I recently received a comment on one of my posts from last summer entitled "Sonny Stitt - "How Many Keys on the Saxophone?" from a well informed gentleman by the name of Leo Cluesmann.
In my post, I detailed the experience of my encounter in 1980 with the jazz legend, saxophonist Sonny Stitt, believing, correctly as I found out, that many people who are still around had` their own Stitt stories.
It is obvious, using Mr. Cluesmann's comment as an example, that even more than thirty years after his death, Stitt still elicits some strong emotions from folks.
I'll include Leo's comment here in full; for which I wish to thank him.
Say it fast, but practice it slow.
As described in a previous post, which could be well worth checking out, the Pentatonic b2 scale is basically a Major Pentatonic scale with the second degree flatted (C Maj. Penta = C-D-E-G-A to C Penta b2 = C-Db-E-G-A).
Lowering the 2nd degree a half step creates some important new interval relationships; mainly, the interval of a Maj. 3rd (min 6th) between the 2nd & 5th scale degrees (Db (C#) & A), as well as the tritone created between steps 2 & 4 (Db & G).
So, what's it all mean, Mr. Natch'l?
"Stablemates", Benny Golson's classic, written in 1954, is the subject of this etude.
I'd been 'shedding this tune as of late, so I thought I'd slow the process down a bit and write out an etude, which similar to a solo transcription, can be helpful in focusing in on individual elements of a tune.
"Stablemates" is not your "standard" jazz standard, in that its form (36 bars, ABA 14 - 8 - 14) as well as its flow of chord changes, is somewhat unorthodox.
I think that for these reasons, mainly, the tune has remained a challenge to improvisers and has stood the test of time since its inception 60 years ago!
The Augmented Scale is a 6 note, symmetrical scale, the tonalities of which are a result of the octave being divided into three equal parts.
Among it's other "pluses", this three headed beast can be a useful and effective device when improvising over a static or modal harmonic situation, shifting the tonality momentarily a Maj. 3rd above or below the home key.
As has been described previously in these pages, the Augmented Scale can be thought of (using the first 2 lines of the exercise as an example) as:
2 Augmented triads, a minor third apart (F+ & Ab+) or, enharmonically, a half step apart (F+ & E+),
3 Major or 3 minor triads, a Maj 3rd apart (F, C# & A Major or minor triads).
Surprise! Another ii-V7-i exercise dealing with altered pentatonics.
Can't get enough, huh? Me, too!
I mean, why practice this stuff? Why practice scales, patterns, etc.
In fact, why practice.......period!?
I expect there might be different answers depending on the skill level and intentions of the player.
As for myself, and players like me who have been doing this for a while, it's about making new connections (musically, not necessarily politically or professionally), creating new pathways, growing new synapses, etc.
In other words, trying to get away from playing the S.O.S.
As I mentioned on my home page, the more you learn, the more the universe seems to expand exponentially, whereby, instead of feeling larger within it, you realize how little you really know.
The great part about that is: There will always be something interesting and challenging to learn, and get this:
YOU WILL NEVER RUN OUT OF THINGS TO PRACTICE!
Softly as in a Swarm of Flying Marshmallows
This exercise works together with the post from 02/25/2014, and the basic explanations can be found there.
What we've done here, basically, is omitted 2 of the notes from each of the original Melodic Minor scales (D Melodic Minor, omit G & C#, and Bb Meodic Minor, omit Bb & Eb), thereby creating 2 altered pentatonics.
For the D min tonic chord, we'll use a D pentatonic b3 (D-E-F-A-B), which has a more "obvoius" tonic sound than our other MM choice, the pentatonic b6, which is what we'll use for the A7alt dominant chord (F pentatonic b6 = Bb Melodic Minor = F-G-A-C-Db). The D min pentatonic supplies us with a good old Dmin6 9 sound, while the fore mentioned F pentatonic b6 gives us an A7 #9b13, and includes the tritone C#(Db) & G.
As in the previous exercise, both scales are played alternately in a single direction, each measure beginning on the next available scale tone.
Note: Measure 4 of Line 4 should be labeled as an A7alt chord.
This exercise comes in 3 flavors, and I don't mean your standard vanilla-chocolate-strawberry, either.
I'd even venture to claim, from my own biased point of view, that it's even more yummy, and certainly less fattening.
It could even help you sweat off a few pounds in the process, plus it'll most definitely keep your cholesterol in check..
Having gotten those preliminary points out of the way, what I'm really trying to say here is............
This is a basic exercise, written out in Tenor Key, which I recently developed for several of my Skype students which I thought I'd share here (hope they don't mind). It utilizes 2 Melodic Minor scales, D & Bb Melodic Minor to be exact, alternating over a tonic minor (i) chord (D-6, D- Maj7), and an altered dominant (V7) chord (A7alt), each chord lasting a measure apiece.
This is also a simplified version of an exercise found in "The Melodic Minor Handbook" by yours truly and published by Jamey Aebersold. The exercise in the book consists a 4 bar minor ii-V7-i using 3 different Melodic Minor scales. Both exercises are "continuous scale' types, where the inherent first note of each new scale picks up where the last note of the previous one left off.
For example: measure #1, (D- = D Mel. Min. = D-E-F-G-A-B-C#-D).
measure #2, (A7alt = Bb Mel. Min = Eb-F-G-A-Bb-C-Db-Eb)
measure #3, (D- = D Mel. Min. = E-F-G-A-B-C#-D-E).
And so on. Get the drift?
I remember the first time I ever heard about Carolyn Breuer (pronounced Broy - er). I was sharing a quiet taxi ride in Munich, Germany with her father, trombonist / pianist Hermann Breuer.
As I recall, I was about to doze off in the back seat, when Hermann remarked suddenly, “Saxophone players tend to practice a lot of patterns, don’t they?”
I must have answered something like “Yeah, I guess so. Why?”
“Well my daughter, who’s 12, started playing alto and she practices a lot of patterns.”, he replied.
I mentioned to him that I had a few students at the time and that I’d be glad to give her some lessons.
That, however, never happened, as I left Germany a short time later.
She doesn't seem to have suffered in the least because of it.
Quite to the contrary.
As "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree", so the saying goes, saxophonist / composer Carolyn Breuer has gone on to become one of the most recognizable and respected Jazz Artists on the European scene.
I caught up with her recently via Alexander Graham Bell's 140 year old invention.
This somewhat Monkish, four bar line, is based on the premise of my previous post, which uses pairs of Perfect Fourths a tritone apart, as part of a Diminished Scale application.
This time, we can work it over a biii - bVI7 - ii - V7 - i progression, which is most commonly found in the last four bars of a typical "Mr. PC" type Minor Blues.
The P4th pair from measure #1 (of line 1) represents one half of the C# (E, G, Bb) half tone / whole tone diminished scale, while the P4th pair in measure #2 is half of the ht / wt diminished scale a half step below that, i.e. C (Eb, F#, A). It resolves neatly into a D tonic minor; D Melodic Minor being the scale of choice.