(Todd Williams, Photo courtesy of the artist)
As a beginning or intermediate player, you are slowly building up your repertoire of standards. While you do that, don’t forget to remember melodic considerations, and to keep a lyrical line in your head as you improvise on melodies.
Master saxophonist Todd Williams breaks this down further, giving you some insight into how to approach melody, embellishments, and variations. Sometimes, simple exercises from your practice routine, paired with careful listening of the original recordings of …
(Albert “Tootie” Heath; Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
2015 marked the 80th birthday of the legendary drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath. Part of a highly musical family (his brothers–Jimmy Heath and Percy Heath–have been some of the most influential artists in Jazz on saxophone and bass respectively), Tootie has graced some of the art form’s most esteemed records, and has worked with a veritable Who’s Who of Jazz.
Earlier, he joined us for an in-depth oral history, in which we discussed his life and music. …
(Marion Cowings, photo courtesy of the artist)
Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Jon Hendricks, Betty Carter, and many more of Jazz’s legendary vocalists were noted for their ability to sing scat vocals. The use of wordless syllables and sounds enabled vocalists to take instrument-like solos and stretch out their vocal capabilities in some of the most extroardinary improvisations put to record.
But what is scat singing, and how do you practice it?
For what scat singing is, we start with the wonderful vocalists Michael …
(Saxophonist Gary Bartz; Photo: Bob Travis)
Are you considering applying to a conservatory to continue your musical training? How do you practice for that, and what should you be preparing?
Saxophone legend Gary Bartz, who teaches at Oberlin College, shares some advice with you in this Jazz Academy talk. Check it out!
For more thoughts, check out this video with saxophonist (and Juilliard alumna) Erica von Kleist:
Be sure to sign your school up for this year’s Essentially Ellington! Registration has opened today.
It is free to sign up, and participating gets you 8 free charts of music by Duke Ellington and by Fletcher Henderson. It also gets you a variety of classroom and teaching tools, including interactive video lessons via our Tutti app, performance notes, and online coaching. You can also stay up to date on regional festivals coming to your area, and can also submit to …
Phil Woods in 1978 (Photo: Tom Marcello)
Yesterday, the great alto master Phil Woods passed away. Within the pop music world, he was known for his classic solo on Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.” Within Jazz, he’s remembered as one of the greatest alto players this music has produced.
Amassing an extraordinary discographical resume, Woods soon became one of the most influential post-Bird altoists, and also became a crucial advocate for the music, helping to found the Delaware Water Gap …
(James Chirillo, Photo: Frank Stewart)
If you’ve checked out our playlist on YouTube about how to approach rhythm section techniques, you may notice that the rhythm guitarist is getting a clean, high-intensity sound followed by quick decay. This was a necessary component of playing acoustic rhythm guitar in a big band, and to learn more, you can check out some of James Chirillo’s guitar set-up lessons on our site here.
But once your guitar is set up, how do you approach playing …
(Evan Christopher, Photo: Eric Hartman)
If you’ve listened to very early recordings of Jazz (for example, the first instances of recorded Jazz, played by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band), you’ll notice something unusual: the solo is missing. The solo – an artist stepping to the front to improvise on the melody and chord changes while backed by the rest of the band – is such a staple of Jazz that it’s very odd not to hear it in these first recordings.
(Tom Dempsey, Photo Courtesy of the Artist)
When you start playing Jazz Guitar, you may find that the chords you learn in a chord book sound too heavy and too bulky. You might also find that it’s too difficult to move about the fingerboard smoothly when you’re voicing such large chords. However, there’s good news: you don’t have to do those voicings. In fact, with a full rhythm section, you can focus on much sparser outlines of chords for your playing …
(John Coltrane in 1963, Photo: Hugo van Gelderen. Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Today marks what would have been the 89th birthday of the legendary saxophonist, composer, and bandleader John Coltrane!
In celebration, we’ve curated a short playlist on Spotify that plays highlights from his incredibly varied and trailblazing career, from some of his earliest hard bop work, his modal work with Miles Davis, to his groundbreaking quartet, to his ecstatic Free Jazz work that marks his later career.
Click here to listen!