Monday, April 20, 2015

Music Education Monday: Jazz piano lessons from Mike Wolff and Barry Harris

Today for "Music Education Monday," we've got some video lessons that nominally are intended for jazz pianists, but also contain information that may be of interest to jazz improvisors in general.

Pianist Mike Wolff is know for his early work with Cal Tjader, Cannonball Adderly and Nancy Wilson, for leading the house band on the original Arsenio Hall Show in the 1990s, and more recently, for film scoring work and collaborations including the Wolff & Clark Expedition with former Headhunters drummer Mike Clark.

Today's first video is an hour-long master class that Wolff gave back in 2011 for students at Loyola University in New Orleans, in which he touches on a variety of topics, from how his career developed to playing outside the changes to how he got fired by Jean-Luc Ponty, and much more.

Below that, there are three shorter video featuring pianist Barry Harris. A native of Detroit, Harris (pictured) has run the gamut from swing to bop to modern jazz in his 85 years, performing with major musicians including Sonny Stitt, Illinois Jacquet, Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, Lee Morgan, Charles McPherson, Max Roach, and many more. He's also been heavily involved in jazz education, giving master classes at colleges and universities all over the world.

Harris also worked with NYC's Jazz at Lincoln Center last year to produce a video for their "Jazz Academy" series, in which he discusses some of his concepts of jazz theory and harmony.

After that, you can see two clips that are part of a series of videos of Harris recorded by Dutch piano player and educator Frans Elsen between 1989 and 1998 at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. In the first, Harris discusses his affinity for the 6th diminished scale, and how to use it in accompaniment and improvisation; in the second, he breaks down his approach to the famously challenging John Coltrane composition "Giant Steps."

You can see today's videos after the jump...

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