Thanks for continuing to be a subscriber to my newsletter! I'm hopeful that you're finding these etudes and recordings I post every month helpful and inspiring, as researching and writing them have been for me!
This month's etude is over a favorite, but deceptively tricky tune, and that is Miles Davis's composition So What. For many people, this is the first jazz tune they ever learn, because it seems accessible with only two chords; D minor and Eb minor. The more you dig into playing it, however, you realize that these static minor chords can create issues of their own.
Playing So What (or John Coltrane's more brisk contrafact Impressions), requires a HUGE amount of compositional decision making, which is what I focussed on in this etude. I tried as much as possible to stick with the diatonic scale, and focus on the ways you can use theme based, harmonic (leaning on juicy notes like the natural 6, the 9, the 11), and rhythmic playing. You'll also notice that I focussed more on triads within D minor (like A minor, E minor, G major), but didn't specifically use the D minor triad that much! This creates depth to the sound, and can get to one of the key colors of playing a modal tune like this.
I also always tried to let a singable melody be the guide for what I wrote, I sang every phrase out loud to ensure that I was in the sound I was hoping for, and I would advise the same to you as you develop your comfort with composing and improvising. That being said, don't forget that your bebop will always be at your disposal, as demonstrated in the last 16 bars of the second chorus. This is just cracking the shell of what's possible on this tune, so dig in and find out what sounds give you the most gratification!
This month's Dig This is an album by the amazing trumpeter Brian Lynch, who is also Studio Instructor of Jazz Trumpet at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music. This album, entitled "Spheres of Influence" recently caught my eye as a standout especially for its inclusion of one of my favorite ballads, "You Know I Care". The band, featuring Jeff "Tain" Watts, Donald Harrison, David Kikoski, Conrad Herwig, and Brian Lynch, has great interaction, ensemble performance, and of course individual solos that can be listened on repeat. In particular, Lynch has mastered playing the language of jazz and bebop without sounding cliche, and leads with a crisp sound and fluency through the whole horn that's nearly unmatched. At times he reminds me of the harmonic isms of Woody Shaw, while not being afraid to dig deep into the blues for feeling.
I'm delighted to say that I have received my physical copies of "Living The Dream" and that Preorders will start going out as early as October 7th. Stay tuned for another surprise surrounding the October 14th Bandcamp release of the album, and I am just so excited to share this music with this incredible band with you all!