Jazz School: Introduction to Jazz

We are not going to waste time trying to define Jazz or to quibble about which kinds of musics belong in the "Jazz" category. Suffice it to say that there are dozens of different Jazz styles than span a highly diverse continuum: Ragtime, Blues, Boogie Woogie, Swing, Stride, Dixeland, Big Band, Mainstream, Bebop, Rock Fusion, Avante Garde, West Coast, Kansas City, Chicago, Cool, Modal, Gospel, Latin, Afro-Cuban, Salsa, Bossa Nova, and beyond. Furthermore, each style has many different flavors within and hybrids that blend with other styles. There is more than enough Jazz for every taste and you will never run out of new material to add to your bag.

Based on the premise that improvisation is a learn-able and practice-able skill, we are going to learn Jazz by playing Jazz. In addition to mastering some fundamental chord vocabulary, we are going to study-practice widely-known Jazz Standards in which the piano is a key ingredient. Our emphasis will be on those definitive compositions that highlight the jazz language in its purest forms such as 32-bar song form, Jazz Blues, Modal Jazz, and Latin Jazz. Each of these styles is defined by particular patterns of form, bass lines, rhythms, scale types, chord types, chord voicings, chord progressions, scale-chord relationships, comping patterns, and melodic ideas. Each lesson will build your musical know-how one step at a time -- deepening your theoretical understanding, improving your technique, expanding your aural comprehension, broadening your scale and chord vocabulary, expanding your library of musical ideas, and greatly boosting your confidence at the piano. Enjoy the process!