March 14, 2015: Matthew Roberts

Many thanks to Matthew Roberts who shepherded us through a session in which we covered:

“Functional” by Thelonious Monk
“Stealin’ Trash” by Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis

“Functional” is a Bb blues on which Matthew got us to improvise use solely the Bb blues scale so that we could focus on nailing the timing.

We talked about the transition to the IV chord at the end of bar four and how to use tension to highlight this change. Referencing an excellent work sheet that he had furnished us with, he discussed and showed on the piano on how a dominant 7 could have more and more alterations on it, making it increasingly dissonant. Along with each of these alterations is an associated scale/mode that can be applied.

Rather than attempting to learn all these scales, Matthew recommended that instead we learn what each alteration sounds like and to which note on the I that it resolves to. To this end, the second part of the supplied worksheets contained a number of ii-V-I licks, each of which showed a different alteration and its resolution.

Having learnt the first lick incorporating a b9, we all then had another go at Functional with each person taking a solo and then everyone applying the lick whenever it could. His advice on how to really learn a lick is to be able to play it and then to go to a tune and apply it whenever it can be applied until it becomes natural.

“Stealin’ Trash” is Eb Rhythm Changes. After playing through this, we applied the same lick to all the ii-V and anything ii or V-ish in the tune.

We learned that the theme to “University Challenge” is rhythm changes.

Many thanks to Matthew for a highly educational session.