<![CDATA[bobbysternjazz.com - Blog: B Natural]]>Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:04:26 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[A Perfect Fourth Story; Ch. 2 - Melodic Minor ii-V7-i Application]]>Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:05:21 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/08/a-perfect-fourth-story-ch-2-melodic-minor-ii-v7-i-application.htmlA Perfect Fourth Story - Ch. 2:
Melodic Minor 4th Shape ii-V7-i Application

Judging from the title, this post is a follow up to last week's, with some ideas on how one could apply these particular Melodic Minor 4th shapes in a ii-V7-i situation; at least in theory.

What I've done here was to copy one of the single measure shape patterns from a particular MM scale for the ii7b5, and another one from the MM scale a minor 3rd above it for the V7alt, but not from the same identical scale degree, so that while the shape remains the same, the pattern's interval makeup is slightly different.

A common Melodic Minor device is that whatever you play on the ii7b5, you can transpose that same  phrase up a minor 3rd as a parallel sequence for the V7alt and it should sound pretty cool, right?

Eg: Line 1, measure #1 of last week's exercise: D-G-C-G  Ab-D-G-E = D-7b5 (from the 6th scale degree of F Melodic Minor).

Now drop down to Line 7, measure#1: F-Bb-Eb-Bb  B-F-Bb-G = G7alt (7th scale degree of Ab Melodic Minor, up a min. 3rd from F, although the pattern begins on the 6th of Ab MM).

Now that you've gotten this "up a minor 3rd thing" digested, please be informed that we'll be avoiding it like the plague this time!

Besides, there's enough of that stuff in the Melodic Minor Handbook.

So, for the new exercise example below, instead of using the 8 note phrase from Line 7, measure #1 (of the previous exercise), we'll use the phrase from measure #2 of that line (G-B-F-B  Db-G-B-Ab), and plug it in as our G7alt (from seventh degree of Ab Melodic Minor). The point here is, that while the derivative MM scales are still a min 3rd apart, the phrases themselves are not transposed carbon copies.

The ii7b5-V7alt can resolve to Major as well as minor, but for this exercise, we'll stick with minor, as it gives us an another Melodic Minor shape to mess with. The tonic C min chord is likewise derived from the various scale degrees of............C Melodic Minor.

Each subsequent line contains the same shape applied to a ii7b5-V7alt-i in C min, built in combinations from different scale degrees of F, Ab and C Melodic Minor.

A note about the last 2 lines: As there are only 2 notes
(F & G) common to the three previously mentioned Melodic Minor scales, these two lines are built with each of the first 3 measures starting from F & G, respectively.

Try out your own combinations. Experiment!
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Treble Clef                            Bass Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[A Perfect Fourth Story - Melodic Minor 4th Shape]]>Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:29:05 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/08/a-perfect-fourth-story-melodic-minor-4th-shape.htmlA Perfect Fourth Story:
Melodic Minor 4th Shape

Picture4 Leaf Clovertone
The interval of a perfect 4th, being an inverted perfect 5th (the 2nd harmonic overtone in the natural overtone series), is predominant, both melodically as well harmonically (where harmony exists), in all types and styles of music on Planet Earth.

Traditionally, western music
is based on a series (cycle) of 12 consecutive perfect 4ths (5ths) i.e.: (C-F-Bb-Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-B-E-A-D-G), which when juxtaposed to create a row of 12 equidistant semi-tones (C-Db-D-Eb-E-F-Gb-G-Ab-A-Bb-B) becomes known, of course, as the Chromatic Scale.

It's from this Chromatic Scale that we commonly draw our 7 note Major Scale matrix based on the interval scheme of:

Whole Step/ Whole Step/ Half Step/ Whole Step/ Whole Step Whole Step/ Half Step.
(C-D-E-F-G-A-B = C Major).

But you already knew that, right?

Or, we can take a series of 6 consecutive perfect 4ths (eg. B-E-A-D-G-C-F), and we have the same 7 notes of that same C Maj. scale.

We can even drop the first and last notes (B & F), which create a tritone, and that'll give us a good ol' C Maj Pentatonic Scale (C-D-E-G-A).

Smashing! Wouldn't you agree?!

It's only when we bust up that plan by messing with the note E (the hallowed Maj. 3rd); altering it down a half step, (making it an Eb and a min. 3rd), that we enter the dark netherworld of C Melodic Minor....

And then the real fun begins!

So now our perfect little cycle of perfect 4ths really isn't so perfect, after all, as that 7 note series of consecutive 4ths now says (B-Eb-A-D-G-C-F = C Melodic Minor), with B - Eb being a diminished 4th (sounding like a Maj. 3rd) and Eb - A being an augmented 4th (diminished 5th or tritone). As you probably know, a Melodic Minor scale contains 2 tritones, 4 perfect 4ths and 1 diminished 4th (Maj. 3rd).

So what?!

(Actually, I really didn't have that tune in mind.)

The exercise below consists mainly of the interval of a 4th (perfect or otherwise) plus Maj & min 2nds and 3rds as well.

It's based on a pretty common Major pentatonic lick in 4ths, with a repeating pivot note (D-G-C-G  A-D-G-E = C Maj. Pentatonic). This configuration happens twice more in a Maj. scale: G-C-F-C  D-G-C-A (= F Maj. Pentatonic) and A-D-G-D  E-A-D-B (= G Maj. Pentatonic).

That was the C Major Scale. We've already altered it to C Melodic Minor, remember?

I wanted to see what it would look, sound and feel like if I built this lick on each step of the Melodic Minor scale. The shape and interval integrity is the same, but the sound is something else, as would be expected.

As there are "no avoid" notes in Melodic Minor, it creates interesting alternatives to the "ordinary". It doesn't immediately sit so comfortably in the fingers, so it needs to be worked on to gain better familiarity.

Each key is labeled with the parent Melodic Minor scale, as well it's most common chord applications.

More on those applications coming up.
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Treble Clef                  Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Funkman's D-Lite - Contortion, Distortion & 7#9 (Maj / min)]]>Thu, 14 Aug 2014 15:03:55 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/08/funkmans-d-lite-contortion-distortion-79-maj-min.htmlFunkman's D-Lite - Contortion, Distortion
& 7#9 (Maj / Min)

PictureDr. Funkman Whosen-Evernitiz
The dominant 7th chord is probably the most flexible harmonic device in Western music, both in it's functionality as well as its note choices.

Theoretically speaking, all you need is a tritone and 9 of the 10 remaining notes of the the chromatic scale, excluding (again, theoretically speaking) only the Maj. 7th (which works great as a passing tone, etc.), and you're good to go.

Think I'm lyin'

Using D7 as an example for this post, let's build a chromatic scale and label each note's function (notes in italics are the altered tensions):

D=root; Eb=b9; E=9; F=#9; F#=3; G=sus4(11); Ab(G#)=b5(#11); A=5; Bb(A#)=b13(#5); B=13; C=7; C#=Maj7.

Only the last note C#, the Maj7 in this case, gets uninvited to the party, but it usually "passes" by via the backdoor, anyway.

Count 'em up. That's 11 out of 12 legit (and 12 out of 12 if we sneak that Maj7 in there).

Is that flexible or what?

PictureA flexible Dominant 7 with alterations
About as flexible as a pretty Bulgarian contortionist.

Get my point?

OK, great!
Now stop gawking
at the picture!

C'mon now!

I mean, shame on you!
The girl can't help it!


Oh yeah!

As I was saying, a dominant 7 is a very flexible type thing, indeed!

For that reason, no other chord type lends itself to so many different scale choices: i.e. Major, Melodic Minor, Harmonic Minor, Harmonic Major, Whole Tone, Diminished and even Augmented (upper partials only).

The exercise featured here is derived from a permutation of one of those scales; the half tone/ whole tone Diminished scale to be exact, and the permutation is the Pentatonic b2. (1-b2-3-5-6, using the scale steps from a Major scale. In F, that would mean: F-Gb-A-C-D).

The sound we're after, however, is created
when the note D, the 5th scale step of F Pentatonic b2, is heard as the root. This would turn our scale into D-F-Gb-A-C, where D=root; F=b3(#9); Gb(F#)=3; A=5; C=b7.

This gives us the sound of a D7 arpeggio, with both Mal and min 3rds (F# & F respectively), more commonly known as D7#9.

The configuration of the line in the exercise below is a kind of hybrid "Bergonzi Shape" (The eight pentatonic shapes
from tenor master/ guru Jerry Bergonzi's book "Vol 2 - Pentatonics" Advance Music).

Whereas the Bergonzi shapes utilize
4 note groupings, with a repeating scheme of alternating skip or step motion in an up or down
direction, this exercise employs an 8 note, measure long repeating scheme.

Excluding the 3 note pickup, and starting on the downbeat of measure #1
, F pentatonic b2 over D (D-F-Gb-A-C, asc., D-C-A-Gb-F, desc.) the scheme is:

(D) Skip down (A)- Step
down (Gb)- Skip up (C)- Step down - /
          (Skip C)                                     (Skip A)              

(A) Skip down (F) - Step up (
Gb) - Skip up (C) - Step down (A next measure)
        (Skip Gb)                                  (Skip A)

And the scheme pattern repeats itself
each measure.

I believe this Maj./ min scale/ mode came into vogue, as a melodic device
in the late 60's with the early "jazz fusion" players (Miles, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, The Breckers, Joe Henderson, etc.), and should be a familiar sound to most.

The coexistence of a Maj/ min tonality has been and been a major part of the Blues sonority since it's
inception. The classic 7#9 sound eg. F#-C-F over D (the 5th being optional), is a staple of the "Funky/ Jazz/ Blues" genre.

Play that Funky Music RIGHT,

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Treble Clef                Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[251 Measure Relay - ii-V7-i Penta b6 Speed & Agility Exercise]]>Wed, 06 Aug 2014 13:20:02 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/08/251-measure-relay-ii-v7-i-penta-b6-speed-agility-exercise.html251 Measure Relay - ii-V7-i Penta b6
Speed & Agility Exercise

Coming on the heels of last week's post, this speed & agility exercise starts out with the same Pentatonic b6 configuration, this time over a 4 bar minor ii-V7-i cadence; using a different Penta b6 for each chord; albeit from a common tone.

As with the previous exercise, this one is designed not only for speed & agility; but also to sharpen your ears and your brain; and to facilitate, ultimately, the ability to start an idea from any note

Once again, memorization through the 12 keys is the goal here.

As with previous exercises here dealing with the Melodic Minor ii-V7-i progression, a different Melodic Minor scale is related to each of the three chords.

The derived b6 pentatonics from these three unique Melodic Minor scales have a single common tone between them, and it is from this "X-Centric" vantage point that we will begin our exploration.

Starting on Line 1, Measure #1, as our ii chord (C-7b5) we have the exact same 5 note, Penta b6 configuration as last time; descending from F, which is the 4th scale degree of Bb Pentatonic b6
(Bb-C-D-F-Gb; again, not to be confused with F as the fifth, both intervalically and as the 5th scale degree of Bb maj / min), which in turn is derived from the key of Eb Melodic Minor (all of these relationships are labeled.....isn't that nice?!).

The first 5 notes of the first measure Bb Pentatonic b6, as they are (
F-D-C-Bb-Gb), provide us with the 11 - 9 - root - b7 & b5 of C-7b5, our ii chord.

Play this over a C in the bass to hear the effect.

In Measure #2, our V7, in this case an F7alt descending again from common tone F
, the 5 note configuration spells F-Eb-Db-A-Ab
, which forms a descending Db Pentatonic b6, (derived from Gb Melodic Minor) starting on it's 3rd scale degree. In terms of the F7alt (V7) chord, we're looking at: Root - b7 -b13 - 3 -#9.

Playing this over the root F in the bass will give you the full effect. Notice especially, the change in sonority, as well as the tension created, when going from
measure #1 to #2. The F stays the same, but everything else changes around it.

The 5 note configuration in Measures #3 & #4
makes up an F Pentatonic b6 (F-Db-C-A-G), descending from it's root (F again, our common tone), and is derived from the key of Bb Melodic Minor, which generates our tonic minor i chord (Bb min).

The Bb min chord elements found here are: 5th -
b3 - 9 - 7 & 6. The root, Bb, is in the bass.

Again, notice the effect, as
V7 "resolves" to i. All three pentatonic configurations contain a considerable degree of tension, creating a "rich" texture.

Spicy meatball, anyone?

As with the exercise from the previous post, play these lines, if necessary, in a range or octave that's comfortable for you on your instrument. Memorization and technical facility, not sight reading, is the goal here.  
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Treble Clef                       Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[NOT Olympics - Pentatonic b6 Speed & Agility Exercise]]>Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:10:54 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/07/not-olympics-pentatonic-b6-speed-agility-exercise.htmlNOT Olympics - Pentatonic b6
Speed & Agility Exercise

The playing of music, in it's purest form, isn't often looked upon as a truly competitive human activity.

As with athletics, a musician ultimately measures growth and progress against
one's own accomplishments, just as a runner or long jumper might; constantly trying to better the quality of his or her performance.

For the contemporary improvising musician,
technical facility on one's instrument makes it possible to express more complex and challenging musical ideas, and is a necessary requirement to do so.

In both disciplines, speed and agility, not only physical, but mental as well,
are important acquired skills, obtained through many hours of focused practice` and training, which enhance and augment any innate, natural ability or talent.

The exercise presented here uses an altered pentatonic (b6) configuration, with a simple, stepwise "down - up" shape. This exercise can be used with any type of pentatonic(Maj, b3, b2, etc.) or 5 note grouping.

It can be used to develop both technical and mental "speed and agility", as well as being a rapid fire way to express a chord or group of chords (a la Joe Henderson, George Coleman, Freddie Hubbard, et al).

Breaking it down - Measure #1 of line 1

F-D-C-Bb-Gb is a Bb pentatonic b6, starting on the pentatonic's 4th scale degree (not to be confused with F as the 5th scale degree of a Bb Maj or min scale). Two 4 note groups of 16th notes
(F-D-C-Bb desc. & Gb-Bb-C-D asc.), and you're back to F where you started.

Each subsequent measure is transposed down a half step.

Repeat. Rapid repetition is what this is all about.

Start out` by playing this as slow as you have to in order get it clean! Gradually increase the tempo over time as you
get it under control.

Strive to memorize!

Another major point of this exercise is memorization. After playing these configurations enough, you'll probably have them memorized anyway.

This configuration (measure #1) can be used to express the following chords (partial list):
Bb+7 9
C7sus 9#11

Since Bb pentatonic b6 is derived from the key of Eb Melodic Minor, measure #1 will work over any chords and functions of Eb MM. The same relationships to their parent Melodic Minor keys go for the other transposed measures.

The next logical extension to this exercise would be to begin the configuration on a different scale degree. For example, let's leave the first note F of measure #1 as is but consider it the 3rd scale degree of..................................Db pentatonic b6. This would turn the configuration of bar #1 into F-Eb-Db-A-Ab.

Do the same beginning configuration with the other scale steps, i.e.: 2 = F-Eb-B-Bb-G (Eb penta b6); 1 = F-Db-C-A-G (F penta b6); 5 = F-E-C#-B-A (A penta b6).

This exercise was conceived originally for the tenor saxophone. Trumpet players, trombonists, etc., put it in the range that's comfortable for your instrument.

This isn't about sight reading. It's about memorization, vocabulary and chops building.

See you at the finish line?

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Treble Clef                       Bass Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Melomina's Delight - Minor Tonic to Dominant (i - V7alt)]]>Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:45:18 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/07/melominas-delight-minor-tonic-to-dominant-i-v7alt.htmlMelomina's Delight - Minor Tonic to Dominant (i - V7alt)
PicturePrincess Melomina von Melodicus
This minor Tonic - Dominant (i - V7alt) exercise is the third in a series, and works in tandem, more or less with the posts from 02/25/2014 and 03/10/2014.

Checking them out, particularly the former, might not be a bad idea

The premise of all three exercises is to familiarize oneself with Melodic Minor, both technically and aurally, over a basic minor i - V7 cadence; which as explained in the first post, happens to be the first eight bars of the well known and oft played standard, "Softly As In a Morning Sunrise".

As in the first post, this exercise utilizes all 7 diatonic scale tones of the D and Bb Melodic Minor scales, alternately; D MM for the tonic (i) D min. chord and Bb MM for the altered dominant (V7alt) A7alt chord, each lasting a measure apiece.

The difference here is that the scales are laid out in directionally alternating diatonic 3rds; ascending / descending, etc., in an ascending direction and descending / ascending on the way back down.

This exercise should be viewed and practiced as a collection of two bar phrases with repeats (Note: Bars 2 & 8 should have repeat signs at the end).

Some of these 2 bar` phrases can be used as interesting alternatives to the normal stuff one might play over these chords. If nothing else, this exercise will help your chops and expand your vocabulary once internalized.

Note: When playing along to a tune like "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise", bear in mind that this exercise is in Bb Tenor key, which is D minor (C minor concert).
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Treble Clef             Bass Clef (Concert)
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Chops Duster! - Fingerbuster!]]>Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:06:20 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/07/chops-duster-fingerbuster.htmlChops Duster! - Fingerbuster!
Picture"Hey look Ma......! It really works!!"
Contrary to the condition of the gent's digits in the picture below, this is a mild version of a "fingerbuster" (I'm not referring to the Jelly Roll Morton composition of the same name).

A "fingerbuster" could be considered as an instrumentalist's version of a "tongue-twister" which is usually defined as a group of words, or a phrase, that is considered to be difficult to execute.

While the degree of difficulty
varies with both the phrase and the ability of the practitioner, constant repetition, in any case,  at a slowed down tempo, usually serves to iron undo the knots before gradually bringing it back up to speed.

This particular "finger-twister" appeared out of the blue recently while I was doing my saxophonistic due diligence, and it gave me "the finger".

You might feel differently.

The pattern here is deceptively simple:

Two measures and 4 groups of eighth notes, consisting of 3-b7-8-3, 4-b7-8-4, 5-b7-8-5, 4-b7-8-4

This configuration has a basic mixolydian dominant 7 - sus 7 - sound, in and of itself. Like most "finger-twisters", there is repetition involved, with scale steps 3 - 4 & 5 moving back and forth against steps b7 - 8, which remain constant as the second two notes within each 4 note grouping.

As the level of difficulty probably varies with the instrument involved (guitarists, keyboardists, bassists, trombonists, as well as trumpeters), I'd suggest starting out at a "slow enough" tempo (whatever that might mean to you) and gradually increase the speed each time you play the 2 bar phrase, say,  4 times without a mistake, and feel comfortable with it.

Then, move on to the next key, which is presented here in ascending chromatic order.

Once you've straightened out a few knuckles, try altering some of the notes.

For example, make scale step 4 a #4 (Lydian Dominant). Change scale step b7 to a natural 7.


Dust 'em, don't bust 'em!
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Treble Clef                     Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[BRANCHER-FRANCE TSG Tenor Saxophone Play - Test]]>Fri, 04 Jul 2014 09:41:33 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/07/brancher-france-tsg-tenor-saxophone-play-test.htmlBRANCHER-FRANCE
TSG Tenor Saxophone Play - Test

I am taking this opportunity to happily announce here that I am now a proud endorser for BRANCHER-FRANCE Saxophones.

I had the good fortune of meeting Msr. Pascal Brancher, Mr. BRANCHER-FRANCE himself, maker of fine saxophones and accessories, in March 2014 at the Frankfurter Musikmesse (Frankfurt Music Fair).

The Brancher stand was located directly across the isle from the Bari Woodwinds booth  (manned by Jim Cavanaugh and Ron van Ostenbridge) whose Bari Hybrid mouthpiece and synthetic reeds I have been playing exclusively and endorsing for a number of years, going back to the days of the company's founder, the late Wolfe Taninbaum.

So meeting "the Branchers" was kind of like meeting the people next door.  I had never even heard of the Brancher brand before this, so I was certainly not familiar with their line of horns.

The short of it is; that after 2 days of checking out all the major  (and minor) saxophone names  (eg. Cannonball, P. Mauriat, Keilwerth, whom I formerly endorsed, Antigua Winds , Inderbinnen and Yanigasawa), I realized that the theretofore unheard of Brancher tenor, compared favorably in every way to any of the just mentioned names.

First off, the low register response is amazing. The production of sub-tone, in the lower half octave (E - Bb) is much easier and more responsive than on either my Keiwerth SX 90R or 66xxx Series Mark VI.

To that effect, Pascal Brancher explains that, "
The low register response, as well as the rest of the registers, is enhanced & improved by the special "cymbal like" shape of the resonators. Their larger diameters help in that regard as well.

Each horn comes with 2 necks, with either one or two ring markings engraved a the base.

Since we started designing saxophones in 2007", says Brancher, "we've made & tested a lot of different necks. At least two of them were really amazing, so we kept them and include them both with each saxophone.

One ring engraved on the neck normally gives more depth of tone. Phrasing & legato are also easier. Two engraved rings normally gives a bit more volume, brightness and bite.

Since we started marketing these horns in 2008, we've had saxophonists who've preferred either or.....so we continue to deliver horns with both."

In my experience with the horn so far, the differences between the two
necks are very subtle. For the play-test examples below, I'm using the 1 ring neck.

More info can, of course, be found on the Brancher-France website.

As I consider myself to be a saxophone "player", rather than a sax "tech buff", or "connoisseur collector", etc..(I've tightened a few screws and even changed a pad or two in my day), all this talk about neck rings and shiny pearls and things, might pretty much as well be in Taiwanese to me; which incidentally, as you may already know, is where the basic manufacturing for Brancher-France saxophones is done (with customizing and modifications done at Brancher-France World HQs in
Champforgeuil, France). Taiwan is also where the manufacturing of every one of the brands mentioned above is done, with the exception of Keilwerth (Germany), Yanagisawa (Japan) and Inderbinnen (Switzerland).

Of course, we cannot forget, "ze good ol' Sel-merrr" (Pah-reee, naturellement)!

So now that we know that Taiwan seems to be the spot, it really doesn't mean blip to me, in this "global NWO" economy, where these horns are manufactured!

The question is: How do they play? How do they sound?

All I can give you here is my own humble offerings via "aural evidence" of my actual recordings with the BRANCHER-FRANCE TSG tenor saxophone, which I think is no less than a spectacular horn.

Give it a listen. You be the judge!

The demos I present below, coming to you from the sound in the clouds, are from three different
  sub-styles, common in a saxophonists repertoire; straight eighths, ballad, and medium tempo swing.  All three tunes feature myself on the Brancher-France TSG Tenor.

The results are a happy combination of the "Killer B's", Bari, Brancher....and Bobby!

Track 1- The playback track I'm using here for this demo of Wes Montgomrey's "Road Song" is from Hal Leonard Jazz Play-a-Long Vol. 50 "Great Jazz Classics".  It features an excellent rhythm section and is a funky, bluesy classic.

Track 2 - This is my attempt at unaccompanied solo saxophone (which is a work in progress);  Mal Waldron's classic ballad "Soul Eyes". I used to see Mal all the time back in the day when I lived in Munich, Germany, and at the time, really had no idea about the man's history and accomplishments. This is dedicated to Mal and all the questions I would probably bug him with now.

I used` a room mic and tried for the most natural dry sound I could get.

Track 3 - The backing track I'm using here for this demo of "Monk's Dream" is from Hal Leonard Jazz Play-a-Long Vol. 90 "Thelonious Monk Classics".  This is an awesome volume, along with Vol. 91, of Monk classics; especially if you might not have access to a great (or even good) rhythm section, that can play Monk well. This can be pure gold for you.

The Trio here features: Renowned veteran Ronnie Mathews - piano (who does an incredibly authentic "Monk"); Ben Riley- drums (Monk's drummer throughout the 60's); and Kiyoshi Kitagawa- bass.

These two volumes are a must have for anyone who wants to learn and practice Monk tunes.

So to sum up: I'm really happy with this Brancher Tenor.  When I first got it, it had a much different "feel" than the Keilwerth SX-90R that I've been playing for the past 18 years. I was concerned that I might have difficulty getting around the horn like I'm used to...but that doesn't seem to be the case, as over time I'm starting to get used to it.

The horn itself has a mellow middle range with overtones of cedar, spice and hay!


Oh snap, I thought this was a cigar review!

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Korner Karnataka #5 - Take A Ride on the "South Indian Line"]]>Fri, 27 Jun 2014 15:58:21 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/06/korner-karnataka-5-take-a-ride-on-the-south-indian-line.htmlAll Aboard!
Take A Ride on the "South Indian Line"

"People get ready, there's a train a-comin''. Don't need no ticket, just get on board "  - The O' Jays

(...and If you actually get to where you're goin' in one piece. you'd better thank the Lord!)

The exercise here is a page from my personal workbook (as is most of the stuff I post, I guess).

In order to kill two birds with one stone, I thought I'd create` these lines for myself as a method to get closer and more personal with this odd meter Carnatic composition "South Indian Line", and post them here, to share with my fellow masochists

PictureUJRE 2G
I'm currently a member of a fairly well known 10 piece Jazz - Rock ensemble, aptly named the United Jazz & Rock Ensemble, Second Generation (UJRE 2G).

This band, whose original incarnation dates back to the early 1970's and whose charter members featured such names as Charlie Mariano, Kenny Wheeler, Albert Mangelsdorf,  Jon Heisman, & Eberhard Weber, among others; is to this day still somewhat of an institution in Germany.

It's founder and leader (musically, spiritually & financially), both then and now, is our beloved septuagenarian pianist / composer / arranger; the one and only, Wolfgang Dauner.

PictureCharlie Mariano & Nadaswaram
One of the tunes in the band's book is a piece entitled "South Indian Line". This composition is credited to the late great alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano and arranged by Wolfgang Dauner, but I have reason to believe it has more traditional origins, possibly even being composed by Carnatic singer / composer R.A. Ramamani.

The original recordings of "South Indian Line" featured Charlie Mariano on nadswaram, a Carnatic double reed instument, which he studied in Bangalore with a master teacher.

I've had the
privilege of both recording and performing "South Indian Line" live with UJRE 2G and being featured on soprano saxophone (as I don't play nadaswaram).

The tune itself is based over a vamp in Eb concert, consisting of a cycle of 24 beats (eighth notes), which is divided up and notated as::

2 measures of 5/8; 1 measure of 4/4; and 1 measure of 3/4

This 24 beat, eighth note cycle could be expressed in Konnakol as:
Ta-da-gi-na-tom (5), Ta-da-gi-na-tom (5), Ta-ka-di-mi (4), Ta-ka-di-mi (4), Ta-ka-di-mi (4), Ta-ka (2).

As one of my goals here is to play over the vamp using primarily 16th notes, the first two 5/8 measures can be further broken down into a group of ten 16ths (3rd speed) like this:

Takita (dotted 8th = 3 16ths); 
Takita (dotted 8th = 3 16ths); Takadimi (2 8th notes = 4 16ths)

PictureRidin' the Line
Playing in odd meters has always been one of my weaker points; so the whole purpose, for me,  in composing these lines is to familiarize myself with different possibilities in sub-dividing the rhythm, according to the way the vamp is constructed; sort of playing "inside" the time, rather than solely playing over the top of it, as I did on the recording (vamp begins ca. 1:54, soprano solo ca. 3:02).

Melodically, the tune is based on Melakarta #16 (Chakravakam)

In Eb concert:

Eb - Fb - G - Ab - Bb - C - Db

It could be considered in western scale terms as an Eb Mixolydian b2,
or as the 5th mode of Ab Harmonic Major.

On the recording, I used a combination of the original scale together with an Eb Dorian b2 (2nd mode of Db Melodic Minor), which changes the original scale by one note (G becomes Gb, Maj 3r to min 3rd).

In these line exercises, I'm experimenting with breaking it down further
by using combinations of Pentatonic b2s and Augmented Scales, as these scales contain both Maj and min 3rds, relative to the key.

It's not my goal to memorize and use these composed lines as "plug & play" phrases; rather I'm hoping it will give me some added ways of ultimately seeing and intuitively approaching an improvised solo over this multi-metered vamp.

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B. Stern
<![CDATA[2 B Continued...Continuous Melodic Minor ii-V7-i, 3 Scale Exercise]]>Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:53:16 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/06/june-19th-2014.html    2 B Continued...
Continuous Melodic Minor ii-V7-i
3 Scale Exercise

The purpose of this minor ii-V7-i exercise, which utilizes 3 Melodic Minor scales (in directionally alternating diatonic 3rds), is at least three-fold:

1) Because Melodic Minor has no "avoid" notes, one can start and resolve the ii-V7-i cadence on each and any scale degree.

2) To smoothly connect, by whole or half step, from one scale to the next, moving in the same ascending or descending

3) Most importantly, to help train the ear to the sound of Melodic Minor in general and to the sound of this type of polymodal ii-V7-i in particular, as well as to build instrumental technique.
The basic diatonic scalar notation scheme here is:

   skip up - step up - skip down - step up - skip up - step up - skip down

D     -      F        -        G           -         E        -        F   -      Ab          -         Bb       -           G

These notes spell out the F Melodic Minor scale (with the exception of the note C) over the D-7b5 (ii chord) which is built from the 6th scale step of the "key" of F Melodic Minor, in the first measure of line one of the exercise.

In measure #2, starting on the next available scale tone from the next scale (Ab Melodic Minor), we use the same diatonic scheme:

   skip up - step up - skip down - step up - skip up - step up - skip down

Ab     -    B     -     Db      -     Bb     -     B    -      Eb    -      F      -       Db

These notes spell out the Ab Melodic Minor scale (with the exception of the note G) over the G7alt (V7 chord) which is built from the 7th scale step of the "key" of Ab Melodic Minor..

In measures #3 and 4, starting on the next available scale tone from the next scale (C Melodic Minor), we continue with the same diatonic scheme:

   skip up - step up - skip down - step up - skip up - step up - skip down

D     -      F     -     G       -      Eb      -     F    -     A     -      B       -       G
A     -      C     -     D       -      B        -    C    -     A       ---------------------------------

These notes spell out the C Melodic Minor scale over the C min. tonic (i chord) which is built from the 1st scale step of the "key" of C Melodic Minor.

The breakdown:

ii   = D-7b5 = 6th scale step of F Melodic Minor

V7 = G7alt  = 7th scale step of Ab Melodic Minor
i    = C-      = 1st scale step of  C Melodic Minor

Shortcuts to memorization:

ii chord = 6th scale step of 
V7 chord = 7th scale step of

i chord = !st Scale Step of

For example, if your trying to quickly determine the Melodic minor scales to use over a ii-V7-i in G minor, you could easily figure the ii of G minor is A-7b5, the V7 of G minor would be D7alt and the i chord in G minor would be, of course, G min.

The magic numbers above are 6, 7 & 1 as relates to the scale steps from which these three chords are derived
; so to find the Melodic Minor scales to match the three chords of an A-7b5 / D7alt / C- ii-V7-i cadence:

A-7b5 is derived from the 6th scale step of C Melodic Minor.

D7alt is derived from the 7th scale step of Eb Melodic Minor.
G- is derived from the 1st scale step of.................................... G Melodic Minor.

I smell smoke! Is that your brain frying or mine?

OK. So now that we've gone through the preliminaries, there is an easier way to find these scales.


Taking the just witnessed key of G Melodic Minor as an example:

The scale for the ii chord begins on
The scale for the V7 chord begins on Eb
The scale for the i chord begins on G

Those scale roots spell out C - Eb - G, a C minor triad, where the home key in question (G min.) is the 5th!

However, this has absolutely nothing to do with the key C min, it's just a trick shortcut to determine the Melodic Minor scales in a G minor ii-V7.

Let's take the key of Bb (Maj. or min.).
Consider Bb as the 5th. The root would be Eb, the min. 3rd would be Gb. The 5th would be Bb.

So in the key of Bb (Maj. or min.);
The Melodic Minor scale for the ii chord (C-7b5) = Eb Melodic Minor

The Melodic Minor scale for the iV7 chord (F7alt) = Gb (F#) Melodic Minor
The Melodic Minor scale for the tonic i (I) chord (Bb-) = Bb Melodic Minor

Eb - Gb - Bb, spells a Eb min. triad. The roots of the Melodic Minor scales in a ii-V7-i in Bb, and nothing to do with Eb, only a name.

Just think of the key in question as being the 5th of a minor triad.

How about the Melodic Minor scales for ii-V7s in the keys of:

D min; B min
, F#min Ab min.

Easy as A-B-C.....if you just put the time into it!

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B. Stern