Kenny Barron’s “Voyage”

Kenny Barron’s wonderful composition Voyage is a particularly apt vehicle for Stan Getz.  The phrase in bar 4 especially caught my ear (example A.)

KENNY BARRON EX A

It would be fascinating to ask Mr. Barron whether he conceived of Voyage rapidly or – as often happens – the piece evolved over a period of time.
Focusing on bar 4, you see that the melody outlines the F7(b9) chord as shown in example A above.  It’s tempting to speculate that the appoggiatura was originally part of the F7(b9) arpeggio. The Eb then takes its place as the 7th in the F7(b9) chord, as shown in Example B.  Of course, Voyage as we now know it is far hipper than it would have been if bar 4 looked like Example B!

KENNY BARRON EXAMPLE B

Speculation aside, one way you will definitely improve your instrumental technique is by playing figures such as this one in all 12 keys around the Circle of Fifths, starting with a slow metronome setting and gradually increasing the tempo.
While I practiced this particular lick, I experimented with various rhythmic combinations.  If you do that, you will keep your imagination engaged, so that your practice time does not degenerate into a dry, lifeless exercise. You will also develop your own stylistic preferences, so that choosing the hippest rhythm for an improvised passage will not slow down your reflexes during performance.  Some of the iterations I tried are shown in Example C.

KENNY BARRON EXAMPLE C

The first iteration emphasizes the third of the chord – the “sweet note.”   The rest of the sketches experiment with various rhythmic syncopations.  Perhaps you also will benefit from playing along with the final lick in all 12 keys using this background track:

If you need a chart, fill out the request form below.  Your information will not be used for any other purpose, nor will it be saved.  Better yet, download New Ears Resolution and learn how to transpose by ear on the fly!

10 thoughts on “Kenny Barron’s “Voyage”

  1. Hey, Craig–
    I remember and appreciate when you used to drop off a riff for me to practice just about every week. Some of them were too hard, but the ones I could manage were really fun to practice and helped my ear so much.

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  2. Craig, your ideas and insights are always useful. This is a good illustration of an important technique for developing one’s ear, dexterity, and muscle memory. Thanks for sharing your expertise. — Trevor

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  3. Lots of good suggestions. I have really been woodshedding on piano,
    trombone and vocals. I love playing music so much I just want to
    improve!
    Eric LIndstrom

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  4. Craig, Wow very thorough and thoughtful stuff. Inspiring really, I want to go practice. This reminds me of the saying “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice does”.
    EDITOR’S NOTE: For those who are unaware of Steve Wood’s work, he is a Grammy Award winning producer, composer, singer, and instrumentalist based in the L.A. area.

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  5. Hi, Craig! I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner regarding your practice approach utilizing a given riff and working it around in all 12 keys. I can see where this process could really free up a player by helping to truly internalize a pattern, thereby making it automatic and available for use in any number of situations. It takes the drudgery out of practicing. The student is free to develop his own exercises this way, keeping the creative parts of the brain engaged.
    …….Take care, my friend, and thank you for providing much-needed jazz education for students everywhere!….Sincerely, Brian
    EDITOR’S NOTE: For the past 30 years, Brian was Staff Musician at Disneyland. He also toured with several major jazz artists.

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