March 7, 2015: James Brady

Many thanks to trumpet master and educator James Brady for an enjoyable session in which we covered:

“Up Jumped Spring” by Freddie Hubbard
“From Gagarin’s Point of View” by Esborn Svensson

Starting with a bit of a warm up using some scalar patterns, James showed how even those could be made to sound more interesting by varying the rhythms and even just by starting the phrase from a different point in the bar.

A run through “Up Jumped Spring” (a waltz) turns out to be quite a challenging composition. A particular sequence of alternating 3/4 bars of Dm to Ebm was looped for further investigation. Focusing phrases heavily on the 3rd and b7th of the two chords was a particularly successful approach. Ignoring the Ebm and continuing to play Dm was a bit more of a challenging listen, but if you glared at the audience whilst doing it, you could get away with it. Or you were Michael Brecker.

This brought us on to guide tones where James presented us with an interesting analysis of the tune on two staves, one with the guide tones and the other with the notes that changed between the chords. That was particularly interesting as blank bars showed that nothing changes whereas dense bars showed a lot of change. The co-op had another go at the tune, this time focussing on the guide tones which in general/theory results in a more coherent improvisation.

“From Gagarin’s Point of View” is a sparse composition which because of the lack of harmonic motion is suitable to have other harmonic ideas superimposed on it. In particular dissonance to create a lot of tension by playing ideas a semitone away from where you might expect them to be. James discussed a few ideas, and the groups had a go too. Great ideas in small portions, but I couldn’t eat a whole one.

Thanks again to James for an interesting session.

James Brady at the Cambridge Jazz Co-op
James Brady at the Cambridge Jazz Co-op