Rhythm Changes: An Etude to Build Jazz Technique

rhythm changes, jazz improvisation, jazz etude 001Here's a little bop-style etude I created to help build your chops for rhythm changes. No surprises here; I wasn't striving for cutting-edge ideas but for simple building blocks of jazz vocabulary. Me being an alto sax guy, I've written the material in the key of G, which is the alto transposition for the standard "Rhythm" key of Bb. Tenor players, flute players, and so on--sorry for the inconvenience, but you know how to transpose, right? Or just play it as written and hone your facility with the key of G. Click on the image to enlarge it and then have at it. And have fun! I've written in the past about my predilection for rhythm changes as a means of developing a fundamental jazz vocabulary. In their essence, the changes can be construed as simply a succession of turnarounds with a bridge based on the cycle of dominants. You can get as fancy with that as you want to, but the basics are just as simple as the word basic implies. For more on rhythm changes, click here. I also encourage you to read the point-counterpoint between Kurt Ellenberger and me which evolved out of that post. Whether you love rhythm changes or, like Kurt, hate them, you'll find food for thought. If you enjoyed this post, click here for plenty more articles, exercises, and solo transcriptions. Also, a quick plug for my book The Giant Steps Scratch Pad. If you'd like a practical, hands-on practice companion to help you master "Giant Steps," well...that's why I wrote it.

“Round About” Jazz Etude for Bb and C Instruments

Yesterday I published an etude that I wrote based on the chord changes to the Jamey Aebersold tune "Round About." The tune is included in the second CD of the 2-CD set Dominant Seventh Workout (number 84 ins the Aebersold jazz improvisation CD series). Since my instrument is the alto saxophone, it was natural for me to write the etude using the Eb transposition. But of course, the whole world doesn't play Eb instruments. So I promised those of you who play tenor sax, trumpet, flute, and other Bb and concert pitch instruments that I would provide transposed charts for you. Here they are. The top chart is for C instruments and the bottom one is for Bb instruments. Click on the images to enlarge them. If possible, use the Aebersold accompaniment for "Round About" or have a pianist comp for you as you play the etude so you can hear how the lines work with the harmony. If you enjoy these exercises, look here for more, along with insightful articles, transcribed solos, and tips on jazz improv. CORRECTION: Now that this article has been posted for a while, naturally I've noticed a transcription error in the C and Bb charts. (The original Eb chart is fine.) Since you can easily make the correction mentally, I'm going to simply tell you what it is. In measures 3-4 and 19-20, the chord symbol should not contain a sharp sign. The correct chord in both locations is as follows: for the C chart, A7+4; for the Bb chart, B7+4.