Advanced Jazz

Let’s get started with some classic jazz/funk, with many ways to solo on Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon.”

Soloing on “Chameleon”: Scales, chords, and modes, over various LH accompaniments

George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” is one of the fundamental chord progressions in all of jazz (the 12-bar blues is the other one).  Because parts of “Rhythm Changes” appear in so many songs, we want to study these chords in-depth.  These lessons will show you how advanced voicings are derived from more basic harmony, and they’ll also provide you with examples of improvised phrases, chord substitutions, and rhythmic comping for each section of “Rhythm Changes.”  Practice each of the examples thoroughly until they become part of your playing. 

Jazz Harmony 3: “Rhythm Changes” (m.1-4):  An in-depth look at the first 4 measures of “Rhythm Changes”

Jazz Harmony 4: “Rhythm Changes” (m.5-8):  An in-depth look at measures 5-8 of “Rhythm Changes”

Jazz Harmony 5: “Rhythm Changes” (bridge):  3 ways to play the bridge to “Rhythm Changes”

This is an exercise I do myself.  You’ll also hear this in Keith Jarrett’s recent solo piano work, such as he played on his Carnegie Hall Concert recording.

Developing Technique Through Improvisation: A fun improvisation exercise to help your technique

Jazz Waltzes can be played with a wide range of rhythmic feels. Here’s a general approach that you can use on tunes such as “Someday My Prince Will Come.”

Jazz Styles: Lesson 1: Jazz Waltz (Part 1): The basic jazz waltz rhythm

Now we’re going to take an in-depth look at Keith Jarrett’s left hand patterns and how to solo over them. Have fun with these!

The Art of Keith Jarrett Lesson 3: Using a wide vocabulary

The Art of Keith Jarrett Lesson 6 : A multi-textured LH pattern

The Art of Keith Jarrett Lesson 7 : Moving a vamp through a chord progression

The Art of Keith Jarrett Lesson 8: A gospel-influenced vamp

Ballads from The Great American Songbook sound wonderful when played in a slow stride style.  Thus is a fun, relaxing way to play jazz ballads and you can use lots of melodic embellishment and improv as you harmonize the melodies with your right hand over the left hand stride pattern.

Jazz Ballads: Lesson 7: “Indian Summer” in a slow stride style

Pianists and arrangers such as Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Gil Evans, Clare Fischer, and Keith Jarrett use melodic motion to come up with fresh and creative chord voicings.  Check out their work as you practice this lesson.

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 1: Linear Harmony (Part 1): 1 inner voice within a ii/V/I progression

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 2: Linear Harmony (Part 2): Becoming fluent with ‘alto’ voices

Here are a few Blues Scale Etudes in a variety of styles to learn and improvise on.  You’ll see that they each have elements you can use in your jazz playing.

‘D’ Blues Scale Etude: Barrelhouse blues and Classic Rock and Roll

‘C#’ Blues Scale Etude: A lively ‘perpetual motion’ piece

‘B’ Blues Scale Etude: A dazzling, virtuoso-style ‘take’ on the Blues Scale

Now let’s look at how you can use modes to generate chord progressions and voicings.  Many musicians in addition to Jarrett use this technique, including Herbie Hancock and arranger Gil Evans.  You can use when playing standards too!

The Art of Keith Jarrett Lesson 9: Floating Chords (Part 1)

The Art of Keith Jarrett Lesson 10: Floating Chords (Part 2)

These General Improvisation lessons show you a powerful way to improvise completely new pieces.  You can also apply these techniques to playing tunes as well, which can keep your music fresh and inspired.  I once soloed over Take The ‘A’ Train using the “Sketching” concept and received a standing ovation.  It brought my playing to places I have never gone before!

“Sketching” at the piano: A refinement of the ‘Fingerpainting” approach in the previous lesson

Picasso Improv: Picasso-inspired improvisations

Keith Jarrett is famous for “starting from nothing” when beginning a solo piano concert.  Here’s one way to do this yourself.

The Art of Keith Jarrett Lesson 11: Finding a chord progression

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 3 (Adv): Linear Harmony (Part 3): 2-voice improv on “Body and Soul”

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 4 (Adv): Linear Harmony (Part 4): 2-voice improv on “The Girl From Ipanema”

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 5 (Adv): Linear Harmony (Part 5): Adding an alto voice to “Dolphin Dance”

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 6 (Adv): Linear Harmony (Part 6): Linear motion on “Blue Room”

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 7 (Adv): Linear Harmony (Part 7): A continuous counter-melody on “Blue Room”

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 8 (Adv): Linear Harmony (Part 8): Rhythmically fluid inner-voice motion on “Blue Room”

If you’ve ever wanted to develop your LH technique, the key is to simply play more melodies with your left hand! Here’s a beautiful-sounding way to use LH countermelodies on a ballad. Bud Powell, my teacher Billy Taylor, and many other great jazz pianists have used this texture, and this lesson will get you started with it in a big way.

Jazz Ballads: Lesson 13 (Int/Adv): “Indian Summer:” A melodic LH with countermelodies

Here’s an extremely powerful way of practicing improv, by beginning with the tune’s original melody and gradually getting farther and farther away from it. You can apply any of these steps to your music at any time. (For instance, at a jam session or on a gig.)

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 12 (Adv): Melody-based jazz improv (Part 1): Starting with the original melody

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 13 (Adv): Melody-based jazz improv (Part 2): Rhythmic improv on the original melody

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 14 (Adv): Melody-based jazz improv (Part 3): Adding neighbor and passing tones

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 15 (Adv): Melody-based jazz improv (Part 4): Moving away from the basic melody

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 16 (Adv): Melody-based jazz improv (Part 5): Using motifs

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 17 (Adv): Melody-based jazz improv (Part 6): Expanding upon a melody’s unique character

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 18 (Adv): Melody-based jazz improv (Part 7): Gradually getting away from the original melody

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 19 (Adv): Melody-based jazz improv (Part 8): Moving towards pure improvisation

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 20 (Adv): Melody-based jazz improv (Part 9): Soloing while hearing the melody internally

Advanced Jazz: Lesson 21 (Adv): Melody-based jazz improv (Part 10): Playing an entirely new solo