Hello again!Thanks for subscribing to my newsletter! My aim with these is to provide some resources to help you practice, including adding a free 8vbebop etude. This month’s etude is on the famous Charlie Parker tune “Confirmation”.
Learning this melody is in and of itself a challenge, but I highly recommend you all give it a try! With a tune like this, it’s really important that you start slow and take your time both learning the melody, the chord changes, and perhaps this etude.I also love how, pedagogically speaking, this piece has a lot to teach about harmony. The first four bars alone are insightful as they contain a sequence of continuous ii-V progressions resolving to Bb (the IV of F). This progression is commonly called the #4 walk down, as it goes through the cycle starting on the #4 (E in the key of resolving chord Bb, the resolving chord), and are very common in other famous compositions performed in jazz, like the #4 walk down in Cole Porter’s “Night and Day”.
In this etude, I tried to apply thematic playing to this form, both within the chord changes (like bar 11 and 12), and thinking more “macro” and playing just over F (like bars 1-6). Thematic playing can allow you to play over a lot of chord changes without having to constantly barrage eighth note lines. Also note how small rhythmic alterations to simple ideas can make them sound more playful and varied. It turns out you don’t have to reinvent everything to make a repeated idea sound fresh!While there’s a lot more that could be pulled from this etude (I’ll leave you all to do some digging on some of these quotes, especially bar 33!),
I want to emphasize the importance of where the accents are placed. Because bebop is so rhythmic, let the accent notes be your phrasing anchor; allow them to pop, and focus on dynamically de-emphasizing the non accented notes in a phrase. Apply this to the melody as well, and you’ll find yourself swinging harder than ever!
This month’s recording is of a great blues entitled “Farmer’s Market”, featuring the great tenor saxophonist Wardell Gray. Wardell Gray is one of the “missing links” between the swing and bebop era of playing.Originally from Detroit, Gray made his break at 21 playing with the Earl Hines Orchestra, and eventually spend a lot of his time in Los Angeles.
He was also famous for having legendary tenor battles with Dexter Gordon, and his light sound was a foil for Dexter’s huge tone. Gray is also famous for his tenor battles in New York with Dexter Gordon, and performed with Basie and Benny Goodman, and Benny Carter’s bands. Sadly, Gray’s drug addiction finally took a toll and he passed from a drug overdose in May of 1955 at 34.
Wardell Gray’s playing was extremely melodic much like Lester Young, but you can clearly hear how his predecessors in Hines’s band, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, influenced his playing. I recommend taking his approach to emphasizing and de-emphasizing notes to the etude and your playing at large, as this will give your musical phrases variety and intention! I also highly recommend listening more of him as well as the band, trumpeter Art Farmer, Pianist Hampton Hawes, Bassist Harper Crosby, Drummer Lawrence Marble, and Congero Robert Collier.
As a small life update, I’m so excited to be going on tour with Michael Bublé and his world class big band in the United Kingdom from June 26th-July 25th. If you’d like to find out where I’m playing, check out my website’s “shows” page, or click hereThank you again for subscribing, and stay tuned for more updates next month!