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Chapter
2
Jazz Form and improvisation
Overview

Here students are guided toward recognizing and understanding two broad categories of jazz form: the 12-bar blues and 32-bar popular song (A A B A and its variants). We look at the rhythmic and harmonic structures used in jazz, with the aim of familiarizing students with the principles underlying improvisation. How do musicians make up music on the spot and still have it make sense? The chapter also explores the venues and audience behavior associated with big-band jazz and small combo jazz.

  • Bessie Smith, Reckless Blues
  • Louis Armstrong, West End Blues
  • Pete Johnson/Big Joe Turner, It’s All Right, Baby
  • Charlie Parker, Now’s the Time
  • Billie Holiday, A Sailboat in the Moonlight
  • Miles Davis, So What

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