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SOTW Columnist/ Forum Contributor 2014, Disti
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A very general question that a local sax player asked me. Any suggestions on some "basic" books? Thanks.

"Hey John, i'm trying to get better at jazz improvisation especially with triads. Do you know of a good book I can buy to work on that kind of stuff? I want to be able to do the straightahead."
 

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A very general question that a local sax player asked me. Any suggestions on some "basic" books? Thanks.

"Hey John, i'm trying to get better at jazz improvisation especially with triads. Do you know of a good book I can buy to work on that kind of stuff? I want to be able to do the straightahead."
I don't know any book, but there's this great youtube channel with plenty of stuff about triads -among other things- in it :

https://www.youtube.com/c/JazzDuets

I hope that'll help.
 

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Jerry Bergonzi has a series of books, with backing tracks, called "Inside Improvisation." I think there are 7 books.

There are many others:
Bud Freeman - Studies and Improvisations for Saxophone
Jerry Coker - The Complete Method for Improvisation
Lenny Niehaus - Jazz Improvisation for Saxophone
Oliver Nelson - Improvisation - Patterns for Saxophone
Ramon Ricker - Technique Development in Fourths for Jazz Improvisation
Scales For Jazz Improvisation (Dan Haerle)
Tonal and Rhytmic Principles- Jazz Improvisation I - John Mehegan

These are the ones that I have anyway.

I'd suggest maybe starting with Bergonzi's first book in his series. It presents fairly straightforward, somewhat formulaic, approaches to improvisation. It starts with a 4 note per chord approach, 1-2-3-5 (major and dominant) and 1-3-4-5 (minor).

Other options include Jamie Aebersold books/backing tracks, the best ones to start with is probably vol. 1 - How To Play Jazz & Improvise and Vol 54 - Maiden Voyage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks much! I will send all of this info to him. Appreciate it. I told him that SOTW would respond with excellent suggestions.
 

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I think it was George Garzone who actually came up with the idea, or at least formalized it. I'd start there:
 

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All of the above, but don´t forget to work with just the triads inside the chords, like 135, 357, 579 which are easier to begin with and gives you the sound of the chord and also tension notes as you go up. Those in conjunction with chromatic or diatonic approach gives plenty of possibilities.
 

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Hmmm, from the quote it seems more like they want to play "straight ahead" which nowadays means a sort of "light bebop". I think usually you would focus on 4 note chords. The "triadic" approach that Garzone developed is much more of an advanced technique.

There are a lot of bebop method books, David Baker made a popular series. Chad LB had dozens of method books that each focus on one small particular thing, he might be a good place to start with chord tone improvisation.

I think I would ask for more about what they are trying to play. An acceptable "straight ahead" jazz style mostly means 7th chords.
 

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I don’t understand how 4 note chords, 7ths and 9ths fit in here. A triad is 3 notes - 1,3,5, not 1,3,5,7 or 5,7,9, etc. I understand if you play a G maj triad over a C maj 7 chord, those notes happen to be 5,7,9 of C, but they’re still just a G triad. I think you’re defeating the purpose of this simple concept if you break the rules right off the bat and include every possible chord tone. Just stick with triads.
 

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I don't understand how 4 note chords, 7ths and 9ths fit in here. A triad is 3 notes - 1,3,5, not 1,3,5,7 or 5,7,9, etc. I understand if you play a G maj triad over a C maj 7 chord, those notes happen to be 5,7,9 of C, but they're still just a G triad. I think you're defeating the purpose of this simple concept if you break the rules right off the bat and include every possible chord tone. Just stick with triads.
Yeah, but...Triad pairs are commonly used in improv, and one of the most common, since we're talking C are a C major triad plus D major triad. The D could be thought of as the 9, #11, and 13 of C.
 

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Yeah, but...Triad pairs are commonly used in improv, and one of the most common, since we're talking C are a C major triad plus D major triad. The D could be thought of as the 9, #11, and 13 of C.
I get that. My point is you're not supposed to think "I'll play a C 9,#11,13 triad". There's no such thing. You're supposed to think "D triad over C". Simple.
 

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I don't understand how 4 note chords, 7ths and 9ths fit in here.
Well, in the example of the first Bergonzi book using 4 note chords, it's just a 1-3-5 triad plus one more note (a 2 or 4, or 9 or 11 if you will). Makes for a little more variety. Not that much of a stretch really. (And I suppose you could still follow his approach and omit the additional note.)
 

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I get that. My point is you're not supposed to think "I'll play a C 9,#11,13 triad". There's no such thing. You're supposed to think "D triad over C". Simple.
Sure there's such a thing. The 9, #11, and 13th of C is a D triad. Simple!
 

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Sure there's such a thing. The 9, #11, and 13th of C is a D triad. Simple!
I know you're half joking, but you're twisting my words. I said, there's no such thing as a 9,#11,13 triad. All triads are 1,3,5 by definition.

It's an interesting idea. It personally doesn't work for me. I've already learned all the upper extensions, so I just think of them directly rather than add what I consider another layer of obfuscation by breaking parts of chords into triads of other chords. I feel the same way about modes. They don't help me navigate chord progressions very much in the heat of the moment. I prefer to think of them on their own terms rather than some mode of the tonic. Anyway, that's just how my brain works (or doesn't).

I admit, I've never read any of the books listed here so far, so I could be way off base. But I think techniques like this turn improv into mindless finger flapping. Take some patterns that happen to fit the harmony and play them as fast as possible without regard to melody, voice leading, emotion, harmonic function, tension and release. Yes, they can sound sort of good. But what's the point if they don't mean anything. The difference between a really memorable, moving and meaningful phrase (lick) and a random collection of notes that fit the harmony is the difference between actual music and monkeys on a typewriter.

Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox now.
 

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I assume the OP is asking about triad pairs. Jerry Bergonzi calls them hexatonics, but it is the act of constructing a six note grouping using two different triads from a given scale. For example, you can pick the triads starting on the 4th and 5th degree of the major scale and build some nice patterns out of them. Interestingly, this choice of the triads leaves out the major 3rd and gives a more open sound that resolves very nicely when playing over major. There are other choices you can make which amount to leaving out a different note. The same sort of shapes one plays over pentatonics can be adapted to play on these hexatonics.

You can try the same (picking out triad pairs) from other scales such as the altered scale. It just provides a system to come up with some pretty hip sounding lines.

Walt Weiskopf goes into this quite a bit in his book Intervallic Improvisation:


I also suggest taking a look at the following materials from Bergonzi on triad pairs:

 

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Hmmm, from the quote it seems more like they want to play "straight ahead" which nowadays means a sort of "light bebop". I think usually you would focus on 4 note chords. The "triadic" approach that Garzone developed is much more of an advanced technique.

I think I would ask for more about what they are trying to play. An acceptable "straight ahead" jazz style mostly means 7th chords.
+1. This is what came to mind reading John's OP. I've experimented a bit with triad pairs and while it's a great concept, I find it difficult to apply. You'd think that 7th chords (with 4 notes) and chord progressions would be more difficult than the 'simpler' triads, but it's not. The straight ahead jazz style would be more based on 7th chords & chord progressions as Aquarian points out.

I could be wrong about this, not being very familiar with using triad pairs, but this is how it appears to me.
 

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Worked extensively with triad pairs and talked about them on SOTW elsewhere before. To hear the tensions expressed, find a bass drone in C. An A major triad over the C (and b7 Bb) produces a 13b9. An F# major triad produces a 7b5. A Dmaj triad 13b5. Minor triads produce magic too. A C# min triad produces 7+5b9. Move that C#min triad up to a D minor triad and viola a C sus13...Good times...... :)
 
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