Sunday, April 12, 2020

A quick and easy jazz solo lesson

UPDATE: Download link works now!

This is an easy, non-technical method for learning jazz solos/breaks/trading, which I devised in lessons with an older Skype student. It involves a few basic patterns, and several easy practice methods to use with the book Progressive Steps to Syncopation. This should work well for students who are new to jazz, and don't know how to begin soloing, and will create a good foundation for development of more sophisticated forms of soloing.

I named two of the stock patterns at the top of the page “Philly Joe” and “Billy Higgins” to have a convenient reference for them in teaching this— I notice that each of them plays those things quite a bit. As do a lot of other people.

We're going to approach this like the United States Marines [stands up, salutes flag], quickly grabbing as much musical terrain as we can, bypassing whatever parts are hard for you, and mopping them up later. Dumb analogy, but now that I think of it, it does sum up my whole approach to everything. We want to be fluent with the major structures without getting hung up on technical concerns. Do the following, swinging the 8th notes:

1. Play the warmups, repeating.

2. Learn each of the seven interpreted methods while reading from Syncopation— play lines 1-15 plus the long exercise on the indicated pages.

3. Then play the practice phrases:

  • One measure of a stock pattern / one measure of a reading pattern
  • Two measures time / one measure stock pattern / one measure reading pattern
  • Trade all combinations of time / stock patterns / reading patterns in 1s / 2s / 4s

The goal is to improvise your solos, so I don't believe there's a need to learn this rigidly by the numbers. Once you can recognize and handle all the basic ideas, play them in time, and move them around the drums, while keeping the basic form together— trading 1s/2s/4s, you're fine.

Get the pdf


julius said...

Looks really useful. PDF link is a 404 though.

Todd Bishop said...

Damn it! Thanks for the heads up-- link works now!