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First time heading a true jazz quartet; need help!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Sleeq, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. Sleeq


    Feb 13, 2008
    I've started a jazz quartet for a one-off gig.

    Now I've always been a blues guy; but in the last year I've delved alot into jazz; but the time to prove myself is coming.

    We're going to play "So What", "Blue Train", and "Moanin".

    The issue to me is that when I'm improvising solo modes over "So What", it "feels" wrong; I've tended to stay in Dorian but when I switch to another mode, especially if it's major, it sounds plain silly.

    I've talked the talk but now I need to walk the walk (literally). Any help or tips would be appreciated.
  2. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Transcribe & analyze Miles' solo on So What. A gold mine of information on how to solo on modal songs.
    Transcibe the Chambers bass line also, very cool stuff going on.
  3. jack_wantz


    Jan 20, 2012
    its quiet simple to stick to the theme and fill whit some mixolydian . Don't think that u have a lot to play is a simple track ,put a lot simple but melodic bass parts and it will sund great!
    Don't do a lot of walking....that's how i play it.....
  4. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    OK, clear something up for me so I can offer something.

    So What is a dorian tune, so switching modes from dorian is going to be a risky path. When you say "...when I switch to another mode, especially if it's major..." what exactly do you mean by that?

    Do you mean that you displace the D dorian back to a C to C Major scale (in other words, you use C as your take-off and landing point)? Or do you mean you use an F Major scale, or F lydian (which is just a displaced D dorian scale)?

    In any case, regardless of what you meant by this, try landing your solo lines on an E. There's nothing so lovely as a minor 9th chord to my ears. It's like being at home but noone is there and you're lonely, but somehow comfortable.

    So play a D dorian scale, but use the upper E as a landing point (and use that B natural with a C and the E).

    Let us know about my other questions to help you out.
  5. Sleeq


    Feb 13, 2008
    Thanks FM; I was mainly talking about moving to the C major or the F; sounds off somehow.

    I'll try to keep the E in mind.
  6. HunterBrodt


    Aug 24, 2009
    You don't really think in terms of modes in jazz. I would also argue that the melody uses the Dorian mode but the tune isn't really "Dorian" it's just two minor keys. So you can use melodic, harmonic, Dorian, natural minor, etc. if you analyze miles solo he doesn't stick to Dorian. You really need to study jazz a bit more man. It's a complicated art form that requires a lot of dedication to be good at.
  7. HunterBrodt


    Aug 24, 2009
    Those are just chord tones, you could also use A. Don't change the mode and then use arpeggios of of a different mode. It won't sound right. For example, c major's arpeggio is C E G B so that's a 7 2 4 6 off of the Dorian mode. It's literally all of the non chord tones except for the 7th
  8. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters

    Wow! Someone that has actually looked at this piece of music! And, I completely agree with your first sentence.

    You are so right, Miles' solo uses not only D Dorian, but also draws notes from D Natural, Melodic and Harmonic Minor. Also, the first 8 measures of his second chorus might even be analyzed in A (Natural) Minor.

    PC uses D Dorian, Natural Minor, Melodic Minor and Harmonic Minor, as well. He plays nearly as many Bb's as B's walking the D Minor change under Miles' solo. He uses these notes walking the D Minor chord: D, E, F, G, A, Bb, B, C, C#.

    When the Key moves up to what most call Eb Minor, PC seems to be walking more in Db Major.
  9. Sleeq


    Feb 13, 2008
    Yeah I need a lot to learn; in my neck of the woods no one has EVER performed these pieces and I love the music so I wanted to perform it live.

    Like I said I've only just started playing jazz... but thanks to all your inputs!
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    This really isn't a Technique issue. Moved to General Instruction.
  11. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Amen. OP needs to transcribe bass lines and solos, and NOT get caught up in a pointless and musically stunting obsession with "modes."
  12. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Yes indeed. But the OP has indicated that he's starting up jazz quartet, and from that perspective, we need to understand that So What is written in D and Eb dorian. So, let's not assume that a start-up jazz quartet is going to symbiotically roam around natural minor, dorian, harmonic minor, or jazz minor (a better description of melodic minor in this context) and nail those relationships in a way that sounds good from the bandstand.

    The bass part and melody over the head clearly indicate D/Eb dorian, so while your suggestions are accurate, asking a start-up quartet to have the ear savvy of Miles, Bill Evans, and/or Mr. PC, etc is unrealistic. Sure, it's something to strive toward, but not something that's going to happen in a few weeks or months.

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