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#1552929 - 11/07/10 01:20 PM Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Hey players. I got the original Charlie Parker Omni book in concert C for piano years ago and have been going to a jam session with horn players and we have been playing some of the tunes from the book. I have developed a new interest in further study of Bird's music using the Omni book as a guide.

I read through "Yard Bird Suite" Confirmation, Donna Lee, etc. with the metronome and try to increase the recommended tempo until I can play the heads at the speed listed. I'm also working on being able to play the heads with L/R hands in double octaves.

Parkers tunes for a piano player are a challenge because there are many interval spacings like sixths and minor sixths, fast tempos, voicings and other elements.

Since working with the Omni Book everyday as a practice routine, I have noticed a new sound in my own improvisations, different paths and ideas that I never thought of. The hard part is trying to locate the exact Parker recordings that the Omni book was transcribed from to compare the written music to what he was actually playing.

Has anyone else worked with the Omni book and has it helped your playing and improvisation approach? There is a lot of material to go through in the book, but it can be a good exercise to get a lot of ideas from.

katt


Edited by nitekatt2008z (11/07/10 01:21 PM)

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#1552992 - 11/07/10 03:04 PM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Dave Ferris Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1675
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
The music/lines/harmony of Bird & Bud Powell are the foundation of modern Jazz--similar to Classical music and Bach.

I've been working on some of these heads/solos going back to '79 when I first started with Charlie Shoemake. There is a wealth of information in there that been part of my practice routine for over 30 years.

I still take one, two three bar sections from the solos and transpose to all 12 keys with:
1) the double octaves
2) LH alone with a RH corresponding voicing and vice versa
3) LH & RH alone with no voicing and visualizing the harmony/chord changes in my mind
4) I also goose the tempo up a bit (with the metronome ) from my comfort zone on a regular basis. I still want the lines to sound controlled, relaxed and in the groove.

You're right, a lot of the Sax lines are not piano friendly, interval wise, so it does make it quite a challenge in places.
There was a year in the late '90s where I had worked out the head of "Confirmation" in about 8 keys with the double octaves at around Half note=90-100. Don't ask me to do it today though. smile

I can usually hear in another Jazz pianist's playing right off the bat if he or she has studied much Bebop. There are a ton of great, young modern players out there that can play the most complex chord extensions, metric modulations, odd time sigs but have trouble sounding good (at least to me) on standard tunes like "Confirmation", "Donna Lee" or Rhythm changes and Blues.

_________________________
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2005 NY Steinway D, Nord Piano 2

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#1553033 - 11/07/10 03:50 PM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2940
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
Katt,

I've learned many heads and solos from Bird. From the Omnibook, Donna Lee, Confirmation, Parker's mood, Moose, Perhaps, Au privave, Now's the time etc... Also a few that are not in the book, like Just Friends and embraceabale you. Some I learn the whole solos, some I just take the head and move it up. Donna lee is really great for that. I put it in transcribe and try to really nail it at 50%, then only I move it up a couple % at a time. It takes hours. There comes a speed where it gets really tough, especially in particular spots that just don't work great on the piano. That's not the instrument they were written for. So it takes you out of the comfort zone and forces you to expand.

For the last year or so, it has replaced practicing scales for me.

In general, I've been able to find the original without problem. Often, it's on youtube. They tell you if it was released on Savoy or Verve, so the original is usually in one of the 2 complete sets.

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#1553273 - 11/07/10 09:08 PM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: knotty]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
[quote=knotty]Katt,

I've learned many heads and solos from Bird. From the Omnibook, Donna Lee, Confirmation, Parker's mood, Moose, Perhaps, Au privave, Now's the time etc... Also a few that are not in the book, like Just Friends and embraceabale you. Some I learn the whole solos, some I just take the head and move it up. Donna lee is really great for that. I put it in transcribe and try to really nail it at 50%, then only I move it up a couple % at a time. It takes hours. There comes a speed where it gets really tough, especially in particular spots that just don't work great on the piano. That's not the instrument they were written for. So it takes you out of the comfort zone and forces you to expand.

In general, I've been able to find the original without problem. Often, it's on youtube. They tell you if it was released on Savoy or Verve, so the original is usually in one of the 2 complete sets.

That's great! Other piano players are also getting positive benefits using the Omni Book as an adjunct to their practice routine and finding the tunes as challenging as I do. I have seen some good youtube videos of Bird playing some of the tunes in the book.

The Omni Book doesn't seem to be a method where you just sit down and attempt to sight read the heads at the tempos listed. I know I have to write fingerings in and change things around to make them work. I take things slowly at first. I was also inspired listening to Jaco Pastorious' Donna Lee version and that was also something that motivated me to "get back to the Bird."

It seems that since Oscar Paterson and Phineas Newborn, Jr could play those fast double octave solos, they must have worked through the Omni Book or something similar.

katt




Edited by nitekatt2008z (11/07/10 09:09 PM)

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#1553361 - 11/08/10 12:02 AM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
AJF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1530
Loc: Toronto
I've worked with the Omnibook for years and feel that it's an immeasurably useful tool for growing as an improviser. Not to mention the tunes are great!

I once had a lesson with Geoff Keezer (a truly phenominal jazz pianist if you don't know him) and he showed me how he would work through solos in the omnibook. First he would learn the solo in unison with both hands in all 12 keys. Then he'd play it in two keys at once (eg. Ab in the LH and E in the RH). THEN(!) he would work on playing it in both hands but stagger the entry of one of the hands (ie. start the RH 2 or 4 beats later than the LH and vice versa). It was an inspiring and frightening sight to behold....

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#1553814 - 11/08/10 05:55 PM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Jazz+ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
Loc: Banned
If you had only time for working on one solo in the Omnibook, then which one would you say would be the most enriching?
_________________________
Roland FP-4 digital piano, Mason & Hamlin acoustic piano.

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#1553873 - 11/08/10 07:15 PM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I guess I never really got into the omnibook. Maybe it's the way I was taught by my teachers, but I would rather transcribe them on my own then use book. I figured, I will probably need to learn it well enough to be able to play them by memory, and I seem to retain a lot better learning them "by ear". I did that for Chick Corea's Matrix solo, and now I am learning it in different keys.. It's actually a lot easier than I expected..I learned to play it in Bb in like couple of days. I think if I learned it from a transcription books I would probably have much harder time playing them in different keys.


Edited by etcetra (11/08/10 07:16 PM)

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#1554278 - 11/09/10 11:46 AM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: etcetra]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Originally Posted By: etcetra
I guess I never really got into the omnibook. Maybe it's the way I was taught by my teachers, but I would rather transcribe them on my own then use book. I figured, I will probably need to learn it well enough to be able to play them by memory, and I seem to retain a lot better learning them "by ear". I did that for Chick Corea's Matrix solo, and now I am learning it in different keys.. It's actually a lot easier than I expected..I learned to play it in Bb in like couple of days. I think if I learned it from a transcription books I would probably have much harder time playing them in different keys.


Etcetra, there are several other uses I found that are helping me with using the Omni Book. It is helping my sight reading, fingering patterns, time improvement using it with a metronome, experimenting with the voicing patterns, using Aebersold and MIDI backing tracks to play along with the tunes and playing along with the original recordings if I can find them. I also put them into Transcribe to figure passages of solos by ear, because reading the notes doesn't tell the whole story.

So far, I am only learning about 6 or 7 tunes to start with and then I will try to learn them in a few other keys.

But whether anyone decides that the Omni Book is worth trying out to see if it helps them, it's another tool out there to use. But using Transcribe along with it I feel helps even more.

katt

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#1554339 - 11/09/10 02:05 PM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Dror Perl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/10
Posts: 272
Loc: NY
The omni book is definitely one the music treasures out there...
there's so many ways you can practice it and so many things to learn from it.
Memorizing & transposing phrases in all 12 keys, work on your sight reading, improving your technique and working on your fingering by playing (one hand at a time or both together)and gradually increasing the tempo, playing the melody with the right and walking-bass with the left, etc etc

One fun idea is when you bump into a II-V phrase that you really love just work on it for a while in different keys and then just play other jazz standards that you like (not even from the omni) and just try to play that phrase on each II-V
_________________________
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Sheer Piano: The First Full Color Piano Music Books





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#1554433 - 11/09/10 05:07 PM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2940
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
>> work on your sight reading
I've noticed that the omnibook has improved my sight reading (which is poor) tremendously.

>> One fun idea is when you bump into a II-V phrase that you really love just work on it for a while in different keys and then just play other jazz standards that you like (not even from the omni) and just try to play that phrase on each II-V

Something else I do once in a while. Just pick up a cool little phrase and apply all over the place.

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#1554436 - 11/09/10 05:08 PM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2940
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
>>If you had only time for working on one solo in the Omnibook, then which one would you say would be the most enriching?
Maybe Moose.

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#1554770 - 11/10/10 08:02 AM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/07
Posts: 290
Loc: Massachusetts
This is a very interesting exercise --

David Baker wrote a 3-part series on learning bebop, and to boil down his basic method, he suggests learning the melodies of some 40 different bebop tunes. His argument is that the entire vocabulary of bebop is codified in those 40 different tunes. Sounds easy, doesn't it? But it isn't -- his method of "learning a melody" is to learn in backwards and forwards, in most (if not all) keys. While I haven't done this myself, I've been told that it gets easier after time, as does memorizing tunes.

So learning bebop via the Omnibook, as I see it, is not all that different than Baker's method. In fact, quite a few of the melodies that Baker suggests are Parker standards, and transcribed in the Omnibook. The only major difference is that Baker suggests only the melodies, whereas the Omnibook has entire solos. Bird's vocabulary, if you will.

There is a Boston-area drummer named Bob Guilotti, legendary for his teaching, who has his students play through the Omnibook, for much the same reason.

Guy

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#1554799 - 11/10/10 09:15 AM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2940
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
>> If you had only time for working on one solo in the Omnibook, then which one would you say would be the most enriching?

Jazz+,

If you're asking for a student, I would add that not all solos are equally difficult. Moose and Billie's bounce are easier than most, I think. Au Privave is also on the easier side, with a challenging short 16th note line. So that's a good tune.

Donna Lee's and Confirmation's head are about equally as difficult, but the solo to confirmation is very hard. Long, and with extended 16th notes at 200 bpm. Regardless of what tempo you take it, it's brutal. But you could just make it an exercise to learn the head in this case, and just move it up the metronome.

Last Monday, as we are playing, I started playing confirmation, and the guitarist must have not really paid attention and thought suddenly I was spitting awesome lines. Just to say that the melodies themselves are just like solos.

I'll add that the melodies from one recording to another varies.

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#1555461 - 11/11/10 08:32 AM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Guy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/30/07
Posts: 290
Loc: Massachusetts
Knotty -- that's exactly the point that my jazz mentor made to me, many years ago. He said there is a lot of benefit just in memorizing melodies, and I think that is reflected in David Baker's bebop method. There's also a story I've told many times, where I told my piano teacher, that I wasn't able to make heads or tails of the blues scale, and he responded "because it's not about playing the blues scale, it's about playing the blues!" Then over the following weeks, he had me memorizing blues melodies (at a clip of 10 per week).

I've learned a little bit about the genesis of the Omnibook -- has anyone else heard anything in their musical travels?

Guy

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#1555473 - 11/11/10 09:05 AM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2940
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
Guy,

The point about the blues is very true. After you play a dozen solos or so, I think playing the blues becomes something completely different. It really puts you in shape for that. Same for Rhythm changes. Initially, because those don't follow traditional harmonies, relying on chords and scales doesn't get you very far, but after playing Bird's solos, it starts to make sense.

It's training for the ear as well as for the fingers. Great stuff.

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#1555660 - 11/11/10 02:01 PM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
custard apple Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2266
Loc: Sydney
Hi Knotty
At what stage am I ready for the Omnibook ? I've just started Lesson 16 in JOI.

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#1555675 - 11/11/10 02:21 PM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: custard apple]
PaintedPostDave Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/10
Posts: 492
Loc: Upstate New York
It's interesting to hear about the CP Omnibook. I have slowly been using it to transcribe several of his blues heads to one key so I can inject them in between improvisations during a long blues session. For a non-sight reader like me the book, in concert with Finale Songwriter, is really useful.

Regarding the practicing drill suggested by Geoff Keezer: I would really like to hear it - right and left hands in unison - in different keys? That is hard to believe. whome
_________________________
Dave Koenig
Yamaha M1A console
1927 Knabe 7' 8" grand
https://sites.google.com/site/analysisofsoundsandvibrations/

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#1559500 - 11/17/10 08:33 AM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2940
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
Cus,

The omnibook can replace the hanons when you are done with them. Meanwhile, you should sing with solos still on some of the suggested recordings. If you have the time, nothing wrong with singing Birds solos.

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#1559733 - 11/17/10 05:53 PM Re: Charlie Parker Omni Book Studies For Improvisation [Re: nitekatt2008z]
custard apple Online   blank
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2266
Loc: Sydney
Thanks for your guidance Knotty.
I’m on Lesson 16 Hanons at 120 bpm and singing Charlie Christian.

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