Daily Practice 5: 1,9,5,13

In this video I practice using a 4 note cell or “tetrad” consisting of just the 1st, the 9th, the 5th and 13th degree of the major scale. In C this would be C, D, G and A. An interesting thing about this specific tetrad is that, since it contains no 3rd or 7th it sounds great for improvising over Major 9, minor 9 or Dominant 9 chords. This means that just working on this one tetrad will potentially cover a lot of harmonic ground and practical application. Also, be placing the tetrad in a different location in the harmony, i.e. built off the #11 on a Dominant 7th chord, it can easily imply altered harmony i.e. G7 (C#, D#, G#, A#) or #11, #5, b9, b9. I practice the tetrad in various ways in all keys. Doing this over time will lead to a fluidity in its use.


Daily Practice 4: Modes of Harmonic Minor

In this video I’m working on the modes of C harmonic minor.  I play up and down the 7 scales or modes and I play up and down the 7th chord for each of the modes.  The modes and their corresponding 7th chords can be thought of like this:

1st mode: C minor major 7 b13 (C-Maj7)

2nd mode: D minor 7 b5 b9 nat 13 (D-7b5)

3rd mode: Eb Major 7 #5 nat 11 (Eb Maj7#5)

4th mode: F minor 7 #11 (F-7)

5th mode: G7 b9 b13 nat 11 (G7)

6th mode: Ab Major 7 #9 #11 (AbMaj7)

7th mode: G7 b9 b13 nat 11/B (B dim)

*note that I like to think of the 7th mode as the 5th mode with the 3rd in the bass – or you can think of a diminished with an added nat 3rd.


Daily Practice 3: -7b5 chords

In this practice video I’m working on minor 7 b5 chords or half diminished chords.  I’ve found that by just focusing on the 4 notes of the 7th chord (tetrad or tetrachord) I strengthen my understanding of the structure and basic sound of the half diminished chord.  Doing this over time has made it easier for me to improvise over this chord which I find one of the harder sounds to become comfortable with.  In this example I play up and down the 7th chord in all keys in triplets, I also improvise some in triplets using just the 4 notes of the 7th chord.



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Daily Practice: 2 Accenting Triplets

In this practice video I’m working on using hand drums (in this case books) to practice accenting the 2nd triplet.  I also demonstrate working on triplets grouped in 5’s.  I’ve found that working with hand drums or simply tapping on a table or on my legs is be a great way to work on my rhythm, time and feel.  It definitely translates to my playing on the saxophone, improving my overall time, feel and groove.  Working on accenting the 2nd triplet using hand drumming is slowly helping me hear and feel the 2nd triplet accent which in turn keeps me true to the harmonic rhythm and from losing beat 1 when the rhythm section starts to accent the 2nd triplet for a time.

~ Enjoy!

~Come study with me at KU and get your degree at the same time~

Daily Practice: 1 Lydian b13 Cycle 5

This is the first in a new series of video “lessons” I’ll be publishing on this blog.  I’ll be sharing the things I’m working on in real time, recording some of my practice time during the day.  I will verbally explain what I’m working on and how I’m thinking about it. There will be mistakes and a certain degree raw, unrefined playing in these videos so it may not be for everyone.  I hope it’s somewhat inspiring in so far as it let’s you know that we’re all working on this art form together and that we’re not alone.

In this first practice video I’m working on a Lydian b13 scale (1, 9, 3, #11, 5, b13, maj7, 1) through the 12 keys and playing it in Cycle 5 (consecutive diatonic 5ths).  For more information on Cycle 5 see my post: Lesson 75.


~Come study with me at KU and get your degree at the same time~

New Drones – Arco Bass

I recently recorded new Drones with my good friend Jeff Harshbarger.  Jeff spent an afternoon over at my home studio and recorded all 12 drones with his beautiful acoustic bass and bow.

Jeff Harshbarger

Over the years, I have enjoyed using the Indian classical tambura or tampura drones and thought it would be nice to have some new Drones to practice with using a Bowed Acoustic Bass (arco).

I really enjoy these new drones as the sound of the acoustic bass is both familiar and central to jazz and other forms of western music.

Drones are great for both teaching and practice.  You can use them for ear training, to play scales, chords, melodies, songs, intervals, free improvisation or anything you can think of.

Below is a free drone track (Concert C) you can practice with to get an idea as to how rich and full they sound.  You can support the blog by purchasing the Acoustic Arco Bass Drones below:
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The mp3’s are “zipped” in a RAR file – Once you download them use winrar or 7zip to open the file on PC or RAR Extractor for Mac.

Thanks for your support!


~ Drum and Bass Play Along Dominant 7th Chords

This play along covers Dominant 7th chords in all 12 keys.  I’ve been enjoying using these tracks in both my personal practice and teaching for a while.

The  bass and drums swing at 120bpm in 4/4 time while a dominant 7th shell voicing (root, 3rd, b7th) drones in the background.

This type of play along has been done before, but the use of the live bass and drums combined with a drone of the Dominant 7 shell voicing (root, 3rd, b7) makes it really easy to hear the Dominant 7th sound.

Also, since the tracks have  minimal rhythmic comping from a chordal instrument I find these play alongs less distracting when working on ear training or a specific phrase, scale or melodic idea.

Since each track is only a shell voicing plus bass and drums, you can play any type of dominant 7th chord or chord scale when practicing.

Dominant 7th play along


For example, you can put on the C7 play along (below) and improvise using C7 mixolydian, lydian dominant, altered, b9 – b13, H.W. diminished, whole tone, or any other dominant 7 chord scale, or just play free over the dominant 7th sound.

Each track plays for 5 minutes, and you can pick just the dominant 7th shell drone (root, 3rd and b7th) or the Drum and Bass plus dominant 7th shell drone (24 tracks in all).

You can download the mp3s from CD baby here or find them on any of the common online mp3 distributors.

Below is and sample C7 track you can play along to:



~ Enjoy!

Modern Jazz Vocab. Vol. 3


Improvising over the minor ii-7, V7, i chord progression can be challenging for both the beginning and advanced jazz musician. Modern Jazz Vocabulary Vol.3  contains over 1600 Bars of minor ii-7, V7, i- melodies, licks and patterns in all 12 keys. The material is designed to help one develop an aural, technical and theoretical understanding of this common chord progression in each key. The lines use a variety of rhythmic groupings, chord substitutions, triads, triad pairs, chromatics, approach notes, tensions, chord tones, non chord tones, scales,  and both “inside” and “outside” concepts, all with an emphasis on melody.  You can click the cover art to buy the book from LULU press.  Thanks for your support!     Modern Jazz Vocab. Vol. 3   Work on the content as you like. You can focus on one bar or one short melody at a time or just play through the material. I recommend using a metronome and learning to sing the individual ideas that you find most interesting and compelling. ~Enjoy!

~Come study with me at KU and get your degree at the same time~

Modern Jazz Vocabulary Vol.3 ~minor ii-V-i~ PDF:

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~Play Along CD in 7/4

~Buy the 7/4 Play Along CD ~

This is Vol.2 of the Drum and Bass, Roots and Rhythm “play along” which is designed for both practicing and teaching.  Vol. 1 has been well received and I thought one in 7/4 would be a nice addition.  I’ve been using Drones and Pedals along with a metronome for years but now I’ve started using these play along’s for the same basic purposes. The bass player Jeff Harshbarger plays one note (root) for the duration of each exercise while Brian Steever keeps time on the drums. This allows you to practice anything you’d like over the root; a harmony, singing, visualizing, scales, tunes, lines, melodies, or free improvisation. I’ve been using these tracks for a while now,  and I find them much more stimulating and inspiring than using a drone alone.Drum and Bass Roots and Rhythm Vol

Volume 2 is all in 7/4 at tempos 80, 120 and 200 bpm and includes roots in every key. There are 29 tracks in both straight and swing feels and also a few tracks of drums alone from 120 to 240 bpm.  I’ve included a sample track below that you can try out. You can click on the photo to purchase the mp3s from CD baby or send me a modest Donation with a message and I’ll email you a link directly.


Here’s a free track you can try out;  Swing at 120 Bpm in 7 over a B pedal:


~Click Here To Make A Donation. Thank You!~!

~Purchase my book: Modern Jazz Vocabulary Vol. 2~

~Buy The Bass and Drums Play Along CD in 4/4~

Broken Waltz ~ 4 Stars in Downbeat!

I’m  happy to announce that the new CD “Broken Waltz” is finished!  In an effort to make the music affordable for anyone and everyone,  I’m offering both the CD and all the sheet music for a modest donation of ANY amount – 1$ to 100$.  This includes both 10 mp3s (flac or mp3) and the corresponding 10 Concert pitch lead sheets (in PDF format).


~Donate with the link below and I’ll send you the recording and sheet music ASAP! ~Thanks for your support! 🙂

 Downbeat Magazine has given the Album 4 stars: here’s the link: Downbeat Review.


~Click Here To Make A Donation for Broken Waltz. Thank You~!


The download links to a RAR file of the recording and the sheet music.

You can open the RAR file with WINRAR or 7zip – both free to use.

You can also click here to buy the recording from CD Baby at the regular price.


This new CD features:

Leonard Thompson on Rhodes

Jason Harnell on Drums

David J. Carpenter on Bass

Brian Walsh on Bass Clarinet

Matt Otto on Tenor/sop sax/compositions

Sara Gazarek on Vocals


The recording includes 10 original songs of mine, many with a folk like quality, reflecting my early musical influences growing up listening to my parents music;  Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, James Taylor, Phil Ochs, Simon and Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Woody Guthrie and the like.  I’m very happy with how the project turned out.

Produced by David J. Carpenter and Matt Otto

Engineered and Recorded by David J. Carpenter

Mixed by Matt Otto and David J. Carpenter

Mastered by Rob Beaton

Cover art by Jamie Rosenn


Kenny Brooks transcribed my solo on “What Democracy” from this album:

Solo on What Democracy “2000” PDF

What Democracy “2000” Solo mp3