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Barry Harris teachings

ellinas

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Hello all.
I'm 42. I have been classically trained up to a performance diploma when I was young. (piano)
I lived my rebellion years joining loud geoups.. and jazz ensembles later playing the Hammond organ ...
In my early 30s I started embracing the saxophone and through the sax I rediscovered my musicality.
Playing one note at a time and struggling to make that note sound as it should took me to other places and acted like a magnifying glass to my improvisation.
It made me a better musician and a better pianist. And vice versa. The piano by visualizing all the theory I know helped me a lot become better easier on saxophone.
I've studying tons of modern jazz educational material however I always found that what I hear ony favourite LPs has juice that's not in the books.
Chord/scale theory and mathematic analysis of each and everything great players can surely get you somewhere but not where I want to go. Listen to Dexter Gordon a go and you ll understand what I mean. Non standard articulations, humour,diminished runs ... This is so different to what modern teachers teach.
I don't underestimate anyone ... It's just I think different.... I love how these greats break many rules however they end up solid not chaotic.

There's a huge gap in modern jazz pedagogy in the role of diminished chords scales and in general in the relation to harmonic motions and melodic functions.

I Ve gathered bits and pieces from players that use it a lot such as Dexter Gordon Bill Evans and .... barry Harris. How stupid am I. Barry Harris is equally good as an educator as he was a piano player.

These guys play in away that's far off from what's in the books.

There's an old guy Willie Thomas he plays in a similar way too. His diminished runs and perception are also in the same direction. I remember seeing some of his videos and it blew my mind.
I joined his website and learned an other way of thinking that took me a while to adapt but it's a wonderful place.

My first introduction of Barry Harris was when I bought an LP that he plays with sonny stitt. Wow.

I kept buying LPs with him and I've transcribed a lot but I couldn't decode his magic formula. I'm not that advanced. I'm a hobbyist that spend and awful lot of time but I'm no wonder kid. No genius.

The past few years I understand the jazz community tried to publisize his teaching.
In some of these videos he mentions that he doesn't use modes ... He emphasizes in the straight and swang "ands" and to my mind he decides bop language in a magical way.

What is the most complete resources to start exploring his ideas? I see videos here and there with bits and pieces.

If anyone knows what is the most complete collections of books, videos or whatever to start exploring this guy the proper way? YouTube is full of Barry Harris related advice but it's so scattered .... if theres an organized way to study his teaching I want that first.


Thank u and sorry for a huge post. Thanks in advance for your help.
 
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Pete Thomas

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Chord/scale theory and mathematic analysis of each and everything great players can surely get you somewhere but not where I want to go. Listen to Dexter Gordon a go and you ll understand what I mean. Non standard articulations, humour,diminished runs ... This is so different to what modern teachers teach.
I think that many modern teachers are stuck on the chord/scale theory because it is easier to teach and assess than creative melodic impro.

The best students go beyond it.
 

ellinas

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Same happens in classical music. Sterile educational system. I heard that this has changed the past few years.

If I would start all over and we're 13 years old ... I would like to start with chord tones ... Chromatic embellishments and guide tones.... I think this pretty basic formula would get me a lot further sooner .... And a act as a "GPS" when i'd improvise freely and get lost... it lock me back on harmony .... Also I would give a lot of importance in tone quality....


Now that I think again.... The improvisational books of Mr Thomas that are suitable for all genres... Taming the saxophone. TOP quality for aspiring saxophone players. Focus on the best fundamentals ... I bought them all. Now they are in my nephew's shed. He "borrows" my saxes and books ...

Im looking at the workshop material of Barry Harris ... I might get that too. It comes with a 100+ page book... Which means many happy years to come in my shed .... Magical moments ... Alone... Me and my tenor ... paradise!
 

Pete Thomas

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Now that I think again.... The improvisational books of Mr Thomas that are suitable for all genres... Taming the saxophone. TOP quality for aspiring saxophone players. Focus on the best fundamentals ... I bought them all.
Thank you!

Yes I specifically avoided the typical chord/scale/mode approach as it is something i find it rather formulaic and at odds with the what the great improvisers do in any genre.

For a year or two when I did some teaching at university i was forced to use that mode/chord method and I realised the reason was it could be so easilay assessed, but not great for learning creatively.
 
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jbtsax

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This is an illustration of the diminished whole tone scale that is just one note different than a diminished scale, and how it relates to the "color" notes of a dominant 7 chord that I learned in my jazz lessons. (that should read "alterations" ;)

1641495926998.png
 
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ellinas

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This is an illustration of the diminished whole tone scale that is just one note different than a diminished scale, and how it relates to the "color" notes of a dominant 7 chord that I learned in my jazz lessons.

View attachment 19461
I see the altered scale here. What a great tool. can you believe it took me minutes to learn it and ages to use it? I have acquired altered language only by transcribing ... and you see the masters using it efficiently and effortlessly. Diminished notes and scales are like batman and Robin when going from chord to chord and can give an enormous amount of colours to your playing. With Barry Harris point of view dominants and diminished are relative and lead on to another. It's magical. I was doing it like a robot and this guy unlocks great potebtials. Great ideas for my double time lines! Also through the diminished point of view I can have many wise choice in upper extensions. This is where Dexter Gordon or Barry Harris have blown my mind. Most people say that it's ok to add a #9 or a flat 9 etc. how and why? few... But this view gives you endless possibilities .... And I hear it all the time .... The bop masters do it everywhere.... and it's only one ingredient.... This ingredient can keep me going for ages.
Thanks for sharing the altered scale. I love it
 

Guenne

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@ellinas:
I'm sorry I don't get it.
Can you explain in a few sentences what's wrong with chords and scales, and what you mean by "diminished runs"

Thanks!
 

ellinas

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Athens, Greece
@ellinas:
I'm sorry I don't get it.
Can you explain in a few sentences what's wrong with chords and scales, and what you mean by "diminished runs"

Thanks!
There's nothing wrong with chords and scales.
There's nothing wrong with chord-scale theory neither.
What I feel wrong is the weight this system gets in the jazz syllabus of many systems.
I will take as an example the golden standard jazz theory book of Mark Levine and it's jazz piano book as well! A treasure..
Great books. It really opened my eyes when I bought it.
Chord Scales Theory ... the use of melodic minor .. diminished scales, 251s
Playing the Changes, Reharms, Forms .. all with examples .. how nice.
Also the Jazz Piano book! Voicings, Upper structures, Comping .. wow
I mention them as widely acclaimed well written Jazz books accepted by many
I think they are a great effort to explain i plain words what's happening with Jazz for those that didn't grow up with Jazz.
I really got a hang of what's happening in many songs and helped my improvational ideas and fed years and years of practice....
This material could help me understand how Hank Mobley constructed his solo on "Tenor Conclave" or other "clean" players.
But when I hear "heavier" (be)bop language .. there's so much missing ... I felt like the only way to get with it is to transcribe Charlie Parker or Sonny Stitt and steal language .... Language that's somehow far away from what books teach.
I couldn't hear anywhere an effective use of bebop scale. It may be my ears not developed but it's not there.
I couldn't understand how someuses sequences of chords ( diminished-non diminished ) work so well. And I could hear wind-brass player doing the same in their solos creating melodies with such ideas.
It's like my english. I was taught english for some years. I may write here sentences that everyone understands, but i'm far off from a native ... and very far from the way I speak and a cockney speaks.
There's aboslutely nothing wrong with a basic syllabus with strong emphasis to chord-scales matches.
But I wish they had the same emphasis on vertical improvisation. Lots of it in bop language.

Here's where some examples of what I mean from some youtube clips.

This idea has blown my mind. It gives so many possibilities and explains many chord sequences I hear in my records.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s3GraRDU_0


Dexter Gordon's warmup... and his language in "Go" album. The use of diminished chord tones in pair with "sister" diminished or dominant chords .... wow .... and he does that all the time with great taste and ease!
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZE2ZZ79Yos


also some ideas of diminished vocabulary from some old books of Willie Thomas ... a totally different approach.
etc .. etc... etc....

So in conclusion, it's not that I reject chord-scales. I use it all the time. It's just as I grow up I don't see a scale as a scale but as a fully extended chord. This has helped me more in creating melodic lines than trying to figure what to play besides arpegio-scale opposite direction ... or what bergonzi suggests in some of his books with random up and down directions. Great stuff not for me.
Maybe my problem is that I try to focus on certain idioms that use these tools....
I hope I made it a little bit more clear...
 

Pete Thomas

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This is an illustration of the diminished whole tone scale that is just one note different than a diminished scale, and how it relates to the "color" notes of a dominant 7 chord that I learned in my jazz lessons.
This scale is a an example (IMO) of good and bad pedagogy.

It is sometimes taught as the 7th mode of the melodic minor as opposed to a scale in its own right relative to G7 (and subsequently resolving maybe to C or Cm) . In other words the notes are the same as Ab minor however this just gives you a scale you can "run" against a G dominant without any thought of scale degrees/alterations related to G7. Furthermore some of the notes are enharmonically incorrect.

Fair enough, this is an obvious shortcut for people who know their melodic minor scales to quickly learn a cool scale that automatically adds some jazzy notes. BUT those people do not learn the better ways to use that in impro, ie knowing how the scale degrees fit with the chord, note tendencies (see: I nearly said voice leading there but stopped myself :))

But until you think of the Bb as the #9 of G rather than the 2nd of Ab, the Eb as the b13 of G rathher than the 5th of Ab, then it's all a bit "slap this scale on that chord" as opposed to thinking melodic impro that actually functions with the chord tensions and and releases etc.
 
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