Tag Archives: Jim Funnell

pentatonic possibilities

Pentatonics are 5-note scales. Technically, any ordered sequence of 5 notes can be called a pentatonic. But the most common and widely used pentatonic is without doubt the one obtained by reordering a series of 5 notes stacked on top of each other in fifths (for example, the series “C G D A E” gives us “C D E G A” once reordered). This particular pentatonic comes in its “major” form (C D E G A), and its relative “minor” form (A C D E G).

So, what do I mean by “pentatonic possibilities?” Well, to give a more edgy and intervallic (less diatonic) feel to my lines while improvising over changes, I came to ask myself: what pentatonic scales can I use over these chords? Chords derive from modes, and modes from harmony types, so the question could be rephrased as: what pentatonic scales can be extracted from the various harmony types?

For the purpose of this particular post, I will limit myself to the most common pentatonic scale (the one discussed in the first paragraph), and to major, natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor harmony types. Let’s jump in and have a look at major harmony first. The pentatonics listed in the first and last column of the table shown below are extracted from the key of C major (C D E F G A B). Their “major” forms are listed in the left-hand side of the table along with their relative “minor” forms on the right-hand side, and the roman numerals represent the scale degrees for each pentatonic:

major harmony pentatonic possibilities
C D E G A I Maj. pent. <=> VI min. pent. A C D E G
F G A C D IV Maj. pent. <=> II min. pent. D F G A C
G A B D E V Maj. pent. <=> III min. pent. E G A B D

Natural minor harmony is equivalent to the Aeolian mode. Therefore, the pentatonic possibilities in natural minor are the same as in major harmony (the roman numerals indicating the scale degrees, however, would have to change due to the shift to relative minor).

Now, let’s have a look at melodic minor harmony. It turns out only one pentatonic scale can be extracted from this harmony type. It is shown in the table below in the key of C melodic minor (C D Eb F G A B):

melodic minor harmony pentatonic possibilities
F G A C D IV Maj. pent. <=> II min. pent. D F G A C

Finally, due to its flatted 6th scale degree, there are no common pentatonic possibilities in harmonic minor harmony.

For detailed information about lessons, please visit: http://funnelljazz.eu/lessons/.

Charlie Rouse on Monk’s Dream: shaping a solo with chord tones, chromatic approaches, and triads

My favourite passage from Charlie Rouse‘s solo on Thelonious Monk’s 1962 recording of Monk’s Dream – Take 8 is made up of the four closing phrases below (Charlie’s final statement right before the piano solo starts).

Most of the soloing is built on chord tones here (melodic emphasis on the notes that make up the changes). It is also interesting to pay close attention to the use of chromatic approaches, and to the way various triads emerge to define a distinct melodic contour.

Monk's Dream, Charlie Rouse_C

Approach notes:

  • Db in bar 1 (technically the “second” measure here: the very first one is used to show the pick up and is thus incomplete with only 3 beats; let’s call this “pick up” measure “bar 0″) approaches the following C from above (upper chromatic approach)
  • A# in bar 3 approaches the following B (which is itself an anticipation, corresponding to the major 7th of the following C chord) from below (lower chromatic approach)
  • first E in bar 5 is lower chromatic neighboring tone
  • D# in bar 5 is a lower chromatic approach to the following E
  • the notes A (diatonic note to the E7sus/B chord) and G (chromatic note since it doesn’t belong to the E mixolydian scale from which E7sus/B derives) in bar 7 enclose the following Ab
  • both Abs in bar 8 are upper chromatic neighboring tones
  • Ab and G# in bar 9 enclose the following G chromatically

For detailed information about lessons, please visit: http://funnelljazz.eu/lessons/.

Spirit of the Snail video with melting snowball poem

Spirit of the Snail is a syllable-based melting snowball set to music; the poem is about simply staying present and draws upon shamanic snail symbolism…

When one dawdles sweetly and considers how
calm, stillness, and contemplation reveal
the detailed beauty of slow motion,
obviousness resurfaces.
Slowness seems necessary,
in all simplicity.
No one can lock up,
deep in its shell,
the spirit
of the
snail!

She’s Out of My Life arrangement on Jazz Magazine staff playlist

The arrangement of Tom Bahler’s hit song “She’s Out My Life” that Jim Funnell contributed on saxophonist Philippe Lopes de Sa‘s debut album Woandering has been featured in a monthly playlist curated by the staff at Jazz Magazine, France’s foremost publication entirely dedicated to jazz.

playlist Philippe Lopes de Sa / Jim Funnell
Jazz Magazine
2017-07

Philippe Lopes de Sa / Jim Funnell
She’s Out of My Life

“Not only are the eleven original compositions by this saxophone and piano duo remarkable, but this arrangement of Michael Jackson’s hyper-emotional ballad (“Off the Wall”, 1979) will not possibly leave you indifferent.”

Where? “Woandering” (philippe-lopes-de-sa.com / cdbaby.com)

Improphile concert review in l’Echo Républicain

Article in L’Echo Républicain, prime daily newspaper providing local and regional information in Eure-et-Loir and the Centre-Loire Valley region (France), reviewing Word Out’s concert organized by Improphile, an association dedicated to promoting knowledge, information, practice, and diffusion of jazz and improvised music. The concert was held at Le Parvis in Chartres on May 26, 2012.

Les thèmes lyriques du jazz avec Word Out
L’Echo Républicain
2012-05-30

The lyrical themes of jazz with Word Out

“Jazz trio Word Out inflamed the Parvis’ cellar on Saturday night.

Led by Anglo-French charismatic pianist and inspired composer Jim Funnell, a Berklee College of Music alum, Word Out offers sophisticated yet accessible worlds.”

– Basem Shalabi