Ballad – Mellow Tones
This excerpt is marked to be played as a jazz ballad with even 8th notes. Partway down the page it switches to a double time swing feel with swing 16ths. Since there is no specific tempo listed, I experimented with a few and found that I like it around quarter note = 80. That makes the breathing and feel seem to work well for me. As with all of the jazz etudes, style is more important than tempo. If you need to play a little bit faster to make the phrases or a bit slower to give yourself chances to breathe, you should be fine as long as the feel is good.
Pay close attention to the articulations that I use in the recording. You will notice that I add several slurs rather than tonguing the whole example.
I also use several alternate positions in order to keep my arm more relaxed and to create some natural slurs. Natural slurs are ‘real’ slurs like what a trumpet or sax player can do, rather than having to cheat by articulating softly in order to try to sound like we are slurring on a trombone.
Swing – Forward Momentum
This excerpt is marked to be played Fast Swing. Since there is no specific tempo listed, I experimented with a few and found that I liked it at around half note = 90 or quarter note = 180. That makes the breathing and feel seem to work well for me.
Pay close attention to the articulations in the example and that I use in the recording. In swing styles the default articulation and note length is to play quarter notes short unless they are marked otherwise and to play eighth notes long unless they are the last eighth note before a rest. The composer has done a great job of marking exactly what he wants and paying attention to what is on the page will help to differentiate your playing from the others auditioning.
After playing it at that speed a few times, I decided to see how it would feel at quarter note = 200.
Then again at quarter note = 220.
I think I like the overall feel best at quarter note = 180-200, but it was interesting to experiment with faster tempos.
Pay close attention to the difference in the swing 8th note feel at the faster tempos. Notice that the slower the tempo is, the more of an uneven lilting feel the 8th notes have. As the speed increases, the 8th notes are played in a more even rhythm, although still with an uneven rhythmic emphasis. Listen to the examples below of the final few measures of each tempo to hear how the swing feel changes to fit the tempos.
Quarter note = 180
Quarter note = 220
As you heard above, I made a drum track to accompany myself in place of using a metronome for Forward Momentum. For these styles of jazz etudes, it is important to play as if you are playing with a rhythm section. Rubato really doesn’t work for these unless you are playing a ballad, and even then, the rhythm section will most likely still be chugging along as you play.
The links below are downloadable mp3 files that you can use to practice with.
Forward Momentum – Drum Track Only