June 20, 2015: Roger Beaujolais

Many thanks to vibraphonist Roger Beaujolais for tutoring us in a session in which we covered

Lover Man” by Jimmy Davis
Body and Soul” by Johnny Green

Starting with “Lover Man”, we each took a turn playing the head applying our own interpretation to it. After that a round of improvisation was embarked upon with Roger point out the blues F7-Bb7 section.

Roger attempted to get us to up the tension using altered notes whenever a dominant chord was present.

After the break “Body and Soul” was played through with roger pointing out the use of Tritone substitutions at points in the song.

The importance of knowing your instrument discused, especially your arpeggios. Roger showed that simply by connecting arpeggios a melodic solo could be achieved. That’s a lot of work right there. Decorating arpeggios with a leading semitone below created more interest as did other patterns.

Many thanks to Roger for coming to see us.


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.

October 18, 2014: Roger Beaujolais

Many thanks to Roger for an educational session in which we covered:

So What” by Miles Davis
Caravan” by Juan Tizol

In this session Roger wanted to talk about techniques that could be used to handle songs that remain on one chord for a long time. The composition “So What” is 32 bar AABA form with the A section being Dm and the B section Ebm.

The group played through the composition made a bit trickier than usual by the lack of a Bass player.

Roger pointed out an interesting idea of breaking the tune into 4 bar sections and adding tension in the 4th bar of each section by replacing it with the relative dominant 7, in this case A7 and Bb7. This is using the rule that just about any chord can be considered the I and be preceded by it’s V.

These chords raise the tension which is then resolved at the start of the next 4 bar section. The chords can then be altered to further increase the tension.

We could try turning the (say) A7 in to a ii V giving us | Em7 A7 | Dm7  |.  Consider the A7 as a b9 and use the Bb diminished scale.

In the end, you can play just about anything so long as it is melodic or has its own structure and resolves.

We had a few more goes using these techniques. It sounds a lot better when Roger does it.

After the break we had a go at “Caravan”.

Many thanks to Roger for a great session and some good tips.



March 1, 2014: Roger Beaujolais

Many thanks to Roger Beaujolais to an educational session in which we covered:

“Lady Bird” by Tadd Dameron
“Half Nelson” by Miles Davis

This session involved a lot of playing over what was more or less the same chord sequence with Half Nelson being a contrafact on Lady Bird. Both are great tunes with interesting be-bop aspects in each.

Some time was spent on dealing with the unusual turn around in the last two bars that Lady Bird is famous for: CMaj7 EbMaj7 | AbMaj7 DbMaj7. Roger suggested applying a 1-2-3-5 digital pattern to each chord in turn and introduced us to a great practise technique of taking a 1-2-3-5 pattern through the cycle of 4ths C, F, Bb etc, first using a major chord and then a minor and pointing out that any pattern should be treated in the same way so that it becomes ingrained.

Thanks again to Roger.