Transcription: Blues Series #2

cb_bwThe next transcription in the blues series comes from a solo by Clifford Brown, one of the most influential trumpet players of the be-bop era (in spite of having lived a short life).

Clifford makes use of the C blues scale throughout his solo, providing a good lesson on how to put the old scale to good use.

The Blues walk – Clifford Brown

Download the MP3 from the album Clifford Brown & Max Roach.

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 Lessons, Transcriptions No Comments

Transcription: Blues Series


The file is in Adobe’s PDF format and no chord changes are listed (it’s the blues form). The soloist is Wendell Brunious, a fantastic trumpeter from New Orleans who mixes his traditional New Orleans style with beautiful, clean bebop lines and helped inspire Nicholas Payton.


This solo comes from a video recording of Wendell in concert, which was uploaded to YouTube. The melody in the beginning is Charlie Parker’s “Au Privave”.

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 Lessons, Transcriptions 1 Comment

Marcus Belgrave Wins $50K Kresge Prize

Marcus Belgrave

by unknown

Master jazz trumpet player Marcus Belgrave – who has enthralled audiences world-wide with his musical virtuosity and mentored scores of aspiring young musicians – has been named the 2009 Kresge Eminent Artist by The Kresge Foundation.

The best way to get acquainted with Belgrave’s beautiful playing is to start with his recording Gemini and if you are interested in his more recent traditional projects, try his Tribute to Louis Armstrong (which I play trumpet on as well). Marcus sings like Louis and plays Louis-based solos with his own personality deeply embedded within.

The Kresge Foundation: The Kresge Foundation is a $2.8 billion private, national foundation, based in Troy, Michigan, that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations through its support of nonprofit organizations in six fields: health, the environment, arts and culture, education, human services, and community development. Kresge Arts in Detroit, an initiative comprising the Kresge Eminent Artist Award, Kresge Artist Fellowships, and Kresge Arts Support, represents one of five strategic objectives set forth in the foundation’s Detroit Program, a comprehensive community-development effort to strengthen the long-term economic, social, and cultural fabric of the city and surrounding region.

College for Creative Studies: The Kresge Eminent Artist Award and Kresge Artist Fellowships are administered by the Kresge Arts in Detroit office at the College for Creative Studies. Located in Detroit, the college is a world leader in art and design education and prepares students to enter the new, global economy where creativity shapes better communities and societies. A private, fully accredited college, it enrolls 1,400 students pursuing Master of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. For more information, visit


Thursday, October 8th, 2009 News No Comments

Clifford Brown

by Chuck Stewart

by Chuck Stewart

His dancing meldoic improvisations, rich tone, fantastic compositions, and technical mastery of the trumpet are not the only qualities that make Clifford Brown stand out. He also lived his life drug and alcohol free, arrived early to his gigs, and always made time for younger players looking for advice.

When Dizzy Gillespie heard nineteen-year-old “Brownie” (that’s Clifford’s nickname) play, he immediatley began telling everyone in New York about him. And saxophonist Sonny Rollins is noted as saying, “Clifford was a profound influence on my personal life. He showed me that it was possible to live a good, clean life and still be a good jazz musician.”

As a young boy, Clifford was always interested in the trumpet. He started learning how to play it at age thirteen, and soon began taking lessons on trumpet, piano, vibraphone and bass with Robert Lowery. At age eighteen, he was playing gigs in Phillidelphia with Miles Davis, Fats Navarro (his main influence), and Charlie Parker.

Clifford was involved in two car accidents in his life. After the first one, he was hospitalized for about a year (June/1950 to May/1951) and could not perform. After he got out of the hospital, he performed with Tadd Dameron, toured europe with Lionel Hampton– breaking Lionel’s rules by recording in Europe with Gigi Gryce, Art Farmer and Henri Renaud. He also freelanced in NYC with many top musicians, including Art Blakey.

In 1954, he and prominent drummer Max Roach formed one of the top jazz ensembles of the time. Listening to his performances and compostions in that group, many people started to recognize that Brownie was going to be categorized among the greatest trumpet players and musicians.

When Clifford was only 26 years old, his second accident took place while en-route from Philadelphia to a gig in Chicago. Clifford, Richie Powell and his wife Nancy Powell were immediately killed when their car skidded out of control in the rain, flew off an embankment, and turned over. When Dizzy Gillespie heard the news, he said, “For his artistry, there can be no replacement.”

Clifford’s influence can be felt strongly in the playing of Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Marcus Belgrave, Nicholas Payton and many others. He is one of the most influential trumpet players ever, and has a profound effect on almost everyone who has come after him.


Any recording of Clifford’s is bound to thrill, but most people start with Study in Brown. Study in Brown includes the famous Cherokee solo that Arturo Sandoval transcribed and arranged for five trumpets (mp3 here). If you want to hear the softer side of Clifford’s personality and get into the man’s soul, you may wish to listen to one of the most beautiful recordings ever made: Clifford Brown with Strings.

Thursday, October 8th, 2009 Artists 2 Comments

Louis Armstrong

by Anton Bruehl, 1935, publ. November 1935. Credit: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

by Anton Bruehl, 1935, publ. November 1935. Credit: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

No single musician has been more important to the creation and development of jazz music as Louis Armstrong. In fact, this web-site is dedicated to musicians who were either directly or indirectly influenced by Armstrong. Modern players– even those that may not often listen to Louis Armstrong, may still be indirectly influenced by Louis. It is as Miles Davis proclaimed:  ”You can’t play anything on a horn that Louis hasn’t already played.”


There is a vast ocean of recorded Louis Armstrong music; I suggest that you wade into a boxed set or collection first to get an idea of the style and variety of music he performed throughout his over-50-year career. For the earlier part of his career, I recommend the Hot Fives and Sevens box set (mp3 version here). For a general overview of his later career, I recommend Verve’s Jazz Masters 1: Louis Armstrong.

Thursday, October 8th, 2009 Artists No Comments

50th Anniversary of Kind of Blue

Celebrate one of the most popular and influential jazz recordings in the world with the 50th Anniversary Edition of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (originally recorded on March 2 and April 22, 1959).

The super deluxe packaging comes with a gate fold media carrier that contains a 180 gram single-LP pressing on blue vinyl, two discs complete with previously unreleased tracks along with a bonus DVD. Also included is a 60-page 12×12 book, memorabilia envelope, and large fold out poster.

More information…

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 News No Comments

Improvisation Lesson #1



As an improviser, one of my main goals is to be able to play what I hear immediately. This is the basis of my improvisation education.

An improviser is a type of composer. One of the most important things a composer/improviser can do is to listen to as much music as possible and learn how to translate what he or she hears into a performance or composition. This will help immensely when one attempts to translate one’s own ideas into a performance or composition.

You can start to develop your translating abilities by mimicking recorded sounds that are easy to recognize, such as major scales or blues scales.

Your first assignment is to learn and perform as little as two or as many as all choruses of Miles Davis’ solo on “Trane’s Blues” by listening to the recording, on the CD Workin’. If you do not have this recording, please purchase it here (or download the mp3).

Miles uses notes from the C major scale and the C blues scale throughout.

C Major: C D E F G A B C
C Blues: C Eb F F# G Bb C

Rather than attempt to learn the whole solo or one note at a time, try breaking the solo down in phrases. Listen carefully to each phrase as many times as needed. Practice each phrase on your instrument and then play along with Miles. Try to mimic everything exactly as Miles plays it -the rhythm, articulation, style, dynamics, everything. Do not worry about writing anything down. It is more important to listen and play back at this point.

If this solo is too difficult for you, please try learning the melody “Sonnymoon for Two” by Sonny Rollins. The CD, “The Best of Sonny Rollins” on Blue Note has a good recording of this as well as others. The melody is mostly a decending blues scale (minus one note) and repeats itself three times. Please do not use written music (you must rely upon your ears).

Have fun and please share your comments below.


Monday, October 5th, 2009 Lessons 1 Comment