February 28, 2015: Alex Hutton

Many thanks to amazing pianist Alex Hutton who equipped with his blackboard took us through the dominant seven heavy compositions:

Just in Time” by Jule Styne
Doxy” by Sonny Rollins

Ever with hope in his heart, Alex helps up handle compositions containing sequences of dominant seventh, using a number of techniques

  • Arpeggio/scales
  • Stacked thirds
  • Triad pairs
  • Domininant Bebop scale
  • Pentatonics

The dominant bebop scale (mixolydian with an extra major 7) was shown as a connecting device usually descending and always as a scalar fragment rather than a pick and mix that might be used with other scales.

Pentatonics were a particularly interesting sound reminiscent of McCoy Tyner although (apparently) Alex was showing sixth based ones whereas McCoy would be using sevenths. Suggestions for the pentatonic scales were:

Am6: 1 b2 3 5 7
D7: 1 2 3 5 b7
D7b9: 1 b2 3 5 b7

As with all these things, they sound amazing in the hands of a master, less so in mine. Back to the shed.

February 21, 2015: David Ellingham and Giulio Lampronti

Due to the unfortunate illness of the scheduled tutor, David and Giulio stood in to give us an educational session in which we covered:

“Tenor Madness” by Sonny Rollins
“Whisper Not” by Benny Golson

We started with a headless Bb blues with each of the members took a couple of choruses of improvisation. David and Giulio pointed out that one of the great points of interest in the blues is the movement to the IV7 chord in the fourth bar and at which point all sorts of extra tension can be introduced from a simple ii-V-I7 and its tritone substitution. We tried quite a few of these sequences both with the rhythm section playing the substitutions and without; this showed that if the backing played the substitions as well, the desired tension was much less.

A few tricks in the Bb blues where to play the E triad or Bm triad in the third bar to really emphasise and ramp up the tension without having to use exotic scales. So long as you play with intent and resolve correctly is works well.

Using the new tricks we had a play through Tenor Madness.

After the break we had some fun with Whisper Not.

Many thanks to David and Giulio for stepping in at short notice.

February 14, 2015: Paul Jayasinha

Many thanks to excellent trumpeter Paul Jayasinha for a fun session in which we covered:

Memories of Tomorrow” by Keith Jarrett
“Aldeia de Ogum” by Joyce

Starting with “Memories of Tomorrow” a.k.a. The Koln Concert, part IIc, the group had a play through after which Paul went through the tune determining approaches aid improvisation. One thing noted was that the tune was fundamentally diatonic to C/Am so any improvisation based on those scales would just about work. We also played through arpeggiating each chord to get the harmony a bit more under our fingers. A few tricky sections were looped and each member had a go at tackling them, before the whole tune was played through again.

After the break we had a bit of rhythm training involving sitting, creating a pulse by alternately tapping our feet on the ground and then tapping our knees with our hands twice as often as the background stomping. With that in place, Paul got us to generate interesting rhythms by slapping our knees slightly harder on the given beats of the bar. Harder than it seems.

Finally “Aldeia de Ogum” which sets up an interesting groove over which to have a bit of a blow. Paul brought lots of parts to set up an authentic sounding arrangment of the tune. Great fun.

Thanks again to Paul for an interesting and fun session.

February 7, 2015: Carl Orr

Many thanks to the amazing guitarist Carl Orr for an enjoyable session in which we covered:

Birk’s Works” by Dizzy Gillespie
Maiden Voyage” by Herbie Hancock

“Birk’s Works” is a minor blues in F and Carl encouraged us not to overthink it and use the F blues scale liberally.

Once the deceptively tricky backing rhythm to “Maiden Voyage” was learned Carl discussed changing the backing groove in order to create a bit more interest. At one point the backing changed to double-time, much to the chagrin of the soloist that had the rug pulled from beneath them.

Many thanks to Carl.

January 31, 2015: Roger Beaujolais

In a packed sessions under the tutelage of ace vibe-ist Roger Beaujolais we covered:

Rhythm-a-ning” by Thelonious Monk
Moose the Mooche” by Charlie Parker
Oleo” by Sonny Rollins

A fun session in which the co-op was tested using a number of contrafacts on (I got) rhythm changes at various tempos and with various complexity of the heads; Moose the Mooche being quite challenging on both fronts.

Many thanks to Roger.

January 10, 2015: Damon Brown International Quintet

Many thanks to Damon Brown (trumpet), Jesse Davis (alto), Paul Kirby (piano), Martin Zenker (bass) and Billy Hart (drums) for giving us a master splendid master class.

To start the session the group performed a couple of numbers:

An unknown blues.
I’ll Remember April” by Gene de Paul.

The group then took questions from the co-op members.

The co-op members were given the opportunity to perform a bit to get some advice from the visitors. A valiant septet performed “Sonnymoon for Two” followed and a larger group that performed “All Blues”.

Sage advice was given by all the visitors:

Know your instrument: learn your scales in thirds, fourths, etc.

Listen to Jazz.

Tune Up.