Ajam Notes

Counting off songs

The feel with which you count off a song should set up and reflect the feel you intend the others to play.  

Swing Feel
Snap 2 & 4
Count  1 - 2 - 1, 2 , 3, 4

Up Temp Swing
Snap 2 & 4
 Count 1… 2… 1..2.. 1, 2, 3, 5

Straight Eights Feel
Snap 1 & 3
Count  1 -  2 - 1, 2, 3, 4

Snap  1, 2, 3, 4
Count 1, 2,  3,  4

Double time 

Miles in Copenhagen 1967 Round Midnight used as example. The band plays double or quadruple time but one should hear the underlying time feel because the harmonic movement is the reference and anchor.  Exercises for expanding comfort with underlying pulse when the rhythm section or others mess with the rhythm.  * metronome on 'and of 2' & 'and of 4' (practice different tempos) Comp and or sing melody over this. 


  • Main decades active?
  • What songs did they write?
  • Composer, lyricist or musician (if so what instrument)?
  • One or more points of interest (interesting origins, tragic end, who they worked with etc. )

David Goldblatt Pianist substitute teacher for Alan

Electric Bass turn down and use finger strength for dynamics

Bass walking accent 2 and 4 to swing more

If you have an intro to play, always look at the last four bars of the song as a possible way to lead people into the top of the tune.

Re-empasized that solos should Tell A Story. What’s the Arc?

Play melody continually over changes with recording to build ability to always hear melody while doping/playing.

Sam Rivers important free player. Stong understanding of harmony.

Metric modulation.

work on being able to solo with the band dropping out and being able to keep a strong time feel and pulse while outlining the changes. This is a very important ability of a mature player

My funny Valentine quad time

Cherokee ending updated

Oleo fast

I Love You

Work on ‘April’

The details in small parts to make a big difference between jazz haters and jazz enjoyment

Knowing the form is more important than how you choose to label it as long as your labels work for you

Try to end your solos with with an idea that concludes it, or otherwise creatively and consciously ends it. Don’t just stop playing ‘just because…’.

Bring a little playful antagonism. Put your ideas out to the other musicians as a challenge to engage. Don’t be too polite. That can create a boring lack of interplay.

Talked about harmonic devices and mindfulness in creating solos of interest.

Listen and know the music. Don’t blindly play a charts chords. Question them if they don’t seem correct. Use the artists recordings to provide insights into gaps or errors in charts.

1 6 2 5 can be used as a vamp ad infinitum at the end of a tune

Always know who you are listening to. Study the recorded history as well as playing music itself.

Comp hits on ‘and of two & and of 4’

Monk came out of Duke. Took certain intervals and extrapolated that into a style.

Four and More: There Is No Greater Love. Be ready to talk about the recording

Quintessential version can be important to be familiar with because of the way it can shape what others bring to the song at a session. Listening to Recording is a big part of studying a Genre

Ones body should not get in the way of the music emerging/flowing from the mind to the instrument. e.g. odd tapping of feet/legs, leaning into drums, using the wrong part of the face for blowing.

  • Sax Embouchure: face should be static
  • Drums: body should be centered
  • Bass:  feet centered.
  • Internalize the time.

When a form has a section with a non-8 bar section (often 2 bars added i.e. 10 bars) one should always let the melody phrasing dictate how you group those bars when thinking of the form. Often that can be as simple as 2 bars tagged on the end (tagged as in add to not as in repeat like a a 3625 tag)

If the bassist plays in 2, even if the drummer plays a straight swing 4/4 it will usually just sound like 2

When walking a bridge as contrast to playing the sA section in 2 during the head it can be anticipated by a measure. In fact this can be applied to chord changes in solos etc.

Melody may dictate the start if it has enough of a pickup for people to Queue off of

Ballads: Solos often over A section. Often head out on bridge or last A. This is because solos over the full form and the complete head out can both be too much on a very slow ballad.

Always listen to everything: get out of yourself. Train so this as reflexive.

Sonny Rollins ‘softly as is a morning sunrise version

Misc from earlier dates
  • Form is tantamount. Play the form game: Listen to recordings and following along with the form.
  • When trading fours the drummer always goes second.  If the drummer goes first it's a drum solo over the form
  • As part of always being cognoscente of the form, that includes looking up and being contextually ready for wether the soloist will take another chorus, go to the head, call 'fours' end the tune etc. 
  • Tradition order of soloist: Horns guitar piano bass drums in that order 
  • Always learn the melody and lyrics (where appropriate)
  • Know who the composer is and be able to talk a little about who they were beyond just a name and a song.
  • Always be fully 'on' especially when rehearsing or playing. Enter every situation open, focused and paying attention. Class and life in general.
  • Only signal a section on the down beat of when it occurs. You can of course visually queue people that you are going to do that as it approaches. (i.e. don’t call ‘Bridge’ when it’s coming up, call it on the down beat of when it’s happening
  • (Especially electric instruments) be aware of the timber of your instrument in the space you are playing and learn to quickly correct as much as possible.)
  • Alan Inner Clock and more

Within each person, stripping away all ID and other distractions there is your inner clock. This is part of what makes you "you".  It may be that some individuals will have an inner clock that feels aligned with yours, but be careful of bringing a self absorbed sense of "you" to a group interaction. Don't deny your sense of "you" either. There lies the challenge: to have meaningful interactions i.e. relationships during your travels and inter-personal experiences that bring the best "you" and acknowledge has it best interacts with those around you an any given time.