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The challenge is to learn the whole of ‘Autumn Leaves’ from the Somethin’ Else album (Cannonball Adderley). Intro, outro, tune statements, all the solos, and piano, double bass and drum parts.
This is a hefty task, but a worthwhile one. The aim is simply to spend a long time inside this music, because in the process of exploring the detail, we will also be unconsciously absorbing many subtleties of dynamics, phrasing and atmosphere that are essential elements of Jazz Language. Let’s break the process down into more manageable tasks. This is the order I would do them in, as I like working from the general and easy to the speciﬁc and difﬁcult, but you don’t have to be rigid about it; feel free to follow your ear, and your fancy! Phase One Immersion in music- multiple listenings Learn tune statements. Sing and play on instrument Learn (sing and play) intro bass riff Learn (sing and play) main melody of intro (Ie upper voice of horn and piano chords) Compare tune statement with original melody Find and learn words of the song (English and French) Work out the basic chord progression from the root movement of the double bass Compare this progression with Real Book and sheet music versions First sing, then play with solos, learning their overall shape, and also starting to pick out and learn the individual phrases that stick with you Work out harmony parts of intro Notate (ie write on music stave) everything you have worked out!
© Nick Weldon April 2010
Phase Two At this level of detail, unless your ear is very developed, you may want to slow the music down. Use either Transcribe or Amazing Slow Downer Learn (sing and play) the solos Learn (sing and play) the bass line Learn (sing and play) the outro Work out piano voicings for whole track Learn drum part for whole track Notate as you work
Phase Three Analysis What are the main ideas, rhythmic, melodic, harmonic or other, used by each soloist? Are the solos related to each other? What is the dialogue between each soloist and the rhythm section? How do piano, double bass and drums work together? What are the changes in dynamics, tempo and time feel?
If you are just starting this sort of deep learning, don’t be alarmed at how long some of these tasks take, or if you simply can’t ﬁnish them yet (piano and drum voicings, for example, are notoriously difﬁcult to take down). The more you do, the easier it gets, and in any case, the beneﬁt of the challenge is in the process. Enjoy!
© Nick Weldon April 2010