New podcast episode now available! It's time to Discover, Learn, and Play Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce"
March 16, 2021


This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores common jazz Turnarounds.

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Welcome to JazzPianoSkills; it's time to discover, learn, and play Jazz Piano!

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 discoverlearnplayTurnarounds. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:

How to use Turnarounds to return to the beginning of a tune
How to use Turnarounds to return to the beginning of a tune
Various Turnarounds within a jazz standard to hear them in a musical context

For maximum musical growth, be sure to use the Jazz Piano Podcast Packets for this Jazz Piano Lesson. All three Podcast Packets are designed to help you gain insight and command of a specific Jazz Piano Skill. The Podcast Packets are invaluable educational tools to have at your fingertips while studying and practicing Turnarounds.

Open Podcast Packets
(detailed graphics of the jazz piano skill)
Lead Sheets
(beautifully notated music lead sheets)
Play Alongs
(ensemble assistance and practice tips)

Educational Support
Community Forum

Episode Outline
Discover, Learn, Play
Invite to Join JazzPianoSkills
Exploration of Jazz Piano Skills
Closing Comments

Visit JazzPianoSkills for more educational resources that include a sequential curriculum with comprehensive Jazz Piano Courses, private and group online Jazz Piano Classes, a private jazz piano community hosting a variety of Jazz Piano Forums, an interactive Jazz Fake Book, plus unlimited professional educational jazz piano support.

If you wish to support JazzPianoSkills with a donation you can do so easily through the JazzPianoSkills Paypal Account.

Thank you for being a JazzPianoSkills listener. It is my pleasure to help you discover, learn, and play jazz piano!

Warm Regards,
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 how to use turnarounds to return to the beginning of a tune. You're going to learn how to construct a variety of turnarounds using circle and half step movement. And you are going to play various turnarounds with in a classic jazz standard to hear them in a musical context. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner and intermediate player, an advanced player or even if you are an experienced professional, you will find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring turnarounds to be very beneficial. If you are a new listener to the jazz piano skills podcast, I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Visit jazz piano skills comm to learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources, and services that are available for you to use. For example, the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, lead sheets and play logs that are available for every podcast episode. The sequential jazz piano curriculum with interactive comprehensive courses that use a self paced format. You also have access to the online weekly masterclasses, which are in essence, a one hour online lesson with me. Every week, you have access to the private jazz panel community, hosting a variety of engaging forums podcast specific and core specific forums for you to enjoy. And last but certainly not least, unlimited, private, personal and professional educational support. Again, visit jazz piano skills comm to learn more about all of the educational opportunities and how to easily activate your membership. If you have any questions please let me know I'm always happy to help in any way that I can. Okay, let's discover learn and play jazz piano. Today we are going to spend some time exploring the turnaround. And if you are unfamiliar with turnarounds No need to panic. Simply think of turnarounds as a little mini chord progression that jazz pianists use to navigate back to the beginning of attune you typically find turnarounds in the last two measures of the song. And they are quite often but not always found within a pair of parentheses. Basically, turnarounds create harmonic movement, harmonic motion, where there is not. In other words, the turnaround fills that awkward silence that is found when there is harmonic and melodic stagnation, which is often found at the end of a song. So today, I want to systematically walk you through 14 turnarounds that will provide you with a great turnaround foundation that can be used not only as a way to get back to the beginning of a song. But additionally as a wonderful exercise the turnarounds make wonderful exercises for practicing voicings and improvisation. Today, however, we will focus solely on playing turnarounds harmonically. as we always do, we have a ton to get through today. So let's jump in and get our turnaround exploration underway. As I mentioned a few moments ago, I am going to systematically walk us through 14 turnarounds. To be more specific, I am going to play 14 turnarounds using a classic standard by Billy stray horn that will forever of course be associated with the great Duke Ellington. I am speaking of as if you didn't already know that timeless standard take the a train. And by the way, I devoted an entire podcast episode to take the a train back on July 20 2019. So if you haven't done so already, be sure to check it out. So, for each turnaround, I am going to play the first eight measures of take the a train and insert the turnaround in measures seven, and eight. I will play the first eight measures the A section two times so that we can hear the turnaround twice. I want us to hear the turnaround placed in a musical context as I do with all jazz piano skills. It's one thing to talk about musical concepts. It's an entirely different thing, and quite frankly, much more beneficial to hear them within a musical setting. So that is exactly what I'm doing today. I don't want to simply talk you through the turnarounds. I want to play them so you can hear them and then play them yourself. In fact, if you have already downloaded the podcast packets, and have the illustrations and lead sheets in front of you, you can see that the turnarounds are laid out for you using harmonic function notation. So that you can play these turnarounds in all 12 keys. You also notice that with the illustrations, you have a little conceptual work to do a little paper practice as I like to call it. It's so important because you have heard me say this time and time again. throughout many of my podcast episodes, you cannot play what you do not know. In other words, it is your conceptual understanding of a jazz piano skill that ultimately determines your physical success with that jazz piano skill. Bottom line, if it ain't upstairs, it ain't coming out downstairs. So to begin, let's listen to take the a train without a turnaround in measures seven and eight. When listening, I want you to notice how there is a significant break in the action. There is nothing happening melodically and nothing happening harmonically. When this happens, we have what I like to call melodic and harmonic stagnation, which is very, very uncomfortable for everyone involved for both the musician and the audience. Especially when playing about which we are not doing today. So here we go. Let's bring in the ensemble and listen to the first eight measures of take the a train repeated twice with no turnaround. Okay, let's check it out. Here we go. Now, some of you may be thinking, hey, that actually did sound bad. And I would concur. However, we have nothing to compare it to at this point. No turnaround, which of course can technically be considered as a turnaround option is not bad when plan a swing in tune like take the a train. But as I mentioned earlier, the presence of no turnaround in a ballad setting will more than likely be musically awkward, to say the least. So now let's drop in the most commonly used turnaround of all the granddaddy of turnarounds the simple yet very profound, to five turnaround. The gravitational pull of circle motion the two five heading back to the one is very strong and very natural sounding. If your game plan is to learn only one turnaround, which I would not recommend, then learn the two five turnaround. It will work in every musical situation will Never let you down. It's a workhorse that has been, and will always be used by jazz musicians forever. So here it is the gold standard of all turnarounds, the two, five progression placed in measure eight of take the a train to help us eliminate harmonic stagnation and get us smoothly back to the beginning of the tune. So here we go. Let's check it out. Hits amazing, at least to me, it's amazing the forward motion that is created by simply dropping in the two five progression in measure eight. Amazing. Again, if you had to pick one turnaround to have in your jazz vocabulary, pick the two five turn around. It will take care of you in every musical situation. Now, let's turn our attention to another sound that has been used practically since the beginning of musical time to help musicians link one chord to another chord in an effort to create Yep, you got it harmonic movement, harmonic motion, often referred to as the linking chord. The diminished chord is a great sound to use and turnarounds. It's definitely old school. But hey, I'm old school. And I like old school. And there's a reason that old school even exists because it's good. So now let's drop a sharp one diminished chord in front of the two five progression that we inserted in measure eight of take the a train. Measure seven will have the one major chord on counts one and two. And the sharp one diminished chord on counts three and four, followed by the two five progression and measure eight, leading us back to the beginning of the tune. You're going to love this classic, this old school sound. Let's bring in the ensemble. And let's check it out. Here we go. Well, what did I tell you? I know you must be thinking I've heard that sound a million times. And you have it has been used and continues to be used by jazz musicians around the world. It's like a classic navy blue sport coat. It ain't ever going away. Now, another diminished sound to drop into a turn around is the flat three diminished. The flat three diminished, like the sharp one diminished, is simply approaching the two chord using half step movement. We are either approaching a two chord from a half step below, with the sharp one diminished or a half step above, with the flat three diminished. Either way, it's a great sound that you're going to want to incorporate into your jazz vocabulary, especially when playing old school tunes from the Great American Songbook. So let's check it out. Let's bring in the ensemble. Let's see what we think. Here we go. Free pretty darn sweet. The diminished chord used as a half step approach to the two chord is a vintage sound that somehow always sounds perfect. I love it. And speaking of vintage sounds, our next turnaround is to jazz music What Babe Ruth is the baseball. It's an icon. I am, of course, speaking of what is commonly referred to as the 1625 turnaround. The song ends on the one chord, we follow it with the six minor, which is then followed by the two five progression 1625. That's all you have to say. And every jazz musician in the world knows exactly what you're speaking about. Just in case you're not already hearing this progression in your head. Let's bring the ensemble back in to play take the a train using the Babe Ruth of turnarounds to get us back to the beginning of the tune. So here we go. Let's check it out. Very nice. The first five turnarounds that we have looked at so far, I like to group together and refer to them as the traditional turnarounds. Now, we are going to begin manipulating the 1625 progression to create more contemporary turnarounds. To begin we're simply going to play the 1625 turnaround again. However, this time, we are going to make the six and the two chord dominant chords, we convert them from minor to dominant. By doing so the sweet 1625 progression generates a little more bite with the use of the consecutive dominant chords. Let's listen and you'll hear what I'm talking about. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Here we go. Let's check it out. I like it. In fact, I think using the dominant sound and turnarounds on a tune like take the a train is compositionally complimentary to the tune itself. In other words, it fits the tune. On the other hand using all dominant sounds and a turn around on say a beautiful ballad. It may not sound is pleasing, or as natural to the ear. So you have to be careful when choosing a turn around again, you always want your turn around to compositionally compliment the tune you are playing. I'm making this point because we are now going to begin getting a little crazy by utilizing the tritone substitution to create variations to our dominant 1625 turnaround. And before I go any further if you need to bone up on the tritone substitution. Then listen to my September 29 2020 podcast episode, which is dedicated entirely to the tritone substitution. So the first tritone substitution We are going to apply will be to the five chord, which turns our 1625 turnaround into a 162 flat to turn around. Wow, this will create interesting movement and sound inside of our classic take the a train. Let's bring the ensemble back in and check it out. Here we go. Very, very smooth. Just a quick reminder as to why the tritone substitution works. There are 12 dominant chords, and each dominant chord shares the same third and seventh with another dominant chord. This common bond of sharing the same third and seventh bitrate between two dominant chords allows them to be easily interchanged substituted with one another. The two dominant chords that share the same third and seventh are a try tone three whole steps apart. So for example, g dominant and D flat dominant can be substituted for each other within a progression and in doing so, typically converts circle motion into half that motion, like we just did. by substituting the five dominant the G dominant with the flat two dominant, the flat dominant. And like we are going to do for the remaining seven turnarounds. Again, if you need a refresher on the tritone substitution, then listen to my September 29 2020 podcast episode, which is dedicated entirely to the tritone substitution. Okay, on to turn around eight, we are going to substitute the two dominant the D seven with a flat six dominant the a flat seven. So our turnaround begins with C major, which is the last chord of take the a train and then goes to the six dominant a dominant, which is followed by our tritone substitution the flat six dominant, a flat dominant, which then progresses to the five, the G dominant, a seven to a flat dominant to G dominant. Some very nice half step movement to break away from all circle motion. Let's bring the ensemble back in and listen to this turnaround and see what you think. All right, here we go. It's wonderful. I love that turnaround. I love all these turnarounds. I mentioned it earlier but I want to stress it again. turnarounds are fantastic exercises, for practicing left hand shells and two handed voicings plus improvisation. In fact, I have spent I can't even begin to tell you how many hours weeks months years I have used turnarounds to practice improvising. These little micro progressions capture the type of harmonic movement that you will experience and have to deal with when playing jazz standards. Not only do you have to deal with this type of harmonic motion Physically, you have to also deal with it orally. So practicing turnarounds is also tremendous ear training, especially when you think of harmonic function Roman numerals when playing the turnarounds. And that is precisely why your podcast packets, the illustrations, and the lead sheets are notated using Roman numerals. I am wanting you to develop all three facets simultaneously when practicing your mind, ears, and hands, which all three must be fired up and in sync when practicing, otherwise, you're not practicing. In fact, if these three facets are not fired up and in sync, then you are simply doing an activity that resembles practicing, but not actually practicing your results. Your Progress, if there is any, will be limited, at best. Alright, let's move on to turn around nine. Now we are going to swap out the six dominant chord with its tritone sub, the flat three dominant core. In other words, we are going to swap out the a dominant with an E flat dominant. So now our progression our turnaround begins with the C major the last chord of take the a train on counts one and two of measure seven followed by the E flat dominant flat three dominant, which moves down one half step to the D dominant the two dominant, which then takes us to the g7 or the five dominant, which of course, leads us right back to the beginning of the tune right back to the beginning of take the a train. This should be fun. Let's bring the ensemble back in and check it out. Here we go. Pretty cool, right? It's amazing how much variety we can begin creating by simply knowing how to properly utilize tritone substitutions. So far, we have been swapping out one chord at a time. The flat two dominant for the five dominant, the flat six dominant for the two dominant, the flat three dominant for the sixth dominance, which is very cool. But what if we swap out more than one? What would that sound like? Great question. Let's find out. Let's now play a turnaround that begins with the C major again the last chord of take the a train and then moves to the six dominant the a dominant followed by the a flat dominant or the flat six dominant and then moves to the flat two dominant, the D flat dominant, which of course resolves to the one chord the C major, the first chord of the tune of kPa trying lots of interesting motion and sounds to check out especially those tritone substitutions that slightly slightly take us out of our main key center, only to gently bring us back. Let's bring in the ensemble and check this out. Here we go. Amazing, talk about adding a little spice to the key of C major. So if we swapped out the two and the five with tritone substitutions, let's use the same approach, but instead swap out the six and the two with tritone substitutions are turned around, we'll of course, begin with the last chord of take the a train, which is C major, we then will move to the flat three dominant E flat dominant, which replaces the six dominant the a dominant, followed by the flat six dominant, the a flat dominant on counts one and two of measure eight, which replaces the two dominant or the D dominant. The flat six dominant, the a flat dominant then slides down one half step to the five courts, the five dominant g dominant, which of course, resolves beautifully to the one chord, the one major C major, which is the first chord of the tune. I can hardly wait to hear this turnaround. So let's bring the ensemble back in and check it out. Here we go. Wow, what can I say? All of these turnarounds. Plus, the remaining three that we have yet to hear, are fantastic. And can be used to add harmonic interest to any of the tunes that you play. A common question that I get asked all the time from students, when exploring the turnarounds is, Well, which one should I use? Which which one is best? And of course, this is a question that honestly, is impossible to answer because they are all good. There is not a bad choice in the bunch. I would strongly recommend that you practice these shapes, these sounds these motions in all 12 keys so that they become muscle and aural memory that you can just instinctually call upon when playing the greater your jazz vocabulary, your jazz Arsenal, the better. So with that being said, let's take a look at our next turn around. Now let's swap out the six dominant and the five dominant, the a seven and the g7. In doing so, we are going to create some very nice descending chromatic motion are turned around We'll begin with C major. Again the last chord of take the a train and then progress to the E flat dominant the flat three, which then slides down one half step to the D dominant which then slides down another half step to the D flat dominant or the flat to which slides down another half step to the one major or the C major the first chord of take the a train. Wow. half step motion turned around. How cool was this sound? Well, let's find out. The ensemble is ready. So let's check it out. Here we go. Well, question answered. It sounds fabulous. I love it. What started as 100% Circle motion back with the fifth turnaround that we played today, the 1625 ends with 100%, half step motion. One flat Three, two flat two. Very cool, indeed. In fact, what could possibly be cooler? Well, what if we return to all circle motion? But circle motion that is outside of our main key center? Wow. What would that look like? What would that sound like? Once again, we start with the last chord of take the a train C major, or one chord, and then apply a tritone substitution to the six dominant to the two dominant into the five dominant, which gives us a flat three dominant, a flat six dominant and a flat two dominant. So instead of C major going to a dominant going to D dominant going to G dominant, we now have C major going to E flat dominant, going to a flat dominant, and going to D flat dominant. So we have a turnaround that is completely outside of the main key center of the tune. We're in the key of C major and we're playing E flat dominant, a flat dominant and D flat dominant. This can't, this can't possibly sound good. Well, before you come to that conclusion, let's bring the ensemble back in and check it out so that we can make an informed decision. All right, here we go. Let's check it out. Well, my vote, it sound awesome. How cool indeed. You know, we have spent the day exploring some traditional and more contemporary turnarounds that you can use within the jazz literature that you are playing plus, use them for developing your voicings, your improvisation and your training. What we have not done today is altered any of our chords with flat nines, sharp knives sharp elevens, flat fives, sharp fives flat 13 which gives us an entirely new palette of sound to experiment with. In fact, not only did we not experiment with altered sounds, we barely messed with utilizing various chord qualities major dominant minor half diminished the diminished. We stuck primarily with the dominant sound. But what would it sound like if for example, we took the last turn around we played which moved 100% and circle motion outside of the main key center and turned all those chords into major chords. I bet that would sound awful, just awful. Well, once again, let's not pass a judgement until we have some evidence to do so. The ensembles ready so let's play the one flat three flat six flat to turn around using all major chords. This should be something let's check it out. Here we go. Once again, my vote awesome. FYI, that turned around using the flat three flat six flat two motion is famously known as the Dameron turnaround, which has alternately been called the Coltrane turnaround. So if you decide to use it in your playing, you will be in good company. Indeed. As always, we covered a ton of material in a very, very short period of time. I want to encourage you to download and print and use. The podcast packets developed specifically for this episode. The illustrations and the lead sheets will help you gain a conceptual understanding and mastery of the turnarounds. The play alongs all 168 of them will help you explore and play these turnarounds in all 12 keys. These are invaluable tools that as jazz piano skills members you have at your fingertips, so use them Well, I hope you have found this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring the turnaround 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 exploring turnarounds in greater detail, and to answer any questions you may have about the study of jazz in general. Again, as a jazz piano skills member, be sure to use the educational podcast packets 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 community get involved and contribute to the various forums, make some new jazz piano friends always a good thing to do. And as always, you can reach me by phone 972380805 o extension 211 by email, Dr. Lawrence, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. So that's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the turnarounds. Enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano