Jazz Blog

— 2013 — Jun 3

Joe Henderson at age 26

by Anton Schwartz

Fifty years ago today, a 26-year-old Joe Henderson recorded his debut album, Page One, for Blue Note Records. In addition to its stellar lineup and the fact that it debuts two songs that went on to become jazz mega-classics, Page One is notable in that it displays gorgeous facets of Joe’s playing that one doesn’t hear in his later years… [read more]

— 2013 — Mar 18

The Girl From Ipanema (at 50)

by Anton Schwartz

In praise of the song we all love to hate. [read more]

— 2013 — Mar 11

Studio Confessions

by Anton Schwartz

Like most jazz recordings, my CDs have stayed pretty true to the live-concert experience. But here’s a couple tricks we’ve played in the studio over the years that we couldn’t have pulled off live. Audio included [read more]

— 2013 — Mar 10

Understanding Sus Chords

by Anton Schwartz

I encounter a lot of musicians who know the definition of a sus chord but who struggle to understand sus chords as clearly as, say, minor or dominant chords. Perhaps this post will shed some helpful light. [read more]

— 2013 — Jan 11

A nameless ii-V cadence

by Anton Schwartz

A look at a cadence where a ii-V progression resolves not down a perfect fifth to the I chord, but up a half step. [read more]

— 2012 — Nov 30

An iTunes Tip for Musicians

by Anton Schwartz

An invaluable little tip if you’re a musician and you use iTunes on a Mac or PC. [read more]

— 2012 — Nov 27

Reverse Engineering Our Dominant Scales

by Anton Schwartz

Have you ever noticed that you can get a bunch of important jazz scales by assembling smaller half-scale “modules” in different combinations? Here’s a fresh way of visualizing some common dominant scales and how they’re “built.” [read more]

— 2012 — Nov 25

Harmonic Brightness & Darkness

by Anton Schwartz

Minor chords are often described as “dark,” major chords as “bright.” In this post I propose a technical definition of musical darkness and brightness that I’ve found very useful for thinking about musical harmony. [read more]

— 2012 — Jul 26

Transcribing Jazz Solos

by Anton Schwartz

Most jazz musicians recognize the enormous value of transcribing solos, but relatively few go about it in a way that lets them milk that value. This post contains many pointers, as well as a step by step example. [read more]

— 2012 — Jul 11

Loft Concerts in Oakland & Seattle

by Anton Schwartz

For years I’ve put on concerts at my loft space in Oakland, California, collaborating with great Bay Area players and touring players passing through town. The concerts are intimate performances with a party vibe before & after. Recently I’ve started them up in Seattle, Washington as well. [read more]

— 2012 — Jul 10

How to Think about Scale Modes

by Anton Schwartz

How often have we heard this? Teacher: Do you know what the C lydian scale is? Student: That’s the same as the G major scale, right? It’s useful to know that a C lydian scale has the same notes as a G major scale. But I find it much more useful to know that a […] [read more]

— 2012 — Apr 16

Harmonic Intervals from Polyrhythms

by Anton Schwartz

Here’s a beautiful audio/video demonstration of a simple acoustic principle which relates the perfect fifth harmonic interval to a 3:2 polyrhythm. [read more]

— 2012 — Feb 27

Blues in Disguise?

by Anton Schwartz

My “Radiant Blue” CD is a collection of ten songs that, in different and sometimes unusual ways, follow the blues form. But you probably wouldn’t notice that, listening to it. “Radiant Blue is a CD of blueses, but it is not a blues CD any more than The Who’s rock opera, Tommy, is an opera CD.” [read more]

— 2012 — Jan 31

The Backdoor ii-V Progression

by Anton Schwartz

We all know how a standard ii-V-I progression works: a Dm7 chord followed by a G7 chord resolves to the key of C. We also hear a lot about the Tritone Substitution ii-V, in which the Dm7 and G7 resolve, instead, to the key of F#. Well, there is another very common resolution of the ii-V progression… much more common among standards than the tritone sub version… which gets surprisingly little discussion relative to the others. [read more]

— 2012 — Jan 23

Jazz Etude 1

by Anton Schwartz

Here is an etude I wrote that I use with various masterclasses I teach. The etude fits nicely on the saxophone, and can be used for other instruments as well. It’s a line written over two choruses of blues—a good vehicle for dealing with articulations, inflections and the like. [read more]

— 2012 — Jan 16

Around the circle of fifths… backwards

by Anton Schwartz

I was humming Hendrix’s Hey Joe not too long ago and it occurred to me: the harmony song’s chords are a cycle of major chords moving downward in fourths. The world is filled with songs whose chords move around the cycle in the standard direction… down fifths… but I had never noticed one that moved backwards, like Hey Joe. I wondered: are there others there? … [read more]

— 2011 — Dec 27

Free Music Business Articles from Berklee

by Anton Schwartz

The Berklee College of Music recently released the second volume of its Music Business Handbook. The new volume and the original one are available as free downloads from their site. They feature articles by their faculty on a variety of subjects related to making a career in music—legal, strategic, marketing, financial, etc. [read more]

— 2011 — Dec 8

Jazz Attitudes

by Anton Schwartz

This following is a piece that I wrote in 2008 for my high school alumni magazine. Because I came to jazz via a route other than music school, I have a different perspective on life as a jazz musician than many who did. I give some observations about making a career in jazz and about preconceptions that are common among musicians. [read more]

— 2011 — Dec 6

Pangur Bán

by Anton Schwartz

Of all my compositions, the one that draws the most comments and questions is Pangur Bán. I’ve never recorded it, but I’ve been performing it off and on for some years now. I named it after a poem written in the 9th century by an anonymous Irish Monk. As I’ve explained at gigs now and then, the name is a groaner of a pun… [read more]

— 2011 — Nov 19

First Post: Ode to a Ballad

by Anton Schwartz

For several years I’ve been sending out a mailing every few months about my teaching activities. In most I’ve included a little discussion about at topic in jazz music or jazz education. While I’ll continue to send out those mailings (go to my contact page to sign up if you like), I’ll be making those sorts of discussions a part of my website’s blog. To start things off, here’s one I wrote about a favorite ballad of mine, Moonlight in Vermont[read more]

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