November 30, 2018
- Play Jazz blues, not blues of the Delta guitar style, but jazz blues, with turns. There are hundreds of series of jazz blues changes available http://www.jajazz.com. Instead of jumping into the complexity of the full repertoire of jazz, blues is a great way to make your chords and solo voices go. You can take blues in an incredible way and many melodies are based on blues in one way or another, even if it does not look like it. You can start simple and add more chords to solos as you get better.
- Listen a lot of jazz. Not only the current players, but they return to the beginning and begin to hear how the jazz piano evolved: Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Red Garland, Bill Evans, Duke Ellington (his true piano), Monk, Tyco McCoy, and Chick Coria. There are hundreds of names. Be able to identify them by listening to them and why they sound like they sound.You can learn pentatonic scale piano by reading this article.
- Transcribe the players you like. Nothing will teach you more than discovering the great masters. I think it’s in Levine’s book, but there’s a quote that says “all the answers are in your CD collection.” That is, if you discover the lines / chords of the types that invented everything, you will learn things at a level that a book cannot provide. Remember, DVDs / videos and method books about jazz are only things that exist in the second half of the 20th century. Everyone before that had to listen and discover things. It is still the most powerful form. Being able to transcribe is the most important and useful skill to acquire.
- Record yourself you do not have to be high quality, just a stereo with an integrated microphone, or your iPhone, or whatever. The point is not the audio quality that is listening to what REALLY sounds. We have prejudices and other things that make it hard to hear that, especially when we are really doing it. You may hear him hurry or drag when he hears, but maybe not when he is playing.
- Learn to identify the third and seventh of any chord you see. Instantly. Those are the notes of juice, many of the first voices of chords are not more than those two notes of each chord. Both for harmony and for solos, those are the most important notes of any chord.
- Play with players better than you. It is frightening and humiliating, but it will make you stretch and you will be surprised how fear can motivate you. 🙂