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Part 4 of the Improvisers Workout Program | Short Sentences


Part 4 of the Improvisers Workout Program | Short Sentences

Welcome back to the Jazz Gym. In our last workout (click here to view Part 3) we learned how to play the third, fifth or seventh of every chord from our “Autumn Leaves” workout progression and in the process learned a few basic, melodic words. We also practiced listening to what we hear in the holes and spaces on beats three and four, basically learning to listen to what we just played and formulating a response. Since improvising is conversational in nature we want to become both good speakers and good listeners.

This month were going to graduate from simple words to short sentences by adding some scale sequences to our repertoire.

In Figure 1 your assignment is to play the 1 2 3 2 1 of each scale in the upper register of the bass. Here’s where the memorizing and internalizing of all those scales starts to pay off. I’ve provided fingerings, but feel free to use your own. Just like in our previous workouts, reading the examples is great, but the goal is to internalize this stuff to the point where you don’t have to think about it. Be sure to continue to pay attention and actively listen to what you hear in the holes and spaces.

In Figure 2 your assignment is to play the 3 4 5 4 3 of every scale.

In Figure 3 your assignment is to play the 5 6 7 6 5 of every scale.

Before moving forward, please click on the Download below:

Notice that each of these scale sequences is just two chord tones with a scale tone in between. Take a look at the tablature and you’ll notice that all the examples are within a five fret range, so the fingerings are easy. If you take a deeper look, you’ll notice that the first bar of Figure 1 (C D Eb D C) is the 1 2 3 2 1 of Cmi7, but it’s also the 5 6 7 6 5 of F7 and the 3 4 5 4 3 of Ami7b5. Take another look and you’ll also notice that the 1 2 3 2 1 of Bbma7 (Bb C D C Bb) is also the 5 6 7 6 5 of Ebma7 and the 3 4 5 4 3 of Gmi7. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that several of these sequences have multiple functions. Now isn’t this convenient? Not only is this material effective, but it’s also versatile. Your first extra credit assignment is to figure out how many of these melodic sequences have more than one function, get them under your hands and internalize them.

Hey, what would happen if you played these examples in reverse order (3 2 1 2 3, 5 4 3 4 5 or 7 6 5 6 7) or started them on beat two instead of beat one? Consider this your second extra credit assignment.

So, your first priority is to play, memorize and internalize Figures 1, 2 and 3. Next, figure out which ones have multiple melodic functions and get them under your hands. Then when you’re comfortable with that try playing them in reverse order. Once you can do this then try playing these figures starting on beat 2. This ought to give you plenty to do between now and our next workout, so get to work!

To see me demonstrate and develop these assignments, go to and check out the Jazz Gym Melodic Scale Sequences video. While you’re there, be sure to practice with the Jazz Gym Play Along. Have fun and play slow.

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