Pip Eastop, Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Posts tagged “jazz lesson

A minor breakthrough

I had a jazz lesson with Ken Bartels of Loughton.

I got his name from Bernard O’Neill, the bass player from down the road, who said that Ken would be a very good teacher. He plays flute, single reeds and keyboards. I think Bernard was right. I came away from the lesson with, for the first time, a clear route into jazz.

Ken’s got me playing from the Aebersold jazz book Vol. 42, Blues in All Keys. I had a minor breakthrough when he told me that the blues scale works, more or less, all the way through the blues so that, for example, if you are playing the blues in C, then you can get through the whole sequence using only the notes C, Eb, F, Gb, G, and Bb without having to change scale at each chord change. He explained that it is quite a good discipline to go through the whole book playing each blues song using only the blues-scale notes of that particular key. I feel sure this is exactly what I need.

I learned from Oren that I have a tendency to overcomplicate things and try to play everything all at once, and Ken reinforced this. When I have got the hang of sticking exclusively to the blues scales I have to go through the book again this time using only Aebersold’s written black notes, that is to say, the simple chord notes for every chord as they change through the piece. I have to try to make it interesting, musical but without straying from the simple clusters of chord notes. He demonstrated this, on his clarinet, and was able to play really attractive, interesting stuff using the simplest of notes. It was amazing to hear how rich and complex it sounded given that he was using so few notes. He’s good.

So, at last I have proper homework to do! Things should now move in a better, more methodical and systematic direction. No more groping in the dark. And I won’t need another lesson for a couple of months because it will take me that long, I think, to get through everything we covered today.