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So I’m a decent college student and a solid rock, pop, funk soloist, but I want to get better at following chords like the great jazz players. I know to land on different notes per chord and that you can hop around different scales depending on the chord and so on and so forth, but when I get looking at the chords I always find one scale that works for almost all of them as long as you land on a chord tone, which is pretty much what I do for my other stuff already.
Are there any exercises or anything that can help with this or do I just need to keep hammering play alongs and jazz scales?
 

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Most Jazz players are doing something very specific called voice leading. "Playing the changes". Do a search on that and dig in. It takes dedication and discipline to achieve. I like watching Kent Hewitt's youtube tutorials. He is a cool guy and a great piano player and teacher. There are lots of other good tutorials on youtube that get into it. Study music theory.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Sounds like you are well on the way to getting the concept, but I would lean more towards the chord tones (and the theory behind them, voice leading etc. as mentioned) rather than getting too involved with scales per chord"

Scales are often useful for knowing notes to fill in between chord tones - but basically it's more knowing the "home" scale of the key or key centre rather than a different scae for each chord.
 

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You have started this conversation by removing the chords of a song and examining the nearly infinite possibilities in each one. This is an impossible task. You can simplify it by basing everything on the melody line and listening to how each change creates a 'color' or 'mood' for the melody line. Then, using mainly the triad and maybe a couple other significant notes of the chord, you can 'jazz-up' the melody a little by coming up with your own lines to literally 'play off the melody'. This is all 'old-hat' and I remember buying music books that had a phonograph record in them with the backing tracks and the 'straight' lead chart plus a 'jazzy' lead chart (easy) that showed you exactly how to do this. And of course the chords were on the chart, so you could study them any time you wanted. Never forget the tune and its 'mood' in your improvisation - that's what should tie what you're doing to the song. Improvisation should not be an invitation to branch out into new musical territory. If you're playing 'Misty', play 'Misty'.
 

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As an exercise, you might work on sticking only to the chord tones, using voice leading from one chord to the next, especially focusing on 3rds and 7ths of each chord. I say 'as an exercise,' because you'll eventually want to fill in to some extent using passing tones, approach notes, enclosures, etc. But get really familiar with those chord tones and especially the SOUND of the chord progression.

Once you're familiar with the basic 7th chords, start adding in the extensions (9,11,13) and listen closely to how they sound.
 

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I always break this into two categories. 1. what can I do on a static change. How many approaches can I do? Can I sub it? Can I color it with other scale choices (aug, dim, altered). Then once I"ve explored all the things for one chord I can repeat that for every chord. 2. How well can I go chord to chord. I feel thats an entirely separate skill than what you do on one chord. so i ll break a song into the 2 or 4 bar segments and vamp/loop those changes until something shows up that I like and want to memoroze. 3. Extra, I always am working on my ear. stealing lines and heads in many keys all by ear. At the end of the day thats all you have K
 

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So I like YouTube, and it recommends stuff to me all the time, and today it recommended this video, which I had watched many years ago.

[MEDIA]

Charles McPherson has some VERY interesting approaches to improvisation and practicing, that directly address the OP’s questions. One of the best hours I’ve spent this month.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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last three posters all joined on jan 2003? Must be when the forum changed over
No, Keith, this question came up sometime back and what happened was during an earlier change to the forum, everyone who joined on or before 2003 were automatically listed as 'joining' on 2003 (must have been a change that took place in 2003).

Hey thanks Steve for posting that Charles McPherson video! Here's a little story about Charles. He was playing one night at Keystone Korner toward the end of that club's run (early '80s) when they lost their liquor license and so had to shut down the bar. During a break my buddy & I went to the bar across the street to get a drink and when we came back Charles was standing around waiting for his next set. I told him how much I enjoyed his playing (he was flying and sounded like Bird that night) and that it's too bad the bar is closed, but at least I could go across the street to get a drink. His response: "Well that's great for you-all, but I'm stuck here with no booze." I may be paraphrasing a bit, but that's pretty close to the direct quote.
 
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