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1-2, 1-2-3-4

June 3, 2012

Welcome to all Jazz fans across the universe. This blog is a place to discuss Jazz tunes whilst I will attempt to establish the ultimate Jazz setlist.

From Real book favourites to obscure tunes and original compositions of the Jazz community (including my own), I will explore the pad and select charts to build my perfect instrumental combo set.

What makes a good jazz tune? How fast should it be played? What’s the best instrumentation and arrangement?

From the listener’s point of view, it should have the right vibe. But what of the musician? Do we want a pleasant chord progression with a pretty melody on top? Or are we looking for a more challenging grid to solo on and something more meaty for the head?

I believe a good Jazz set should be balanced and offer different moods, keys, tempos, genres etc…

More importantly, a good set should be planned in terms of how the tunes start and finish and also in terms of which soloist to have featured on each tune. Queuing all one by one for solos has been the tradition but we Jazz musicians could show a bit more creativity.

A typical Jazz jam session is often packed with the usual suspects – understand “Oleo”, “Billie’s Bounce”, “Days of wine and roses”, “St Thomas” and “Green Dolphin Street”. Nothing wrong with any of these but a bit of novelty wouldn’t hurt. Sometimes it’s as if the set should be picked solely out of the Real book 1. Perhaps it’s time for a re-think. There’s tons of charts out there, let alone those that haven’t made it to the fake books.

I have gone through of all this with my own quintet songbook, carefully framing tunes and allocating solos in order to make the set more of a show. After all the audience is crucial. You’ve got to keep the punters interested.

In conclusion, my mission is very simple. Select 10 real book type tunes offering as much variety as possible. Arrange them in order and tailor intros and outros accordingly. Possibly reharmonize some of the chords and pad in the odd shout chorus. In brief, make the gig a bit more inspiring than just a blow.

Please, come and join the discussion, let me know of your preferred version of a particular tune, send me some lead sheets to review.

James

PS: the image banner reloads randomly when you click on it or change page. Can you name them all?

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From → Without a Song

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