Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Anything extra Sir?

Adding extras

I don't know if it still happens but when going to the barbers, many years ago (when I had hair!), after the main event, the chap turned round and said in my ear "anything extra sir?".
Ah happy uncomplicated days!

But what about adding extras to your jazz music? I'm talking about intros and endings.

My pupils, when working on a jazz piece, would often play me the tune straight from the first bar, and would finish it at at the end of the last bar, as one might when playing a classical piece of music (and that's of course because usually the classical composer has written any intros and endings into the piece already).

With jazz however, generally you are playing your own interpretation of a number, and you as a jazz player are the arranger (especially if you are the keyboard or guitar player).

So the jazz player usually 'sets up' the piece with an intro, and finishes it with an ending.

There are many techniques in improvising an intro, a favourite of mine is to play a selection of chords - (one might begin by trying chord I VI II and V) out of time, and when you get to the main melody, introduce the pulse (the beat) and away you go. You might want to start the intro in a different key and go into the main melody by using the II V sequence into the main key (George Shearing on Let There be Love). With latin numbers, you might want to set up the rythmn first and go into the main melody after 8 bars.

Endings too are a constant challenge and delight. From the classic ' Count Basie' ending (listen to recordings of the great man's band and see how he ends his numbers) to a smooth progression of chords that add more enjoyment to the performance. (Diana Kralls endings for instance).

The ideas of starting and ending a number are literally endless. How then do you know what to do?

The answer of course is always the same, you listen a lot to recordings of the great jazzers, see what they do, copy it and then use their ideas added to your own to formulate some really great intros and endings. By going on a jazz workshop, you will find that these techniques will be discussed in some detail, making you in the end , the complete jazz player with all the extras!

Happy Jazzing

Butlers Jazz Workshop, France August 13th -17th 2012

Ring 01323 833770 (UK)
+44 1323 833770 (International)

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