First week of school :)

I love community college. It’s like undergrad all over again. I’ve secured for myself a reasonable load. It gets me up in the morning, and I can do my other work on the way there and back.

Ray the instructor for improv class has got some awesome stories. He’s got 10 stories for every tangent he goes on. Like when he was little he had to do all the dishes b/c one brother was a guitar player, the other, bass, and they didn’t want to kill their callouses.

For improv class, he wants us to listen to lots of jazz. I remember when I first started undergrad, how I only listened to jazz for a whole two years or so. I downloaded the songs on Napster… haha, no one knows what that is anymore 🙂

He says the best jazz is from 1958 – 1964: Cannonball, Miles, Coltrane, R. Carter, Herbie, Clifford. Apparently, Clifford Brown stole licks from Bach and Bach used to write fugues… And fugues are hard to write, but I dont know, b/c I’m oblivious to classical music knowledge. I guess diatonic 7th chords were from baroque music.

During the bebop era.. chords changed every 2 beats… in the cool era.. it’s all just 1 chord, or modal. To be honest, I know modal was what Coltrane and Miles did, but I don’t really know the formal definition. I had to look it up on wikipedia.

Today, I got to class early. I realized that 1/3 the students are fresh out of HS, 1/3 are young adults with some spare time, and 1/3 are retired people. Guess which third I’m part of?.. haha.

I guess it’s good to learn the connections between classical and jazz. We talked about “classical form” which is:

  • exposition
  • development
  • recapitulation

The head in jazz, is the melody or the exposition. The development is the improv part, which is sectioned off into choruses (one time through each song per chorus… not to be confused with chorus part of a song structure.) There’s also the shout chorus of which there are 3 kinds:

  • melody
  • ornamentation
  • different melody same chords

He like Cannonball, b/c of the shout choruses that was unusual for combos to do. And that is why machines will never replace humans… (although, I have friends who may think otherwise :P).

Another cool thing to know was that, besides the bass being most important, the first horn hired was always T. Sax (that’s why there are the most tenor players). Second, they’d hire a trumpet. Third, if they had money, they’d hire and alto… then trombone, then bari. We went over musicians to listen to:


  • Carter
  • Cannonball (dirty blues, live in SF)
  • art pepper
  • parker
  • kenny garret
  • lee konitz <– california – soft dark sound
  • phil woods
  • paul desmond <– also california
  • lenny neehaus
  • sonny stit

btw, in my notes, I also had a definition of comping, which comes from the word accompanying, where the chords are fed 1/2 a beat before the chord comes (for anticipation). Really? 1/2 beat before?… yikes, I never realized that.

On piano, on Wednesday, I stumbled through my scales, not b/c I don’t know them, but b/c i’m not a pianist and my fingers are clumsy. I also rushed a lot. So, THAT’S why they tell me to use a metronome to practice.


  • stan getz
  • coleman
  • contrane – (up to 1966… lol)
  • dexter
  • rollins,  (the bridge)
  • lester
  • ben webster
  • george coleman
  • harold ???
  • frank foster
  • zoot sims

Next in my notes, I have that swing is vertical and bebop is horizonal! I remember learning that once upon a time, but can’t immediately recall what that means.


  • miles (which was someone you didn’t talk to after a concert)
  • dizzy (muppets)
  • clifford
  • lee morgan
  • louis armstrong
  • wynton marsalis
  • chet baker
  • art farmer
  • maynard fergusen

Miles Davis had one of the best arrangers, Gil Evans… Best albums to get: Miles Ahead, Sketches in Spain, Corcovado, Miles at Carnegie, Porgy and Bess.


  • Gerry Mulligan
  • Pepper Adams
  • Howard Johnson

Next week!…


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