(place mouse over underlined words for definitions)
Some of these jazz pieces were written over thirty years ago, while others are very recent. Some are very straight-forward, others are quite adventurous pieces in the "post-bebop" mould.
To try and make life easier for those people who would like to try something different but are put off by the sight of pregnant 13ths and altered chords, I have prepared some scale-chord charts, or in some cases, I have written in the scales above certain chords. I hope people will find this useful. It looks bewildering at first, but thereagain, so do normal chord symbols to beginners.
As this reduces everything to the basics, it should be no more difficult to play a highly complex chord sequence than a simple mainstream progression... although there are still some tunes which require a lot of concentration. For this reason I have not labelled the pieces according to different levels of difficulty. This is often a personal matter and to adopt such a system would create mental blocks about even attempting the more challenging tunes.
There are certain stylistic devices which I am fond of in writing jazz pieces. I have become fed up with coming across series of II V I sequences which seem to dictate to the fingers what to play. (Sometimes the fingers get there first, ahead of the brain.) I nowadays do all I can to avoid II V I's even though it's impossible to banish them completely. If bop is all about II V I's, post-bop or post-bebop is about avoiding them.
If it's feasible to omit a turn-around, I'll do that or replace it with other chords which form an intrinsic part of the chord progression, even if this means ending the tune in a different key. The transition back to the first chord then becomes a continuation of the evolving harmonic structure.
Each individual chord is often treated as a separate entity - an independent tonal centre, rather than being confined to its role within the key. On the other hand there are times when it is useful to be able to continue one scale over several chord changes to focus more on the scale than on the chords.
With regard to time and rhythm, I am very partial to the broken-up feel and to rubato/colla voce passages. Both the broken-up feel and colla voce sections can serve as transit-points, allowing the music to go off in one direction or another away from what has taken place beforehand. It is again, another feature of the post-bebop approach.
It must be my classical background and fondness for the music of Charlie Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Bobby Brookmeyer and Maria Schneider, amongst others, but I do think that a lot of jazz is 2-dimensional in its rigid approach, with no deviation from the unwavering 4 to a bar feel. There are many other ways to play, and many other avenues to explore.
I think it is very important to innovate and try out new ideas. Sometimes they won't come off, but unless you try it you will never know. And if it doesn't, at least you will have learned something from the experience. All assumptions and all conventional ways of doing things in jazz should be continuously challenged to prevent the music from ossifying. In the short term, you may be unpopular, but over time, your ideas may catch on and you will have evolved your own individual style which other people may envy or even imitate. This is the way to keep jazz alive. Regurgitating what has already been done may be safe and comfortable, but it runs counter to the whole spirit of jazz.
Now, just a word about the written music. On the top right-hand side of each part I have put the style of the piece, eg. swing, straight 8's, bossa, ballad, etc. You can also find out about this by listening to the sound-bites. The little arrows will enable you to hear the music immediately, but if you want to download the mp3 file on your computer for reference, click on the title.
On the top left-hand side, I have put the metronome marking. As
a very rough guide,
220 is the tempo of The Lady is a Tramp
180 is the tempo of Good King Wenceleslas
120 is march tempo, for example, the Colonel Bogey march
100 is the tempo of Happy Birthday
80 is the tempo of Something by the Beatles (George Harrison)
All good jazz tunes, I'm sure you will agree!