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Archive for January, 2008

Working on original tune – Joy

January 31st, 2008
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I wrote a tune last fall which is my most harmonically advanced as of yet… it’s called Joy and I recorded it in a pretty hasty recording session last weekend (click here to listen). My bass playing friend Jason said that this tune is the most difficult to play of all the tunes I have written, and I agree, but I worked on it a bit today and I am starting to understand it better now. Funny how I have to spend hours teaching myself my own tune!! Anyways, today I worked on learning the tune without music (the whole practice was done without the chord chart) and figuring out the way I like to voice the head in a solo piano context.  The next step will be to get even more familiar with the chords so that I can freely solo over the changes.

 For a PDF copy of my lead sheet (chords and melody written out) please click here.

To listen to my practice in midi format please click below:
joy-work.mid

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Days of Wine and Roses and Originals work

January 29th, 2008
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I love practicing because it allows me to take as much time as I want to work out nice ways to play tunes. When playing with a group I am always trying to play in time, and there is less time to be very thoughtful about learning new voicings and ways to play the chords. When playing with the group I am more thinking about using devices and licks that I already know, rather than in practice where I have a chance to experiment and think carefully about new jazz ideas.

Today I played a bit of Days of Wine and Roses as well as worked a bit on my originals, Sonatina and Joy. Please click below to listen:

days-of-wine-and-roses2-and-originals.mid

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Free improv and Stella By Starlight

January 25th, 2008
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I couldn’t sleep, so I tried to relax my mind by doing some freeform improvisation on the piano. I find that it can sometime have a calming effect to improvise freely on the piano for about 10 minutes, or longer if I feel like it. At the end of this session, I worked a little bit on playing Stella by Starlight in a freeform style as well. When I was in New York and saw Lou Donaldson perform with his group at the Village Vanguard, one of the songs I remember them playing was Stella By Starlight – and it sounded as fresh as ever. I think some standards never become old; they can always be interpreted in new ways and are excellent vehicles and structures that provide the lattice work that allow creative expression to grow and flourish.

Please click here to listen to my practice session: free-improv-and-stella-by-starlight.mid

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Practice recording – How High the Moon and Satin Doll

January 25th, 2008
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I was inspired to work on my jazz chops a bit after attending a wonderful concert given by Amanda Tosoff quartet with Brad Turner at CBC Studio One. So I picked the standard How High the Moon and did some practice on playing a bit faster, trying to get some lines to flow, and my hands to figure out some cool fast patterns. I am really encouraged that my hands are getting stronger again after several years of bad computer mouse muscle problems. The Zero Tension mouse seems to have solved my computer/hand injury problem, allowing me to start rebuilding my piano technique again. 

Click below to listen:

how-high-the-moon-satin-doll.mid

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Practice Recording: original stuff and Giant Steps

January 11th, 2008
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Article: experiences at a summer jazz camp

January 1st, 2008
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Felicity Rubinstein writes in the Times Online (click here to read article) about her experiences taking a jazz improvisation course with her son. She writes:

Unless you play to concert standard, which I don’t, the piano is a lonely instrument. Jazz offers more of a chance to play with other people.

[…]

But here’s the thing. For a couple of bars, at the end, I was in there, I was really doing it. Or who knows, maybe I wasn’t, but I felt I was and it was incredible. And even though I should have slunk home that night covered in shame I actually felt a kind of heady exhilaration.

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