St Thomas – Above and In The Changes

8.00

St Thomas is a must-know form in Jazz. In this lesson I am exploring how to improvise on this form in different ways. The main part of the approach is to use different chord progressions where more or less chords are used so that there are different levels of detail being used in the solo. This shows how it is easier to play more open lines with some progressions and at the same time easier to play good bop lines with other progressions.

The main part of the lesson is a 7 chorus solo that I improvised and that is included as a transcription. 

The St Thomas Solo – Calypso and Hardbop

The solo has three main segments using different chord progressions. The concept is in fact to take the original progressions and then reduce it to a lower amount of chords. With the reduced progressions it is a lot easier to play more free and open solos on the form. It is also easier to really focus on the rhythm and to improvise in a way that sounds more like calypso melodies. This is because Calypso does not really have that many chords originally.

Description

St Thomas is a must-know form in Jazz. In this lesson I am exploring how to improvise on this form in different ways. The main part of the approach is to use different chord progressions where more or less chords are used so that there are different levels of detail being used in the solo. This shows how it is easier to play more open lines with some progressions and at the same time easier to play good bop lines with other progressions.

The main part of the lesson is a 7 chorus solo that I improvised and that is included as a transcription. 

The St Thomas Solo – Calypso and Hardbop

The solo has three main segments using different chord progressions. The concept is in fact to take the original progressions and then reduce it to a lower amount of chords. With the reduced progressions it is a lot easier to play more free and open solos on the form. It is also easier to really focus on the rhythm and to improvise in a way that sounds more like calypso melodies. This is because Calypso does not really have that many chords originally.

7 Chorus solo + Annotated Transcription

The 7 chorus solo transcription is my take on a hardbop calypso solo. A big part of Hardbop was the inclusion of other grooves in the jazz style. This was pioneered by Sonny Rollins but also Horace Silver or Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers.

 

The solo and transcription serves as a way to start soloing over St Thomas. The analysis of the solo in the annotated transcription also offers some general info on connecting phrases and making a longer story out of your improvisation. This is immediately applicable to soloing on St Thomas, but of course also to solos in general. To me these skills are as important as being able to follow the chord changes since it is the way to make a solo great and not only a bunch of “right notes” over the chords. 

Exercises and Analysis

The transcription is provided as a basic transcription in PDF and GuitarPro 7. In addition to this I have included an annotated transcription.   With notes and remarks in the sheet music this clearly illustrates the different phrases with what is played and also how phrases interact with each other.

Topics Discussed

– Solo Chord Progressions
– Different Styles of Lines
– Rhythm and intensity
– Harmonization & chords
– Melodic Concepts
– Motifs, Call/Response
– Development of solo

Download Includes

– Video performance
– Annotated Transcription
– Transcription PDF/GuitarPro
– Article on the Progressions
– Performance mp3
– Backing track mp3