Renowned jazz guitarist Tom Lippincott explores the intricacies of modern jazz improvisation in a video series dedicated to specifics of improvisation. While not strictly a companion piece to his series on modern jazz guitar, this two-part series on jazz improvisation builds on the chord structures and thematic elements discussed in Lippincott’s five-part jazz guitar collection. Lippincott further identifies elements of modern jazz, focusing on contemporary styles and key progressions to help jazz performers hone their skill and develop their own unique styles. Both parts focus on individual elements, but they share a common goal of demonstrating modern jazz improvisation through the use of practical application in a musical context. Those interested in developing the craft of jazz guitar will appreciate the in-depth approach to improvisation discussed in the two-part series.
Part I: Exploring Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge”
Part I of Modern Jazz Improvisations explores modal styles using Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” as an example. Because of its significance in contemporary compositions, “Inner Urge” provides the basis for relevant chord progressions, and Lippincott uses its structure to teach the elements of basic improvisation. Throughout the lesson, Lippincott builds on one unifying idea: With only one sound being performed, how do jazz musicians make an interesting melody?
Jazz improvisation uses thematic development to enhance a single sound. Using a static harmony, Lippincott outlines various groups of notes to bring out different thematic elements while keeping the same idea constant throughout harmonically different sounds. The end result forms the crux of improvisation techniques later developed in Part II of the series.
The video runs for 114 minutes and includes 13 pages of written musical examples, exercises along with detailed closeups of the techniques being performed. Included with purchase is a full-length backing track of the music performed so that musicians can follow along and practice on their own time.
Part II: Building on the Basics
In Part II of Modern Jazz Improvisations, Lippincott outlines chord progression by taking examples from artists like Ari Hoenig, Jonathan Kreisberg and Kurt Rosentwinkel. Building on the basics established in the first part of the series, Lippincott shows musicians how to “arpeggiate the chords,” meaning how to continue the pattern of enhancing a sound by overlaying differing harmonic structures.
This lesson explores the idea of increased fluency by moving through rapidly progressing chords. Lippincott encourages the “forward momentum” created by differing triads and loose inversion, building on a sound idea intuitively and within the same note structure as initially established. Contemporary jazz features concepts such as lengthy harmonies and frequent meter changes. Lippincott’s instruction on these and other concepts will help developing jazz artists hone their abilities and work toward a richer and more modern sound in their own compositions.
The second part features a run time of 112 minutes and includes 20 written pages of examples and musical exercises. Featuring a backup track of the full series, musicians are free to explore practice sessions on their own after watching the detailed demonstrations included in the lesson.