Did anyone find this DVD by Dave Frank helpful? I am looking at buying it but wanted some opinions on how helpful this would be for a new improvisor with basic knowledge of chords and scales.
I have rented that DVD from Blockbuster's online rental. I didn't buy it, so
if there is accompanying written material I can't describe it to you.
The short answer is, yes. I found it very helpful. I'll describe what I recall
of it and you can decide for yourself. There is no sax on it at all, just piano
and a bit of trumpet, but I hope that doesn't matter to you.
Frank suggests a blues (12 bar blues + minor blues scale) approach to
getting started. He lays out the basic sequence in concert C, and gives you
some rootless chord voicings which he doesn't explain, and suggests you get
a feel for the sequence by doing it repeatedly, which is good advice.
Next he teaches you the C blues scale and has you become familiar with
it by noodling up and down the scale. Don't take the term "noodling" (which
he doesn't use!) as disparaging; you're really going for extreme familiarity with the scale, so if noodling gets you there, great! Of course, he'd like you to do
this noodling in key to a blues progression, in quarter notes at first.
Then he discussed riffs, and suggested you practice placing certain riffs
in certain spots. This is a lot like Brian Kane's approach (www.jazzpath.com
of getting you comfortable keeping your place in the form. He followed this
with free riff placement (noodling on riff location
, and the use of swing eighth notes in the riffs.
Then he discussed long swing eighth notes runs, and the concept of
"feeling in fours". Best to listen to the DVD for that. Once you get this
down, he has you mix riffs and long sequences.
Theres a discussion of question and answer in soloing, and the use of
eigth note triplets, followed by some discussion of the use of double time
lines at the end.
The examples are all Frank on piano and a fellow named Wynton who
comes in and plays trumpet. The examples were great, hearing a concept demonstrated rather than reading it is way better.
The sound quality was awful, and while rented DVDs are often abused,
DVDs aren't vinyl (it wasn't failing like a DVD, it just had crappy sound), so I
think it is the quality of the DVD.
I found it so informative and full of useful hints that I bagged my sax
If you prefer this blues scale based approach to learning improv, you may
also want to try www.jazzpath.com
, which has a lot of really useful info.
There are also two books (Jeff Harrington's and Dan Greenblatt's) which
complement those approaches (which are somewhat non-harmonic, in that
you use just one scale over the progression) by using the major blues scale
(the minor blues scale starting at the 6th of the key) to give some harmonic
I hope that helps!