This month’s etude is on the classic Jerome Kern standard "Just Friends". Here's a classic recording of the great trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker. When you're learning that's a song and has lyrics, I love to start by listening to a sung recording, and practice learning and singing the lyrics along with the recording (even though I have a less than stellar singing voice!). This allows you to learn the story of the song, and many of these songs continue to be played because their melodies and lyrics are timeless. In this case, the song is about someone who's getting friend-zoned!
On these etudes I try to mix a combination of vertical (harmonic or chord based) and horizontal (melodic or "line" based) playing, to show how bebop merges these two types into one sound.
This month's Dig This is a great performance of the trumpet player Kenny Dorham, another song entitled "Mack the Knife". I aim to pick songs that can serve as a starting point for more listening, and "Quiet Kenny" is one of my all time favorite recordings, so I highly recommend just diving into the record! Not only is Kenny an incredibly adept bebopper, but what separates his playing from other legendary players is how many ways he can play just a single note!Lastly, Mack the Knife is a great tune with a simple form that begs to be moved up and down keys, so try practicing not just in F but in Gb and beyond! The more that you practice ideas (like in this great Mike Dease video) up and down half steps, the less scary it gets, and the more you can do with them, and the more that Gb and B and E and even C# just become another key, not the "hard" key!
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