This was a fun trio performance in LA with Gaea Schell and John Leftwich.

Cafe 322, Pasadena, CA, 12/9/11

Dave Bones, trombone
Gaea Schell, piano
John Leftwich, bass

Jazz Trombone Blues Improvisation Scale and Ear Training Video and PDF

I recently shared a post for jazz trombone blues improvisation, showcasing a Barry Harris Masterclass, entitled Practicing the Blues with the horns part1 and Practicing the Blues with the horns part2

Barry Harris is often called the “keeper of the flame” in teaching and playing jazz and bebop. Barry Harris stands out to me because of three important factors that I have identified in his approach.

1. Barry identified the problem. Specifically, starting in the late 60’s early 70s, Barry recognized that jazz was declining in popularity. He knew the solution was to share the message with young people to continue this message to their and future generations. He has dedicated his life to this, and the results are nothing short of monumental.

2. He adds reality to his approach. He offers immediate application through demonstration and participation with clinics. The resume of Barry Harris speaks for itself. What he shares are not just theories that have not been proven. The material he shares is from direct experience, and from conversations with masters like Thelonious Monk. In these videos, this is demonstrated by his presentation in creating and composing the melody with the class.

3. He is adamant about a foundational approach. Barry is very specific about scales, harmony, and rhythm. This is demonstrated in the video below, “Practicing the Blues with the horns part2” where he describes the basic scales and how to practice them for a 12 bar blues progression.

I had comments from readers from the first post I described that they loved the material, but Barry goes so fast that they could not keep up. As a result, I decided to create two PDFs which walk the reader through the video with time reference to the video. Included are the melodies and scales he describes, as well as his verbal reference which is critical to the learning process.

As I was writing this, I started to get excited thinking about the combination of the two videos and two PDFs as a part of a curriculum for band directors teaching jazz band. This would be appropriate for high school, but I am also sharing with some advanced middle school students.

Jazz Band Curriculum Ideas for Band Directors from Barry Harris Masterclass

Please see below for further study from the two Barry Harris videos below. Jazz Band Curriculum Ideas for Band Directors from Barry Harris Masterclass include Ear Training, Basic Essential Scales, and Rhythmic Approach.

Click the link below to download and / or view the PDF outlining the melody that Barry creates with the students. Barry’s presentation is brilliant, and I wrote the chart to include the full melody, but also the text below the melody describes verbal explanation and the stages he presents. Specific start time on the video is included for each stage.
Practicing the Blues with the horns part 1 – Ear Training Melody

Please click the link below to view the PDF file that outlines the basic scales that Barry Harris considers essential in conjunction with the video above, “Practicing the Blues with the horns part2”
Practicing the Blues with the horns part 2 – Basic Scales

I would be grateful to hear your feedback and if you found this to be useful. Also, please let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy!

Jazz Trombone Blues Improvisation Scale and Melodic Ideas

Legendary jazz pianist and educator, Barry Harris really breathes life in how to play bebop lines over a Bb blues progression. Great information, realistic flow, and motivating for students.

In the two videos below, Barry shares some very specific ways to get started in practicing scales, and builds a melody with class participation demonstrating melodic construction. Another point that he drives home is the importance of practicing with good time. He applies this both in commitment to the tempo, as well as which notes land on the beat in scale practice.

Jazz Trombone Vic Dickenson solo on Perdido

Check out this great example of jazz trombone. Vic Dickenson plays a wonderfully melodic solo over the changes to Perdido.

Jazz Trombone Vic Dickenson Transcription Assignment

Jazz Trombone Vic Dickenson Transcription on Perdido

Jazz Trombone Vic Dickenson Transcription Assignment

Here is the PDF for the Jazz Trombone Vic Dickenson Transcription Assignment

Feel free to comment, and please let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy!

Beaverton Friends of Music presents Dr. John Benham

Be sure to listen to the audio file below, and read the comprehensive BSD 52-page PDF Report of this once in a life time event presented by Dr. John Benham.

 Dr. John Benham Music Advocacy Recording

Dr. John Benham Music Advocacy BSD 52-page PDF Report, revised 5/6/13

(To Save either file on your computer, Right Click, and then “Save Link As”)

Beaverton Friends of Music advocacy coalition presents Dr. John Benham, and provides dramatic new information that will help save music programs and promote quality education for ALL Beaverton Students.  Dr. Benham, internationally renowned public school music researcher, advocate, and author of “Music Advocacy: Moving from Survival to Vision,” conducted a landmark study of the Beaverton music program over the last 15 years.  In this audio recording, he presented his findings at Southridge High School on 5/4/13.  The extensive report, tracking BSD 15 years worth of data supporting music advocacy is included in the PDF link above.

For more information, visit

Beginning Trombone Lessons: Ruby by H.A. Vandercook

This is a great first full piece with piano accompaniment for beginning trombone lessons. It offers musicality, and application of the main articulations for the trombone which are Legato, Staccato, and Normal Articulation / Bell Tones.

This is one of ten pieces in a collection that offer similar benefit, ranging from Grade 1 – 3. These are frequently used for Junior Solo / Ensemble contests, and costs about $13.

Feel free to click on the link below for more information about this collection.

Beginning Trombone Solos

I would love to hear your comments, and how you are doing with the piece. Enjoy!

In learning jazz improvisation on the trombone, it is very important to make transcribing part of the curriculum for study.

One way to ease into transcribing is to transcribe excerpts from different players. If this inspires you to listen to more of the artist you started transcribing, well that’s great! At this stage of the game, listening is also critical. Having a teacher to help you “frame” the value, breathe life, and offer direction in your study to integrate listening and transcribing can be very beneficial.

In the brief video below, I play excerpts from the following three solos – J.J. Johnson, Misty; Carl Fontana, I Thought About You (including a supportive technical drill where no tongue is used to articulate the notes, but focus on air and embouchure. Then, the tongue is integrated again.); and, J.J. Johnson, Nutville.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or have any feedback to share. Enjoy!

Trombone Lessons – Basic Warm Up

In the video below, I am playing a warm up that only takes a few minutes, and addresses primarily Flexibility, Range, and Articulation.  The content and sequence was inspired through independent study with Alan Raph, world-renowned trombonist, author, and educator. I hope you enjoy the content, and please feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions!

First Jazz Transcriptions to Transcribe and Why?

The 12 bar blues, and the chord changes to “I Got Rhythm” are a very rich part of jazz improvisation heritage.  I recommend beginning with transcriptions based on these chord progressions for two reasons.

The first reason is because these chord progressions are so prevalent in jazz history.  One thing that ties in this art worldwide is a common frame of reference in repertoire throughout the world.  Whether you speak Italian, German, Mandarin Chinese, or any other language does not matter when you play with other jazz musicians from these countries.  You will be able to play, and communicate through music together with this common knowledge of the blues and Rhythm Changes.  How cool is that?

The second reason is that the new student in transcribing is trying to get ideas for their own improvisation, and will immediately get a lot of mileage for a smaller amount of work.  Building upon successful experiences is so important at this stage.  Because many playing situations with other people will offer the opportunity to solo over these chord changes, the student can immediately apply what they have learned.

A very important point to consider for “over-achievers” out there is the following. Please realize that you don’t have to be able to play through an entire transcription to benefit in ideas for soloing. Often, it is better to memorize just one or two measures that you find interesting, and can technically play. Then, take the time to internalize that passage, playing it over and over. The next step will be to insert and develop that sound into different settings like over the blues, or other ideas.

Please see below for a few blues and Rhythm Changes solo transcriptions.

F Blues: Fred Wesley playing “Sandu”

Eb Blues: Curtis Fuller playing “Blue Train”

Db Blues: Mark Nightingale playing “On the Side”

Bb Blues: Michael Dease playing “Blues On the Side”

Bb Rhythm Changes: Carl Fontana playing “I Got Rhythm”

What are other considerations for beginning improvisors and transcribing?

The next priority is to start hearing more “Tonic” sounds where the improvisor is basing his ideas on the I (Major or minor) chord; as well as, ii-7 V7 transitional sounds offering momentary tension.

Please see below for some examples. If not familiar with the chord progressions of the songs below, please feel free to refer to a lead sheet, or e-mail me for reference ideas.

Urbie Green playing “Lullaby of Birdland” in Ab:

Listen for the following in this track:
A Sections:
– F minor tonal (i minor) ideas
– Ab Major tonal (I chord) ideas
– ii-7 V7 I in Ab (|Bb-7 Eb7|AbMaj7 |)
– ii-7(b5) V7b9 i min in F minor (|G-7(b5) C7b9|Fmin |)
– ii-7(b5) V7b9 in Bb minor (|Cmin7(b5) F7b9| Bbmin |)
– ii-7(b5) V7b9 resolving to Ab Major (|Bb-7(b5) Eb7(b9)|AbMaj7 |)

Carl Fontana playiing “Hey There” in Ab:

Pay particular attention to the A sections on this track. Some points to consider are below:
– I VI7 ii-7 V7 (|AbMaj7 F7|Bb-7 Eb7|) for tonal ideas based in the key of Ab
– ii-7 V7 I in Ab Major (|Bb-7 Eb7|Ab Maj7 |)
– I VI7 ii-7 V7 (|CMaj7 A7|D-7 G7|) for tonal ideas based in the key of C
– ii-7 V7 I in C Major (|D-7 G7|C Maj7 |)

Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions, or if you would like to share some insight as well.

I wish you the best in your journey of discovery and improvisation!


Dave Bones

Gaea Schell and Dave Bones Jazz Performance and Education Event this Thursday 3/29/12 at Tony Starlight’s!

Be sure to come by the Gaea Schell and Dave Bones Jazz Performance and Education Event at Tony Starlight’s Supper Club – Lounge this Thursday, 3/29/12.

A few words from Tony, the owner of Tony Starlight’s Supper Club – Lounge regarding his dream which has become a reality.

“We wanted to create a place where different kinds of people could come and connect with one another, around music and performance, without a TV or video poker to distract them. The greatest things in life are the personal relationships we forge and with cell phones, email and Facebook we sometimes think we’re connecting with each other but it cannot replace face-to-face contact.”

We see this as a great match for jazz performance, and a supportive environment for students to come and listen.  As well, we will be showcasing a few select students sitting in, learning and sharing on the bandstand.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Gaea Schell, piano and vocal
Dave Bones, trombone
Patrick Harry, bass

Thursday, 3/29 from 7:30 – 10:30 PM (minors permitted until 10 PM)

$8 cover
[The cover charge is directly compensated to the performers. However, if there is a financial challenge, just contribute what you can and come enjoy the music!]

Tony Starlight’s Supper Club – Lounge
3728 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland, OR 97232
Reservations: 503-517-8584