Tri002 – Bollie’s Beans

Hier nun unser kleiner Film über eine außergewöhnliche Session, welche mir alle möglichen Gefühle beschert hat, aber vorallem Freude und Dankbarkeit, Freunde und gleichzeitig Mitmusiker zu kennen, welche auch mal ungewöhnliche Wege zu gehen bereit sind. Großer Spaß, Dank an Jan und Tobi!

Mehr ist unterwegs…

Master’s Between – Zwischenprüfung

https://soundcloud.com/albrecht-ernst/sets/masters-between

Diese Aufnahmen entstanden mit meinen beiden Bands Tri002 und A Night With Harry zum Anlass meiner Master Zwischenprüfung im Jazzclub Tonne zu Dresden.
Die Besetzung:

Tri002:
Albrecht Ernst – Altsaxophon
Tobias Fröhlich – Kontrabass
Jan Einar Groh – Schlagzeug

A Night With Harry:
Albrecht Ernst – Altsaxophon
Jonas Timm – Klavier
Andris Meinig – Kontrabass
Hans Otto – Schlagzeug

Vielen Dank an Emu für den Sound am Abend und das Mastering der Aufnahmen.

THE Book

I didn’t write anything in the last months, because I’m kind of busy right now. But I have good news for all of us. My teacher, Finn Wiesner is thinking about writing a book on the matter of constructing, practicing and playing lines. The whole concept what I’m describing on this blog will be covered. I’m going to be the first buyer, if he really puts it into reality. It would be just amazing!
So I’m hoping that he will come up with something, because someone has to write about this amazing tool for jazz improvisation. Someone more educated than me.
I will write new lessons as well, but this semester I really have to straighten out things. It’s the hardest and busiest time in my study, so that comes first.
Please be patient with me and stay tuned for further posts!

Lesson #4: Take Off And Landing

There are several notes in those three scales that are good to play from and good notes to play to. There aren’t notes you have to avoid, but some notes just sounding bad if you’re holding them to long. Also some notes in the scale give you always the feeling you’re playing the changes, but there are a bit boring for long notes.

Good start, playing the changes, but too boring for long notes:
• the basic triad of the scale (minor or major)

Good to land, long notes (good tension to the chord root)
• dorian: 9 and 11
• melodic 7 and 9 (in modal situations 11 and 13 too)
• Ionic: 7 and 9
If you start on these notes in a bebop line you here a downwards arpeggio most of the time.

Notes better played away from or resolved, no long notes
• dorian: 13
• melodic: 11
• Ionic: 11

Apply this to several harmonic situations and standards as described in lesson #3. Listen to the mayor players and find out on which notes they land and start and which notes they choose to hold longer. This is also very good for ear training (especially with fun) and get to know your idols!

Lesson #3: Applying The Scales To Harmonic Situations

In this lesson I want to show how to practice the three scales and the exercises I wrote about in the previous posts over essential chord progressions.
One thing I believe in is that it is senseless to practice something without applying it to a almost real situation.
There are some basic situations I try to apply everything I’m practicing to:

  • modal in one key, various bars
  • modal in all keys, going down a fifth, 4 or 8 bars each
  • IIm7-V7alt-Imaj-VI7alt in all keys, 4 bars each and repeated once (skip the VI in the last x), going down a fifth
  • IIm7b5-V7alt-Im6-Im6 in all keys, 4 bars each and repeated once

for faster tempos (200+):

  • same modal situations as above
  • same II-V-I situations as above, but I don’t play the V7-Chords, I play the IIm7 or IIm7b5 over the V7 too

and last but not least I try to apply my exercises to every standard I know. For me it is also good tool to get know the changes of a new tune.
For the right scales over a chord go to lesson #1.

Here are some samples how these things could sound. I start on a random note of the scale, play a eight note line in a scalar or arpeggio fashion and try to link the scales together. As you’ll see this is actually improvising and no longer practicing. Or maybe something in between.

If you listen to the cats and compare these exercises with their improvisations you will notice that there are some notes that are good to take off and some good to land on. I’ll cover that in the next lesson.

Lesson #2: Getting Use To The Scales

There are some very simple exercises to get use to the three scales described in the last lesson.

First of all I recommend to practice each scale in every key. Put on a metronome and practice each scale till you can play it in eight notes at tempo 200. That’ll do it. Pay attention to the exact and steady articulation of jazz phrasing. NOTHING in jazz music is more important than how you phrase a bunch of notes. One of the best examples I know is Steve Coleman. He plays very strange and odd melodies in his improvisations (he developed a unique system for these lines) and most of the time he doesn’t play bebop lines. But it really fits in mostly every jazz situation because it swings, it bounces, it is very very good phrased. He creates a clear rhythmically statement with or against the rhythm section and that’s what is all about. Creating clear rhythmically statements (even if the listeners don’t get it, they can feel it or worse they feel the absence = bored).

Exercises:

  • Play all three scales (in every key) from the root to the ninth in eight notes back and forth.
  • Play the whole arpeggio of all three scales from the root to the sixth (or thirteenth) back and forth. The arpeggio of the Ionic scale is with the #11, because the 11 is a very weak upper structure tone.

Examples for the scale exercises:

  • D-dorian: D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E-D-C-B-A-G-F-E-D-…
  • D-melodic minor: D-E-F-G-A-B-C#-D-E-D-C#-B-A-G-F-E-D-…
  • C-ionic: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D-C-B-A-G-F-E-D-C-…

Examples for the arpeggio exercises:

  • D-dorian: D-F-A-C-E-G-H-G-E-C-A-F-D-…
  • D-melodic minor: D-F-A-C#-E-G-H-G-E-C#-A-F-D-…
  • C-ionic: C-E-G-B-D-F#-A-F#-D-B-G-E-C-…

Right at the moment I have no soundsamples for the exercises but I think everyone will manage it with the descriptions. Feel free to post questions.

Lesson #1: Three Scales

Like I wrote before there are three scales that are worth practicing a lot for developing a bebop language that isn’t based on licks.
These three scales are:

• Dorian Minor
• Melodic Minor
• Ionian

Three scales to cover almost every chord in Bebop an Modern Jazz! For me that’s simply amazing!
From the moment I tried these scales over some chords (II-V-I and modal) I stopped practicing Lokrian, Mixolydian, Phrygian scales or Harmonic Minor or Mixo (#11) or any of those. I’m still sooo thankful for my teacher, because this is it!
Ok, calm down! Enough cheering up myself. I will finish this first lesson with a simple overlook which scale is used over some basic chord. It’s very important what function a chord has in a tune. For example Em7 could be the II in D, the III in C, the VI in G or the IVm in B (more likely a m6 in this situation).
For a better understanding the key is always C:

• Cmaj7: C-ionian
• Em7: C-ionian
• Am7: C-ionian
• Fmaj7(#11): C-ionian
• Dm7: D-dorian
• G7 or G7sus: D-dorian
• G7alt: Ab-melodic
• D7(#11): Am-melodic
• Em7(b5): G-dorian
• Fm6: F-melodic (sometimes dorian)
• Eb7(#11): Bb-melodic
• Db7(#11): Ab-melodic
• A7alt: Bb-melodic

There are a lot more chords that can be related to C, but for the first time it’ll do. One very important thing is that you don’t think of these scales like random notes upon a chord, you have to play the sound of the exact scale, instead of thinking in the chord. For Example, if you’re playing over D7(#11), DON’T think: I’m in D7(#11), so I’m playing DEF#G#AHC#. Especially in dominant chord situations thinking and playing from the root sounds boring and not like Bebop.

THINK: I am in A melodic minor, so I’m playing ABCDEF#G#.

That was the first lesson. In the next one I will cover some exercises to get used to the sounds of the scales.
Leave a comment if you have questions on this matter.

Introduction To The Lessons

Bebop is THE fundamental language of Jazz and creates a lot if not most of the musical vocabulary in this music. Even in Modern Jazz and Fusion or Free with all of its pentatonics, hexatonics, intervallic and symmetrical structures you can hear bebop material connecting everything. All the major players like Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Mark Turner, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Roy Hargrove are exceptional good bebop players.

In the lessons part I want to point out some ideas of my teachers and myself how to develop a solid Bebop language. It’s a step-by-step system which starts with always a little amount of exercises and then gently adding new things to that.
The centre is focussed mainly on three scales. WHAT? ONLY three scales? Yes, but it’s true and it was such a relief for me, when my teacher showed me, how it works and it instantly felt like: YEAH MAN, that’s what I’m always hearing in my favorite solos!!!
The next thing I asked him was: „There are tons of books about Jazz improvisation, why is nobody writing about it?!?“ He said something like: „It’s not in the books, it’s on the records.“ This comes straight from transcribing and analyzing a huge amount of jazz and bebop solos. I got it from my teacher, Finn Wiesner at the Hochschule für Musik Dresden and he got it from his, Ferdinand Povel.

The next important thing is practicing. Sometimes we have to stay on an exercise for a very long time. Sometimes we don’t know when to move on to the next exercise. My experience: practice till it feels good and comfortable. Let’s say that the eight note line should be playable in tempo 200 in all keys is a good start.