January 30th Session – Hot House

We began the session by playing through Quasimodo which is one of the tunes performed at Smalls this past sunday. I was happy with the addition the vibraphone . I think it makes a big difference for the players to play behind me as well. Additionally I was able to demonstrate easily from the vibes. Otherwise I was constantly having to move Dave Perlman off the piano for a minute which worked, but this is far more productive. To begin the session we played Quasimodo straight up medium tempo, and I have to say “the band sounds great”. Man these 5 guys have really improved in their concepts. How they play the music has simply gotten better. One really important thing that has happened is Eric Puente our drummer has really stepped up. He has taken everything I have told him, and physically shown him on the drums, and injected it into his own playing. He has taken all to heart. He treated the tips I gave him as if they were gold. He is swinging much better than he was when we started as I cut down a great deal of wasted motion and effort. He is now swinging along in a more effortless manner. He did really apply himself as much as to take a private lesson with me in which I showed him several approaches that I learned from Elvin Jones when I studied years ago with him. Anyway it helped Eric learn to propel the triplet motion of swinging drums forward. As well as watching me demonstrate things for him on the drums during combo. It is one thing to tell someone how to do something, and another thing to sit down and demonstrate live for them how it is done. For the remainder of the class we played a new tune I gave them to learn. “Hot House” by Tadd Dameron. Everyone played a lot on it, and we practiced executing the head various times. Then we continued playing the other 4 tunes in our repertoire, and Toro our new bass player played Hot House, and one other tune. I stopped to discuss language and harmony a lot.

We discussed how when you see G-7b5 – C+7(augmented 7), you surely can use Locrian for the -7b5 chord(the 7 chord in Ab+ 2 chord in Fminor), and for the C+7 you have many options in the altered scale, the half whole diminished, and the appropriate Eb bebop scale(ie: understanding the 5-1 relationship in Ab major). And not to be held to either scale. They all work. Anyway the key to the combos continued improvement is the development of there language and rhythmic tools, so I stop to teach that quite often in a session. I cannot just let them play tunes over and over without dissecting the changes, and harmony within. In these workshops they are getting a large dose of playing, but a larger dose of what to play! A particularly great session as confidence was up after the Smalls performance.