Advanced Level Session

We will delve into jazz standards which are known to be challenging. By following the processes we’ve implemented during previous sessions you’ll be improvising over the following standards in no time!

1. Oleo
2. Stella By Starlight
3. Giant Steps

The Process

Characteristics of advanced jazz standards may include more upbeat tempos, complex harmonic structures, multiple key centres and mostly require a thorough understanding of harmony to solo over.

Although this maybe the case, there are ways to grasp the above tunes and create successful improvisations. Specifically, by following the steps taken during previous sessions. Take a look below where we’ve outlined the process for each of these standards.

Oleo – This is probably the most common melody played over a Bb “Rhythm Changes”. To tackle this, we’ll listen to the melody – a lot! Although a blanket scale approach works with this tune’s harmonic structure, we’ll do our best to avoid it! It’s extremely important to include be-bop language when improvising and we’ll use this tunes chord sequence as a vehicle to delve into be-bop language. We’re going to say it again, listening is the best thing you can do to start understanding jazz and the be-bop language. Follow the link to Oleo and try to sing along to the melody and solos – this will take time but you’ll see the results!

Stella By Starlight – This piece includes many key centres. The reason this piece has been chosen is because it allows us to explore minor II V I’s as well as looking into both the Lydian and Lydian dominant modes. This will allow you to explore different modes for improvisation, adding to your toolbox. Don’t forget, this is all transferable so will work over many other jazz standards too!

Giant Steps – This composition by Coltrane in 1960 is the definition of Coltrane Changes (which we’ll talk about during the session). It’s really not that hard if you break it down! It’s just a II-V-I in the key of B, G and Eb. We’ll spend some time looking at the relationship between keys, looking at common tones and most importantly how to create an interesting improvisation over this standard. Interesting fact – Coltrane never performed Giant Steps live, wonder why!

Re-harmonisation and playing ‘outside’

We will also revisit re-harmonisation during this workshop, exploring some more advanced techniques to help you to understand the process behind it. This also ties in nicely with playing ‘outside’. We’ll look into various methods you can include within your playing to begin exploring soloing outside of the given harmony to create variation, tension and interest. We don’t want to give away too much here, so you’ll have to come along to the workshop in December.

What we need from you?

An open mind and your instrument. That’s it! There’s nothing else to it. The workshops will take place at Chichester University in the recently built state of the art music block. There is a canteen/shop on site for breaks as well as vending machines in the music block itself. We hope to see you for the first session in October.

For more information please contact us at