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

Below are a couple of interviews by Monk Rowe.  If you have not heard of him, as an interviewer, he asks pertinent and interesting questions.  Monk is an accomplished musician, and brings that perspective into his questions.

I had the honor and pleasure of spending the day after Thanksgiving a few years ago at the home of Bill Watrous, with both Bill and Alan Raph.  I learned a ton, and also really enjoyed the stories they shared regarding their unique history in recording, performing, as well as priceless anecdotes interacting with famous band leaders and sidemen.  In the videos below, Monk Rowe draws out some of those stories, and more.  Enjoy!

It has been SO long since I have updated this website! I really appreciate your patience with this.  There are many updates on events, as well as new content coming.

One very exciting thing is that I have just been added as an S.E. Shires Q-Series trombone artist / teacher, and having the Model Q30GA shipped to me this week. I have been a huge fan of Steve Shires for many years, and am honored to be taking this next step. More to come on this soon.

Also, I just wanted to share a post that I found by Dan Haerle. This is a great tune to learn, especially if you are newer to harmonic analysis in jazz improvisation. The URL of the original post is below, and also included the text from his page below.

Autumn Leaves

Analysis of “Autumn Leaves” – Introduction

Autumn Leaves is a great jazz standard that is an excellent example of a song that moves back and forth between a major key and it’s relative minor key. Originally written in the key of G Major (and it’s relative, E Minor), it is usually played in Bb Major (or G Minor). It offers an opportunity to practice improvising over the II – V – I progression in both Bb Major and in G Minor!

Analysis of “Autumn Leaves” – Structure of the Form

The song is sort of an A A B A form except that the last 8 measures do not repeat the first 8. So it would probably be better to call it A A B C! The chord progression and melody of the C section are both different from the first A!

Analysis of “Autumn Leaves” – The A sections

The first eight measures of the tune comprise the following progression:

/Cmi7 /F7 /Bbma7 /Ebma7 /AØ /D7b9 /Gmi7 /Gmi7 /

The first four measures can be analyzed as IImi7 – V7 – Ima7 – IVma7 in Bb Major. The easiest way to improvise over this progression is to use a Bb Major scale since all of the chords are in the key of Bb Major! Of course, you must give emphasis to the chord tones to identify each chord but you can more or less just move around in the key and you will be getting the general sound. Even better, try to use some digital patterns to get good melodic motion over the progression! You can find some ideas about digital patterns in my blog about the II – V – I progression.

The second four measures can be analyzed as IIØ – V7b9 – Imi7 in G Minor. Similar to the first four measures, the easiest way to improvise over this progression is to use a G Harmonic Minor scale. It includes all of the chord tones of the three chords with one exception: The Gmi7 has an F natural in it and the G Harmonic Minor scale has an F# in it. So the F# in the scale should not be emphasized but can still be used as a melodic approach tone to the note G (root of the Gmi7 chord). Again, emphasize chord tones and try to use digital patterns moving through the G Harmonic Minor scale. Most melodic patterns will sound equally good over either a II – V – I in major or minor. Use the Major scale of the Ima7 chord over the II – V – I in a major key and use the Harmonic Minor scale of the Imi7 chord over the II – V – I in a minor key!

Analysis of “Autumn Leaves” – The B section

The chord progression of the bridge (B section) is just the opposite of the A sections as follows:

/AØ /D7b9 /Gmi7 /Gmi7 /Cmi7 /F7 /Bbma7 /Ebma7 /

The first four measures are a II – V – I in G Minor and the second four measures are a II – V – I in Bb Major. So the same approach as was used in the A sections applies here but is reversed.

Analysis of “Autumn Leaves” – The C section

The C section is mainly in G Minor but has more harmonic activity and some key changes:

/AØ /D7b9 /Gmi7 C7 /Fmi7 Bb7 /Eb7 /AØ D7b9 /Gmi7 /Gmi7 /

The first two and a half measures constitute a II – V – I in G Minor so the same approach used in the first 24 bars of the tune applies here. But the 3rd and 4th bars change keys quickly! The 3rd bar (Gmi7 C7) is a II – V progression in F Major and the 4th bar (Fmi7 Bb7) is a II – V progression in Eb Major. So, as in the II – V – I progression in a major key, you can simply use those two major scales, F Major and Eb Major. However, the Eb7 requires a dominant 7th scale (Mixolydian) that includes a Db. Because there is an A natural in the key of G Minor, the best sound would be a Lydian, b7 scale (Eb F G A Bb C Db Eb). The last three measures may again use the G Harmonic Minor Scale.

Analysis of “Autumn Leaves” – A more complex treatment

Up to this point, I have been recommending “bracketing” chords with a single scale to simplify the process because there are less different scale colors to navigate. But, as you become confident improvising on the tune, you will probably want more variety in the sound! So then you may want to change the scale choice with each chord. Many of these choices are already made for you by the function of the chord, the key, and the context (preceding and following chords). Some of these choices are a matter of fact as is indicated below:

Cmi7 – II function should be a Dorian scale (Bb Major)
F7 – the largest variety of choices, any dominant 7th scale (except Minor Blues)
Bbma7 – tonic function calls for Bb Major scale, Bb Lydian (F Major) could be used
Ebma7 – IV function requires Lydian scale (Bb Major)
AØ – basic half-diminished scale is Locrian (Bb Major)
D7b9 – Should include alterations which predict the key signature of the Imi7 to follow. The two best choices are the 5th mode of Harmonic Minor (G Harmonic Minor) and D Super Locrian (Eb Melodic Minor)
Gmi7 – tonic function calls for G Aeolian (Bb Major). Can also use Dorian (F Major)
Gmi7 – C7 and Fmi7 – Bb7 – It’s best not to alter the C7 or Bb7. The quick key changes provide enough harmonic interest! So use the major scales of the keys, F Major and Eb Major. These two measures also present an opportunity for melodic sequences so try to play the same identical melodic idea in both keys!

When embarking on this more complex treatment, be sure to start at a slower tempo and try to emphasize the 3rds and 7ths of chords. These are the most important chord tones in any chord and bring out the quality of the chords (ma7, mi7, dom7,half-diminished, etc.). Listen to recordings by great artists, copy ideas that you like and incorporate them into your solo!

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!

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