Viewing entries tagged
jazz standards

How to Practice Jazz, How to practice hard chord changes!

How to Practice Jazz, How to practice hard chord changes!

In this week's video, we're talking about how to practice jazz. My approach is to break it down, just like you would when you're practicing any other musical skill.  

Slow it down, speed it up gradually. Break the music into small/digestible chunks and slowly combine them back together.    

Here I use my tune "Race to the Bottom" to illustrate just how I might practice something hard like this....  

Good luck - and Let me know what you're practicing these days! 

Dynamic Duos Episode 29 ft. Jordan Pettay!


Dynamic Duos Episode 29 ft. Jordan Pettay!

Today I’m featuring the wonderful Alto Saxophonist Jordan Pettay! Jordan and I were classmates at Juilliard, and she’s played on a few of my gigs here and there over the years. When we got together to record this duet, I remembered that I first learned this tune to perform at a Juilliard Jazz camp we taught at together out in Ephraim, UT at Snow College! 


Frank Foster's Simone featuring Leon Boykins

First, I need to apologize, first day recording with a new camera lens! In this video me (and my horn) are only about 50% visible in the frame! I’ve got it sorted out now, but this new lens has a little less flexibility in zooming in/out. It’s a learning experience for all of us 😃! Regardless, I think the music came off without a hitch, and you’ll still enjoy!


The first time I heard this Frank Foster composition was playing in Bob Stewart’s “First Line” band. Bob had the pleasure of playing this tune with Mr. Foster, and we play it on just about every live gig we’ve played. I did an arrangement of it for Bob’s Double Quartet (featuring the First Line band along with the PubliQuartet string quartet) that we premiered at Dizzy’s for the release of Bob’s latest album on Sunnyside Records “Connections: Mind the Gap"


Here, Leon Boykins and I present the tune in a duo format (on the HOTTEST day of the summer here in NYC!). You can see all the things Leon and I have recorded together here. 


I hope you enjoy, “Simone” by Frank Foster


See you all next week!


- Nick  

All the Things You Are - New Arrangement!

Today, I'm sharing my version of the Jerome Kern mainstay "All the Things You Are" - a tune well known by just about every jazz musician! 

The tune is a great example of the creative tunes written by Broadway show composers of that time period. Kern uses some slick (but simple!) harmonic devices to slide between key centers while repeating the melodic material between sections, making it sound new, and familiar at the same time. 

I've taken the tune, and added a spin to it by changing the meter into 5/4 and incorporating a new bass line that shifts the feeling of the original harmonies. 

I think a tune like "All the Things You Are" is a great example of the amazing melodic sense of these composers of the early 20th century. Their melodies can be stretched and reharmonized without losing their essence. To me, this is essential to the development of great melodic writing. 

Here you'll hear the always swinging rhythm section of Dave Baron on Bass, Jimmy Macbride on Drums, and Chris Ziemba on piano. Enjoy!