okay, continue to listen, continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually. By listening to this podcast episode. The fact is
this. All skills are over our heads when first introduced and that is precisely the first step we need to take in order to improve our musicianship we need to listen our musical growth begins upstairs mentally, before it can come out downstairs physically in our hands. So listen, listen to this podcast episode now to discover and learn the play will come later, it will come in time. Okay. Alright, so if you have printed out your lead sheets packet podcast packet, the very first lead sheet has all 12 rhythmic vocabulary patterns laid out for you. And if you notice, I laid them out as a like a snare drum or a drum part. So you can just actually see the rhythm rhythm itself on a single line before we actually apply it to a scale. So if you take a look there at pattern a or the very first rhythmic vocabulary pattern, you see that we have three quarter notes on in measure one, followed by 2/8 notes. On count fourths, the three quarter notes are on counts one, two, and three. The 2/8 notes are on count four, followed by two quarter notes on the following measure on counts one and two. So if you notice on each one of these patterns, we have seven notes in the pattern and of course how many notes are there in a scale? seven notes. So we're going to take these seven notes, stretch them out over the scale or apply the scale to each one of these patterns. So the very first pattern is three quarter notes, by 2/8 notes, followed by two quarter notes. So if you were to count that it'd be something like 1234. I put my C minor chord underneath it.
Right, it's not a bad idea to just practice it, the rhythms just like that, where you play the rhythm on the route the entire rhythmic pattern before you try applying it to the scale. So the pattern again, pattern a.
And then you see I repeat that pattern, because we're gonna play the scale ascending, and then of course, descending. So now if I take those that the seven notes of that rhythmic pattern, that rhythmic vocabulary pattern, and apply it to the seven notes of the C minor Dorian scale, I get this ascending and descending.
So quarter notes on counts, one, two, and three, followed by 2/8 notes, followed by two quarter notes. How cool. So now I want to drop that into a musical context, I'm gonna bring the ensemble in, I'm going to play the pattern of sending a couple times then descending a couple times, and then an ascending descending motion. So let's check it out. And let's see what we think. And then we'll go from there. So here we go.
Nice, all of a sudden, a scale doesn't sound so much like a scale with one little variation to the rhythm. If you've noticed, I played the scale from a root to seven, using the pattern from root to the seventh from C to B flat, and then descending from the seventh back down to the root from B flat down to C. Now of course, once you feel comfortable with the rhythmic vocabulary pattern ascending and descending, focus on your sense of time focus on your articulation. Right. So even though we know we're playing a scale, ascending and descending, and even though we're applying a specific rhythmic vocabulary pattern to that scale, we want it to sound very spontaneous, we want it to sound very improvisational, right, we want it to sound like jazz. And, of course, when played and articulated correctly, it does indeed sound like jazz. In fact, as you you'll notice, as we go through these patterns today, they sound less and less like scales as we move through each of the patterns. The other thing that you've noticed that I'm pulling in those two handed contemporary voicings that we just spent five weeks studying, right that five note two handed contemporary voicings using primarily force as our interval. So I'm actually bringing in another set of knowledge that we've studied, and taking some opportunity to practice those as well. And in fact, if you wanted to, you could actually play those play this entire rhythmic vocabulary pattern using those voicings, it would sound like this. ascending and descending.
Nice, right. So that's not the objective of today's lesson. But I'm just showing you how we can continue to pull along the data, the information, the skills that we have. studied in previous podcast episodes, and practice them in conjunction with the skill that we're studying today. Very cool, very efficient, very effective practicing. Okay, now rhythmic vocabulary pattern number two or letter B on your lead sheet, we're going to shift those eighth notes from count four, we're going to shift those eighth notes over to count three. So now my rhythm sounds like this. And again, if I was counting that on, three, seven notes, right, so now I'm going to apply the scale to that pattern, US Sunday.
And now descending.
Nice. So that's all we're doing, we're taking the eighth note pair, the pair of eighth notes that we played on count four. In the first pattern, we're shifting them now to count three. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's place this rhythmic vocabulary pattern into a musical setting musical context and see what we think here we go check it out.
Nice, right. So as I mentioned earlier, as we move through each of these patterns, these patterns are gonna sound less and less like a pattern that's being applied to an ascending and descending scale, and more and more like an improvisational thought like an improvisation improvisational idea or motif. And that's the objective. So now we move on to letter C or pattern rhythmic vocabulary pattern, see on your lead sheet. And you can see what we're doing here again, right, we're shifting our pair of eighth notes that we just got done playing on count three, we're now going to shift that pair of eighth notes over to count two. So now our pattern sounds like this. Chord underneath that. If I count it on 2312 if I play the scale to it, ascending and now descending.
Nice. So now let's place it into a musical context musical setting. Let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out. Here we go.
Very cool. You can already hear that the wandering is disappearing. It's going away. We're actually have rhythmic definition to our melodic line to our scale. So the first three patterns right pattern number one are the letter A on your lead sheet, the eighth note pair, the pair of eighth notes replaced on count four. And pattern number two or letter B, the pair of eighth notes replaced on count three. And in letter C, or the third pattern that we just just performed just played, the pair of eighth notes are placed on count two. So now we're going to shift the eighth notes. One more time, we're going to place the pair of eighth notes on count one. So our pattern sounds like this.
Put the cord underneath that. If I count that,
if I apply the scale to that ascending of descending.
So now, as we did with the other with the previous rhythmic vocabulary patterns, let's place this rhythmic idea into a musical setting into a musical context and see what we think. So here we go. Let's check it out.
Very cool. Indeed. Right? We are playing with rhythmic definition, there is absolutely no wandering, occurring. And as a result, our lines our melodic idea, our scale sounds like a melodic idea. It sounds very jazz, like very improvisational, we have rhythmic definition. What a difference. Now, we have just been up to this point, placing a pair of eighth notes on various beats within the measure, count for count three count to count one. Now we're going to play a couple pair of eighth notes. But we're going to follow the same kind of formulaic and systematic approach, right, we're going to place a pair of eighth notes on counts three, and four in rhythmic vocabulary pattern letter II, right on your lead sheet. So now we have quarter notes on counts one and two, followed by eighth notes on three and four. Then a quarter note and the following measure. So if I placed the chord underneath that, yeah, I played the scale, let me play the pattern with the court underneath it. There you go. Now if I count that, two, three. And now if I apply the scale to it, ascending and descending. Wow, we have some more eighth notes involved with our rhythmic vocabulary pattern now. And now it's really gonna start to sound very jazz like and very improvisational. So let's bring the ensemble and let's place this rhythmic vocabulary pattern into a musical context into musical setting and see what we think. Here we go.
Wow, I love it. You can, you can really hear right vocabulary rhythmic vocabulary applied to our chord scale relationships. Amazing. So now we're going to take our eighth notes, and we're going to shift them from counts three and four, to counts two and three. So our pattern is I'm going to place the chord, the C minor chord underneath it.
Now we're going to count it, one, two, and three. And now I want to apply the scale to it. ascending and descending. Very nice. So as we have been doing, let's place this rhythmic vocabulary pattern into a musical context, musical setting and see what we think. And again, I want to focus on my time I feel my articulation I want this to sound like jazz. I want this to sound improvisational. So here we go. Let's check it out.
Wow, what can I say? Right? Very jazz, like, you know, it sounds very jazz, like because it is very jazz like because it is jazz, quarter eighth note rhythms. It does not get any more jazz than that. So now we're going to take our eighth notes, and we're going to shift them again, we're going to place our eighth notes on counts one and two, and quarter notes on counts three, four, and one of the following measure. So once again, these are seven note rhythmic vocabulary patterns applied, eventually applied to a seven note scale. So the pattern sounds like this. I want to place my C minor chord underneath it.
Now I want to count it.
And now I want to apply my C minor Dorian scale to it. ascending and now descending.
Nice. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's place this rhythmic vocabulary pattern into a musical context into a musical setting and see what we think. All right, here we go. Let's check it out.
So so far, we've looked at seven rhythmic vocabulary patterns, seven patterns letter A through letter G, on your lead sheet. And in each one of those patterns, we've just taken a pair of eighth notes and placed them on counts for count three count to count one. Then we took a pair of eighth notes and place them on counts three and four, counts two and three, and then counts one and two. So now we're going to add an additional pair of eighth notes. Wait, no, I'm not not yet I got ahead of myself, we're going to actually split those eighth notes apart. So what we're going to do, we're going to take those pair of eighth notes, we're gonna place them on counts to in count, count for count two and count four. So our pattern sounds like this.
placed my C minor quarter underneath that. Correct now want to count it 1234. And now I want to apply my scale to it. Sunday and out descending. Nice. So let's bring the ensemble back in. And let's hear what this sounds like. Here we go check it out.
I love it. Again, no wandering, absolutely no wandering, very defined rhythmic ideas, very defined rhythmic vocabulary applied to a chord scare relationship. Fantastic. So now we're going to flip our eighth notes, right, instead of placing our eighth notes on count two and count four, we're gonna place our eighth notes on count one, and count three. So the pattern sounds like this.
Let me place the C minor underneath it.
Now I want to count it.
Now I want to apply my C minor Dorian mode to it on Sunday, and now descending. Very nice. So it's ensemble time. Let's play this rhythmic vocabulary pattern. Let's play it in a musical setting musical context and see what we think. Here we go. Let's check it out.
You know, added benefit to all of this when you start applying these rhythmic vocabulary patterns to scales. Number one, it forces you to really know your scale, doesn't it. And number two, it really forces you to clean up and solidify some fingerings that allow you to properly play that rhythmic vocabulary pattern ascending and descending with the proper jazz, articulation and feel in time, right. So we are covering a lot of ground when we practice this way. I know we're talking about these rhythmic vocabulary patterns today is our main focal point. But the reality of it is, you are practicing on several jazz piano skills simultaneously, which is fantastic. It's very effective, very efficient, practicing. So now Now it's time to add an additional pair of eighth notes. So now rhythmic vocabulary pattern letter J on your lead sheet, take a look at that. You can see we have eighth notes. Now on counts to count three and four counts two, three and four. So the pattern sounds like this. Nice, but my chord underneath it my C minor seven. Want to count it now in three. And I'll play my C minor Dorian mode or scale to it.
ascending now descending. Wow, love it. I don't even have to place it in musical context. I can tell you right now I love it. But nevertheless, let's place it into a musical setting and into a musical context and see what we think here we go check it out.
See, I told you I loved it. It sounds fantastic. Right all those swinging eighth notes. Now we're going to flip it over right? We're going to move our eighth notes to counts one, two and three. And so our pattern sounds like this.
We placed the C minor seven underneath it. Now let me count it. Three. And now let me apply the scale or the C minor scale or Dorian mode to it. ascending and now descending. Again, don't need to hear it I can already tell you this is going to be a fantastic pattern. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's drop it into a musical context musical setting and see what we think here we go check it out.
So we started out today, placing a single pair of eighth notes on count counts, count four, and we shifted it to count three. And if not count two, and then the eighth notes account one. Then we brought in another pair of eighth notes. And we placed eighth notes on counts three and four. And then we shifted them to counts two and three. And then we shifted those eighth notes accounts one and two. Then we split those eighth notes apart, where we put eighth notes on counts to count for. And then on count one, and then on count three. Then we added an additional pair of eighth notes. So we now had three pair of eighth notes that were on count two, three, and four. And then we flip the eighth notes to be on counts one, two, and three. So guess what's next, we'll look at rhythmic vocabulary pattern, letter L, the last one on your lead sheet, eighth notes on all four beats. Now, this is fantastic. But it presents a little bit of a problem, because now we have eight notes. And there are only seven notes in the scale. So what I would recommend doing is just repeating the top note in the bottom note of the scale. So the pattern is going to sound like this. Replace the C minor chord underneath it. Great, let me count it. Three, four. Now let me apply my C minor scale to it. See, I repeated the top note. Now decent. And I repeated the bottom note. Regardless of whether or not you have notes that are repeated or not right, we still have to play with the correct feel correct articulation. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's drop this last rhythmic vocabulary pattern into a musical setting into a musical context and see what we think here we go check it out.
Wow, this has been an exciting hour. I've been teaching jazz piano and improvisation for 35 plus years. And I never get tired of talking about rhythm. And I guess the reason is because rhythm is the big dog in music. It truly is. And it's ironic because even with rhythm being the big dog, it is without question the most neglected aspect of music. When it comes to teaching. We love to teach. We love to learn about melody. And we love to teach and we love to learn about harmony. But rarely do we spend time with rhythm. And this is sad because as a result, we end up producing a lot of wandering. aspiring jazz musicians who end up frustrated because they are playing the correct notes over the correct chords. But playing void of any rhythmic definition, which leaves them scratching their heads as to why their music doesn't sound like jazz. So do not blow past this jazz piano skills podcast episode or take it lightly. Your ability to play various rhythms using various quarter notes and eighth note combinations is crucial. If you do not get comfy, playing quarter eighth note rhythmic company combinations and time with a proper jazz articulation, you will never develop into an accomplished jazz pianist, you will never do it. So play the 12 patterns that I presented to you today using all 12 Major 12 dominant 12 minor 12, half diminished and 12 diminished scales. If you do, you will love how you're playing and evolves and you will love how you're playing while radically improve. So as you have probably figured out with the name of this podcast episode being rhythmic vocabulary, one that there is more rhythm study to come. And to that I would say Bravo. Congratulations, you are 100% correct. There is much more to discover, learn and play when it comes to rhythmic vocabulary. And I can proudly say we're just getting started. The next few weeks are going to be a lot of fun. I guarantee it. Well, I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring standard quarter note eighth note rhythmic vocabulary to be insightful and of course to be very 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 exploring rhythmic vocabulary in much more detail, and to answer any question 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 alongs for this podcast lesson, and also be sure to use the jazz panel skills courses to help you maximize your musical growth. And likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community get involved, contribute to the various forums and more importantly, make some new jazz piano friends. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 my office extension is 211 by email Dr. Lawrence Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz panel skills website. Well, there is my key. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the standard rhythmic vocabulary patterns, enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano
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