Shadowing the melody on Miles Davis 1958 Stella By Starlight recording

Here’s a listening exercise that may change the way you play jazz:

Have a listen to the famous Miles Davis Quintet recording of Stella By Starlight, from 1958. (The leadsheet is in the Real Book, so you can follow along with that if you wish.)

First, hum the song’s melody as Miles plays it. Stay with the original notes and rhythm, even when he plays something different. Then, and this is the important part, keep humming the melody as you listen to John Coltrane’s tenor sax solo and Bill Evans’ piano solo.

What do you discover? And how does it relate to a lot of other classic jazz improvisation? Can you find 10 more examples?

Miles Davis Quintet: Stella By Starlight (1958)

Have fun!

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