Randy Porter's Be-Bop harmonic devices

I had my first private lesson with pianist Randy Porter today. It's been years since I had a formal lesson with anybody. Randy has one of the deepest harmonic and rhythmic concepts I've ever encountered, plus he is my favorite saxophonist's (Charles McPherson) favorite pianist. We looked at a couple of standards and he gave me some new ideas to think about. One interesting harmonic device he showed me was a classic Bop delayed resolution for a Major chord. When you have a Major chord all you do is play a diminished chord/scale from the root of the Major chord and then resolve to the Major chord.

So in the context of a ii-7 V7 Imaj7 it looks like this:

D-7 / G7 / Cdim Cmaj7/

Simple, just really nice classic Be-Bop.

Another thing he talked about was using a melodic minor up a fourth over a Major chord, then resolving to a Major 6 chord.

So over two bars of Gmaj7:

C-maj7 / G6 /

This is something McPherson likes to do and it sounds cool. It kind of suggests a G maj bebop scale by bringing out the #5 of the Major. I Guess you could look at this as a special function dominant b7 with a #11
. You should really try to bring out the melodic minor sound with this one and then resolve to the 6th of the Major.

The most modern thing we worked on was four tonic substitutions over a Minor chord.
Randy had me play over Solar and over the first two bars of Cmin we substituted four different dominant 7th #9 chords, resolving after each one to the Cmelodic min. This is kind of a variation of Barry Harris' diminished subs where you can substitute any dominant seventh chord Minor thirds away from any other Dominant.

Example: over a C7 you can play a Eb7, Gb7, or A7 .

What we did was this-

C-7 /C-7 /C-7 / C-7 /

We played this:
D7alt Cmel- / F7a
lt Cmel- / Ab7alt Cmel- / B7alt Cmel- /

or you can think of it like this:
Ebmel- Cmel-/ F#mel- Cmel-/ Amel- Cmel- / Cmelodic- /

Randy seems to be
able to play anything over anything and still sound great. These harmonic devices seemed to be true classical BeBop (except the last one). My buddy Tom said that McPherson had shown him some of the same things when he took a lesson with him. I would highly encourage anyone to study with either of these modern Jazz masters. Charles McPherson lives in San Diego and is always available for private students and Randy Porter is in Portland, Oregon. If you're lucky you may just be able to hear them play together, otherwise check out their recordings.

Randy Porter's recordings
Randy Porter's workshops
Contact Randy Porter at: randyporter@randyporter.com

Charles McPherson's recordings (also try iTunes)
Contact Charles McPherson at: jazz@charlesmcpherson.com


Adam said...

What are the top must-have Charles McPherson albums from your perspective? I know he's a great player I just don't know squat about what he's done. - Thanks, Adam

David Carlos Valdez said...

I was just talking to Randy about the fact that Charles sounds so much better in person than he does on recordings. He said that Charles is a very high strung person and he gets nervous on recording sessions. The best recoding I´ve heard was something that Randy played me that was unreleased. C Mac sounded incredible, totally relaxed. I really like his recent recording called Manhattan Nocturn. The one after that is called Come Play with Me and I don´t think his sound is as happening on that one.

Anonymous said...

That's a cool post. Am going to try some of the ideas myself! Thanks Dave. =)

Anonymous said...

For the D-7 G7 Cdim CMaj, I learnt this from my guitar teacher, Tony DeCaprio. And Kurt Rosenwinkel mentioned it on the notice board on his website too (go and do a couple of artful searches to find it). It's a great way of justifying a few funky tones against the C Maj chord, and to get into a neat sequence too, because if you play B diminished over the G7 you can repeat an aspect of your melody up a half step to herald Cdim!

As for the C-M7 over G, I remember reading John Stowell justified this as implying an altered dominant chord, which is certainly one dimension in looking at it. But, getting back to Tony DeCaprio, he teaches following Schoenberg that the a iv minor chord (of ANY quality) is a worthy sub because of the laws of Modal Interchange. Too heavy to go into detail here, but a ii-7b5 sub for a ii-7 is just a iv chord function.

Way to have such a hip blog dude! I'm a newcomer and am enjoying myself immensely!

David Carlos Valdez said...

Cool Tom,
The B dim is the most logical choice for delayed resolution to Cmaj, since it's the V7b9 of I. I didn't even really think of playing both of them. Thanks man!

Anonymous said...

My pleasure, your blog is a joy! With the subs over the tonic C minor chord, was D7alt chosen for any particular reason for the starting chord of the Diminished Cycle? It's interesting for me because I know that a II chord can cadence to the I without going through the V, but this is the first time I've observed an altered dominant II chord doing such.

David Carlos Valdez said...

It doesn't matter which altered chord or Melodic minor you start with. Any of them work alone or together with the others.

Anonymous said...

Cool! Thanks mate ;)