Inside a jazz workshop: Week 8

This week's top tip is: don't go to a Hot Bikram Yoga class just before going to jazz workshop. 90 minutes of bend-it-stretch-it in 40 degree heat pretty much finished me off before I'd even arrived at the Hideaway.

Gasping at a large glass of water I listened to Duncan kick off the class with the band playing 'There is no Greater Love ' it was the first time I'd heard it and it sounded like a pretty straight forward tune until we were told this week we'd be looking at 'tritone substitutions'. Hmmm....

Duncan went on to play two improvisations, first using the diatonic chords then with the aforementioned substitutions. As he started talking about what it all meant I realised that this was normally the moment when fear, panic, the overwhelming desire to RUN AWAY kicked in but here I was just letting the words wash over me in a zen like trance, the yoga? Then I realised any moment now I was going to be asked to play something that indicated at least a fundamental understanding of what he'd just said: "Um, sorry... What?"  Well, someone had to say it!

Fortunately Duncan demonstrates eternal patience if not always beginners level explanations so we were back at an example of a 2, 5, 1 chord progression and the substitution of the sharp 4th for the 5 and well, if you want to know more google it if I try and explain it here goodness only knows the jumble of half understood, less remembered information you'll end up with.  'Other guitar-guy' handily threw in the downward chromatic progression as a helpful hint (and yes before you ask I needed even that explained twice v e r y   s l o w l y). But by the break I had a basic understanding of the theory we were being taught. That being the case I surprised even myself by being able to distill what we'd just learnt in order to pass it on to a class mate as well as passing on the handy 'which scale gets you through most of the changes without sounding too ghastly' technique that I'm so relieved to fall back on much of the time.

Having grasped the fundamentals the next big leap is to turn it into a coherent solo. That's still a leap too far for me. I get too worried about 'sounding good' which generally equates to playing lots of notes whereas actually what I need to do is discipline myself to just play the changes one note a bar if need be until I'm super hot on my scales, maybe next week good sense will defeat the ego, maybe...

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Thanks again, looking forward to re-visiting on many occasions!

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