Practicing has been frustrating as of late. On a theoretical level, I know what I'd like my jazz pieces to sound like. However, I've been stuck in a rut as the old practicing techniques applied in learning a Beethoven sonata does not fully apply. Studying the form helps as does studying the harmonic structure, but that's where the similarities end.
How on earth am I supposed to figure out what fills, comping patterns and modes I should use in All the Things You Are? More specifically, how am I supposed to practice? I've dutifully listened to recordings for ideas but after listening to recordings of Vince Guaraldi and Keith Jarrett, my mind becomes stuck in "Yikes! I'll NEVER get this!" mode. I'm starting to sort out what inversions I want for the chords, gradually getting used to playing rootless chords. And that's where I've been stuck. My solos haven't been sounding much better and figuring out my comping patterns is haphazard.
With a colleague/friend's wedding coming up next month, I need to buckle down and finalize my plan for the jazz pieces. Derek's got it easy - he knows all the songs we're playing and has played them on piano and bass, while our other friend/colleague Melodie has sung them all. But our little trio will be in sad shape unless I get out of my rut quickly.
Derek has mentioned using a "scale syllabus" at my last two lessons. He's also dropped hints here and there that I should really start using my How to Play Jazz and Improvise book by Jamey Aebersold (so many books, so little time). Tonight, I finally added 2 + 2 together and got it! There in black in white on page 53 IS the scale syllabus!
Now I don't need to think so hard about which modes/scales will work on a G#7b5 chord or a C7b6 chord. What a beautiful chart it is to behold. I just need to add scale degrees so I can get the patterns more quickly. The Whole & Half Step Construction is nice, but my classically-trained mind understands 1 b3 4 5 b7 8 for the Minor Pentatonic scale more quickly than -3 W W -3 W. Practicing tonight went much more smoothly. I'm fast becoming a fan of the Minor Pentatonic ad Bebop minor scales.
Jamey has come up with a whole series of books on how to play jazz. You can find them on his website, along with a free download of the scale syllabus. Now you too can have what I'm now calling my Lifesaver Cheat Sheet.
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