3 Easy Ways to Start Composing Jazz Now!

As aspiring jazz musicians, we find ourselves mostly focused on the art of Improvisation, a paramount skill for playing jazz. Another less discussed but equally important skill is Composition. Composition is essentially the same as Improvisation, except instead of creating music spontaneously in the moment, one is creating music in a slower, more controlled process. […]

4 Guidelines for Pentatonic Improv

Don’t use pentatonics exclusively – This gets old fast. Pentatonics work best when they are mixed in with other harmonic language and textures. By combining pentatonics with chord-scale relationships, you can create countless paths to navigate changes. Start inside, take it out, then bring it back in – Pentatonics create tension. For this tension to […]

3 Step Process to Assimilate Improv Concepts

Have you ever wanted to incorporate a musical idea into your playing but struggled to get past the “Copy and Paste” phase? This process will help you internalize musical ideas and make them a part of who you are, not just a lick that you can play. First, decide on a musical subject. Identify a […]

What is a Bebop Scale? And Why Is It Important?

Are Bebop Scales the secret to unlocking the mystery of bebop improvisation for you? No. In order to truly sound authentic with bebop improvisation, you must develop a solid bebop vocabulary and incorporate staples of bebop phraseology such as: enclosures, chromaticism, triplets in between a string of eighth notes, and particular sounds like the altered […]

How to Be a Great Modern Improviser

Part I: Understanding What “Modern” Improv Is First, let’s take a broad look at where improvisation started, and how we’ve ended up where we are today. Many people are unaware of the fact that improvisation began long before jazz ever existed. There was a time when the great composers could sit at the piano and […]

Modal Improvisation – Coltrane’s “Pursuance”: Achieving A Modern Sound

Recently, I had the privilege of performing Jim McNeely’s arrangements of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme with Joe Lovano in a series of concerts at Jazz at Lincoln Center and Aaron Davis Hall CCNY.  A Love Supreme notably includes 2 major piano solos, in the 2nd movement (“Resolution”) as well as the 3rd movement (“Pursuance”). […]

8 Ways Bebop Revolutionized Jazz Forever

In many ways, Bebop can seem like a footnote in the timeline of jazz history.  After all, it lasted only a mere five years or so in the late 40’s, half a century removed from its historic roots in New Orleans. And it would be less than a decade before Miles Davis released his landmark record […]

Shaping Lines Rhythmically — Changing Rates: 8ths, Triplets, and 16ths

Staying in one rhythmic zone – whether it be eighth notes or double time sixteenth note lines – can sound monotonous over the course of an entire solo. A way to bring about rhythmic freshness is to alternate between eighth note, eighth note triplet, and sixteenth note phrases. The key is to make the transition […]

Behind The Scenes: 3 Takeaways From Barry Harris Masterclass

On Monday, October 2nd, 2017 I had the privilege of participating in Barry Harris’ Masterclass at Manhattan School of Music as his ginny pig pianist. Barry is a bebop pioneer whose teaching has played an important part in the development of many jazz musicians. Here are 3 takeaways from what he showed me at this […]

SAQ: Why Do We Practice?

A common FAQ is “What Should I Practice?”. But a more important SAQ (“should ask question”) is “Why Do I Practice?”. Many have defined practicing as “the act of rehearsing a behavior over and over, or engaging in an activity again and again, for the purpose of improving or mastering it, as in the phrase […]