Category: chord

Listen and Learn

If he’d survived, trumpeter Jack Sheldon would have turned 89 on November 30th, 2020. For one who never studied his recordings, it’s fascinating to watch a live video of his quintet in concert.  The five musicians play in perfect sync, like a well-oiled machine, and they swing like crazy.  Jack’s vocal style is instantly recognizable, and his trumpet sparkles with fiery assertiveness, crisp inventiveness, and unhesitating self-assurance. 

The lick leading into the bridge of Jack’s solo especially knocks me out. Here it is: 

There’s a dynamic shape to that melodic line and an infectious rhythmic vitality which combine to offer a wildly exciting listening experience. Equally impressive is Jack’s ability to infer fascinating harmonic curve-balls creating two deceptive modulations before settling onto the home key, as portrayed on the chart above .

Here’s that lick in all 12 keys. 

A complete chart is provided below, if you want to woodshed this unique lick. 

My friend Bill – an excellent trombonist – voiced his frustration after attempting the licks on my blog at full speed.  I reassured Bill that I certainly do not begin by playing any of these licks at its ultimate pace.  Here is the original tempo over which I started wood-shedding.

It took me several hours to get the lick up to tempo.  With each new pass, you ratchet the metronome up maybe 3, 4, or 5 clicks until you reach your goal, and the most difficult note sequences require extensive looping in order to achieve smooth, effortless execution.

Here is Jack’s full solo:

As stated above, the band swings like mad throughout this entire performance.  Here’s a link, if you want to listen to the whole cut.

Click on “continue reading” below to see a chart of the lick in all 12 keys.

Continue reading “Listen and Learn”

Band Bus Banter

On the band bus one day, a buddy criticized me for playing too many descending lines. According to him, “Descending is negative; Ascending lines are much more uplifting.” Oh….really?

Players constantly hear advice like that.

Another commentator assured me, “Your phrase cannot EVER begin on the downbeat; It’s got to be asymmetric.” OK, you win, asymmetric it is, smart guy! The customer’s always right, ay?

One nameless critic insisted, “In order to sound hip, your line has to include several non-harmonic tones.” Still another self-proclaimed “authority” touted the need to stuff many rhythmic devices into your phrase.

Finally, a laconic trombonist named Tex snoring in the back of the bus roused himself from slumber just long enough to drawl lazily,
“How a – bout we try ta swing, Stan?”

So what do you think?
What is it that makes a player sound fresh and innovative?

While listening to the masters and practicing, lines like this one seem to pop out of nowhere. Hit ► below and let me know if it works for you.

Click on “continue reading” below to see a chart in all 12 keys. Or download “New Ears Resolution” to supercharge your ear, so you can play licks like this one in all 12 keys without a chart.

Continue reading “Band Bus Banter”

How to Create, Name, and Use Chords to Evoke Emotion and Make Music Come to Life!

C7 CHORDIn just 45 minutes, you can revolutionize your understanding of THE HARMONIC LANGUAGE Learn how chords are created, what notes they contain, how they’re named, and how they’re used to evoke emotion and make music come to life.   Quickly gain harmonic mastery and confidence which will set you apart as a composer or improviser.

Click here to watch this fascinating video on YouTube for free.