Sunday, June 26, 2011

Herbie Hancock - Dolphin Dance Performance

Here is Herbie Hancock playing a wonderful rendition of his composition Dolphin Dance. This concert occured sometime during the mid 1980s. A masterful demonstration of how adventerous Herbie is when he plays. He's definately NOT afraid to take risk. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bud Powell Discography

Bud Powell Discography as a Leader

Studio recordings
1947: Bud Powell Trio  (Roost)
1949-50: Bud Powell Piano Solos (Mercury / Clef) aka (½ of) Jazz Giant (Norgran / Verve)
1949-51: The Amazing Bud Powell (Blue Note)
1950: Bud Powell Piano Solos #2 (Mercury / Clef) aka (½ of) Jazz Giant (Norgran / Verve)
1950-51: Bud Powell's Moods (Mercury / Clef) aka The Genius of Bud Powell (Verve)
1953: The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 2 (Blue Note)
1953: Bud Powell Trio, Volume 2 (Roost)
1954-55: Bud Powell's Moods (Norgran / Verve)
1954-55: Jazz Original (Norgran) aka Bud Powell '57 (Norgran / Verve)
1955: The Lonely One... (Verve)
1955: Piano Interpretations by Bud Powell (Norgran / Verve)
1956: Blues in the Closet (Verve)
1956: Strictly Powell (RCA Victor)
1957: Swingin' with Bud (RCA Victor)
1957: Bud! The Amazing Bud Powell (Vol. 3) (Blue Note)
1957-58: Bud Plays Bird (Roulette / Blue Note)
1958: Time Waits: The Amazing Bud Powell (Vol. 4) (Blue Note)
1958: The Scene Changes: The Amazing Bud Powell (Vol. 5) (Blue Note)
1961: A Tribute to Cannonball (Columbia)
1961: A Portrait of Thelonious (Columbia)
1963: Bud Powell in Paris (Reprise)

Live and home recordings
1944-48: Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 1: Early Years of a Genius, 44-48 (Mythic Sound)
1953: Winter Broadcasts 1953 (ESP-Disk)
1953: Spring Broadcasts 1953 (ESP-Disk)
1953: Inner Fires (Elektra)
1953: Summer Broadcasts 1953 (ESP-Disk)
1953: Autumn Broadcasts 1953 (ESP-Disk)
1953-55: Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 2: Burnin' in U.S.A., 53-55 (Mythic Sound)
1957-59: Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 3: Cookin' at Saint-Germain, 57-59 (Mythic Sound)
1959-60: Bud in Paris (Xanadu)
1959-61: Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 5: Groovin' at the Blue Note, 59-61 (Mythic Sound)
1960: The Essen Jazz Festival Concert (Black Lion)
1960-64: Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 11: Gift for the Friends, 60-64 (Mythic Sound)
1961: Pianology (Moon [Italy]) [28]
1961-64: Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 4: Relaxin' at Home, 61-64 (Mythic Sound)
1962: Bud Powell Live in Lausanne 1962 (Stretch Archives)
1962: Bud Powell Live in Geneva (Norma [Japan])
1962: Bud Powell Trio at the Golden Circle, Vols. 1-5 (Steeplechase)
1962: Budism (SteepleChase)
1962: Bouncing with Bud (Sonet)
1962: 'Round About Midnight at the Blue Note (Dreyfus Jazz)
1962-64: Bud Powell at Home - Strictly Confidential (Fontana)
1963: Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 6: Writin' for Duke, 63 (Mythic Sound)
1964: Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 7: Tribute to Thelonious, 64 (Mythic Sound)
1964: Blues for Bouffemont (Fontana)
1964: Hot House (Fontana)
1964: Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 8: Holidays in Edenville, 64 (Mythic Sound)
1964: The Return of Bud Powell (Roulette)
1964: Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 9: Return to Birdland, 64 (Mythic Sound)
1964: Earl Bud Powell, Vol. 10: Award at Birdland, 64 (Mythic Sound)
1964: Ups'n Downs (Mainstream)

Chick Corea Discography

Chick Corea Discography as a Leader
Tones for Joan's Bones (1966)
Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (1968)
Is (1969)
Sundance (1969)
The Song of Singing (1970)
A.R.C. (1971)
Piano Improvisations Vol. 1 (1971)
Piano Improvisations Vol. 2 (1971)
Inner Space (1972)
Crystal Silence (1973, with Gary Burton)
Chick Corea (1975)
The Leprechaun (1976)
My Spanish Heart (1976)
The Mad Hatter (1978)
An Evening With Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea: In Concert (1978)
Secret Agent (1978)
Friends (1978)
Delphi I (1979)
CoreaHancock (1979)
Duet (1979, with Gary Burton)
In Concert, Zürich, October 28, 1979 (1980, with Gary Burton)
Delphi II & III (1980)
Tap Step (1980)
Greatest Hits of 1790 (1980, with Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, conducted by Richard Kapp. Featured piano soloist on Mozart: "Elvira Madigan" and Beethoven: "Für Elise")
Live in Montreux (1981)
Three Quartets (1981)
Lyric Suite for Sextet (1982, with Gary Burton)
Touchstone (1982)
Trio Music (1982)
Chick Corea Compact Jazz (1987)
Again and Again (1983)
On two pianos (1983, with Nicolas Economou)
The Meeting (Chick Corea and Friedrich Gulda album) (1983, with Friedrich Gulda)
Children's Songs (1984)
Fantasy for Two Pianos with Friedrich Gulda (1984)
Voyage - with Steve Kujala (1984)
Septet (1985)
The Chick Corea Elektric Band (1986, with Elektric Band)
Light Years (1987, with Elektric Band)
Trio Music Live in Europe (1987)
Summer Night - live (1987, with Akoustic Band)
Chick Corea Featuring Lionel Hampton (1988)
Eye of the Beholder (1988, with Elektric Band)
Chick Corea Akoustic Band (1989, with Akoustic Band)
Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown (1989)
Inside Out (1990, with Elektric Band)
Beneath the Mask (1991, with Elektric Band)
Alive (1991, with Akoustic Band)
Play (1992, with Bobby McFerrin)
Elektric Band II: Paint the World (1993, with Elektric Band)
Seabreeze (1993)
Expressions (1993)
Time Warp (1995)
The Mozart Sessions (1996, with Bobby McFerrin)
Live From Elario's (First Gig) (1996, with Elektric Band)
Live from Blue Note Tokyo (1996, with )
Live From the Country Club (1996)
From Nothing (1996)
Remembering Bud Powell (1997)
Native Sense - The New Duets (1997, with Gary Burton)
Live at the Blue Note (1998, with Origin)
A Week at The Blue Note (1998, with Origin)
Like Minds (1998, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, Dave Holland)
Change (1999, with Origin)
corea.concerto (1999, with Origin)
Corea Concerto (1999)
Solo Piano - Originals (2000)
Solo Piano - Standards (2000)
New Trio: Past, Present & Futures (2001)
Selected Recordings (2002)
The Complete "Is" Sessions (2002)
Rendezvous in New York (2003)
To the Stars (2004, with Elektric Band)
Rhumba Flamenco (2005)
The Ultimate Adventure (2006)
The Enchantment (2007, with Béla Fleck)
5trios - 1. Dr. Joe (with Antonio Sanchez, John Patitucci) (2007)
5trios - 2. From Miles (with Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette) (2007)
5trios - 3. Chillin' in Chelan (with Christian McBride, Jeff Ballard) (2007)
5trios - 4. The Boston Three Party (with Eddie Gomez, Airto Moreira) (2007)
5trios - 5. Brooklyn, Paris to Clearwater (with Hadrien Feraud, Richie Barshay) (2007)
The New Crystal Silence (2008, with Gary Burton)
Five Peace Band Live (with John McLaughlin) (2009)
Duet (with Hiromi Uehara) (2009)
Return To Forever Returns - Live at Montreux (2009)
The Definitive Chick Corea (2011)
Forever (2011)

With Circle
Circling In (1970)
Circulus (1970)
Circle 1: Live in Germany Concert (1970)
Paris Concert (1971)
Circle 2: Gathering (1971)
With Return to Forever
Return to Forever (1972)
Light as a Feather (1972)
Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (1973)
Where Have I Known You Before (1974)
No Mystery (1975)
Romantic Warrior (1976)
Musicmagic (1977)
Live (1977)
Return to Forever - Returns (2009)
Return to Forever Returns: Live at Montreux (DVD)(2009)

Herbie Hancock Discography

Herbie Hancock Discography as a Leader

Title                                                     Year                                Label
Takin' Off                                             1962                             Blue Note
My Point of View                                   1963                             Blue Note
Inventions and Dimensions                     1963                             Blue Note
Empyrean Isles                                      1964                             Blue Note
Maiden Voyage                                       1965                           Blue Note
Blow-Up (Soundtrack)                              1966                              MGM
Speak Like a Child                                  1968                           Blue Note
The Prisoner                                           1969                            Blue Note
Fat Albert Rotunda                                 1969                         Warner Bros
Mwandishi                                              1970                         Warner Bros
He Who Lives In Many Places                  1971                            Airborne
Crossings                                                 1972                         Warner Bros
Sextant                                                     1973                           Columbia
Head Hunters                                           1973                           Columbia
Thrust                                                      1974                           Columbia
Death Wish (Soundtrack)                          1974                            Columbia
Dedication                                               1974                            Columbia
Man-Child                                               1975                            Columbia
Flood (Live album)                                  1975                            Columbia
Secrets                                                   1976                           Columbia
VSOP (Live album)                                  1976                          Columbia
Herbie Hancock Trio                                1977                          Columbia
VSOP: The Quintet (Live album)             1977                          Columbia
VSOP: Tempest in the Colosseum            1977                          Columbia
Sunlight                                                     1977                          Columbia
Directstep                                                 1978                         Columbia
An Evening with Herbie Hancock &
Chick Corea: In Concert                            1978                         Columbia
The Piano                                                1979                        Columbia
Feets, Don't Fail Me Now                              1979                        Columbia
VSOP: Live Under the Sky (Live album)       1979                       Columbia
CoreaHancock (Live with Chick Corea)         1979                        Polydor
Monster                                                        1980                      Columbia
Mr. Hands                                                    1980                      Columbia
Herbie Hancock Trio                                     1981                       Columbia
Magic Windows                                             1981                      Columbia
Lite Me Up                                                     1982                      Columbia
Quartet (Live album)                                      1982                       Columbia
Future Shock                                                1983                       Columbia
Sound-System                                                1984                       Columbia
Village Life (with Foday Musa Suso)             1985                       Columbia
Round Midnight (Soundtrack)                        1986                       Columbia
Jazz Africa (Live album with Foday Musa Suso) 1987                  Polygram
Perfect Machine                                           1988                       Columbia
A Tribute to Miles                                        1994                Qwest/Warner Bros
Dis Is Da Drum                                            1994                  Verve/Mercury
The New Standard                                       1995                         Verve
1 + 1 (with Wayne Shorter)                           1997                         Verve
Gershwin's World                                        1998                         Verve
Future2Future                                              2001                    Transparent
Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall     2002                          Verve
Possibilities                                               2005               Concord/Hear Music
River: The Joni Letters                                2007                          Verve
Then and Now: the Definitive Herbie Hancock      2008                    Verve
The Imagine Project                                     2010                        Hancock

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Alton Merrell - Redemption Waltz - Beiging China

Alton playing an improvised intro to his song "Redemption Waltz" during a concert in Beijing, China. For more information, check out:

Alton Merrell solo in Beiging, China

Alton playing an open solo on "The Looking Glass" written by Dave Morgan. This is during a live concert in Beiging, China.

Check Alton out at
He also gives piano, theory, and improvisation lessons both privately and online!

Email him at

Goin Up Yonder - Edwin Hawkins - Alton Merrell

Alton Merrell playing his jazz/gospel rendition of the gospel song "Goin Up Yonder" at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, PA.

For bookings or lessons:

Invitation - Jazz Standard - Alton Merrell Trio

Alton Merrell and his band performing the jazz standard "Invitation."
Check out for more!

Alton Merrell - Keyboard
James Johnson III - Drums
Lorenze Jefferson - Bass

Gospel Piano Lesson Tutorial - Lord Make Me Over - Tonex

Here is a preview of a contemporary gospel piano lesson teaching you how to play "Lord Make Me Over" by Tonex. The song is taught by Gospel and Jazz Pianist extraordinaire Alton Merrell.

Get an Instructional DVD or Digital Download of this lesson and others like it by visiting Get your lessons today! You will not be disappointed!

Have questions? Email us at

Free Gospel Piano Lesson Tutorial - Joe Pace - Have Your Way

Here is a free piano lesson teaching you how to play Joe Pace's gospel song "Have Your Way." The song is taught by Gospel and Jazz Pianist extraordinaire Alton Merrell.

Get an Instructional DVD or Digital Download of this lesson and others like it by visiting Get your lessons today! You will not be disappointed!

Also, the chord chart seen in the video is available for purchase via instant download. Simply click the following link: and find the Have Your Way demo video. Underneath the video you will see the option to purchase and download the chord chart.

Have questions? Email us at

Gospel Piano Lesson Tutorial - Father Can You Hear Me - Tyler Perry

Here is a preview of a gospel piano lesson teaching you how to play "Father Can You Hear Me" from Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman. The song is taught by Gospel and Jazz Pianist extraordinaire Alton Merrell.

Get an Instructional DVD or Digital Download of this lesson and others like it by visiting Get your lessons today! You will not be disappointed!

The chord chart seen in the video is also available at the link above.

Have questions? Email us at

Gospel Piano Lesson Tutorial - Glory Glory Hallelujah Since I Laid My Burdens Down

Here is a preview of a gospel piano lesson teaching you how to play "Glory Glory Hallelujah Since I Laid My Burdens Down." This is traditional style congragational song sung in many pentecostal and COGIC churches. The song is taught by Gospel and Jazz Pianist extraordinaire Alton Merrell.

Get an Instructional DVD or Digital Download of this lesson and others like it by visiting Get your lessons today! You will not be disappointed!

Have questions? Email us at

Gospel Piano Lesson Tutorial - Vashawn Mitchell - Nobody Greater

Here is a preview of a gospel piano lesson teaching you how to play Vashawn Mitchell's gospel song "Nobody Greater." Get the full tutorial at:

Get an Instructional DVD or Digital Download of this lesson and others like it by visiting Get your lessons today! You will not be disappointed! We offer the best jazz and gospel piano lessons on the internet.

Oscar Petterson Piano Lesson

Oscar Peterson demonstrating the styles of various pianists on the Dick Cavett Show. (Art Tatum, George Shearing, Nat Cole, Earl Garner.) Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Herbie Hancock - Watermelon Man Transcription

This Herbie Hancock transcription is of Watermelon Man from his 1962 debut Blue Note album entitled Takin Off. Enjoy!

Herbie Hancock - New York Minute Transcription

This Herbie Hancock transcription is of New York Minute from his 1995 album release entitled The New Standard.

Click Here For the Transcription

Connecting with Listeners In Performance

Here is an insightful post about musicians connecting with their audience. It was written by Dan, a jazz piano instructor and French translator. His blog is:

Connecting with listeners both many and few...
A huge problem I have is watching live piano recitals where the pianist seems to be in a world of his own. Some might say this is a good thing, because he is 'channeling' his ideas and will be distracted if he keeps thinking about his audience. Whilst this is true in itself, it's not exactly what I am referring to. Having ways to play your best is one thing... having an awareness of your audience's emotions and expectations is another. It makes no sense to play a wonderfully passionate piece of music, techncially brilliant with all the most complicated fingerwork that took you years to learn, only to find that your audience are falling alseep; impressing must be done at the right moment. You need to create a musical rollercoaster for them. Rollercoasters do not begin as utterly vomit-inducing thrills and spills, they begin with an increase in altitude, a sudden drop and increase in speed, a sharp turn, a spin, a bit of straight-line travelling with the much anticipated sudden turn skywards. They usually finish with a somewhat 'gentle' deceleration before the thrill-seekers disembark. Let's apply this to more humanistic performance.

1. Be aware of what kind of emotions your music evokes. If you are improvising, you have more control over how the music sounds; play lots of Major 9 chords for romance and even tear-jerking responses, maybe some 13ths for happy-sounding bouncy Jazz. You could bring in the mM9's for slower movements to really grab their attention (Cry Me a River, for example)

2. Be aware of your repertoire and its components' powers. My Jazz repertoire is quite large, so I have a lot to choose from. Why would I go to a café in the summer where people are sitting outside enjoying themselves, and play a slow, sad version of Moonlight in Vermont, or Somewhere Over the Rainbow? The audience do not want this and will not appreciate the emotional chord changes involved - you will become invisible and pointless for 5-10 minutes whilst you play such music. Why not a nice bouncy version with a little bit of blues scale thrown in with a nice rendition of Ain't Misbehavin'... or A Fooggy Day? It makes much more sense.

3. Be aware of who is watching you and what they represent in musical terms. When I play, I look around (if I can). When I finish or am about to close a song, I eye up as many people as possible. I learn who is paying more attention and begin to build a profile about those people. Are they young couples? Is the girl dressed beautifully, representing a special evening with her partner? Is there a birthday party for a 90 year-old lady? Indeed, I once eyed up a gentlemen with his wife who had clearly just come out for a nice evening meal after sundown (cue lushious jazz chords and Moonlight in Vermont/Somewhere Over the Rainbow!) and who was enjoying me by leaning on his elbow, somewhat mystified by my melodies. Catching his glance whilst not making it too obvious, I got out the more 40's sounding Gershwin sound; block chords, not so much effort on keeping time, rather, playing how the feeling took me, not too many complicated chords; just nice 7's and m7's and not too hard on the blues scales - just the occasional minor 3rd to 3rd grace note. Some more elegantly melodic songs came out which were not too romantic but just pleasant to listen to: Misty, The Nearness of You, April in Paris, etc... middle-of-the-road numbers. He was so thrilled at the end and thanked me greatly - I wonder if he would have done the same if I had bashed out some stronger-sounding numbers or more heavy jazz chord-style songs? Perhaps, but not as much as with my carefully selected numbers.

4. Think about how to introduce and end your song. Going straight into a song is quite unprofessional and very simple. You're a Jazz pianist - or at least a performing pianist with a good repertoire - show your skill! All you need to do to get an idea of introducing a song is listening to absolutely anything that Oscar Peterson plays. Head on over to YT and you'll see what I mean. The same goes for endings. On a more personal note, however, listeners do appreciate a nice introduction. For the more attentive listeners, it keeps them interested, wondering what you will play next. Ending a song must be an extension of what you just played. Granted, some songs require a somewhat sudden ending, but where possible, try to embellish the chords and mix the melody of the song into broken arpeggio chords. It may only be a 6 2 5 1 turn-around, but mixing in a double-time version of the melody as you play such a left-hand broken chord ascending pattern sounds very pleasant.

That will be all for this blog. If you combine these words with my other posts, I see no reason why your playing, for large or small numbers, will not improve drastically. Just don't be one of those piano players who plays because they 'can' impress an audienc and not because they 'want' to impress an audience. It makes you a better musician on many, many levels.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chick Corea and Hiromi Uehara playing Spain

Here is a spectacular performance of Chick Corea and Hiromi Uehara playing Spain live in Tokyo on September 2nd-3rd 2006 at The Tokyo Jazz Festival in Japan. Enjoy!

Elation - Mulgrew Miller - Alton Merrell Jazz Trio

Here is my trio performing Mulgrew Miller's composition entitled "Elation" from his 2002 MaxJazz release entitled "The Sequel."

Alton Merrell - Piano
Jeff Grubbs - Bass
James Johnson III - Drums

Gospel Piano Lesson - Hezekiah Walker - I Need You To Survive

Here is a preview of a gospel piano lesson teaching you how to play "I Need You To Survive" by Hezekiah Walker. The song is taught by Alton Merrell.

Get an Instructional DVD or Digital Download of this lesson and others like it by visiting Get your lessons today! You will not be disappointed!

Gospel Piano Lesson - Donnie McClurkin - I Call You Faithful

Here is a free piano lesson teaching you how to play Donnie McClurkin's gospel song "I Call You Faithful." The song is taught by Alton Merrell.

Get an Instructional DVD or Digital Download of this lesson and others like it by visiting Get your lessons today! You will not be disappointed!

Herbie Hancock Transcription - Freedom Jazz Dance

This transcription is from Miles Davis' Miles Smiles album.

Herbie Hancock transcription of Freedom Jazz Dance.
Click Here For Transcription

Herbie Hancock Transcription - Dolphin Dance

This transcription is from Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" album.

Herbie Hancock transcription of Dolphin Dance.
Click Here To View Transcription

McCoy Tyner Transcription - Blues On The Corner

This transcription is from McCoy Tyner's album "The Real McCoy."

McCoy Tyner transcription of "Blues on the Corner"
Click Here For Transcription

McCoy Tyner Transcription - Pursuance

This transcription is from John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" album.

McCoy Tyner transcription of Pursuance.
Click Here For Transcription

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Herbie Hancock Transcription - Eye of the Hurricane

This transcription is from Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage album.

Herbie Hancock transcription of Eye of the Hurricane.
Click Here For Transcription

Kenny Kirkland Transcription- Donna Lee

This transcription is from an album by Courtney Pine entitled "Within the Realms of our Dreams."

Kenny Kirkland transcription of Donna Lee.
Click Here For Transcription

Kenny Kirkland Transcription - Delfeayo's Dilemma

This transcription is from an album by Wynton Marsalis entitled Black Codes.

Kenny Kirkland Transcription of Delfeayo's Dilemma.

Kenny Kirkland Transcription - Mr. Steepee

This transcription is of Kenny Kirkland Branford Marsalis' Crazy People album.

Mr. Steepee Transcription by Kenny Kirkland 
Click Here For Transcription 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kenny Garrett Transcription - Scrapple from the Apple

This transcription is from an album by Tom Harrell featuring Kenny Garrett and Kenny Barron entitled "Moon Alley."

Scrapple from the Apple Transcription by Kenny Garrett  

Bill Evans Transcription - I Hear A Rhapsody

This transcription is of Bill Evans from the Montreux II album recorded in 1970.

I Hear A Rhapsody Transcription by Bill Evans  

Herbie Hancock Transcription - All of You

This transcription is from Miles Davis's "The Complete Concert 1964 My Funny Valentine + Four &  More."

All of You Transcription by Herbie Hancock   

McCoy Tyner Transcription - Passion Dance

This transcription is from McCoy Tyner's "The Real McCoy" album.

Passion Dance Transcription by McCoy Tyner   

Chick Corea Transcription - Windows

This transcription is from Chick Corea's "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" album.

Windows Transcription by Chick Corea   
Click Here For Transcription

Keith Jarrett Transcription - What's This Thing Called Love

This transcription is from Keith Jarrett's "Whisper Not" album.

What's This Thing Called Love Transcription by Keith Jarrett
Intro  Pages 1-4   Pages 5-8  Pages 9 -12  Pages 13-14

Friday, June 17, 2011

Miles Davis Quintet performing All of You

Here is a great video of the second great Miles Davis Quintet performing in Milan, Italy in 1964. Personel include: Miles Davis - trumpet, Wayne Shorter - tenor sax, Herbie Hancock - piano, Ron Carter - bass and Tony Williams - drums. Although Miles appears irritated with his bandmates, particularly Herbie and Ron at 0:40, 2:46, 7:28, 9:00, the group sounds great! Herbie's solo begins at 4:47 and ends at 8:07. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Joey Calderazzo playing I Hear A Rhapsody

Joey playing "I Hear A Rhapsody" from a concert in 2006. Enjoy!

Joey Calderazzo (piano)
Orlando LeFleming (contrabas)
Jukkis Uotila (drums)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Robert Glasper playing No Worries

Robert Glasper is a prominate jazz pianist on the scene today. He is notorious for merging traditional jazz, with hip hop and r & b musical styles. Below are two videos of his song "No Worries." The first is a live performance and the second is the rendition directly from his Double Booked CD released in 2009. Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Russell Ferrante's Improvisation Tips

Russell's Practice/Improvisation Tips:

1. Expand On Melodic Ideas (i.e 1, 2, 5, 7)
a. Changing the order of notes
b. Playing patterns on various scale tones
c. Playing patterns on symmetrical scales

2. Use Theory/Math/Your Intellect to expand what you hear.

3. When practicing exercises/technique, make music with it instead of playing dry exercises that you are disconnected with.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Practicing Philosophy

What follows is a insightful article by David Liebman offering practice suggestions. Enjoy!

The following is basically (with some edits) the lecture I gave at the Jamey Aebersold Summer Workshop in Louisville, Kentucky at the end of my one day visit there in July, 2005. There is a two set DVD available through Caris Music (“David Liebman Teaches and Plays”) with this lecture in addition to another on saxophone expressive techniques. It also includes a concert featuring Rufus Reid, Dave Hazeltine, John Riley and Steve Davis. But for those who want a freebie, here’s the rap on practicing. Of course some of this material appears elsewhere in my writings over the years, but it is always good to revisit it every so often.

Now What?

The purpose of coming to a workshop like this is to learn, to improve in the pursuit of this particular music. If at the end of five days, you are not completely confused, something is wrong. If you are not slightly frustrated, something is really wrong….now what? The nature of the week is intense, more than what could ever be absorbed. This is not just learning facts and repeating them. This must be applied to your instrument. Without reinforcement it has no meaning. There are too many books in the music store that all say the same thing. The knowledge has been told, there are only so many ways to say the same thing.

You must try to see through the forest. Make a list on paper of the things you learned this week. This should be about ten or twenty pages, from very complex to very simple. Do this while it is fresh in your mind. Separate this list into categories-ranging from the five year plan to what you may be able to accomplish in a few concentrated hours in the next week or two so that they become natural, without having to think about it. Look at in an objective way; what can I get right now?

In English, we have the conditional tense which doesn’t exist in many other languages. Conditional is should, would, could…it’s all about doing, IF, IF, IF. You don’t want to be in the conditional sense in regard to your practicing. You know what it is; just look at the list and find three to five things you can do on the next month. Don’t worry about what you can’t do. It’s the old cliché again: the glass half empty or half full analogy---well it is half full in this case. That’s the way to get something of value out of this week.


Some of the material demands rote practicing, day after day until it is part of you. Scales, learning tunes, transcribing, they are time consuming. The most important thing about practicing is ritual. All religions that try to inculcate someone into their beliefs have as a basic past of what they do entwined in ritual. There’s a reason for this, because when you do something enough times, it starts to take hold. If you are going to learn something new on your instrument, it must be done every day for a certain amount of time. I can’t tell you what the time is unless you came directly to me. That’s what your teacher’s job is, to prioritize and to tell you how long to work on a particular technique. Until it’s done every day, you are wasting time. When you cram for a test, you don’t remember anything after. It hasn’t been absorbed enough.

Be realistic, eight hours a day is probably not going to happen, not necessarily because of your desire, but life in general takes over. You have to look at your schedule realistically whether you are forty five years old or ten. If you’re serious about what you have to do, then you realistically have x amount of time. Not just holidays, not the weekend, not waiting till the house is empty. Ask yourself what you can realistically do Monday through Saturday with my life the way it is (Let’s be optimistic about it and say we have four to six hours a day.) If you can stick to at least two to three hours a day, for a minimum of six days a week, then you have a shot. (The other day go out in the woods!!) If you can stay with that you are on your way to good practicing. Some things take 6-9 months depending upon the difficulty of what you are trying to learn and your personal abilities in relation to that; but if it is just a new scale, then maybe a few weeks, etc. If you put your time in, it WILL happen.

Organizing Time

The next thing is quite important, about priorities-how to organize your time with no distractions. The ideal scene: no one can hear you, not your mother, not your brother, not your friend, not your lady---nobody should hear you practicing. You can say “I don’t care” but the vibe is in the air and it affects you. If you can’t be alone do the best you can. This is your time, it’s a meditation. It’s work, it’s real work which means a lot of mental calories and it has to be done without distraction.


One of my teachers (Charles Lloyd) said to me (paraphrased): “You’re not being objective; you’re getting TOO into it all the time. You’re over the top. You should be practicing but you think you are performing. I’ll bet you stand in front of the mirror and see how pretty you look with that shiny horn!” There’s no emotion about practicing—objectivity, not subjectivity. There shouldn’t be: “Yes, this is good; no, this is bad.” You should feel nothing! It’s practice-save the emotion for the bandstand and when you want to impress someone. When you are practicing there’s nobody there but “you and the night and the music” (great tune). There’s no opinion about it. If you do it like that, you are going to gain a lot from practicing. This is not fun-it’s work-just do it. Have fun when you go out and play. When someone says you sound good, there will be a feeling of joy and accomplishment that is real and right to feel. Not because your practice went good or bad-be objective!


Keep a practice journal; short notes on what needs work, the metronome setting, etc. This will be great reinforcement when you look back. And it will remind you of things you might’ve forgotten. Ways to check your own progress-be you own teacher. The only thing a teacher should do besides motivation is give you a program and check its progress. It’s up to you to do it in a critical, objective fashion-every day with a schedule and cognizant of your weaknesses and strengths. You all know what your weakest points are. Be specific; is it time problems, what do you mean-do you drag; do you rush; is it stilted or choppy, etc? You have to define in your mind’s eye what the problem is so you can tackle it heads on. The teacher can help direct exercises to help the SPECIFIC situation. Put this at the top of your list—go for your weaknesses first. Forget the conditional tense; what you can do now that will make you better in the short term, followed by the long term.

Self Reinforcement

Reward yourself by listening to how you played six months ago. YOU ARE BETTER!! At least in those things you were practicing. Anything you study will have to get better, unless you are brain dead!! Especially if you are a novice, things change rapidly. Six months to a year is great—you’ve got to be better and again it’s the glass half empty /half full. Instead of “I’ll never be good enough; he is better; she is so good; I’m not…I can’t, etc.,” you will feel positive for a change. Of course there are

some things you may not be able to accomplish now or ever maybe, but there are a lot you can. Look at the pictures of the great cats around you on the wall here in the hall. They are not there just for fun-these are guys who did what I am saying.

Genius or Work?

In my opinion the only pure genius in music was Mozart. He was different from day one, he had it hooked up. EVERYBODY ELSE WORKED THEIR ASS OFF!! EVERYBODY!! Bird worked, Trane worked, Bill Evans worked, even Miles in his way worked-I can tell you that. Of course each person has their own way of practicing and their own goals but it is not about genius or incredible talent only (of course you have to have some degree of that). It’s about commitment—I can do this, I can get better, I can be at least as good as that guy over there. Everybody in this room can get better. If you really wish to get better, whether you are a professional, an aspiring student or play for a hobby. Whichever way, it is the same. Whatever level you are on, it doesn’t matter; you can be better than you think if you put time in and are serious about it. It’s how you organize your time that is crucial.

Relax but Practice, Don't "Play"

There is nothing wrong with putting the ax down once in awhile. It’s cool and necessary. When you go back it is fresh again. That’s a stage that can go on for a few weeks even. Take it in stride. Maybe you are expecting too much and being too critical. Maybe you are scattering your energy over many hours rather than focusing. One good hour is better than four with ho focus. (Of course, if this “slump” goes on too long, you have a motivation problem and maybe should become a plumber!!)

I teach Doctoral students and ask them what they practiced yesterday. They say this or that book, patterns, etc., and then they just played. What do they mean by “played?” That isn’t practice, that’s playing. OK, once you get the basics down (scales, chords, licks, etc.) what do you do? More tunes? You see jazz is not like classical where the agenda is obvious: learn this piece until it is perfect and then on to the next. You got every marking of nuance to follow, tempos, everything. Learn what is on the page and then MAYBE you can be yourself in the interpretation—but of course only at the highest level. I envy these guys-they have it all mapped out. In the case of jazz, how do you measure how well you know your scales? Because they are played fast in your woodshed? Or because you can run them on a chord change in a tune? We don’t have the same discrete measurements that they have in classical so it is imperative that you are objective and use your time wisely. Be realistic and not so hard on yourself that you create a minefield. But of course be vigilant.

The Real Deal - Practicing Playing

So how do you practice playing? Well, you can’t-it is a misnomer. Sure, you can learn tunes and play through the stuff, but you can’t practice the feeling of interacting and spontaneity and all the things that go into a typical jazz performance. There is a period to play and not to play. Sometimes I have guys who are always looking for sessions to strut their stuff. But maybe they should be doing heavy practicing instead of hanging out late. Get up at 9 a.m. and do all the boring rote stuff till 12. Take a break, do some business and do more before another break for dinner. Do some listening or light composing at night and go to bed at a reasonable time so you can do the same routine the next days. Don’t go out and jam at this stage-you are not ready. But next year, get out of the house and hit the streets. Get some gigs, etc. There’s a time and place for everything-use good judgment and seek the advice of people who really know the process.

Recognition of the Problem is All

Analyzing is great. In fact, half the problem is defining the problem. If you define it, you already have most of the solution!! Let’ say you are practicing a pattern the same way over and over again. Sit down and write five variations using space, different articulations, augmentation, neighboring tones, syncopation, etc. Since the caveman, we have been doing theme and variations even with three notes. Your job is to make it interesting so you are not stuck into rote, mechanical responses. Check it out: You come up against a problem which frustrates you. The fact that you noticed it (or a teacher/peer pointed it out-either way) is half the battle. Now, with objectivity and common sense you figure a way to improve the situation. Not magic-not even inspiration-just perspiration!! This is the auto didactic route; you are solving the problem yourself and gain confidence by doing that repeatedly. It may not be the answer to life, but you did it YOURSELF and that is crucial. Theme and variations—in twelve keys—damn, you are good for three weeks!!

Away from the Woodshed

There are many things you can do away from your instrument, even using the pitch pipe for ear training while walking around. Or singing rhythms in eight bar phrases. Do ear training with the radio. Most of all read about music and art. What made Beethoven tick or Louis Armstrong or Picasso or Miles? There are insights ready to be grabbed if you read and think about it. Their situation and yours are not as far apart as it seems, given time and place differences. Read stuff that isn’t music. Get your mind going-be able to analyze, dissect, organize and fantasize. In the end, your message isn’t going to be what you know or think you know. It will be about your life and experiences. So get busy.

Later and peace!!

ARTICLE TWO-concise summary of practice routine

Probably the most important skill in learning is knowing how to practice. Once an individual forms his own way of achieving results it can be repeated for life. I divide practicing into three main areas. First is the instrument and the need to develop the necessary virtuosity. Tone, technique, finger dexterity, etc., are all part of the mastery of an instrument. Without high skills on an instrument, a student is at a serious disadvantage no matter how fertile his imagination is. The second area is the music: the vocabulary and rules of improvisation. This large subject includes transcription, repertoire, chords, composition, keyboard knowledge, everything connected with learning the vocabulary itself. The third area is aesthetics meaning in this case one’s development as an artist with a thorough understanding of the history of his chosen art form, a cultured and sophisticated understanding of the arts in general and some sense of self. Here we delve into matters of philosophy, wisdom, spirituality and more. This is the life area of study.

The goal of any practicing is to instill new or changed behavior via repetition towards habitualizing the activity until it becomes instinctive and can be accomplished without conscious thought. Specifically in music it is the auditory cortex of the brain which becomes physiologically connected to the brain’s motor area of cells in order to bring about the desired action. Repetition solders this connection. The success of the practice process is dependent upon the clarity and difficulty of the desired goal in combination with the individual’s makeup. There are several guidelines to good practicing.

1-Ritual: The basis of all religious indoctrination is ritual, repetitive chanting and in some cases exercises of meditation. It is the same with trying to change or instill new behavior in music. Whatever the task it must be done everyday for at least enough period of time to take root. To practice a lot one day and little the next is not effective. It has to be the same thing over and over again for a new action to have a chance to become instinctive.

2-Organization of time: It is crucial that the student organize the hours (s)he realistically has on a daily basis (at least five times a week and three hours for minimum improvement) into units. A basic unit would be one hour per practice item before moving on to the next. This is the area where a teacher should be of help in focusing the student’s units effectively.

3-Priority: The question becomes where do I begin with so much that there is to do. I urge the student to make a list of his strengths and weaknesses on a page, or subtitle the page “should do,” “would do,” “could do.” Objectively judge the strengths which need to be reinforced at the present time or perpetually (as in instrumental warm-ups for example) and those that can be put on a back burner for the time being. Then looking at the weaknesses begin the practicing for the next few weeks with the most glaring deficiency that by its improvement will make a significant difference. Start with the most necessary items on your list and hopefully in a lifetime you will work through most of it!! All serious artists have a long list of what they would do if they could but there is never enough time. We do the best we can in this regard.

4-Singularity: When practicing one activity do it with one main objective in mind and possibly a minor one. Be clear as to the objectives. For example if you are doing long tones, is it for breath control, clarity of tone, evenness of sound, attacks and decays, etc? It shouldn’t be all at once. The focus should be clear for each unit to get the most benefit.

5-Objectivity: Serious practice at the level I am describing is not fun, nor is it drudgery. IT JUST IS!! One should cultivate a feeling of neutrality rather than feeling good or bad every day about the practice session. It is objective, self improvement type of work. Save the emotion for performing.

6-Attitude: Being positive, patient and consistent with total concentration is what real practice is about. Anything less means you are indulging in busy work with minimal gains to be had. If this isn’t for you, then admit it and do something else.

7-Practical hints: Try to practice at the same time of day, maybe splitting the program into two parts. Do the rote stuff like long tones, technical exercises, etc in the morning possibly saving the creative part of repertoire, listening, transcription, composition, etc., for later in the day. Saturated listening, meaning the concentrated and repeated listening to certain tracks for specific pedagogical reasons should be done in the evening. Find a practice space that is if possible completely private with no one within listening range. Obviously there should be no phone or any distractions and take a break every hour or so. This is business and it should be treated that way.

Serious practice is easy to find time for when one is young. Those who are in school think that they have little time but in the real world matters of making a living, performing, personal life and so on intrude. I hope that at some point every serious student can set aside at least four to six months for a daily eight to ten hours of practice. This will have an effect for the rest of that person’s life. Keep a journal of thoughts about your practice. Jot down how things are going. This is good for review and also reinforcement to see how far you have advanced

Wynton Kelly Solo on Freddie Freeloader

Wynton Kelly soloing on Freddie Freeloader

This solo is from Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” album recorded in 1959. An excellent example of Kelly's swinging and tasteful style. Below is a video of me playing the tune and emulating Kelly's style.

The bass and drums heared in the video is available as a backing track in mp3 format. Simply download by clicking the "Add To Cart" button below:

Wynton Kelly Biography

Wynton Kelly was an American jazz pianist who was born December 2, 1931 and died of an epileptic seizure on April 12, 1971. He is best known for working with trumpeter Miles Davis in the 1950s. He was born in Brooklyn New York to Jamaican immigrants and started his career during his teenage years in R&B groups. He was a member of Miles Davis's Quintet from 1959 to 1963. He appears on Davis's 1959 seminal album Kind of Blue replacing Bill Evans on "Freedie Freeloader". He also appears on Coltrane's Giant Steps album replacing Tommy Flanagan on "Naima".

Kelly record as a leader for Blue Note, Riverside Records, Vee-Jay, Verve, and Milestone.


As leader

1951: Piano Interpretations (Blue Note)
1958: Piano (Riverside)
1959: Kelly Blue (Riverside)
1959: Kelly Great (Vee-Jay)
1960: Kelly at Midnight (Vee-Jay)
1961: Wynton Kelly! (Vee-Jay)
1961: Someday My Prince Will Come (Vee-Jay)
1963: Comin' in the Back Door (Verve)
1964: It's All Right! (Verve)
1965: Undiluted (Verve)
1965: Smokin' at the Half Note (Verve)
1965: Blues on Purpose (Xanadu)
1967: Full View (Milestone)
1968: Last Trio Session (Delmark)

Joey Calderazzo's solo on Resolution

A great solo by Joey Calderazzo on John Coltrane's tune "Resolution." " Resolution" is the second movement of a four part suite entitled "A Love Supreme" written by Coltrane. This rendition is performed by Branford Marsalis (tenor), Jeff Tain Watts (drums), and Eric Reevis (bass). Joey's piano solo is an excellent example of McCoy Tyner's approach to playing! Enjoy!

Bud Powell Playing Anthropology

A steller video of Bud playing Charlie Parker's "Anthropology." The video was recorded live at Cafe Montmartre, Copenhagen in 1962. In my opinion, this is some of the best video footage available of Bud on the market. Not only that, but his playing and melodic inventiveness is second to none on this rendition. It seems like his melodic ideas are endless! Enjoy! Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen is on bass and Jorn Elniff is on drums.

Here is another video of Bud playing Anthropology. Notice at the beginning of his solo, he begins with the same quote he used in the 1962 version. This particular video was recorded in 1959 in Paris with the father of modern jazz drumming Kenny Clarke, Lucky Thompson on tenor sax, Jimmy Gourley on guitar and Pierre Michelot on bass.

Bud Powell Playing Tempus Fugit

Bud Powell playing his composition "Tempus Fugit." It is from his 1949 Jazz Giants recording. Enjoy!

Ray Brown - Bass

Bud Powell Playing Cherokee

Here is Bud Powell playing Cherokee. This rendition is from his Jazz Giants album recorded in 1949. Enjoy.

Ray Brown -bass