June 13, 2015: Tommaso Starace

Many thanks to saxophonist Tommaso Starace for tutoring the session in which we covered:

“Killer Joe” by Benny Golson
“Whisper Not” by Benny Golson

Looping on the first part C7-Bb7 vamp of Killer Joe, Tommaso suggested a few approaches we might use. The one he particularly wanted to used was triad pairs, alternating between C and Bb triads and their inversions – these could be played over either of the vamp chords. We all had a go at this, but (for me) it is definitely something for the woodshed. Tommaso also suggested playing out by alternating the consonant triads with up a semitone triads to good effect.

Other suggestions were the use of the pentatonic scale (C minor) and playing a digital pattern 1-3-5, 2-4-6, 3-5-7 over the changes.

The bridge section was then tackled and we all had a blow over the changes. In a fit of sadism, Tommaso got us to perform a complete chorus with only drums. this is very telling, and shows up (as Tommaso pointed out) any lack of knowledge of the arpeggios.

After the break we played through Whisper Not.

Many thanks to Tommaso for an enlightening session.

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.