Celebrate National Jazz Appreciation Month With These 7 Lessons

Happy National Jazz Appreciation Month!

In 2001, the National Museum of American History minted the month of April as Jazz Appreciation Month, to make sure that all music-lovers have an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the incalculable legacy that Jazz music has created.

To help push this initiative forward, we’re encouraging you to spend some time engaging with Jazz, whether that means listening to recordings, teaching yourself a tune, transcribing a solo, or learning about its depth of history. 

For starters, here are 7 of the Soundfly Team’s favorite lessons exploring Jazz harmony, concepts, and sampling techniques. Some of these videos can be found on our YouTube channel, while others are only accessible on Soundfly. Make sure to subscribe here to take all of these lessons in full! 

1. Vince Di Mura on the Minimalist Blues of Miles Davis’ “Freddie Freeloader”

Princeton University Music Director Vince Di Mura breaks down one of the most iconic Jazz melodies of all time in Miles Davis’ “Freddie Freeloader” — exemplifying its clever, minimal digressions from the 12-bar blues form. 

Watch on YouTube

2. Kiefer on the Melodic Contours in Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance”

An early piano teacher told Kiefer to map each melodic movement as either up or down. Here he applies this study to Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance,” noting the interval leaps, analyzing melody as a form of language and design.

Watch on Soundfly

3. Elijah Fox on the Touch and Phrasing of Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, & Art Tatum

For Impressionist pianist Elijah Fox, every one of our fingers can be a unique voice in a choir — watch him reflect on the touch and phrasing styles in the singular playing of his idols: Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, and Art Tatum.

Watch on Soundfly

4. The Pocket Queen on the Dynamics of Otis Brown III, Questlove, & J Dilla

Drummer and composer The Pocket Queen explores the deep rhythmic feels of drummers Otis Brown III and Questlove and producer J Dilla, in pursuing the balance of drums sitting inside yet atop a musical backdrop.

Watch on YouTube

5. RJD2 on His Soul and Jazz Influences for Hip-Hop Sampling

Sampling master RJD2 finds inspiration in the “vibes” of ’60s and ’70s jazz and soul records — because to build a song around a single looped fragment, the emotion needs to carry through. Here are his tips for sourcing vinyls that sing.

Watch on Soundfly

6. Vince Di Mura on the Controlled Dissonance of Thelonious Monk’s “Straight No Chaser”

Back to Vince Di Mura for a brief discussion about Thelonious Monk’s hip chromatic tendencies in “Straight No Chaser,” a tune known for embracing coexisting major and minor thirds, as well as boldly embellishing “wrong” notes (which Monk famously refused to acknowledge).

Watch on YouTube

7. Ethan Hein on Erykah Badu’s Jazzy Chord Extensions Beyond Triads

NYU professor Ethan Hein defines the mysterious qualities of “jazzy-sounding” chords using the extended harmonies of Erykah Badu’s modern neo-soul classic “Otherside of the Game” as an example. 

Watch on Soundfly

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