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Hal Galper’s Piano Lesson – Minimizing Emotion

Wow! Hal Galper has piano lessons on YouTube – just search by his name.


Check Out Stephen Nachmanovitch’s ‘Free Play’ Website


-Stephen Nachmanovitch performs and teaches internationally as an improvisational violinist, and at the intersections of music, dance, theater, and multimedia arts. He is the author of Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art (Penguin, 1990). Born in 1950, he studied at Harvard and the University of California, where he earned a Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness for an exploration of William Blake. His mentor was the anthropologist and philosopher Gregory Bateson. He has taught and lectured widely in the United States and abroad on creativity and the spiritual underpinnings of art. In the 1970s he was a pioneer in free improvisation on violin, viola and electric violin. He has presented master classes and workshops at many conservatories and universities, and has had numerous appearances on radio, television, and at music and theater festivals. He has collaborated with other artists in media including music, dance, theater, and film, and has developed programs melding art, music, literature, and computer technology. He has published articles in a variety of fields since 1966, and has created computer software including The World Music Menu and Visual Music Tone Painter. He lives with his wife and two sons in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Great Site for Learning the Origins of Jazz Tunes


This is a great site for learning the origins of jazz tunes. The above link covers the origins of the great Dizzy Gillespie tune Groovin’ High:

“Dizzy Gillespie took a sextet into the studio on February 9, 1945, and recorded two new compositions, “Groovin’ High,” a medium tempo tune based on the chord changes of “Whispering” (written in 1920), and “Blue ‘N’ Boogie.” In his book Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie, Donald L. Maggin says, “Dizzy created a complex arrangement for ‘Groovin’ High,’ which became one of his most enduring hits; it encompasses a six-bar introduction, three key changes, transition passages between solos, and a half-speed coda as it demonstrates his skill in fashioning interesting textures using only six instruments.”



Paul Rinzler joined the Cal Poly faculty in 1997 as Director of Jazz Studies after having taught jazz classes at U.C. Santa Cruz for twelve years. He received his doctorate in Theory/Composition with a secondary emphasis in Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado.

An IAJE Clinic in Playing Free Jazz with Kenny Werner

Kenny Werner–IAJE Clinic in Playing Free Jazz

“In this clip from – Jazz piano great Kenny Werner gives a free jazz clinic sponsored by the International Association of Jazz Education. He discusses the history of free music, what it is and what it means, and offers extended thoughts on what players can and should to do prepare themselves mentally, physically, and musically for the unique challenges that free music presents. He also offers working demonstrations of his lectures through free-music performances of several jazz standards.”

A Master Class in Playing Jazz with Pianist Kenny Werner

This is really good:

This is great teaching from pianist Kenny Werner!


In this clip from – Jazz Piano great Kenny Werner conducts a master class in jazz piano at the famed Blue Note in New York. He addresses a wide variety of issues that jazz players on all instruments face – issues of confidence and mental preparation, techniques for better improvisation and for improving your ability to collaborate, and how to overcome the mind games that every musician plays with themselves over "what to play next?" and "does this sound good?" He also demonstrates his approach to music with several performances of standards and original compositions.

Deep Blues: Quartal Blues


The answer to me is simple: It’s yet another way to be improvisational with your harmonic vocabulary. These voicings are what you might call “open” sounding, meaning they don’t clearly say minor, major, or dominant. They also sit nicely on top of major, minor, and dominant chords. I also think of them as more melodic harmony. You’re less likely to play one voicing in one place for any length of time—you’ll feel the urge to move quartal voicings around.



“This thesis by Scott Anderson was completed as an independent research project for the Honors in Music History and Literature program at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota, Spring 1996.

It was presented at the Tenth National Conference on Undergraduate Research, April 1996, University of North Carolina—Asheville and at the Pi Kappa Lambda Spring Banquet, May 1996, Gustavus Adolphus College.”

The World According To John Coltrane (part 1)

Bill Evans – Practice Tape, Vol. 1 CD


Practice Tape, Vol. 1 album by Bill Evans was released Aug 22, 2000 on the E3 label. All tracks have been digitally mastered using HDCD technology. Practice Tape, Vol. 1 CD music contains a single disc with 22 songs.

Thanks to son Evan Evans, jazz fans have access to the archives of father Bill. Practice Tape, Vol. 1 songs Evans’s tremendous contribution to modern piano is a given and these homemade tapes provide a tiny window onto the dedicated life of the practicing musician. Practice Tape, Vol. 1 album Though the liner notes provide no recording date, this session was most likely made sometime in the ’70s, the last decade of the senior Evans’s life (1929-1980).

Bill Evans–Web Site


“Bill Evans did not consider the book of classical music closed after his student years to only live on his roots as a jazz pianist. Nenette Evans: "When he played at home it was primarily classical. Several times he and Warren Bernhardt played 4 handed pieces. Bill had a vast amount of sheet music, some he would look at, others not. I rarely, if ever, heard him play jazz at home." His son Evan Evans about the discovered "Practise Tapes" of Bill Evans: "I get the impression that he would practise some classics like Bach or Ravel, and he would just do that for a while, as if to shake out the blues and traditional jazz and exercise his hands. It’s like he goes into this classical music for 10 or 30 minutes, or an hour or two, and he would just bear down with this classical music. But then, suddenly, he would burst into his own thing. Obviously he was hoping there’d be some correlation with the mastery of the classical music – that something would be brought across, or, that part of what he discovered artistically by playing would be brought in his own music. A kind of osmosis."
About Evans writing about the philosophy of music: "There was someting around the order of ten to twenty thousand pages that my father wrote about very strange, abstract ideas on the philosophy of music." (Interview with Evan Evans in 2000 by Eric Nemeyer in Jazz Improv).”

Welcome to,,the Web’s most visited site for jazz pianist-composer BILL EVANS


“For over TWELVE YEARS, this website has been dedicated to the life and music of pianist and composer BILL EVANS (1929 -1980), one of the most important and influential musicians in all of jazz history. News, CD and DVD reviews, essays and articles, recording catalog, interviews, sidemen info, sound samples, biography, etc. . We try to update at least once every few weeks, as circumstances warrant, so come by again soon.”

Tony Bennett Courts Latin Music Stars for ‘Viva Duets’ Album


"I’m fortunate and blessed," says Tony Bennett of Viva Duets, his just-released set featuring some of music’s biggest Latin stars, including Christina Aguilera on "Steppin’ Out With My Baby"and Mexican superstar Vicente Fernandez on "Return to Me."

Play Along on You Tube

There are great free play along tracks on You Tube. Just go to this link – or improvise your own search term within YouTube.…0.0…1ac.1.sGB7i_keQk0


Yahoo Jazz Guitar Group File Archive


Some good files here – you do have to sign up with user name and password. And although it’s Yahoo Group your Yahoo password does not work here.

The Amen Break

More about the “Amen Break” – which I referred to in a previous post. Wikipedia is great – they’ve got all the details. I include a link about the drummer Gregory Coleman, who passed away in 2006.

The Amen break is a brief drum solo performed in 1969 by Gregory Cylvester "G. C." Coleman in the song "Amen, Brother" performed by the 1960s funk and soul outfit The Winstons. The full song is an up-tempo instrumental rendition of Jester Hairston’s "Amen," which he wrote for the Sidney Poitier film Lilies of the Field (1963) and which was subsequently popularized by The Impressions in 1964. The Winstons’ version was released as a B-side of the 45 RPM 7-inch vinyl single "Color Him Father" in 1969 on Metromedia (MMS-117), and is currently available on several compilations and on a 12-inch vinyl re-release together with other songs by The Winstons.

Gregory Coleman was born in September 1944, one of five brothers and sisters. He was a member of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church and graduated from Armstrong High School in Richmond, Virginia in 1962. While in high school, he was a dynamic drum major for the school band and formed his own band, called GC Coleman and the Soul Twisters. He later drummed for the Marvelettes of Motown, Otis Redding as well as Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions. Later moved to Washington, D.C. where he joined The Winstons and after that to Atlanta, Georgia where he recorded with Brick.

Video explains the world’s most important 6-sec drum loop


This is fascinating – truly fascinating! Amen Brother by the Winstons is the basis for this 6-second drum loop. The tune is available on Spotify.

A nice discussion of this (the origin of this post) is here:

This is the best online metronome I have found. It has really good shortcut keys and preset metronome settings. Very nice!


Don’t Ask the Critics. Ask Wallace Roney’s Peers.


Wallace Roney is great! Check out his recordings and enjoy this article by Stanley Crouch writing in the New York Times:

THOSE who hear the trumpeter Wallace Roney at Birdland in Manhattan this week will experience the art of one of the musicians most responsible for the jazz renaissance that took off in the early 1980’s. They will also hear one of the best band leaders in the music, for Mr. Roney has found a personal way of fusing his three major influences on composition, arranging and group playing — Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock, informed by the studying and the playing that he did with Ornette Coleman.

Keeping Practice Interesting


Good article on practicing from Helen Sung writing in Keyboard Magazine:

Jazz pianist Danilo Perez taught me to write out solo lines to practice various concepts. The idea was to try and create my “ideal” solo line over a given harmonic progression or situation. Improvisation is spontaneous composition, and so the idea of “composing” a solo can be extremely helpful in refining what you like to hear and play. Ex. 5 contains two four-bar examples of “ideal” solo lines that use the ideas we’ve already discussed.

Ron Carter — Live Clinic


On lessons with his students – "You’re going to practice and practice. You WILL do your homework. There is NO EXCUSE at all, or it’s over. The bass requires constant commitment, all the time. That’s the nature of the instrument." "Besides, I don’t have the time for you if you are not fully prepared when you show up."

Learning ‘Donna Lee’

Working on the tune ‘Donna Lee’ this week. Made progress. One thing with any jazz tune is that you have to actually learn the song. You have to memorize the changes. And I find that I can get hung up if I just memorize by rote. Many others have said that. It’s very helpful to do some kind of harmonic analysis.

I have attached a photo of the sheet music and my notes sitting on my piano music stand. It helped me to note the structure – A-B-A’-C – and to note that it’s 32 bars. Then I needed to know the first chord of each section: Ab major in sections A and A’. Db major in the B section. and F- in the C section. Then to finish it off – learn the melody note in each section: G natural (the major 7th of the Ab chord) in the A and A’ sections. Eb (the major ninth of the Db chord) in the B section. And then C natural (the fifth of the F- chord.

That’s it – now I’ve learned the song. It’s locked in now. This was actually easy. But it’s very important to do this. You have to know the song!

donna lee

The “L” Word – Latency & Digital Audio Systems: Opening Pandora’s Box?


In light of all of these questions and discussions, I decided it was time to learn more about the effects of latency as it pertains to digital audio, digital snakes, live audio and monitors – in particular, in-ear monitors. Unfortunately, I found that there’s very little data published about it.

So, after some research of my own, and numerous conversations with audio professionals and manufacturers, I’ve formed my own take on the subject. What follows is an attempt to remove some of the mystery and present a rational look at latency, it’s real effects, and how much can be tolerated by performers and audiences.

Introduction to late-Romantic Chromaticism


In Schoenberg’s words:
“The rapid development of harmony since the beginning of the 19th
century has been the great obstacle to the acceptance of every new
composer from Schubert on. Frequent deviation from the tonic region into
more or less foreign regions seemed to obstruct unity and intelligibility.
However, the most advanced mind is still subject to human limitations. Thus
composers of this style, instinctively feeling the danger of incoherence,
counteracted the tension in one plane (the complex harmony) by simplification in another plane (the motival and rhythmic construction). This perhaps also
explains the unvaried repetitions and frequent sequences of Wagner,
Bruckner, Debussy, Cesar Franck, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and many others.



“Solo over Coltrane changes using only the basic pentatonic scale!”
Believe it or not, one of the above statements is actually true. Using only the basic pentatonic scale, you can solo over the changes in “Giant Steps” (Coltrane, J. (1959). On Giant Steps [CD]. ATLANTIC / WEA, 1998) at close to the maximum speed that you are able to play.

Intro to Chord Tone Improv

From Jake Hanlon’s site – here is his tutorial on Introduction to Chord Tone Improvisation.

Link to his web site:


Bill Malone on WORT Madison

Bill Malone’s show on Madison’s WORT-FM is called Back to the Country. You can listen to the broadcast any time by going to this page and searching for “Back to the Country.” When you click on ‘play’ you are offered a file with the .pls extension. Here’s info from Wikipedia on that file extension:

PLS is a computer file format that stores multimedia playlists. It is a more expressive format than basic M3U, as it can store (cache) information on the song title and length (this is supported in extended M3U only). With PLS version 2, playlists also include a PLS version declaration.

iTunes, QuickTime Player, RealPlayer, Winamp, AIMP, XBMC, XMPlay, VLC media player, popular GNU/Linux media player Rhythmbox, and foobar2000 are able to interpret PLS files.[citation needed] Media Player Classic with the K-Lite codec installed does work with PLS format but still requires the appropriate MIME or file extension associations.

Steps to the Real Book


This workbook is intended to help a pianist who already has basic technique and music-reading ability to learn to improvise and to use "The Real Book."

Outside – with George Garzone


“The notes below derived from accounts
of lessons with the great American
saxophonist George Garzone. At first
glance, Garzone appears to offer a
different approach to the prescriptions of
the 4 note-groupings and transpositions.
Some students emphasise his emphasis
on intuition explaining that he has
“listened and played so much tonal
music, he does utilizes tonal scales and
triads, but he doesn’t approach the
music with any kind of systematic ways.
It’s all intuitive for him”. 
However, a great deal of practice is required!”



Bebop is all about being able to play any chromatic tone on any chord. Obviously, if we just
play chromatically with free abandon, the harmony goes out the window. Theory dictates that
we place strong tones on strong beats to best convey the harmony. The principle is simple –
these exercises are designed to help you get that theory into your hands and ears.
The exercises should be taken round the keys – but don’t write them out and learn them by

"I Get By" Omar Cunningham Composed by Omar Cunningham and J. Courtney Gerrard

Enjoying this Southern Soul blog and also this post. Been listening to Omar Cunningham lately – he’s great!


My original critique of Omar Cunningham began by listing at least four "solid chitlin’ circuit hits" to his credit. From the vantage point of 2008, Omar has produced a remarkable number of new hit songs to add to that list: no less than five (highest-possible) five-star rankings under DBN’S "Reommended Tracks," including three new entries since 2005. and that doesn’t include bona fide Cunningham hits such as "I’m In Love With A Married Woman" and "Sweet, Sweet," which many fans would also give the highest-possible ranking.

Southern Soul Paradise

Enjoying this Southern Soul blog – here’s some profile info on the author:

    I’m a southern girl who loves southern soul music. I also love r&b, music from the 60s and 70s, Al Green, Prince, and the list goes on and on. Don’t forget my favorites like Johnnie Taylor, Tyrone Davis, T.K. Soul, Willie Clayton, O. B. Buchana, Betty Wright, Denise LaSalle, O. V. Wright, and wow, the list is endless! I also like to see what’s going on around the country. I hope you enjoy this blog site – we’ll make it great!!!


The Schillinger School of Music


Welcome to the Schillinger School of Music, a distance learning school based on the Schillinger System of Musical Composition. We offer courses covering Schillinger’s most important and exciting ideas explained in clear and user friendly language. In the area of music education, one size does not fit all and so each course is tailored to you and your needs. Everyone learns differently and at their own speed and so courses do not have a strict start and end time. A one-to-one tutorial system ensures that you are supported throughout the course and that your work gets a personal critical response. The techniques we offer in these courses are useful for all kinds of music making so you don’t have to be a composer or a specialist to study at the Schillinger School of Music.

The Writings of Joseph Moiseyevich Schillinger


The writings of Joseph Moiseyevich Schillinger (1895-1943) have long fascinated me since my first exposure to them in 1975. As his books are currently hard to obtain, the following info on the collection of his books, and his wife’s memoir of him, all of which I have, will hopefully give enough information to help learn more about them and stimulate interest for those unfamiliar with them as to their general contents.

John Rhys/John Braheny chat about the late Joe South etc.


When I heard recently that The great Joe South ( Games People Play, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Hush, etc) had recently passed away I remembered that my friend John Rhys (Eddins  if you know him by that last name) had told me about the first time he’d met Joe in Atlanta in the early ‘60s. – a life changing event for him. John is a hit producer/songwriter and proprietor of my favorite blues website, We got together over his kitchen table and reminisced.

As it often happens, we don’t realize at the time, how a single conversation or event could alter our lives. This is approximately 12 minutes of conversation about that and other stuff. Enjoy!



This is the download site for StrataSynch. StrataSynch is a tool for musical composition based upon techniques presented in Joseph Schillinger’s Schillinger System of Musical Composition. For readers familiar with the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, StrataSynch combines techniques from

    Book I-Chapter 8 Coordination of Time Structures
    Book V The Special Theory of Harmony
    Book VIII Instrumental Forms

Chromatic symbols


The basis of our tonal system is the diatonic scale: A, B, C, D, E, F, G. The note H, however, had two different forms as early as the end of the first millennium: b rotundum (also b molle or soft b) and b quadratum (b durum or hard b). The first of these was fixed as the note name B by the 16th century printers in Germany, and the latter was named H, perhaps because of its form, which resembled the letter h.

So What chord

In jazz and jazz harmony, a So What chord is a particular 5-note chord voicing. From the bottom note upwards, it consists of three perfect fourth intervals followed by a major third interval. It was employed by Bill Evans in the "’amen’ response figure"[1] to the head of the Miles Davis tune "So What".


Tagg’s Harmony Handout

“Harmony is today virtually synonymous with tonal polyphony (see p.2 ff.). In an-
cient Greece, however, where the term originates, èrmon¤a (harmonía) literally
meant combination or union. Applied to music in Hellenic times, the word referred
to the joining together of sounds into concords or sequences, not just the simultane-
ous combination of notes. Classical Latin’s harmonia also meant an agreement of
sounds, concord or melody. In medieval Europe, harmony initially meant the simul-
taneous sounding of two notes only (dyads), in much the same way as a backing vo-
calist in popular music may be described as ‘singing harmonies’, even though
harmony, in the general sense of the term, is more likely to be provided by accom-
panying instruments. European theorists of the Renaissance extended the notion
of harmony to the simultaneous sounding of three notes, thus accommodating the
‘common triad’, with its third as well as the fifth.
Since the seventeenth century harmony has, in its musical sense, largely been as-
sociated with the chordal practices of music in the Central European art music tra-
dition and with styles of popular music relating to that tradition. More recently, the
notion of harmony has been popularly applied to any music which sounds in any
way chordal to the Western ear, even, for example, to the vocal polyphony of certain
African and Eastern European traditions, or to the polyphonic instrumental prac-
tices of some Central and South-East Asian music cultures. In short, whereas pop-
ular English-language parlance may qualify as ‘harmony’ such phenomena as a
melody plus drone or two voices singing in parallel homophony see (p.3 ff.), conven-
tional musicology would tend to reserve the term for chordal practices relating to
the Central European classical tradition of tertial harmony. However, since popu-
lar music encompasses a wider range of tonal polyphonic practices than those con-
ventionally covered by musicology, it is appropriate to qualify any type of tonal
polyphony as harmony. This wider meaning of the term makes it possible to speak
of a variety of harmonic practices and thus to treat harmonic idiom as one impor-
tant set of traits distinguishing one style of music from another.”


A Better Way to Practice

While it may be true that there are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going, there certainly are ways of needlessly prolonging the journey. We often waste lots of time because nobody ever taught us the most effective and efficient way to practice. Whether it’s learning how to code, improving your writing skills, or playing a musical instrument, practicing the right way can mean the difference between good and great.


Interesting Post from Yahoo Jazz Guitar Group

Good idea posted on Yahoo Jazz Guitar GrouP:

“In, JVegaTrio@… wrote:
One of the things I always stress to my students (and anybody else who is interested) is that lines/notes are only one component of the "jazz" language. The other is phrasing and rhythm. Good stuff.
Hi JV, I once had the opportunity to spend a week with Bennie Wallace, who is a fine tenor player. He played a lot of Monk tunes, but he seldom played "the melody." Instead he would use the melodic rhythms and make up his own notes. Think Blue Monk licks in retrograde, etc. This is a solid jazz concept and worthy of exploration.

Happy 150th Birthday, Claude Debussy

“Debussy’s piano music is largely a study in miniature. Most of his material comes only a few decades after Liszt’s death, but is strikingly different. Gone are the thundering octave passages and incredibly rapid technique, leaving behind a collection of much simpler pieces that evoke startling images.”


Modal Jazz and Miles Davis: George Russell’s Influence and the Melodic Inspiration behind Modal Jazz

“Kind of Blue is the best-selling jazz record of all time, and yet
few listeners grasp the meaning of the album—or of Miles
Davis’s vision of modal jazz. Its release in 1959 revealed
modality as an entirely new creative tool that gave musicians
unprecedented latitude in developing improvised solos.  While
most references define the style in terms of static harmonies, a
more thorough analysis reveals that Davis founded modal jazz
on the underlying goal of melodic freedom. Modal composition
relaxed the harmonic constraints that had previously forced
players into creating formulaic solos; it also introduced a new
degree of rhythmic flexibility that permitted improvisers to
think more melodically. Combined with the freedom to choose
from a wider range of notes, these factors made modal jazz the
perfect environment for melodic inventiveness.“


Randy Creighton Doctoral Thesis

Musician and educator Randy Creighton has published his Doctoral Thesis online. Here is a quote from Chapter 5:

The history of harmonic practice in jazz can be viewed as a continuum of steadily
increasing complexity from its inception at the beginning of the twentieth century until
the early 1960s when Free Jazz experiments were underway. What had taken 200 years in
Western art music had taken roughly 50 years in jazz: a development from basic diatonic
structure to one of extreme chromaticism. Many performers from the 1950s onward
began experimenting with “playing outside the changes,” an approach that expands
harmonic complexity by venturing freely outside of key centers. The Art Tatum example
shows an early step in this process by substituting chords outside the tonality for the
turnaround (see Sunday, ex. 4.17 in Chapter 4). Many jazz artists, including Ornette
Coleman, Miles Davis, and Gerry Mulligan, achieved greater harmonic freedom by
reducing the texture either by eliminating homophonic instruments like piano and guitar,
or limiting what they played to occasional chords and monophonic solo lines.

Link to the thesis:

The Further Multitonic Change Probe

“John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” is a notable example for the use of multitonic changes based on the notes of descending B (B-G-E♭/G-E♭-B) and ascending E♭ (E♭-G-B-E♭) augmented triads. One may notice that all the permutations of an augmented triad can be basically divided into ascending (1-3-♯5, 3-♯5-1 and ♯5-1-3) or descending (♯5-3-1, 3-1-♯5 and 1-♯5-3).

Taking this one step further, consider the other “four-note” symmetrical groups of limited transposition. There are only three types of four-note groupings that are symmetrical groups of limited transposition: (1) 1-♭3-♭5-6 <diminished>, (2) 1-4-♭5-7 <1-♭2-♭5-5 in inversion>, (3) 1-3-♭5-♭7 <1-2-♭5-♭6 in inversion>. The permutations of 1-4-♭5-7 and 1-3-♭5-♭7 can be schematized in Ex-1 and 2:  (NOTE: 1-♭3-♭5-6 is omitted for lack of space).”



“The following examples represent the original source material for what would become my book “A Chromatic Approach To Jazz Harmony and Melody” (Advance Music). When these lines were first published by Jazz Life Magazine in Japan, I was just beginning to formulate the concepts which lead to these kinds of lines as well as harmonies which could accompany them. The basic principle is superimposition. As the original progression, mode or pedal point is being played, the improviser is thinking, hearing and executing lines in a variety of different keys placed “on top” or “against” the original. Bi or poly-tonality would also be an accurate description. To be avoided are symmetrical patterns for the superimposition like whole steps, minor thirds, etc., because they are too predictable. The degrees of tension (and eventual release via a tonal type of line) are a consequence of the various methods described in the book. The main goal is to increase the dissonant-consonant scale and range of one’s improvisational language.”


McCoy Style Quartal Modal Improvisation Annotated

From the site – very nice site by the way:

“The backing track, MIDI file of my solo and a transcription PDF file of this video can all be found on my website at:

McCoy Tyner Pentatonic

“I’ve been inspired by McCoy Tyner’s playing as long as I can remember listening to jazz.  Some of my favorite solos are on the later recordings of the "classic" John Coltrane Quartet with Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison and McCoy Tyner.  My two favorite McCoy solos of all time are on "Song of Praise" from Live at the Half Note and "Transition" from the similarly titled album.  If you haven’t heard either you are truly missing out on the wonderful energy and joy McCoy brings to every solo during this period.  I hope you enjoy this McCoy Tyner inspired line I wrote out for this week’s lesson.


Companion YouTube site:

Khan’s Korner

Great page of transcriptions by Steve Khan:

KHAN’S KORNER 1 is now the page on the site which will be dedicated to transcriptions, with the corresponding sound clips, along with an analysis provided by Steve. You can find solos by players such as Herbie Hancock, Wes Montgomery, Michael Brecker, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Freddie Hubbard, George Coleman, Pat Martino, Clare Fischer, John Scofield, Grant Green, Gabor Szabo, George Benson, Paul Desmond, Robben Ford, and Miles Davis in addition to some of Steve’s solos. The sound clips will be in mp3 formats for the best quality sound at the smallest file size. Enjoy them with our best wishes!!


5 Ways To Play Like McCoy Tyner

When I was first learning jazz piano, McCoy Tyner’s style had a big influence on my playing. Years later, during a set with saxophonist Gary Bartz at a jazz club in Washington, DC, I was doing my best McCoy emulation when McCoy Tyner himself strolled right past my piano! After the set, he was extremely complimentary of my playing, which made me feel great. Later, I asked him, “How do you feel that so many pianists have copied your style?” He replied, “I consider it a compliment.” Just then, an eavesdropping friend sung her best “air McCoy” impression: “Fifth, fourth . . . fifth, fourth, fourth.” Tyner smiled at her and replied, “There’s a lot more to it than that!” To play like McCoy, it’s important to understand a few basic building blocks of his immediately identifiable piano sound. – George Colligan


Herbie Hancock’s Piano Solo on: "Pinocchio"(Wayne Shorter)

Like most fans of the great Miles Davis Quintet from the mid-’60s, one holds these recordings in such high esteem that, even years later, it is difficult to make complete and total sense out of some of the performances. Over the years, I have been fortunate to have worked with, in various settings, both Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock, but there has never been enough leisure time to sit and question them about my own curiosities regarding the great recordings, and the circumstances surrounding them. I have, at times, tried to read some of the historical and biographical accounts of those sessions but, I have never really uncovered the answers to my questions. I know that Ron has stated, and many times, that during his tenure with the band, they only rehearsed once or twice. Well, I am about to conjecture about something, and I would imagine that some of you might find it interesting, and others might dismiss it out of hand as lunacy.


5 Ways To Play Like Herbie Hancock

When you think of modern jazz piano, Herbie Hancock might be the first name that comes to mind. While many know Hancock from crossover hits like “Chameleon” and “Rockit,” his influence crosses all stylistic boundaries. He began his piano career performing Mozart with the Chicago Symphony at age 11. It wasn’t until a friend introduced him to pianists George Shearing and Oscar Peterson that he became interested in jazz. Hancock soon became in demand as an accompanist throughout the 1960s, appearing on many classic Blue Note recordings. He was also one of the first jazz artists to use the Rhodes electric piano and synthesizers, not to mention vocoders and “keytars.” Regardless of the style he plays, Hancock’s playing has certain trademarks. Here are five of them.


Keyboard Magazine Article on Kenny Kirkland

Link for printing and/or viewing graphics:

From the site:

I’ve been a long time reader of Keyboard Magazine. I read it mostly for gear reviews; you might find descriptions of anything from actual hardware keyboards to virtual keyboards and software synthesizers to keyboard amplifiers. I used to enjoy their annual segment on comparing the latest Hammond B-3 Organ simulators (like comparing the Nord C1 to the Korg C3,etc… real keyboard geek stuff). This year, I’ve been asked by Jon Regen(who is an editor and contributor to Keyboard, and also a performer in his own right) to also contribute some lessons on  salient characteristics of various important jazz pianists. I’ve done two so far; the first was an article on the great McCoy Tyner, which can be found here:

and the latest is an article on a pianist who was and still is a huge inspiration, Kenny Kirkland:


What Should You Think About When You Perform?

Legendary violin teacher Dorothy Delay once had this to say, which speaks to our tendency to only be partially aware of what we are doing (I quote from Book 3 of The Way They Play by Samuel Applebaum):

    “The player should be able to tell you what he heard – and he frequently can’t. It is necessary to hear the sound. It is fascinating to learn what the students actually hear during a playing experience. For example, sometimes a student playing a sonata with piano will be fully conscious of the sound of the violin, both tone and pitch, but from the piano he may hear only rhythm, and be quite unaware of the pitch.”


Herbie Hancock’s Fender Rhodes Solo on: "Scarborough Fair/Canticle"(Paul Simon)

Steve Kahn does a good job analyzing Herbie Hancock solos:

“Of interest in Herbie’s approach to this solo is that, as he begins, his left-hand clearly acknowleges the 5/4 rhythm, but the melodies in right-hand seem to float over the time, and over the bar-lines. The phrases do not seem to conform to the expected groupings of 4 and 8 bars. For example, the ‘answer’ to his opening phrase, begins in the 8th bar. It could be said that both of these phrases are but 6-bars in length. However, what is of greater interest than this is the sense of harmony. Remember, we are only given an Fm7 sonority as a base. Normally, one would expect to see notes which conform to the F Dorian mode(F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D, Eb). His opening motif does exactly that and, in a way, could be considered a ‘creative’ paraphrase of the melody. Notice that there is an emphasis placed on the note, Eb. His left-hand voicings are clearly in F minor and are in the style of the times, perhaps influenced by McCoy Tyner. But, such things could have come from his love for the piano music of Debussy or Ravel too?”


Mattie Moss Clark

Reading today about this great lady and her contributions to American gospel music:

Dr. Mattie Moss-Clark (March 26, 1925 – September 22, 1994) was an American gospel choir director and the mother of The Clark Sisters, a world-renowned gospel vocal group. Clark is credited for creating the three-part harmony (separating vocal parts into soprano, alto and tenor), a technique which is prevalent among gospel choirs today.

Browse sheet music — Link for Piano Sheet Music


Musopen ( is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on improving access and exposure to music by creating free resources and educational materials. We provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Put simply, our mission is to set music free.

I Just Love This!!

Two beautiful ladies – Shawn and Alison – singing a great song! Love this!

How Teenagers LIsten to Music

Can this be true? I guess it is! Who would have thought YouTube would be #1?

From the site:

Radio and iTunes, sure.

But we wouldn’t have guessed that more kids these days listen to music on YouTube than on anything else. Also surprising: The continued survival of CDs.

But maybe it shouldn’t be. Year after year, people want to write the CDs-are-over story. And, yes, CD sales are falling — but they aren’t falling that fast. Sales fell by 3 percent in the first half of this year, and the music industry is on pace to sell about 300 million CDs this year.

The figures in the chart come from a report Nielsen released yesterday. It has lots more on how people discover and listen to music.

Great Gospel Group

This group is great – I am very old school – the lead singer is wonderful and takes me back to the gospel-based R&B of the 60s and 70s. Love it! Lil’ Blair & The Fantastic Heirs!

Here’s a spotify link:

Nice Article about Merle Haggard

Great post about a great man and great artist – Merle is the real deal!


Music Was Better in the 60s, Man


Bob Babbitt, famed popular music bassist, dies at age 74 | Tune In Music City | The Tennessean

We have lost a great musician and a great guy — this is an excellent article detailing Bob’s wonderful career.

Bob Babbitt, famed popular music bassist, dies at age 74 | Tune In Music City | The Tennessean.

I analyzed the chords of 1300 popular songs for patterns. This is what I found. | Blog – Hooktheory

Oh drat — I’ve always wanted to do this and they beat me to it! Oh well, there’s lots more music to analyze in this fashion and there are other equally valid approaches as well. I’m still going to do it. But congrats to the authors — good stuff!

The One: RJ Smith’s Biography of James Brown

When James Brown’s children and I brought his body back to Harlem from Georgia after his untimely death in 2006, tens of thousands greeted us in the streets upon our arrival. There were no stars, no concerts; just everyday folks paying homage to the Godfather of Soul (and so much more) in person. As we laid him in state at the Apollo Thea­ter, we took a moment to absorb this extraordinary show of support. I remember walking the streets of Harlem and shaking hands with many gathered outside the Apollo that day, and I’ll never forget a writer who came up to me and said he was shocked by the sheer numbers of people, and taken aback by how much of a revered figure James Brown was. People were often surprised at his relevance, but James never doubted his own significance, or the fact that he was a historic figure and an undeniably game-changing artist. His showmanship and art altered the music world. But James didn’t bring blacks to the mainstream; instead, he brought the mainstream to blacks and made them appreciate and internalize black music and culture themselves. “The One: The Life and Music of James Brown,” by RJ Smith, is the first book to capture this remarkable reality.

via ‘The One,’ RJ Smith’s Biography of James Brown –

Slonimsky-inspired Musical Robot Helmet | Ideas For Dozens

Slonimsky's Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns


Slonimsky’s Thesaurus is a monument from the era of Modernism in music when composers explored the formal and mathematical relationships inherent in the tempered scale and the intervalic relationships that constitute it. It achieved wider fame later on when John Coltrane professed its importance in developing his “sheets of sound” style (see the wikipedia entry on the Coltrane Changes for more info).

The Thesaurus proceeds systematically through every possible equal sub-division of the octave to define a series of scales and then explores a set of patterns and arpeggiations on those scales. Put another way, Slonimsky provides an exhaustive exploration of the mathematical patterns and symmetries within the tempered scale beyond the traditional major, minor, and other modes.

via Slonimsky-inspired Musical Robot Helmet | Ideas For Dozens.

Musicians Jimmy Capps, Bob Babbitt To Be Honored : MusicRow – Nashville’s Music Industry Publication – News, Songs From Music City

Two great studio musicians are honored — I love Bob Babbitt’s bass playing!!

Musicians Jimmy Capps, Bob Babbitt To Be Honored : MusicRow – Nashville’s Music Industry Publication – News, Songs From Music City.


Brent Mason: A Chameleon in Tune Town – Premier Guitar

Premier Guitar interview with Nashville session ace Brent Mason:

Brent Mason: A Chameleon in Tune Town – Premier Guitar.

World’s Ugliest Music

Interesting TED lecture:

Jazz pianist makes an amazing comeback

This is an inspiring story:

This Friday evening, Oct. 14, Jimmy Amadie of Bala Cynwyd will perform at the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of the museum’s “Art After 5” concert series. For Amadie, a jazz pianist, this concert marks a remarkable milestone in his career.

It’s his first public performance since l967. But it certainly wasn’t by choice that he has not performed publicly in over 40 years.

In the l950s and l960s, Amadie was a rising star who toured with Woody Herman in l959 and was Mel Torme’s accompanist from l961 to l964.

Great Albert Collins Duets


To celebrate Collins’ 79th birthday, we present a Top 10 list of the best Albert Collins duets.

Goodbye and Good Riddance Hank Williams Jr.

Goodbye and Good Riddance Hank Williams Jr. — enough said!

I am a big country music fan so this is not an anti-country bias here! But HW Jr. is an obnoxious jerk and has been for a long time! It’s about time he got fired!

Good job ESPN…

Great Interview with Larrie Londin

Great interview from James Byron Fox with the late, great drummer Larrie Londin:

What I’m Going to Do

I’m going to get equipment to record myself and I know what’s going to happen. I hate hearing myself. It seems too much trouble to make it right. But it’s very straightforward — and I already know that. Just break it down and iterate, iterate, iterate! Back and forth…it’s not good..make it it’s still not it again…and so forth and so on.

Now do it!

Dave Grusin

Great site devoted to Dave Grusin — a great composer and great pianist. Very nice site also! I’m still studying the site…

What Makes Music Pretty?

The simplest of all questions…what makes music pretty? I mean pretty in the sense of ‘pleasing to the ear.’

Well, I am thinking of ballads as I type this. It’s motivic development — this from Wikipedia on motif:

In music, a motif or motive About this sound (pronunciation) is a short musical idea,[1] a salient recurring figure, musical fragment or succession of notes that has some special importance in or is characteristic of a composition.

But what type of motifs? Been listening to Dave Grusin movie themes today and yesterday. He does a great job of it. It’s strict allegiance to motivic development. With large interval leaps (usually one) within a grouping of 5-6 notes. Something like that…more to come on this.

About Listening

Great post here:

Quoting from the article:

Coaching in pro sports proceeds from a starkly different premise: it considers the teaching model naïve about our human capacity for self-perfection. It holds that, no matter how well prepared people are in their formative years, few can achieve and maintain their best performance on their own. One of these views, it seemed to me, had to be wrong. So I called Itzhak Perlman to find out what he thought.

I asked him why concert violinists didn’t have coaches, the way top athletes did. He said that he didn’t know, but that it had always seemed a mistake to him. He had enjoyed the services of a coach all along.

He had a coach? “I was very, very lucky,” Perlman said. His wife, Toby, whom he’d known at Juilliard, was a concert-level violinist, and he’d relied on her for the past forty years. “The great challenge in performing is listening to yourself,” he said. “Your physicality, the sensation that you have as you play the violin, interferes with your accuracy of listening.” What violinists perceive is often quite different from what audiences perceive.


I would emphasize the last sentence…”what [the musician perceives] is often quite different from what audiences perceive.” That’s the entire problem — you can’t get outside of your self to reflect on what sounds you’re making. I think Coltrane talked about this.

Note Events Per Minute (Part 3)

I think it’s all about Etudes:


noun /āˈt(y)o͞od/
études, plural

A short musical composition, typically for one instrument, designed as an exercise to improve the technique or demonstrate the skill of the player.


Write etudes to perfect your chops. This is the way to do it. I’m going to take my own advice.

Note Events Per Minute (Part 2)

Listening more to Vince Gill on “Midnight Train” — very simple harmonic structure: verse-chorus-verse-chorus. Verse changes are:





And it’s in a major key — so for this kind of country playing you have three melodic patterns to explore: 1) major diatonic scale 2) blues scale and 3) major diatonic scale with added chromatic passing tones (primarily the b3 and the b5 — blues scale tones). Most of the licks I hear being played use one of these three approaches.

Note Events Per Minute (Part 1)

A long time ago I did an analysis of speed and what sounds lively and fast. What is the fastest tempo that one need to play to be at the top edge of what still sounds ‘comprehensible’ to the human ear? I have always thought it’s roughly 600 note events per minute.

Listening to Vince Gill’s “Midnight Train” — it’s in 4/4 time with an underlying sixteenth note feel. With a metronome marking of 142 BPM (I clocked it using my Android app) that works out to 142 (beats / minute) * 4 (16ths notes / beat) or 568 sixteenth notes (i.e. note events) per minute.

It sounds fast — and to be in the inner circle of Nashville session players you probably need to play this fast. There are a few ‘cutting sessions’ on You Tube and this is about how fast they play.

To get there, scale back on the metronome to a comfortable zone. And figure out the good lines — write them out — rehearse them — and then bring them up to speed slowly.

More on this in my next post(s)…

Mississippi Musicians

We should already know this but this site just brings home how many great musicians hail from Mississippi! Thank you Mississippi for your contributions to American Music!

Interview with Jerry Jemmott

You may not know his name, but you surely know his work. Legendary soul and rhythm and blues bassist Jerry Jemmott – a studio veteran and road dog for the likes of King Curtis, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Nina Simone, B.B. King and on and on and on – has carved out a large place in American popular music.

Now Playing Nashville

This site appears to have the most extensive listing of what’s going on in Nashville:

Concerning How to Play / Accompany

random thoughts…listening to music this am…the idea is not to intrude…you’re always one step away from corniness…from intrusiveness…distracting from the main focus of the song…it’s perilously easy to do…it takes strict editing to avoid it…and then even with all that…we often fail…it’s the compositional approach really…an eraser is the best tool you have…scratch it out…delete it and see how it sounds….don’t play anything that says “look at me”….no affectations…don’t get cute…

Doris Akers

Was listening to a couple of gospel songs today and found out that Doris Akers wrote both of them. Here is a quote from her Wikipedia bio:

She received many awards including back-to-back “Gospel Music Composer of the Year” in both 1960 and 1961. Doris Akers Day was held in Kirksville, MO in 1976, approximately 20,000 attended the evening concert. In 1992, she was honored by the Smithsonian Institution as “the foremost black gospel songwriter in the United States.” She was posthumously inducted to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Her songs including “Sweet, Sweet Spirit”, “Lead Me, Guide Me”, “You Can’t Beat God Giving”, “Grow Closer”,”I Cannot Fail The Lord”, “He Delivered Me”, “God Is So Good” and “My Expectation” appear in the hymnals of many denominations.

Her compositions have been recorded by many Gospel and secular artists, including Mahalia Jackson, The Statesmen, The Caravans, Willie Mae Ford Smith, Clara Ward, the Sallie Martin Singers, Brother Joe May, James Cleveland,Gene Viale, Bill Gaither, Ernie Haase, George Beverly Shea, Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty and many others.

Tour of Muscle Shoals Jackson Highway Studio

SoLost :: Oxford American – The Southern Magazine of Good Writing_Tour of Muscle Shoals Jackson Highway Studio

Spotify is coming to the U.S. Sign up to get your invite now – Spotify

(some) Tableau Results – Visualizing a Hit – InfoVis Final Project

(some) Tableau Results – Visualizing a Hit – InfoVis Final Project

Session Great Cornell Dupree Dies at Age 68 – Premier Guitar

Very sad — Cornell was a wonderful guitarist — and a complete musician! He will be missed.

Session Great Cornell Dupree Dies at Age 68 – Premier Guitar

My favorite guitar intro from Cornell — one of the greatest intros EVER!

Nashville Musicians Association

Nice list of links from the Nashville Musician’s Union — particularly the publications list!

Roger Hawkins In Session

This is a great video — featuring my hero Roger Hawkins in session. I wish there were many more videos like this!

What Could Be Better Than This?

A great interview with Muscle Shoals drummer Roger Hawkins from Jim Payne’s book:

YouTube – Bobby McFerrin hacks your brain with the pentatonic scale

You must see this. If this doesn’t make you smile (and make you think) then there’s something wrong with you!

Five Blind Boys of Mississippi

This is wonderful — the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi sing Leaning on the Everlasting Arms. Enjoy!

I Want This Album!

I would love to have this album. Soulful country music — some great songs by great writers. The album notes are well worth reading!

Porgy and Bess

I love this detailed history of the writing of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

Whatever happened to Sandra Rhodes?

Here’s a recent bio of the great Memphis vocalist and guitarist Sandra Rhodes. Sandra sang background vocals on so many great recordings as a member of Rhodes – Chalmers – Rhodes.

YouTube – Aretha FRANKLIN- “Share Your Love With Me” (1971 At The Montreux Jazz Festival Part 2)

I would have loved to have been in this band. I love this song – just as good as it was 40 (gulp…yes, 40) years ago! I love Aretha’s gospel piano on the intro. Wonderful…wonderful…

YouTube – Aretha FRANKLIN- “Share Your Love With Me” (1971 At The Montreux Jazz Festival Part 2)

Biff Adam Interview

I conducted the following interview with Biff Adam, who is the drummer for country singer Merle Haggard.

I also conducted this interview with Jerry Carrigan, the Muscle Shoals / Nashville session drummer.

Check this Out

Check out Steve Cropper’s fabulous country soul guitar fills on Otis Redding’s Direct Me. I love this!