How to play Latin Ballad Bolero Style – Jazz Piano Tutorial (BAH)

Hi! Today I will show you guys how you can play a style of music called: Bolero.

And this is a style of Latin music and it’s a lot played by jazz musicians and it’s a very calm and very relaxed way to play and when you do this right it could sound quite romantic.

So let me just give you a few bars of an example: As you can tell it’s quite easy, slow, relaxed and calm, and what I like to do when I play this music is to let the rhythm section do most of the rhythmical work and you just float on top of that.

And I’m going to show you a few things that you can do.

So, the first thing is to play very open chords and that’s the easiest thing to do.

So, let’s say you want to play a II-V for example a Bmi7 to E7 which is a II-V, II-V-I progression would be if I play like this and resolve it to A.

But now, let’s just play the II-V-II-V II-V to E and then same thing When you do that in this way what I like to do is to play the 7th only with my right hand and in octaves like this.

So, octaves in right hand and then you play it once more with your left hand like this.

So now this is the Bmi7 but you’re just playing the 7.

To this one which is the third of the E7 and then, same thing like this.

Together with the bass & drums it sounds like this: And the opposite way to play this is to play a very tight with many notes at the same time.

That gets a little bit of a warm sound.

So, I like to mix those two.

We’re going to demonstrate this later on.

But, when you do that what I like to do is to play a mix between A and B voicings with my left hand combined with rootless voicings with my right hand.

I have a different tutorial about rootless voicings, that you can check out on YouTube so I’m not going to go in depth with this.

The next principle of what I like to do is to play the block chords.

And the block chords are like this: For example.

I have a different tutorial on that as well so I’m not going to go and explain that either.

But I will explain one thing which I have not talked about before.

And this is based on the “scale-to-the-one-chord” principle that I’ve talked about before.

So, when you play for example at Dmi7 this is Dmi7 like this.

This is a basic Dmi7.

This is the second chord of…

thats what we call the II-chord.

It’s a II-chord, it’s a minor chord, but, it’s a chord to the Cmaj7.

So that means that you can, in this case, you can, smash down, whatever note you would like from the C scale and it will still fit.

So if I’m playing a Dmi7 I could play like this, or I could play it like this, like this, or like this, whatever, whatever you like.

It’s a little bit different than the block chords but it’s quite similar.

Now you can just smash down whatever chords from the scale, whatever notes from the scale, to fit in with that chord.

Even you can even do like this: So, when you do that together with the music and you combine that with A and B voicings and the block chords it could sound like this: And then, the next thing in that you can do is to go between the tonic to the + chord to the 6th to the 7th and this is a very common trick as well.

So, for eksample, let’s say you play in the key of G then you can go up so this is a G chord simple a G-triad and then even go to G+ and I also like to do like this so if could sound like this: And from there you go to now is the G+ so you play major thirds and then you go to the next step which is a G6.

The next step of it would be a G7.

And that leads to C.

So, if you’ve got the time, if it fits with the music of course, then you can add this trick.

And then, continue on C like this, doing the same thing and let me just try that with the band: And the last trick I want to give you is the “off-beat trick” which it’s basically that you’re going to play on off-beats so the bass is playing on one and three sometimes or just one and what you do then is to just to play on off-beat like: So it’s one and two and one and two and All right, let me just try that with the band: Putting it together with the BAH brothers We have written a tune for you that you can download if you go to the download section or if you click on the link under this video you can find this tune together with some play along tracks and exercises for this lesson.

Christian Scott: Performing Songs From The Centennial Trilogy | JAZZ NIGHT IN AMERICA

At a very young age I decided that I wanted to play music but that the intention behind why I was playing music was to try and figure out the best way to like heal my community.
All of that sort of started with me going to William Frantz Elementary School which is the first desegregated school in this country.
It was desegregated by a little girl at the time named Ruby Bridges.
I walked into those buildings and could still feel that energy was very palpable.
On some levels there was a want for you to be in that space, and on other levels there wasn’t.
Like all spaces that were desegregated, in New Orleans there was a lot of what we call “white flight,” so a lot of whites that had the ability to be able to leave left.
And because of a very topical thing, you know race, they viewed each other as sort of like these antagonizing forces.
They were like Nemesis to each other.
That never made sense to me even as a child I can see it’s like yo, like all of these people are enduring the same things and really if you’re paying close attention they are the same people.
The only space that I could see as a young person where people in that rung were getting along was when music was playing.
And so musically I am mixing current traditional Korean music with a harmonic type that comes from an Indian raga and a song form style that comes from a Polish folk song with the fervor of the Delta blues and a rhythm from the Saramaccan and French Guiana and these sort of places.
If I can show the marriage between their cultural expression, then I’m showing the marriage between their cultures and these people, because this is the idea that I hold close to my heart which is that all people can get along together and be together.

George Coleman – Jazz Saxophone Legend

When you start thinking about music, I mean, you could go on forever, and never play maybe the same thing completely the same way, you know.

With all these different keys, and different notes. If you just played maybe everything in Bb, you would be limited. 

So, they’d ask me, how are you able to play in those keys?

That’s what I used to do, because the piano was so out of tune, you had to, what they call…we got to cross!

That was the word they would say.

So, the guys would say, man did you have piano tuned?

It was like a joke, but it really wasn’t, the guy said, oh yeah, I had it painted the other day. I just put some fresh paint on it.

Ear training, which we talk about, which I’ll demonstrate on the piano sometime.

I’m going to play these minor chords that are random.

I might play [riff]

Then I’ll play this. [riff] 

And that’s very distant from that, in a sense, but it’s not.

It might be a tri-tone. Things like that, tri-tone substitutions. Then you get involved in the Lady Bird turnaround.

Bb. Db7. F#major. Then back to a B7 to Bb.

Because it’s harmony and rhythm, when you start talking about jazz.

You know, you got to play with a beat, you know? So, you got your triad pairs on all of those 7th chords. Back to the bridge.

Nothing has to be unintelligible, so to speak. You know, you don’t have to play a lot of this… You don’t have to do that.

You play something really crisp, and clean. I combine what I hear, and what I know. The knowledge is one of the most important things in playing this music, you know.

You can have a good ear, you can have a lot of talent, as far as hearing things, but it’s always good to know.

You know, always good to know what you’re playing and where you’re going.

The Most Feared Song in Jazz, Explained

This is John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. It’s considered one of the most important jazz albums of all time, it cemented John Coltrane as a legend among jazz saxophonists and composers, and it’s home to one of the most one of the most revered and feared compositions in jazz history.

The reason why the album’s title track is so iconic can be heard in its first few seconds. Coltrane wrote these unique chord changes for Giant Steps, and later went on to use them over traditional jazz standards. These chords came to be known as the Coltrane Changes — and improvising over them is considered a rite of passage for jazz musicians.

But, if you don’t understand a lick of music theory, it’s hard to see how this is so legendary. 

So there’s a moment in the Giant Steps recording that really illustrates just how demanding this song is. It happens when Tommy Flanagan, the pianist on the record, starts his solo. 

The story goes that John Coltrane brought in the music, he shows up ready to go and then calls he this really fast tempo. If you hear on the recording, Tommy Flanagan just cannot handle the chord progressions as they’re going by. His improvisation is very halted. And Tommy Flanagan’s just holding on for dear life. It really becomes apparent how much he struggled, when you hear Coltrane take off at lightning speed the second Flanagan stops.

And then it becomes one of the most legendary recordings of all time.

To understand why this was so difficult for even a highly trained pianist, we need to know three basic concepts and it all starts with this: the circle of fifths – it’s kind of like a color wheel for music. All twelve notes of the western musical scale are on it, but you might notice they’re a little mixed up That’s because they’re organized by a very special number in music… a fifth.

What’s a fifth? It’s like if you’re in the C-major scale, you go C, D, E, F, G – right? 1,2,3,4,5. From C to G is five notes, from G to D is five notes and… well you get the idea.

If you play through the circle you’ll traverse the entire keyboard starting on the lowest C and ending up on the highest C. It sounds much more harmonious than just playing all the notes in order. That’s because the fifth is a sound that our ears just like.

Whenever we’re hearing anything, whenever we’re hearing people sing… whenever we’re hearing people play music, we’re hearing these other notes, these overtones alongside the pitches that they’re playing. When I play this C, the first two loudest tones that are pushed through the air are both C, one is just an octave higher. But other tones travel to our ears as well. The third loudest is a G, which happens to be a fifth above C.

In 1973, Leonard Bernstein demonstrated this phenomenon live on a grand piano at Harvard. Listen closely after he hits that note.

Bernstein: What do we hear now? That G, right? A new tone. Again, clear as a bell. You want to hear it again?

These overtones are kind of like subliminal tones that you’re hearing alongside a regular note. And you’re hearing these overtones everywhere. A lot of western music is based on the power of the fifth, especially how it relates so strongly back to its home chord.

In the case of the key of C major we have the G chord resolving to C. And if you’re thinking about what the G chord represents, it represents kind of tension. You want this to resolve. When it finally does resolve, Adam: it creates this feeling of finality, it creates a feeling of home. That five to one relationship is present in a lot of chord progressions, including the most common one found in jazz.

The 2-5-1

The 2-5-1 essentially is like the backbone of most jazz music. Even in its most basic form it sounds super jazzy. So it comes as no surprise the Coltrane Changes are just chock full of them. Which might raise the question: Why was Tommy Flanagan caught off guard when he had to improvise over them?

Well, the Coltrane Changes aren’t in one key, they’re in three keys. They’re basically a musical MC Escher painting. So each one of these rungs on the circle of fifths represents every possible key center. The closer a key is to another, the more notes they have in common.

Like the C major and G major scale – they’re only different by one note, an F#. 

Okay, we need an analogy to describe this. The way that I like to think about keys is kind of like languages that you have to learn as a jazz improviser.

You have to be able to be fluent in a key. Like maybe C is Spanish and G is Portuguese. Those are very similar languages.

If that’s the case, like okay maybe C is Spanish and you have a distantly related language like maybe Japanese. Let’s say Japanese is B. There’s not much in common with those two languages. And it’s the same with keys. If you play those scales over each other… It sounds a lot more discordant. For the most part, most pop music is based around one of these key centers.  For instance, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Cut to the Feeling” is in A major. But some songs modulate to another key for dramatic effect. Like Beyonce’s “Love on Top.”

Part of the reason why it’s really exciting is because you’re going to a place that’s really distant on the circle of fifths. And you’re creating a new sense of home. Which is exactly what “Love on Top” does. But, it doesn’t just happen once, it happens every time she repeats the chorus towards the end of the song. And when you chart that sort of thing along the circle of fifths, patterns emerge.

These types of patterns are what fascinated John Coltrane in the late 1950s and ’60s as he was trying to push jazz harmony to its limits. This is his study of the circle of fifths. I think what makes Giant Steps really special is that it really just, it just documented an artist doing something super unique, super stylistic, and virtuosic at the same time.

Here’s the first 16 bars of Giant Steps again, with just the key changes highlighted. If you chart those changes on the circle of fifths it comes out as a pretty dramatic pattern. That’s because these keys are separated by major thirds, which divide an octave into 3 equal parts.

On the circle of fifths these three keys are as far apart as possible from each other. Giant Steps is kind of like you’re shifting from Spanish to Arabic to Japanese very quickly. By quickly, he means like every two beats in a song that’s nearly 300 bpm. It’s not only just like you’re saying one word per language, you’re having to construct a sentence out of the language.

And how does Coltrane make those disparate languages connect? With one of the most ubiquitous phrases in jazz, the five one. What he’s doing is taking some of the conventional ideas of tonal harmony,  the conventional relationships between the five chord and the one chord and applying it to this very chaotic circling, sort of chord progression that is the Coltrane Changes.

So if we were all in the same key, it would sound like this. But because we’re going from key center to key center, it sounds very different. This is why the Coltrane Changes are like this picture here. Even though you’re seeing things from a completely new perspective you still feel like you’ve made it home somehow.

When Tommy Flanagan saw the charts for Giant Steps he knew he wasn’t going to just have to play this chord progression – he was going to have to improvise over it. very quickly. That was probably so funny, he was probably like, “What?!”

It is a bit of a rite of passage to say that you not only can improvise on Giant Steps, but you can also improvise in all 12 keys. Now, generations of jazz musicians are approaching Giant Steps as the sort of pinnacle of improvisation.

Wait. I think I’ve got an analogy for this. It’s like you’re a cab driver and instead of only knowing one way to get somewhere, you have to know every back alley and side street just in case. It’s essentially like that. You still get to the same location, but it’s really interesting and you might see some really cool stuff in the neighborhood.

But ultimately I still think the music boils down to 5 1. People want to come back home.