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Jazz Piano Lessons: The Blues in F

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In this lesson we're gonna get
an overview of the first project we're
undertaking here in our
jazz piano lessons.
And that's to play an F7 blues.
Classic jazz changes.
It's probably one of the first chord
progressions that anybody ever blew
a solo on.
And we're gonna put the elements together.
And we're gonna try to put them together
relatively quickly, so that you're making
a line, a really nice recognizable
jazz line, as fast as possible.
The F seven blues has four
chords in it basically.
That's F seven B flat seven
G minor seven and C seven.
We're gonna learn a scale that
works on each of these cords.
And it's a little bit different then the
scales that you might already know, and
I'll explain why in our next lesson.
Then we're going to learn something
called an approach pattern and
that's a little hinge that kind
of connects our lines together.
You will recognize it from any jazz
solo you've probably ever heard.
And that's
That's the first one, there are four of
those and you'll find with just these two
tools you can actually be
making a very nice line and
kind of improvising your
way through the changes.
The next thing we're gonna do once
we get that under our fingers,
the basic principle, is we're gonna start
to do some technique exercises that
use these scales in that approach pattern.
When we practice jazz,
at least when I practice jazz,
it's a different thing
than classical exercises,
you might be familiar
with the Hanon exercises.
That kind of thing,
where the objective is to strive for
consistency and
you're kind of building
the musculature you need.
With the jazz exercises, I like to try
to make them sound like a jazz line.
So I do play Hanons to warm up,
but I play them like this.
That kind of thing.
And we're gonna do that with these scales,
and with the approach pattern.
Later we're gonna get into
practicing Hanons that way.
As we work on our exercises,
we're going to work on our time.
Because a really critical element of jazz,
the thing that makes jazz as a matter of
fact is the time that
we're playing things in.
And the time is there not just to sit
within, but to work against and great
jazz musicians since the very beginnings
since Louis Armstrong, since before him.
It's always been a thing of
laying back against the time.
You play consistently
back behind the beat.
And while we're doing exercises, you know,
there's a lot of merit to
playing right in the beat.
For example if you expand beyond playing
straight-ahead swinging jazz into playing
more funk-based or Latin-based jazz.
But as we practice, I guess my point
is that we can work on other aspects of
our line, and we can work on them in
such a way that they're isolated.
Part of our brain isn't
working on what the line is,
cuz that's a given cuz it's an exercise.
As we work on those exercises, when we
get a couple lessons down the road here,
we're gonna talk a lot about technique and
especially about the idea of
being relaxed as we practice.
Jazz is not an uptight art,
jazz is a very relaxed thing, as intense
as it can get it's important that you be
relaxed, so we're going to work on that.
We'll work on some ear training because
the ear is really king in jazz.
And you'll find as you learn to
play that playing a great solo is
some kind of combination of things that
are, under your fingers already in a way,
and then stuff that just seems to
spring from the forehead of Zeus,
stuff that's purely in the moment.
Miles Davis had a classic quote one time
where he said that if he played one new
thing a night, he was happy.
And of course, he's being kind
of hard on himself there, but
it is a combination of things.
It's not rote but
it's things that you can easily access,
you start to find that you think
of things as a sequence of
notes rather than which
note per follows what.
We're gonna transcribe
a little bit of Kind of Blue.
I think we'll start
with Freddy Freeloader,
which is a great jazz, it's really
a classic standard from Kind of Blue.
Winton Kelly played a killer solo on that.
If we could all swing like Winton,
you know,
there would be nothing left to learn.
Miles also played a really
beautiful solo on that and
this is a good way to get your feet
wet transcribing which accomplishes so
many things, and we'll get to
that in the transcribing lesson.
We need something for our left hand to
do while we're playing a solo, and so
we're gonna start to discuss a basic
left hand concept that we can use to
sort of fortify and punctuate and
outline the harmony that we're blowing on.
And finally we're going to start to
look at two-handed harmony and comping.
Which is a really,
really important subject.
Jazz harmony,
it doesn't just apply to your soloing.
The thing that's gonna get you hired
eventually as a jazz pianist likely is
not, is your ability to
comp behind a soloist.
You know, I spent many,
many years as a side man with
Michael Brekker, David Sanborn,
various artists like this.
And the ability to put what
they wanna hear behind them
was just as important as my ability
to step out and take a solo in front.
So that's an overview
of where we're going.
Let's dig right in and learn our
first set of scales on an F7 cord.