The Musical life of Gigi Gryce/Jazz history site

Here's a site with some bios of some under-recognized players like Gigi Gryce, Teddy Charles, Joe Locke, Elmo Hope, Kent Glenn (who I had the pleasure of playing with many times in Portland and in NYC), Carl Perkins, Tiny Kahn, Benny Powell, Lucky Thompson and Frank Strozier (one of my all-time favorite alto players).

I just ordered Noal's biography on Gigi Gryce, it look's extremely interesting. Did you know that he converted to Islam and changed his name to Basheer Qusim?

Noal Cohen's Jazz history site


The largest Jazz educational organization in the world is the IAJE. IAJE initiates programs which nurture the understanding and appreciation of jazz and its heritage, provides leadership to educators regarding curriculum and performance, and assists teachers, students, and artists with information and resources. Their yearly convention is the place to schmooze and be schmoozed by educators, players and industry types. The IAJE website is a good place to see what they're all about.


Making Lunch- the Ken Schaphorst Big Band

Ok, so have to I admit that I was googling myself tonight looking for possible promo material. While self-surfing came I ran across a CD recorded in Boston by one of the best bands that I've ever played with. This band was really Rob Scheps' True Colors Big Band, but Ken 'borrowed' it for a record date. The players are all incredible and the music is truly whacked out (in a good way). It was released originally on the Accurate record label. This CD got three and a half stars from Downbeat magazine.

Personnel includes: Ken Schaphorst (leader, arranger); Dave Valdez (alto saxophone); Dmitri Matheny, John Carlson (trumpet); Josh Roseman (trombone);John Medeski (piano); Jim Harp (drums).Recorded at Blue Jay Recording Studio, Carlisle, Massachusetts on January 25 & 26, 1989.

Making Lunch audio clips

Art Lillard's new CD- Reasons to be thankful

Art Lillard is a hard swinging NYC drummer, prolific composer and band leader who I began playing with while living in NYC . He has come out to play with me in Portland during the summers over the last several years. Both his tunes and his playing are extraordinary. He'll be out here again in late July for some more gigs and a recording, so look for him then.

He's put his life-blood as well a small fortune into his newest big band CD. We recorded it at the same studio that Bird with strings was recorded (that was cool to think about while playing). Art has paid some serious dues in the trenches of NYC for decades as a leader and as a sideman. Art swings his ass off!

Here are some audio clips from his CD Reasons to be thankful.

Live at the Jazz Loft!

Here's some live MP3s that I just ran across on the web. This was recorded at Adam's Jazz Loft a few months ago with Dan Schulte's sextet. This is a project that has been together for several years. I'm pretty happy about my alto reeds on these recordings, a rare occurance indeed.

Woitach original
Brushing Up
When the Angels Sing
Shulte original
Dan Schulte, double bass
Christopher Woitach, guitar
Tim Rap, drums
David Valdez, alto sax
Dave Evans, tenor sax
Keller Coker, trombone


Symmetrical Scales-Diminished, Wholetone & Symetrical Major

This is an important topic relating to material that I recently covered in my class. Blogger seach engine
sucks, making this hard to find so I am re-posting this article:

I'd like to expand on this topic since it is such an important element in improvisation. In modern western music we use a system of tuning that divides each octave into twelve equal semi-tones. Using this system we find that there are only a certain number of possible ways to create symmetrical scales. The ear hears these scales differently than other scales because they are expressions of pure relationships of whole number intervals. We pick them out immediately and can easily predict the next note. The system that I outline here is found in Nicholas Slonimsky's classic book 'The Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. This book has influenced generations of classical composers and Jazz improvisers alike. The pure definition of a symmetrical scale is a scale that covers one or
more octaves with equal intervallic scales between each note. The first symmetrical scale happens when you divide one octave equally into two parts (or the 1:2 scale). This is a scale that consists of just two different notes, in the key of C -C & F#. The next one is the 1:3 scale, or the augmented triad- C, E, Ab. Next is the 1:4 scale or the diminished 7th chord- C, Eb, Gb, A. {Again, remember that scales can have any number of notes}. If we divide one octave equally into six parts we get the whole-tone scale or 1:6 scale. There are two symmetrical scales that we think of in Jazz improvisation are the whole tone scale and the diminished scale. The diminished scale is really just two 1:4 scales (augmented chords) a whole-step apart. Let's deal with these in more detail since they are used the most in Jazz improvisation. A diminished scale fits over a dominant seventh b9 and/or #9 chord (see notes from my workshop). So over a C7b9 you would play the diminished scale a half-step up- C# diminished. There are many common diminished licks that every young Jazzer thinks are great when they first discover them. These are really cool until you realize that just about every jazz player on the planet over-uses them at the beginning of their careers. They are as cliché as you can possibly get! As a matter of fact, it is hard not to sound cliché when using this scale. Because they are symmetrical you must play them UNSYMETRICALLY in order to sound interesting. The Slonimsky book is a great place to find interesting non-cliche diminished and whole tone patterns.

Some ideas for hipper diminished (and WT:#1-3) patterns-
1. play patterns with intervals that contain wider intervals

2. add leading tones/approach notes that are outside the scale

3. instead of 4 note repeating patterns (like usual cliché patterns) use 5
or 7 note patterns, so they shift around in the bar.

4. think of the diminished scale as two diminished chords, alternate between the two chords.

5. alternate between diminished scale and the diminished scale a half-step
up. Remember to keep in mind that diminished scales resolve down in half-steps.
Diminished scales moving down in half-steps is like Dominant seventh flat ninth chords moving around the circle of fifths. So if you're playing over a dominant seventh flat-ninth chord you can play the diminished scale up a whole step from the root, then the diminished scale a half-step below that (up a half-step from the root of the dominant chord). This implies a V7b9 of V7 to V7b9.

Original chords:

D-7 / G7b9 / Cmaj7

You play:

Adim /Ab dim /

Implying this:

D7b9 /G7b9 /

Each diminished chord is exactly the same notes as THREE other diminished chords. Each dominant 7th b9 chord is therefore almost exactly the same as three other dominant 7th b9 chords-

C7b9 is related to: Eb7b9, F#7b9 and A7b9- these chords are the same except for ONE NOTE difference.

So here's where things get interesting.........

You may substitute any of these chords for any other chord AND THEIR RELATED ii-7s!!!!!!!

So put in to practice it looks like this:

/D-7 /G7b9 /Cmaj7 /

You may substitute:
/F-7 /Bb7b9 /Cmaj7 /
/Ab-7 /Db7b9 /Cmaj7 /
/B-7 /E7b9 /Cmaj7 /
Or even hipper:
/D-7 /F-7 Ab-7/Cmaj7/ (Thanks Mover!)

Mover reminded me that when you're adding substitions you can use the related ii-7s rather than the V7s. Bob says that Phil Woods does this. This seems fairly obvious yet most players don't do this very often.

For example here is a two-five in various stages of substitution:
D-7 /G7 /Cmaj7 /
D-7 /C#7 /Cmaj7 /
G#7 /C#7 /Cmaj7 /
Eb-7/Ab-7 /Cmaj7 /

We know that Trane was very deep into the Slonimsky book. His 'sheets of
sound' period was just this very type of substitution. You could call this
type of substitution a 'Four Tonic System'. Later he started exploring
1:3 and 2:3 substitutions, these are the classic Giant Steps (Countdown,
Fifth House, ect) 'Three Tonic System' subs. This system spawned a school
that is sometimes called the 'Jewish Tenor School' ;) The key exponents of
this school are Brecker, Grossman, Liebman and the late great Bob Berg. There are other players, like saxophonists Rick Margitza and the Northwest's Burt Wilson who have thoroughly incorporated this system into their playing . This is a modern 'New York' sound. The three tonic system is being used not only over ii-7 V7s but over almost anything and everything! It has so much internal momentum that it can be used as a way to go outside without losing forward motion. Personally I find it really hard to use the three tonic system without sounding too much like I'm playing patterns. I find the four tonic system a bit easier to use without sounding stiff. Bob Mover once told me that he thought that the three tonic system had ruined the course of modern Jazz. I do see his point. Back at Berklee a horn player I knew had T-shirts made with one of the most famous Grossman licks on it, the one that sounds like this- weeee-ba-da-ba-doo-be-ahh. Any Steve Grossman fan knows just the one I'm talking about......

  • One more symetrical type scale is called the 'Symetrical Major' scale. This exotic sounding scale is made up of three major triads major thirds apart.


This is nice over a Cmaj7, Emaj7, and Abmaj7 chords since it has leading tones to each note of the major triad.

There are other symetrical scales in Slonomisky's book just waiting to be applied to Jazz improvisation!


Free streaming Jazz videos

Here is the motherload of streaming Jazz videos!

There are videos of Bird with Colman Hawkins, Trane, MOnk, Wes Montgomery, Bird & Diz, Hawk in Belgium, Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, The Mingus sextet, Cannonball's sextet on German TV, El Gran Combo, George Benson, Fania All-Stars, John Lee Hooker, Pharoah Sanders, Jimi Hendricks, Live Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Bill Evans trio, Django, James Brown, Miles & Trane, Los Van Van, Paco De Lucia, Herbie Hancock.

Music videos at Daily motion
This link is just for one user on dailymotion.com, there are even more videos on this site. Just search for Jazz . Tim DuRoche turned me on to this site. Thanks Tim!


Bob Keller's massive collection of Jazz links

Bob Keller has put together the most comprehensive collection of Jazz educational links ever. I'm serious, this is the shit.

Bob Keller's Jazz Page


On studying with Tristano & Hal Overton

Jack Reilly is a prominent NYC pianist and educator who has recently entered the Blogo-sphere. On his blog he talks about his studies with Lennie and Hal Overton, also Bill Evans' harmony.
Jack Reilly's Blog

Thanks for the link Andreas!