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  1. #1

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    Our standard for Jan 2018 will be Take the A Train - by Billy Strayhorn (1941).

    Background:
    Jazz Standards Songs and Instrumentals (Take the "A" Train)

    Contrafacts:
    Dextivity - Dexter Gordon (1947)
    Rhodomagnetics - Wilber Harden

    Best wishes for the coming new year!

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I just noticed that David (TruthHertz) is also doing Take the A Train this week, in his song-a-week thread.

    Commit to a song a week. What could a serious student hope to learn?
    Last edited by M-ster; 12-31-2017 at 05:26 PM.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-ster
    I just noticed that David (TruthHertz) is also doing Take the A Train? this week, in his song-a-week thread.

    Commit to a song a week. What could a serious student hope to learn?
    Yes, but I think our approaches are broad and this piece is lovely enough to warrant the study. I have a relaxed and rigorous tune a week approach that introduces optional suggestions for deeper study every week. This week with A Train, I'm also including a challenging Etude that we can use to highlight and assimilate a working bebop vocabulary into our linear constructions. It's my intention that that etude will be ongoing beyond this week as my Rhythm changes thread was.
    I love it that we're on the same wavelength here at the start of the year. Let's have fun M-ster!

    David

  5. #4

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    You need to do it with 100% confidence. Because what you got, it works. Drink a whiskey before recording. Or smash a window. That's what is missing. The notes were all good! Timing&feel also. No need to be shy anymore.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    Drink a whiskey... smash a window...
    I don't think they let you play guitar in rehab

  7. #6

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    So is this thread about how to learn these tunes? If so I've found the following the easyist way.

    1.) A section =8 bars
    2.)B section= 8 bars
    3.) AABA form =32 bar form
    4.)2 bar turnarounds = exit, or on ramps to A or B sections

    *Melody and Bass line are the guides, Harmony is the interpretation in between those 2., Memorize the melody first by singing or humming it. then look how bass line goes> upwards or downwards direction

    *Bridge sections always seem to go to the 4 chord, if not it moves usually in major or minor 3rds.

    ** Repeat over & over slowly until you are really familiar with Melody & Form!

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    So is this thread about how to learn these tunes? If so I've found the following the easyist way.

    1.) A section =8 bars
    2.)B section= 8 bars
    3.) AABA form =32 bar form
    4.)2 bar turnarounds = exit, or on ramps to A or B sections

    *Melody and Bass line are the guides, Harmony is the interpretation in between those 2., Memorize the melody first by singing or humming it. then look how bass line goes> upwards or downwards direction

    *Bridge sections always seem to go to the 4 chord, if not it moves usually in major or minor 3rds.

    ** Repeat over & over slowly until you are really familiar with Melody & Form!
    There are a lot of backing tracks on youtube.Try to sing and play with them.
    ...and the next try to play solos:

  9. #8

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    My goal is to learn to play at least two tunes a month and I think that I'll use this section to choose one tune.
    Good way to start with it.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    So is this thread about how to learn these tunes? ...
    The Practical Standards thread is monthly and has been ongoing for a few years or more.

    I think it's more about posting one's take or interpretation of the tune-of-the-month. And maybe about making and discussing observations or insights gleaned after digging into the tune.

    But, of course, everyone posts at will, so it becomes what it becomes.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-ster
    The Practical Standards thread is monthly and has been ongoing for a few years or more.

    I think it's more about posting one's take or interpretation of the tune-of-the-month. And maybe about making and discussing observations or insights gleaned after digging into the tune.

    But, of course, everyone posts at will, so it becomes what it becomes.
    I have learned quite a few of the "tune of the month" songs over the past few years. I don't always post but have been exposed to new material and seeing how others approach the material has helped me get a start on the songs.

  12. #11

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    Over in the Robert Conti group this tune came up and I went ahead and learned the head, with a backing track, and put his exercise solo with it. So this isn't my improvisation, but the head is my own playing and ideas, modest though they might be. The Conti solo also has some good moments, though it's obviously a beginners' level solo to illustrate how lines go with chords.


  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by M-ster
    The Practical Standards thread is monthly and has been ongoing for a few years or more.

    I think it's more about posting one's take or interpretation of the tune-of-the-month. And maybe about making and discussing observations or insights gleaned after digging into the tune.

    But, of course, everyone posts at will, so it becomes what it becomes.
    Really began with the idea of presenting approaches for learners like myself, combined with posting PLAYING from players of all levels. It's kind of become something different I guess, not a good or bad thing necessarily.

    I would appreciate initial thoughts on approaches to playing and such personally, but these are great threads regardless.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-ster

    I think it's more about posting one's take or interpretation of the tune-of-the-month.
    Well, that's what I thought, hence posting multi-versions. I have to say I never thought about sharing insights or describing my thinking because, frankly, no one else was doing it.

    But I think now I'll start that, a little at least. See what happens! I'm glad this has come up.

  15. #14

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    So, for me - and I won't repeat my version posted above - it's basically a train song. Not in the country music sense but a kind of trundle through the NYC subway, not all of it underground, basically heading up through Harlem to Manhattan. Perhaps that's quintessentially jazzy itself, that idea. It's also (how can I say this so it stays 'PC'; you know what it's like today) essentially a black-based idea, culturally. It's not swish nightclub stuff for rich white folks, or something like that. Although, I hate to say it, it may have ended up that way.

    Personally, I like that a great deal. One had the same kind of feel going round Brixton in London where I lived for some time. There was a totally different feel, socio-culturally, to what happened when you went back over the river to Victoria and into central London. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

    So there's that. It's a swing tune too, not bop or blues, although there are moments where the odd blues sound should happen. And happy, not in any way introverted. Whether an old Brit whitey like me can do it justice, of course, I don't know. Let's hope so.

    Musically speaking, it's very straightforward, just a few of the usual chords in C. The interesting point, of course, is the D7#11. The obvious thing to use is the wholetone scale but I found that sound became repetitive and predictable, especially as it repeats 3 times each chorus! So, personally, I used A melodic because it gave me greater scope. But I also put in a bit of wholetone and a touch of D alt (Eb mel). That was basically it. I found it had to bounce rather than glide so I did that too.

    Re. other versions, Ray Nance with Ellington played his simple but acknowledged swing trumpet solos. Oscar Peterson used wholetone double-stops beautifully but I did think Paul Desmond's sound glided a bit smoothly for the tune.

    Will that do?

    (And is that catchy lick a version of the Jimmie Rodgers yodel-oh-oo, yodel-oh-oo, yodel-oh-ooo??? :-))

  16. #15

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    Sorry, that's yodel-ay-ee-oh, yodel-ay-ee-ay, yodel-ay-eee. I just looked it up


  17. #16

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    Chewed through once. Not at all like it was meant to be played I guess.

    train.mp3 - Google Drive

    edit: oh, I read the above comments and get it now. Next month, if I can, I try to do something complete instead of a cut.
    Last edited by emanresu; 01-03-2018 at 10:46 PM.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    Chewed through once. Not at all like it was meant to be played I guess.

    train.mp3 - Google Drive

    edit: oh, I read the above comments and get it now. Next month, if I can, I try to do something complete instead of a cut.
    Going in good direction...nice!
    Best
    Kris

  19. #18

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    Hmm. See, I don't think you're playing 'Take the A train'. I think you're playing all kinds of clever stuff over the changes to that song. That's not the same thing. Where's the party? Where's the train? Where's the bubbling life? Where's HARLEM???!

    You might say 'But that's Jazz - you can do what you like with a tune, it's self-expression, it's jazz!'. I don't know. The professionals don't do that if you listen to them, they play the tune - that is, the spirit of the tune. The good ones do, anyway.

    Also, if the idea of the thread is to provide insights and musical advice etc about your thinking, where is that? I mean, something as sophisticated as what you were playing needs explanation to those learning, right? My stuff's easy but yours isn't.

    You don't mind if I speak frankly, I hope; that's what I feel about it.

  20. #19

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    I found spontanic jam version of Take A on youtube with me/guitar/...a little Scof feel...:-)...opps 2014...today I play different:


  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Well, that's what I thought, hence posting multi-versions. I have to say I never thought about sharing insights or describing my thinking because, frankly, no one else was doing it.

    But I think now I'll start that, a little at least. See what happens! I'm glad this has come up.
    Honestly, posting multiple versions has always been done . There's a balance somewhere. Usually first run early and then maybe an update or two on progress. Maybe completely different style on the second or third run. if you want to post more than a couple of versions , I'd say that's fine , but maybe just add a link to previous post or something Instead of new posts every time and multiple updates commenting on them. I think the main issue people were having was scrolling through pages and it kind of taking over, ore being multiple takes which were very similar etc. Anyway, I don't have any official say in anything. Those are just my thoughts.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Hmm. See, I don't think you're playing 'Take the A train'. I think you're playing all kinds of clever stuff over the changes to that song. That's not the same thing. Where's the party? Where's the train? Where's the bubbling life? Where's HARLEM???!

    You might say 'But that's Jazz - you can do what you like with a tune, it's self-expression, it's jazz!'. I don't know. The professionals don't do that if you listen to them, they play the tune - that is, the spirit of the tune. The good ones do, anyway.

    Also, if the idea of the thread is to provide insights and musical advice etc about your thinking, where is that? I mean, something as sophisticated as what you were playing needs explanation to those learning, right? My stuff's easy but yours isn't.

    You don't mind if I speak frankly, I hope; that's what I feel about it.
    I respectfully disagree. Yes, you can use the tune as a prompt for improvisation, great players have always done that. But equally, great players take the changes and launch their own improvisations. Some were so fresh and different they became their own named tunes (contrafacts). Someone not using the tune but playing their own ideas over the changes are doing what improvisors have always done, especially since the bop era began.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Hmm. See, I don't think you're playing 'Take the A train'. I think you're playing all kinds of clever stuff over the changes to that song. That's not the same thing. Where's the party? Where's the train? Where's the bubbling life? Where's HARLEM???!

    You might say 'But that's Jazz - you can do what you like with a tune, it's self-expression, it's jazz!'. I don't know. The professionals don't do that if you listen to them, they play the tune - that is, the spirit of the tune. The good ones do, anyway.

    Also, if the idea of the thread is to provide insights and musical advice etc about your thinking, where is that? I mean, something as sophisticated as what you were playing needs explanation to those learning, right? My stuff's easy but yours isn't.

    You don't mind if I speak frankly, I hope; that's what I feel about it.
    When I improvise I think about Trane/Coltrane/....

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    I respectfully disagree. Yes, you can use the tune as a prompt for improvisation, great players have always done that. But equally, great players take the changes and launch their own improvisations. Some were so fresh and different they became their own named tunes (contrafacts). Someone not using the tune but playing their own ideas over the changes are doing what improvisors have always done, especially since the bop era began.
    I know, of course, that's what it's about. But I think it depends on the tune. With a lot of modern tunes the door's open, we can play with it endlessly, it becomes a massive learning tool and a great creative outlet. With 'A Train', though, I don't feel that so much, that's all.

    I suppose ultimately it's whether it works or not, no?

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    I know, of course, that's what it's about. But I think it depends on the tune. With a lot of modern tunes the door's open, we can play with it endlessly, it becomes a massive learning tool and a great creative outlet. With 'A Train', though, I don't feel that so much, that's all.

    I suppose ultimately it's whether it works or not, no?
    my 1 cent...
    I have very modern CD of fameous players.There is a new interprtation of old tune by Django.
    Very interesting and very creative.
    Jazz is an open art and tune like 'Take the a train" is just a great standard .

  26. #25

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    modern take :

  27. #26

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    Or this. I like this... I think it works.


  28. #27

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    This song...ugh...played it to death in my gypsy jazz days...tried to do the most non gypsy take ever here...


  29. #28

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    Great playing in this thread! I did a recording of TTAT last year, I posted it on the forum before, but fits in this thread, so for those of you who haven't seen it I'll post it again.

    Very long Aebersold backing track; I ran out of ideas at some point :-) But it's a very nice tune to solo over.


  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    This song...ugh...played it to death in my gypsy jazz days...tried to do the most non gypsy take ever here...

    I dig it! Superb tone and playing!

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay
    Great playing in this thread! I did a recording of TTAT last year, I posted it on the forum before, but fits in this thread, so for those of you who haven't seen it I'll post it again.

    Very long Aebersold backing track; I ran out of ideas at some point :-) But it's a very nice tune to solo over.

    Very nice sounding Gib es-125 in your hands.
    You play long solo over backing track and all we know that is not so easy.Good job.
    All The Best
    Kris

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    This song...ugh...played it to death in my gypsy jazz days...tried to do the most non gypsy take ever here...

    Hi Jeff,
    Is this backing track from youtube?
    You play nice chords-voicings...a little out but it is ok!
    it is a reall Take A train...
    Nice Tele sound on your hands.
    Best
    Kris

  33. #32

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    But perfect timing :-)

  34. #33

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    Thanks kris, ragman, jay, anybody I missed...

    Yeah those chords got a little out there at the end...probably out of ideas for the moment

    The backing track is iReal, but just bass. I practice like this at lot, not sure why is find it so rnjoyable, but i do.

  35. #34

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    It is been a while since I posted here, too busy with with work, kids and ..music.
    But here is my take on the train.



    Hans

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hatim
    It is been a while since I posted here, too busy with with work, kids and ..music.
    But here is my take on the train.



    Hans
    Beautifull classic jazz sound and nice playing.
    Jazzingly Yours
    Kris

  37. #36

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    Bottom line Melody and Form, it's that simple conceptually. Just like running, point A to point B. The hard part is choosing which of the paths you choose to take. By that I mean explore all of the harmonic substitutions available to you. That requires discipline of knowing or better yet hearing chord/scale relationships.
    It can be a slow and somewhat stale process until your fingers and ears coordinate the 2 things. But what a joy, when it starts to gel!

  38. #37

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    Here is a take on my beloved stratocaster.
    It is my favorite guitar, but I never dare to take it on a jazz gig/ session.
    I must admit that playing jazz on that old Gibson es-125 (a couple of post here above ) is easier to make it sound 'jazzy',
    it is just that I love this strat so much.
    And please, lets not go into "Sure you can play jazz on a strat" with all kinds of examples.
    It is just that I am intrigued by this guitar, its possibilities and its limitations.



    Hans

  39. #38

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    I like this version very much/great solo on bass!/:

  40. #39

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    Great big band!

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hatim
    It is been a while since I posted here, too busy with with work, kids and ..music.
    But here is my take on the train.



    Hans
    Nice one Hans! Your 125 sounds remarkably like mine ;-) (duh!). I have seen your 125 advertised, I remember the missing pickup cover and classical tuners with black knobs. It was in Portugal, am I right?

  42. #41

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    Little Jay wrote
    "Nice one Hans! Your 125 sounds remarkably like mine ;-) (duh!). I have seen your 125 advertised, I remember the missing pickup cover and classical tuners with black knobs. It was in Portugal, am I right?
    I bought this es-125 in Amsterdam in 2002 (Yes, I'm also Dutch). Never noticed the black tuners, so thanks. I like the guitar, but it is quit dark,'dof' like we say in dutch. There for switched the original pickup. I It's made in 1956.
    Hans

  43. #42

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    where is the head?

  44. #43

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    Was working on this last night. I have been incorporating into my practice, especially when learning heads, the Mick Goodrich Advancing Guitarist idea of playing on a single string.

    Really interesting the different feel and dynamic exploration of a tune. Certain notes really pop, for me the song really came alive, much more than when playing in one position. You can then take that dynamic to a simpler way to get your fingers around the tune.

  45. #44

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    Reg, it'd be good to have you aboard for these, when you can.

    Yeah, I think the positive feedback is a big part, maybe the biggest. I'd also say don't be afraid to ask questions of players, too...like "Hey, I like what you play at :23, can you tell me what's going on there?" Obviously, we can dissect the whole tune too, if people want. But really it's about getting those recordings out there. It's an "audio diary."

  46. #45

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    Yea there is a balance between playing, practicing and then actually talking about the music. Very few can just play... very few.

    So maybe a question... when we look at Take the A train... what do you think, what's your process to becoming aware of the tune how to perform etc...

    The Form is pretty straight ahead, A A B A. 8 bar sections.

    So the melody is not so clear, it hints at a few different directions.

    Personally I either play or hear the tune as a Blues or a jazz pop tune.

    The blues seems more common approach, but the I VI II V pop approach works.

    The A section is basically an eight bar blues, and the B section finally goes to the IV chord.

    The difference for me is how I approach the II chord in the A sections and how I approach that chord in the B section (both D7)

    So I either hear the D7 as a sub of some type, in the "A" section of, sub of A- the VI- chord .... or a V of II....anyway the reason I'm bring this up is because, personally how I hear the changes.... what type of function I hear the chord as having opens different doors of improvisation.

    I'll post something later and show the differences...

    Thanks for comments, and looking forward to becoming part of thread again.

  47. #46

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    The A-part as an 8-bar blues..... hmmm, interesting. I don’t see it, but that’s probably just me. An 8 bar blues in what key?

  48. #47

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    Yes.. OK so a latin or Bossa can also be a blues.... Personally what makes a blues... is I to IV.... or as in A train... Would be C to F (key of C)

    Generally I take that basic chord movement and hear... or think, Tonic and subdominant. ... I can hear the D7 functioning as subdominant or the IV chord.
    And then when the bridge goes to F... it somewhat reinforces the Blues.... OK can also be standard swing dance pop tun also.

    My point is the tune has options as far as to how one can play. As Kris said Similar changes as Girl from and Desafinado and playing typical latin montunos or rhythmic figures... performing as Latin Jazz, is great and personally one of my favorite approaches to performing almost any jazz tune. I love playing latin, Brazilian grooves... Hell most of the time at gigs I'll go into some type of latin feel for Blues feel standards... add II Vs or sus chord patterns, groove montunos Helps break up solos sections.

    The other think I like to do... is find blues in any tune. It's just another reference, a way to perform tunes. And I rarely find audiences that can't relate. Yea, it not hip and generally when musicians get together... they generally want to perform like the audience is all musicians etc... Anyway... just trying to get us thinking about how one could approach the tune.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay
    The A-part as an 8-bar blues..... hmmm, interesting. I don’t see it, but that’s probably just me. An 8 bar blues in what key?

    Hi Little Jay,
    Maybe there is a 8-bar blues in good key....I like it:

  50. #49

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    I like the blues feel very much...I saw George Benson playing the blues over Rythm changes.
    Thanks Reg for very interesting view.
    sorry for the clip with jazz dance---it is just for making good atmosphere.
    jazzingly
    Kris
    Last edited by kris; 01-11-2018 at 01:10 PM.

  51. #50

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    I like the idea of D7 as a sub for Am7 (1-6-2-5-1) but I don't see it as a blues. An 8-bar blues usually has IV much earlier on. Going to IV for the bridge is pretty standard. It's more a swing tune with a sort of loose bluesy feel.

    I'm surprised no version I've heard has played the F to D7 in the bridge as |F / E7 Eb7 | D7 |. I was going to try that but never got round to it.