Corey Kendrick Trio Album out 6/19/16 – shameless plug

So I try not to be too self-promotional on this site and stick mainly to transcriptions and musical matters, but I can’t help myself – I’m very excited.  My debut album, Rootless, is now available for pre-order via bandcamp with official release date of 6/19/16.

The album is also available at Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube ,etc. (I’ll update links as they become available).

If you’re in the Midwest, the Corey Kendrick Trio will be out touring this summer, playing at:

6/19/16 – Redstone Room – Davenport, IA – 6-8pm
6/19/16 – Rozz-Tox – Rock Island, IL
6/23/16 – Phog Lounge – Windsor, Ontario, CA
6/25/16 – Mexicains Sans Frontiers – Grand Rapids, MI
6/28/16 – Moriarity’s – Lansing, MI – 7-10pm
7/20/16 – Bop Stop – Cleveland, OH
8/26/16 – Kerrytown Concert House – Ann Arbor, MI

I’m still working on some more potential bookings, so an up-to-date listing of gigs is available at

I hope you’ll check out the music and let me know what you think!

End of shameless plug.



Alternate PDF Hosting

So, it’s come to my attention that Scribd may not be the best PDF hosting site for transcriptions – I was under the impression that it was a little easier to access and download with a free account, but I don’t believe that is the case.  So I’m currently seeking an alternate site where I can host PDFs, embed in WordPress, and allow for easy downloads with a free account or without an account at all (let me know if you have any ideas).  In the meantime, I’m making the PDFs available via my Box account.  I’ll add the link to the transcription index as well.  Over time, I’ll get individual links added to the transcription index, but that’ll be a bit of a project.  I may eventually get around to moving the transcriptions on Scribd over to the new site, but we’ll see.

“So What” voicings – construction and application

So, I thought I would try something a little different.  I wanted to add something on “So What” voicings to the Jazz Piano Resources section of the site, but I felt like the amount of explanation I would need to do in the post and/or on sheet music would be too burdensome, so I made a video.  Below is a video on construction of “So What” voicings, application over various chord types (major, minor, dominant), and some different methods of practicing these chords.  Let me know what you think.


Antonio Carlos Jobim – Triste Chord Changes Study

Also known as “why transcription isn’t just for solos,” and “why you should always learn the tune from the record.”  I’ve recently been digging into Jobim’s music (particularly the incredible “Elis & Tom” record) and trying to really play his music correctly.  Why?  1) Because his tunes have beautiful, simple-sounding melodies that often disguise complex harmony underneath.  2) Because he’s the master of both chromatic harmony and diminished chords (which are related). 3) Because he’s written so many enduring standards.  And 4) Because we so often play his tunes WRONG.  And “Triste” is a great example of all these aspects.  I’ve been playing this tune wrong for years and wanted to share my findings from comparing 3 Jobim recordings of “Triste” – from Wave (1967), Elis & Tom (1974), and Sinatra & Company (1971).  Even though Elis Regina sings it in G, I’ve put all the changes in A Major for ease of comparison, as the other two recordings are in A.  The first page of the document shows the changes from “Elis & Tom,” the second page shows the changes from “Wave” and the Sinatra record, as there is only one substantial difference, and the third page shows the standard “bad” changes  (view the changes in the embedded Scribd document below).

There are a few things that immediately jump out – firstly, I’m not sure why the “standard” key is Bb Major, as I couldn’t find a Jobim recording in Bb.  Second, and this is a big one, in all three recordings, the form is 32 bars – I couldn’t find a single instance of the 34 bar form with the 4-bar “vamp” at the end.  It’s yet another example of why I wish the original Real Book authors would have listed their source recordings.

The next big thing to notice is in bars 27-28 of the form (the second to last phrase of the tune).  The “bad” real book changes have the phrase resolving from iii-7 to VI7 to II7.  Dominant II sounds strange here, and is a strange resolution point for Jobim.  Jobim’s progression actually goes from iii-7 straight to biiidim7 which is a much more typical Jobim sound, and it leads really nicely into the ii-7 chord at the beginning of the last phrase.

Lastly, check out the chord on the downbeat of measure 15.  People tend to play this chord as a iii-7, as if it is part of a iii-7 VI7 ii-7 V7 leading into the second half of the tune.  This way, you have two bars (measures 13-14) in IIIMaj, and then two bars leading you back to IMaj.  But it’s actually a IIIMaj7 – I think of it as still belonging to the previous two bars in IIIMaj, so you end up with three bars in IIIMaj with a quick turnaround back to I.  It’s a small difference, but it’s important because that’s how Jobim wrote the tune and it’s indicative of a problem I was discussing with another pianist earlier today.  It seems like there is a gradual dumbing down of harmony to make tunes easier to play over.  The typical improviser has more “stuff” to play over a iii-7 VI7 ii-7 V7, so it’s “easier” to play over, but that’s not how the tune  was written.  We as improvising musicians need to strive to be as true to the intent of the composer as possible, regardless of the difficulty of the harmonic progression.  After all, I would think very few of us got into music, and jazz especially, because it’s “easy.”

Although the original Real Book is known for having all sorts of inaccuracies, I must give credit to Sher Music’s “New Real Book Vol 1”, as their lead sheet for this tune address all the inaccuracies from the original Real Book (which are also present in the iReal Pro changes).

One quick last thing – the biggest difference between the Sinatra version and the version from Wave is in bar 23 of the form.  Jobim (or the arranger?) added a quick little chord substitution to III7alt which is a refreshing sound.  It sounds close to the iii-7 played in bar 7 of the form (the same spot but half a chorus earlier), but just different enough to make you listen twice.   Check it out at about 1:02 in:

Who Can I Turn To – Peter Bernstein Transcription

Hello again.  I’ve been really interested in solo guitar lately.  Since starting my regular solo piano gig, I’m very interested in how different players play standards in a solo context, especially guitarists.  I think the limitations of the instrument lead to some really unique ways of expressing harmony.  So here’s a few of the things that drew me to this recording.

First, the walkup in bars 5-6 and 21-22.  Functionally, this is all just trying to get you to IV in measure 8.  A typical walkup would be something like:  I IMaj7 iimin7 I iiimin7 IVMaj7 I vmin7 I bVII7 I IVMaj7I.  In DMaj, this is: I DMaj7 Emin7 I F#min7 GMaj7 I Amin7 I D7 I GMaj7I.  So, between the DMaj7 and the Amin7, you’re just walking up the scale degrees of DMaj using seventh chords diatonic to the key.  A lot of the time, with this tune, people replace the GMaj7 with a ii-V leading you to Amin7 – so you end up with  I DMaj7 Emin7 I F#min7 Bmin7 E7 I Amin7 I D7 I GMaj7I – which also works because you end up with a iii-VI-ii-V in GMaj, and the harmony fits the melody (very important).  However, Bernstein follows the F#min7 with Abmin7, and it’s funny how much difference just one chord can make when it’s counter to expectations.  By replacing the IVMaj7 with bVmin7, the walkup becomes  I IMaj7 iimin7 I iiimin7 bVmin7 I vmin7 I and you end up with a neat half step approach to the vmin7 chord.

Secondly, the progression from bar 8 into 9 and 24 into 25.  Instead of a traditional ii-V to VIMaj7 (Amin7 to D7 to GMaj7), Bernstein inserts not only the tritone of V7 (Ab7), but its iimin7 as well (Ebmin7).  And instead of using the tritone as a substitution to the original changes, he uses it in addition to the existing ii-V, so the entire progression turns from what would be Amin7-D7-GMaj7 into Amin7-D7-Ebmin7-Ab7-GMaj7.  Plus, the little sideslip to Bb7 (tritone sub for E7, V7 of Amin) before the Amin7 adds just a little more root movement into the mix to keep things interesting.

Nextly (not a word, but I like it), Bernstein’s use of triads in measure 9-10.  The progression at this point is GMaj7 to Db7, but by treating the GMaj7 as GMaj7(#5) and the Db7 as Db13(b9), the triads at the top of the chords end up being B/G to Bb/Db, giving a really satisfying half step resolution on top.

Lastly, measure 17.  I wrote the chord symbol as G#dim7, since there’s a G# in the bass, but I think a better way of thinking about this chord would be as Ddim7.  Although Bernstein doesn’t resolve it to DMaj7, this is a nice technique for creating some additional harmonic motion where there typically wouldn’t be.  By treating a IMaj7 as Idim7->IMaj7, a chord that would normally be a resting point has some added movement to it.  Plus, not to get too technical, but the way Bernstein voices the chord suggests G#WH diminished, and that scale contains C#dim7, which is a sub for A7(b9), so you can think of it as a V7->IMaj7, if you really want to overthink it.  And isn’t that what jazz theory is all about?  I think the substitution works well here because, even though meas 17 is typically a cadence point, resting on IMaj7, it’s halfway through the form of the tune, so even though it’s a resting point, there’s still that forward movement to the end of the tune.  But enough overthinking.

About the transcription – I tried to make it guitar friendly, so everything’s written 8VA, to fit in treble clef.  Also, rather than trying to be rhythmically accurate to what Bernstein was playing, which is difficult with a rubato treatment, I tried to be metrically accurate to the form of the tune, so some things may be stretched or compressed from how Bernstein played them so they would fit into the 32 bar form, since I was interested in looking at how what Bernstein played compares to the “typical” harmony, if you can say there is such a thing.  And I left off his intro and started at the top of the form which is about 18 seconds in.  That all being said, enjoy!

Ceora – Ryan Kisor Solo Transcription

Well, since I transcribed Peter Bernstein’s solo, I might as well do Ryan Kisor’s as well, so below is my transcription of Ryan Kisor’s trumpet solo on the Lee Morgan tune “Ceora” as played on Kisor’s 2003 album “The Sidewinder.”  I basically transcribed it for measures 29-30.  It’s interesting, because Peter Bernstein’s solo reminded me of Kenny Barron’s solo on “I Should Care” for his use of melody and triads, and Ryan Kisor’s solo reminds me of Barron’s solo for the substitution Kisor uses in measure 29-30.  In measures 15 and 47 of Barron’s solo, over the ii-V-I progression, Barron substitutes the ii of the tritone substitution, so the progression becomes minor ii to minor bvi [the relative minor ii chord to the tritone sub of bII7] to I.  Similarly, in measures 29-30 of Kisor’s solo, he substitutes the minor bvi, but jumps right into the sound instead of first preparing it with the minor ii (which would be Bbmin7 in this case).  The resulting effect is startling, pleasantly so to me, especially in the context of the surrounding solo.  Looking backward at the rest of the first chorus of Kisor’s solo, everything else is relatively “in” the key, so this sudden jump to an Emin7 sound is shocking.

Another notable point in Kisor’s solo is the figure in measures 45-46.  Kisor uses descending diatonic triads in D Dorian, but by playing triads in a 16th note figure, the resulting effect creates an interesting accent pattern over every third 16th note.  The entire figure is a great example of how to take something like a scale study and make it musical, incorporating it into your improvisational vocabulary.  Beats 2 and 3 of measure 46 show Kisor seamlessly transitioning out of the triadic figure into an arpeggio-based line, clearly outlining the ii-V harmony.

I also really enjoy measures 51-52.  Kisor treats the ii-V progression as just a V7alt, but by starting the progression two beats early, on beat 3 of measure 51, the anticipation seemingly comes out of nowhere, and the clash of Ab7alt over what would usually be AbMaj7 combined with the sudden register leap has a surprising effect.

The solo starts at 0:49.  Enjoy!

View transcription in Bb.

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Ceora – Peter Bernstein Solo Transcription

Hello again.  Below is a transcription of Peter Bernstein’s guitar solo on the Lee Morgan tune “Ceora” as played on Ryan Kisor’s 2003 album The Sidewinder.  I just love Peter Bernstein’s sound – warm, melodic, lyrical – and this solo is no exception.  Things to listen for: Bernstein’s use of the melody throughout his solo.  Also, listen for Bernstein’s use of triads in his improvisation to create Altered Dominant sounds.  The thing I really like about the way Bernstein uses triads is that the harmony remains open.  For example, in measure 12, the D/F7 could imply an Fdim7 sound, an F13(b9) sound, or a DMajor sound; but by just playing the D major triad over the underlying harmony, Bernstein leaves it harmonically open.  And check out measures 12-16.  Bernstein uses this same sound over each of the dominant chords (D/F7, E/G7, C/Eb7), but plays over it a little differently each time.  In the hands of a lesser improviser, this could easily sound like a technical exercise or someone running licks, but by making little changes each time, the result is very interesting.  Also check out the sound Bernstein uses in measure 20 – also a triad over a dominant chord to create an Altered Dominant sound, but this time a triad off the #4/b5 to create a (b9#11) sound.

Given Bernstein’s usage of the melody and his interesting use of triads to create altered dominant sounds, it brings to mind Kenny Barron’s solo on I Should Care, which uses many of the same devices.  If you enjoy this solo, check out Barron’s solo as well.  Bernstein’s solo starts at 2:08.  Enjoy!

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Just Squeeze Me – Mulgrew Miller Solo Transcription

Hey all – it’s been too long once again.  Let’s see… I finished my Master’s Degree from MSU, had my first child (a son, Ellis), and got a job playing piano at the Detroit Airport five days a week.  So… if you’re headed to/through Detroit, come say hi!  But the real reason you’re here – to check out some Mulgrew Miller.  This is from the 2006 Delfeayo Marsalis album Minion’s Dominion on the standard “Just Squeeze Me.”  The neat thing about this tune is the key is mostly centered around F Major which gives the skilled improviser lots of room to play around in and out of the key, which Miller does adeptly.  He does a fair amount of superimposing new keys outside the standard harmony, which I tried to designate in the chord symbols, ex. G/F in measure 9, the sideslip to Abmin7 in bars 13, 23, and 54.  He also uses a lot of sequencing – check out bars 35-36, 39-40, and 45-46, and also check out the pentatonic idea he uses in measure 42.  Another thing I love about Mulgrew’s playing is the way he mixes complex harmonic substitutions in alongside really bluesy figures.  To grossly oversimplify, it’s a nice mixture of the “intellectual” and the “down home.”  People say similar things about Charlie Parker, which I guess would help explain my deep love of Parker’s music.  Anyway, enough of my ramblings.  Check out this solo – super bad.  The fun starts about 5:30 in.

And while you’re at it, check out my other Mulgrew Miller transcriptions.

Or check out the full transcription index.

4-Note Minor ii-V-i Voicings

All the piano voicings posted so far have been for Major ii-V’s, so below are two different options for voicing minor ii-V-i’s with 4 notes, LH only.  Note that each progression resolves to a minor 6/9 chord instead of a minor 7th chord.  The reason for this is that minor 7th chords tend to act as a iimin7 chord, meaning it wants to resolve to a Dominant V7th chord (with the 7th of the iimin7 resolving to the 3rd of the V7 chord), rather than acting as a tonic resting place.  So in the case of a tune with a tonic minor (i.e. Blue Bossa, Recordame, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise, etc.), you’ll want to use a min6/9 rather than a min7 chord.

The first version of the minor ii-V voicings has a natural 9th on the iimin7(b5) chord, which some people don’t like, but I love the rub of the sound – since the natural 9th of the ii chord is the Maj3 of the min i chord.

The second version of the minor ii-V voicings uses a rooted version of the iimin7(b5) chord, so the 9th isn’t a problem.  I think the first version has smoother voice leading and less jumping around, but to each his/her own.

Altered Rootless Drop-2 4-note ii-V-I voicings

Applying the Drop-2 technique to the Altered Rootless voicings posted yesterday, we can easily create two-handed voicings to comp over Major ii-V-I’s with Altered Dominants.  The below voicings cover altered V7’s with (b9, 13), (9, b13), and (b9, b13).  Play through the two inversion types of each voicing set to hear the subtle differences between voicings with the alterations on the top or in the middle of the chord.  Enjoy!