12 Jazz Etudes Based on Popular Standards
The idea for this project came from the many requests from friends and students asking me if I could write a book about how I approach my jazz improvisations. My concern with this idea was based on two main issues. One being that I didn’t think that I would be able to simplify my style of improvising, (which tends to be virtuosic and blindingly fast at times) and the other being that I felt that I’d need to start from basics and work my way through a series of long and complex books in order to give the subject its due credit. However, after thinking further about this project a few years ago, I decided that perhaps the best way to approach this book would be to create a series of arrangements based on well known, established jazz standards and then to improvise over these at real time.
I have followed this plan as closely as I could in that the arrangements and “heads” to these were scored in my Finale notation program. I then improvised the solo choruses after doing the midi backing tracks, making several attempts on each until I got a take that satisfied the requirements of this project. The improvised solos had to embody two main qualities: they had to be playable by a “good level” student player and also follow the chord changes in a logical and easy to understand manner. Once I was happy with these solos, (created on the clarinet only), I set about transcribing these as accurately as possible into the Finale scores and then edited these with the appropriate articulations and dynamics. The premise for these pieces was to not use the actual original melodies from these standards, but rather to just write and improvise, censoring and resisting the temptation to make these too complex or virtuosic. The reason for creating my own melodies was so that I could create melodies for these etudes that embody the same spirit and stylistic intent as the improvised solos so as to give each piece a feel of homogeneity and unity. As mentioned at the beginning of this discourse, the melodies were created in the Finale scores to each piece and although I tried at all times to preserve a sense of improvisatory nature to these, I did have more freedom and time for the thoughtful planning and construction of these melodies. Included in the piano part to these etudes is a solo analysis score that contains all of the chord changes relevant to the solos construction for the student of jazz improvisation to de-construct and study at their leisure.
This product comes complete with: Soloist part, Piano Score with solo analysis score (in the back portion), Audio performance and rhythm section backing tracks (piano, guitar, bass and drums).