Improvising Over the Blues - Sonny Clark

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Lesson Description

The "Improvising Over . . ." series of lessons provides insight into how to improvise over the chord changes to important tunes in the jazz repertoire. Based on a transcription of a master musician improvising over the changes to a standard jazz tune, each lesson describes how the soloist uses chord tones, arpeggios, chordscale passages, approach patterns and other improvisational techniques to develop their solo. The onscreen practice sessions will take you from the lesson to the piano and help you get started improvising over these tunes.

Sonny Clark's star burned bright and hot but was short lived. In barely a decade, he rose through the ranks as a sideman starting in 1953 for everyone from Serge Chaloff to Dinah Washington and by the time he ascended to the role of leader on seven highly regarded recordings on Blue Note from 1957-1961 he was considered to be the definitive hard bop pianist in jazz. By 1963, he was dead at the age of 31.

In this lesson, a transcription of his solo over his blues head, "Blues Blue," from his 1959 Blue Note recording, "My Conception," is analyzed for his use of blues sound and chord sound.


Watch this short video for an overview of the content of this course.



The Five Essential 7th Chords
Improvisation - The Concept
Four Components of Melodic Construction

Study Support

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To continue your study of this topic, face-to-face, live webcam lessons are available.


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What's included?

8 Videos
1 Survey
2 Texts
1 Download
Bill Rinehart
Bill Rinehart

About the instructor

Bill did undergraduate work at the Berklee College of Music and holds the M.Mus. degree in Jazz Studies from the Boston Conservatory/Berklee College of Music where he studied with Ray Santisi and Charlie Banacos. Bill taught and played extensively around the Boston area for the better part of two decades appearing everywhere from the legendary Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge MA to a long stand at the Hampshire House on Beacon Hill in Boston before relocating to the Raleigh-Durham NC area where he teaches full-time on