October 4, 2014: Tommaso Starace

Many thanks to Tommaso for an educational session in which we covered the following tunes:

“Anthropology” by Charlie Parker
“Lullaby of Birdland” by George Shearing

Much of the session was investigating “Anthropology” by Charlie Parker which is a contrafact of Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm”. We spent some time covering the tricky head, ramping up the speed to a reasonable level.

Improvisation was discussed with particular emphasis on learning the chord tones, to which end we all played through using just the triads from the root, and then 7th chords from the root.

The bridge can be tackled in a similar fashion, but Tommaso introduced us to using the whole-tone scale, in particular creating patterns by alternating the augmented triads found within it. Another approach was to use a diminished scale, considering the original dominant chords a 7b9. Of course, these tools sounded great when in the hands of our tutor and showed that correct resolution is always required when using this sort of tool.

After the break “Lullaby of Birdland” was played through. Tommaso showed the importance of taking a head and making it your own using, delay, anticipation, leading/grace notes and improvisational fills. Several of the members were singled out to do similar with some very nice performances before everyone had a go at improvising over the form.

We returned to “Anthropology” and attempted to learn it by heart, phrase by phrase so that at the end most if not all of the members could play it by heart without reference to the sheet music.

Many thank to Tommaso for a great session.