Roller Coaster Ride!
A Snakey, Chromatic ii-V7 Line

Picture"Roller Coaster" - Karen Elzinger
This exercise, which features the smaller intervals of Maj. & min 2nds,  was developed from one that I made up for myself a while back; when I first heard guys like Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Steve Grossman and, of course, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, and Miles Davis from the mid '60s before them; who made frequent use of these snakey, swirling, chromatic types of lines.

The original exercise was made up of a pattern which, connecting each measure by a half step, repeated itself down a perfect 4th, and which can be found on pp. 71-76 of my eBook, "Slick Licks That Stick!" which is available right here.

The downloadable exercise presented here is my attempt to tonicize and resolve the original line. Probably the easiest and most accessible way to do that, in my estimation, was guessed it; some sort of ii-V7-I resolution.


Colonel Bleeped!
Coltrane's "Satellite" - The First Eight

PictureCol. Bleepdat knows "Satellite".
This post presents an exercise over the chord changes to the first eight bars of John Coltrane's "(Giant) Step-ed Up" up treatment of the popular standard, "How High the Moon", (Charlie Parker's "Ornithology" is based on the straight changes of the tune).

I posted a full transcription of Coltrane's solo, on "Satellite", as well as information about the solo and the recording itself, so I won't repeat that here.

"Satellite" is but one of several 'Trane originals, based on standards, over which he superimposed his version of the "Cycle of Descending Major Thirds", which has become known to the world as "Coltrane Changes" or "Giant Steps Changes".


Be-Boppin' the Harmonic Major

PictureProf. Diz - Dissecting the equations to some Universal Truths
As I've been recently treating the Harmonic Major scale like a new found toy, I've discovered, for myself at least, some of the unique and interesting qualities of this "hidden in plain sight" seven note harmonic system.

The practice of adding a non-diatonic passing tone to the Major, as well as the Melodic & Harmonic Minor Scales and their modes began as the "eighth note" became the basic rhythmic pulse unit of the music called "BeBop", and became known at some point as the "BeBop Scale"

I think it
was David Baker who first "bopularized" the term.

In order to create an even 8 count of eighth notes trom the original 7 note scale and allow a melodic line to flow and resolve evenly through measures of 4/4, a passing tone was strategically added, the location depending on the mode used, allowing the chord tones to fall on downbeats (and vice versa), for the most part.

So, with that in mind, I was curious to see how one might "Bebop-a-size" the modes of Harmonic Major.

Right off the bat, I hit a slight snag.


Harmonic Major - Cinderella Scale Story?

This post focuses on a scale system which has been given some lip service, but has been less well represented in either recorded or written examples; namely Harmonic Major

Personally, I haven't paid much attention to this scale and its modes up to this point; the reason being, I guess, is that many of its diatonic chord types
are embedded within some the more commonly used scale systems: Major. minor (melodic & harmonic), diminished and augmented.

However, I've come to discover that the Harmonic Major scale system is a unique and beautiful thing (or should I say thang?)!

Although a hybrid, of sorts
, it contains a number of strangely beautiful and exotic sounding (to western ears) modes and melodic possibilities.

So what, then, is this thing called Harmonic Major, and how did it get here?


Signs of Augmentia - Augmented Scale 
Major / Minor Triad Pairs

PictureSigns of Augmentia++++
While we're on the subject of symmetrical scales (at least we were the last time I posted something), let's check into some of the possibilities which another, albeit lesser discussed, symmetrical configuration, commonly known as the "Augmented Scale", has to offer.

The Augmented Scale is a 6 note (hexatonic) scale made up of three minor 2nds, spaced a Major third apart:

C-Db, E-F, G#-A

Or, the same exact scale can be viewed
as consisting of three minor 3rds (or augmented 2nds), spaced a Major third apart:


Funkman's Delight #2 - Children of the
Damned (Diminished Scale)!

PictureStarring Cy O'Nara
The essential, most compelling element of the 8 note, symmetrical "Diminished Scale" is.........
it's symmetry!

Regardless of whether it starts with a whole or a half step, the beauty of this scale lies in its ability to be broken down into smaller pieces of three, four, five (pentatonic) or six note (hexatonic) cells, whereby these groupings can be combined and spaced at intervals, usually minor thirds or tritones, to create some very hip longer lines.

The potential downside to this method is that
the results of pure symmetry could end up sounding somewhat mechanical or mathematical. but for the sake of exploration and experimentation, that may not necessarily be a bad thing; at least as a starting point.

Besides, a lot usually depends as much on "how" you play something, as it does "what" you play; doesn't it?

But that's something for another post
. In the meantime.......


Granted! - A Joe Henderson Solo Transcription

It's Joe Henderson time again, ladies and gents!
Picture"Happiness is Just a Thing Called (hearing a guy named) Joe"
Joe, as you should know, was one of the music's more stylistically unique and influential tenor saxophonists and improvisers, as well as the composer of a healthy number of classic originals.

His influence and legacy live on in his many recordings, made both as leader and sideman, during a career which spanned nearly four decades.

Henderson's tenor saxophone solo on one of those original compositions, an uptempo C Minor Blues entitled "Granted" (dedicated to the renowned NYC Jazz Radio personality and promoter, Alan Grant, who recently passed away at 93), is the subject of this post and downloadable transcription.

"Granted" was recorded by Rudy Van Gelder on January 27th, 1966 (which happened to be the 25th birthday of the session's vibraphonist, Bobby Hutcherson) and was part of the session that produced Henderson's fifth and last studio album as a leader for the Blue Note label, "Mode for Joe".

At the time of the recording, Joe Henderson was a member of pianist Horace Silver's quintet, which also included a young Woody Shaw on trumpet. Henderson had joined Silver's group in June, 1964 and would remain with the pianist for just another two-plus months.


More Blues Minor - The Coal, Hard Sax!

Picture Miner Blues - The Coal Hard Sax
This post could be considered as an addendum to "C Minor Blues - The Last Four" from a few weeks ago.

This 4 bar mini-etude didn't make the cut, only because it was conceived at a much slower tempo (ca. quarter note = 120) as in, for example, Joe Henderson's "Out of The Night" or  "Bags & 'Trane", than the dozen or so in that post.

It does, however contain the same premise; being based on bars 9, 10, 11 and 12 (bVI7-V7-i-i) of the type of medium tempo Minor Blues as those tunes named above.

This one contains a single, four bar phrase, presented in 12 keys, with a 16th note feel.

It works really well as a warmup type exercise.


Got the Digits?
Melodic Minor Tonic to Dominant (i-V7alt) Digital Patterns

Picture"Dig It All! Re: Doo-Doo" painting by Fo-Toh Zjiap
The Melodic Minor scale, being in reality, an "altered" Major scale (with a flatted 3rd), translates those alterations from Major to it's phrases and melodic patterns as well.

This exercise is a technical study in the use of inherent Melodic Minor "1235 type" "digital patterns" over a common Tonic to Dominant (i - V7alt) harmonic movement, aka the "A" sections of "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise", or "A Night in Tunisia" (which has a bII7 sub for its V7).

By "digital patterns", I don't mean "ones and zeros" or Boolean Algebra; just good ol' analog left and right hand "digits", more commonly known as fingers.

While one might be familiar with the common Major Scale "digits" (ie, 1235 4568, 2346 5679 and so forth), the altered Melodic Minor versions of these same patterns might be less familiar, both in feel as well as sound.

The downloadable exercise is designed to familiarize oneself with these Melodic Minor "altered" digital patterns.


B. There! - "Invitation" - The Last Eight

Here's another in a series of "Last Eight" (or "Last Four") groups of etudes; designed to zero in on a certain section of a particular tune, where the chord / scale choices and their connectivity might be somewhat ambiguous, and might in general, might make you say "Huh?!"

This time, we'll take a look at the well known and oft played standard "Invitation", by Bronislau Kaper, the Polish born film composer who also wrote "On Green Dolphin Street'.

At the very end of last year, I posted an etude based on the complete set of changes of "Invitation" (here), for what it's worth.

The last eight measures (and especially the last four) of "Invitation" used to make me scratch my head (I'm sure it wasn't dandruff, or worse), before I knew how to recognize and handle Melodic Minor chord / scale relationships in these situations.

And if you didn't already realize it "Invitation" is a Melodic Minor lover's dream!