Piano or Sax?

I had thought piano was the way to go, but after a talk with Ray, he recommended sax… So, after class I went to talk to Jon, who also recommended sax. It’s just such my nature to try to do multiple things at once. So, I’m going study improv on saxophone and stick to one!

I helped Jon with his website! It’ll be live soon, I hope..Until then, I won’t post the link.

I get a lot of solos in big band… I’m not that good and I don’t deserve them.. haha. I don’t deserve to be at this school. When they asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I didn’t say jazz musician… I chose a different path. Jon said that Ray is the best improv teaching in the nation, and though it’s an exaggeration, that’s one heck of an exaggeration!

We had our first improv exam. It’s been forever since I took an exam. I already know I go a key signature wrong!… I forgot to study, AND I missed the bus for the first time. I made sure to give the instructor a call, but made it there on time thanks to zipcar!… Ray appreciated the call, I guess. Glad I read about calling him out of the syllabus.

Stupid sharps!.. I put the G# in the wrong spot! I also didn’t get either of the xtra cred: Duke Ellington’s alto player (johnny hodges), and Thad Jones’s drummer (Mel Lewis)… He indicated that this knowledge was important to know… Argh, hopefully I got everything else right…

In regards to reading chords:

  • Don’t write the legs, take the hypotenus
  • root voicings – pinky, thumb
  • spread voicings
  • (btw, there is an arranging class… I wish I could take!)
  • 4-way close, basis for all harmony -> 1, 3 , 5, 7
  • arrange down from trumpet section (trombone, saxes..)
  • from D down is mud-city (roots only down there)
  • Montuno – vamped in latin
  • Diatonic 7ths is what we call the chords for the different modes
  • 60-70% from the 12 ii V changes
  • double bars are not used the same in jazz, tells us where we are
  • rehearsal letters are after double bars, not the same was form letters

you get to be a star for 45 seconds and a roadie for the next (in regards to living the pro musician life)


  • first sharp is always F# – top line treble, 4th line in bass
  • goes up in 5ths
  • last sharp, the 5th sharp, “ti” – 7th of the scale
  • Bb is the first flat – treble 3rd, bass 2nd
  • 4ths, last flat is fa
  • # -> 7&8
  • b -> 4&3

Cool jazz

  • 1 chord – impressions
  • hard went outside
  • rock and jazz fusion

The last sharp or flat is always missed

  • i miss all of them, all the time!


  • build chords
  • key sig
  • what scales to be played for a given chord

College is the only time you get time to practice (something about burger king!)

Today he talked about the Odyssey and I wasn’t paying attention but it had to do with the myxolydian scale sheet he handed out:

  • Ionian – major
  • Dorian – big in the 60s.
  • Phrygian –  (big in the 70’s)
  • (7 Lydian = #11, EXCITING!
  • Myxolidian

In a side convo, i think i heard him say something about 1, 4 , and 5 being perfect intervals or something.

Voicings to learn: 3-13-7-9, that’s what migusa told me to learn too.


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