Modern Jazz Improvisation Part 1
Modern Jazz Improvisation is a two-part class that applies modern jazz melodic vocabulary to modern-style compositions and explores more contemporary chord progressions. Both parts 1 and 2 offer numerous examples, exercises, and etudes written in standard notation and tablature to increase fluency when playing over the often challenging tunes of today’s composers.
A suggested prequel for these classes is Part 2 of the Modern Jazz Guitar series (Melody) which covered using modern vocabulary on standard chord progressions. While the 5-part Modern Jazz Guitar series included in-depth discussions on the roots of the modern style, technique, melody, harmony, rhythm, sound, and equipment, and addressed improvising on standards, which form the backbone of jazz language, the Modern Jazz Improvisation classes will focus on improvising on contemporary-style tunes.
Anyone who hears jazz musicians performing today will notice that, in addition to standards, they often play their own original compositions as well as those of their contemporaries and recent predecessors. These tunes, while often derived from or inspired by the old standards, are significantly different in several ways. Current jazz composers have been greatly influenced by the modal movement that began in jazz in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and most of the modern tunes have their roots in compositions by Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, and others in that time period.
Part 1 of Modern Jazz Improvisation thoroughly explores the chord progression from Joe Henderson’s classic tune “Inner Urge” which has, over the years, become what could be considered a “new standard” since so many jazz musicians have worked on mastering it. “Inner Urge” is a perfect model to introduce modern jazz progressions as it contains chord movement in both the plateau modal and vertical modal styles and is a direct predecessor to many current jazz compositions.
Part 2 of Modern Jazz Improvisation examines, in depth, three chord progressions similar to those in tunes by Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ari Hoenig, and Jonathan Kreisberg. Like Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” (explored in Part 1), these chord progressions include both plateau and vertical modal styles, but unlike their predecessor, they feature new challenges typical of many modern jazz compositions: extended harmonies, odd meters, meter changes, and unusual phrase lengths.
Modern Jazz Improvisation part 1 covers:
- In-depth discussion of tonal versus modal styles of approach to harmony
- Explanation of the terms “plateau modal” and “vertical modal” and the differences in approach to both
- Detailed harmonic analysis of the chord progression for the Joe Henderson tune “Inner Urge”
- Basic example exercise for gaining fluency with finding the chord tones for the above progression
- Examples of numerous techniques for using motivic development to make logical, musical lines: rhythmic displacement, rhythmic and intervalic expansion and contraction, and intervalic inversion
- Exercises to gain fluency through quickly-moving harmonically unrelated chord changes using techniques such as scale tone voice leading; diatonic 7th arpeggio voice leading; major, minor, and major b6 pentatonic scales; parallel moving chord shapes; triad pairs; and odd note groupings
- Two examples solos on the “Inner Urge” chord progression incorporating all of the above techniques in a musical context, one designed to be played at a medium tempo, and the other designed to be played at a medium-up tempo
- Running time: 114 minutes
- 13 pages of written examples, exercises, and solo etudes, in standard notation and tablature, with close-up views of the demonstrations
- MP3 backing tracks for all written examples and solos, including full-length track for improvisation practice