Hey Jazz Guy,
Now that I’ve got the inside playing down,
how ’bout that “out” stuff?
—Inside in Indianapolis
How ’bout that “out” stuff? Well, it is
worth looking outside the box to examining
some simple techniques that can sound
fantastically outside. As we did with the
inside examples, we’ll use the first eight
bars of “Stella By Starlight” for practice.
In the first two examples we are using a
simple idea—playing a half-step away from
the chords. Ex. 1 uses inside lines a halfstep
up from the changes, so we’re playing
Fm7(b5) to Bb7alt. Then in the next two bars
[Ex. 2], we play a half-step down from the
changes, Bm7 to E7. Straight inside lines,
played a half-step away from the chords can
sound mesmerizing. This idea can also be
used with other intervals. For the II-V in
the next two bars [Ex. 3], we back-cycle a
“Coltrane” pattern, in this case we want to
resolve to Ebmaj7 so we play B, D7, G, Bb7,
to Ebmaj7. Finally we employ a hexatonic
scale in Ex. 4 built on two adjacent triads,
D and Eb. Playing this over Ebmaj7 gives
some “in” notes, like the maj7, 5, and 3,
and some out notes, like the #11 and #9.
Holding this scale over Ab7(#11) continues
the ambiguous effect. These techniques can
get rather wild, so practice them hard but
keep them in check—they sound best in
contrast with other types of playing. Just
like in The Matrix where there is no spoon,
you can play inside the box and outside the
box. Ultimately, there is no box.
Jake Hertzog is the jazz ambassador to the non-jazz
world. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jake’s latest release is Patterns [Buckyball].