Larry McKenna's solo on My Shining Hour

Saxophonist Jeff Rzepiela is a regular contributor to Casa Valdez and has a great website of his own called Scooby-sax, which offers a ton of transcriptions for download. Jeff has transcribed and analyzed Larry McKenna's solo on My Shining Hour. This solo utilizes a lot of chromatic Bebop approaches which Jeff examines in great detail.

Larry McKenna's solo on My Shining Hour (with analysis)

Larry McKenna's website


How To Make Your Jazz Melodies Swing More

   This post was written by guest blogger Steve Nixon, who runs the website Freejazzlessons.com                                                                                                        

Have you ever played the melody of a jazz tune from a fakebook and realized what was written there just doesn’t feel right? Something seems missing rhythmically but you’re just not sure what it is?  Well, you’re not alone.  Most of the time what our favorite and most swingin’ players play on a standard is very different than what’s written in a fakebook. 

 So, how do we get our melodies to sound more authentic and to swing more?  Let’s take a closer look…..We’ll use the famous jazz tune Autumn Leaves because almost everybody is familiar with it. First, we will look at a “normal” version of Autumn Leaves. This is an an 8 bar example of how it’s written in most fake books. There are no swing rhythms added.

Now, we’ll take a listen to a guy like Chet Baker play the tune Autumn Leaves.  You can hear how well it swings.

 So, what did Chet do to make his melodies swing so hard?  What’s the difference between the original fakebook version and Chet’s version?

If you were listening closely you heard that Chet Baker played many of the same pitches as the original melody.  What was different though, were the rhythms. That’s where the “magic” lies. Chet Baker changes the rhythms. Lets take a look now at a couple of the rhythmic devices Chet uses and see if we can incorporate them in our own playing.

The first device that Chet uses is something called an anticipation.  If we want to anticipate a melody note we would take a melody note that would normally start on the downbeat and pull it back one eighth note.  Instead, the melody note would be played on the & of 4  I’ve written out the first 8 bars of Autumn Leaves again but this time I’ve added anticipations in there to demonstrate this technique more effectively.  (You can compare it to the original chart above).

Example: See how the D that would normally be played on beat 1 on the Bbmaj7 chord is instead  played an eighth note early in the previous measure.  That’s an anticipation.

Delayed Attack
Another rhythmic device that Chet uses is something called a delayed attack.  A delayed attack is a simple type of syncopation in which we take a melody note that would normally start on a downbeat and push it forward one eighth note.

The first melody note G normally starts on beat 2.  By adding a delayed attack I’m now starting the melody note on the & of 2.  Chet Baker and I both use the device every 2 bars as written here.

How To Practice Anticipations and Delayed Attacks

As you can see these anticipations and delayed attacks can really make your melodies swing more.

Now that you are aware of these cool swing rhythmic devices we should talk about a good way to practice them.  I recommend taking your favorite jazz standard that features a lot of quarter notes. This could be any tune (if you need a suggestion perhaps consider Here’s That Rainy Day). Spend some time adding these rhythms in.  If you’re not sure you can execute these rhythms entirely by ear or feel yet then there is nothing wrong with rewriting out the melody with anticipations and delayed attacks added in.

 Almost all my students can eventually feels these rhythms intuitively once they’ve added them into a jazz standard or tune.

So, how about you? What are some of your favorite rhythmic devices to make your music swing harder? If you enjoyed reading this post please leave a comment below.
For more of Steve Nixon's Jazz lessons check out Freejazzlessons.com



I got back from my trip to India last week. I'm still kind of recovering from the jet lag, cough and intestinal shock from the trip. It was the most incredible trip I've ever taken. My wife and I saw temples, ashrams, world heritage monuments, holy cities, Sufi durgas, museums, craft markets, and so much more.

One thing that was surprising to me about Indians was their view of teachers. When I told people that I was a music teacher they all had the same reaction, great respect. They said that teachers were the closest profession to god, and deserved higher respect than doctors, lawyers or politicians. They recognize that civilization is founded on the work that teachers do and that there is no greater work that one can do. Kind of a different view than how teachers are thought of here in the States.

I posted a ton of my pictures from India on my Facebook page, so here is a link to my India trip photo album.