Messenger Pigeons Jazz Combo

Rehearsal Schedule:

  • 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. 1:30 – 3 p.m. @ UConn.

Upcoming Performances:

Date: Sunday, March 1.
Time: 2 PM performance. Arrive between 1:15 and 1:30.
Where: StoneRidge, 186 Jerry Browne Road, Mystic, Connecticut 06355

Set List:

  1. Satin Doll
    • Intro: Rhythm section.  4 measures. Bass & Drums pedal G on 2 & 4.
    • Head:  2-feel.  1X for both in & outheads
    • Solos: maximum 2 choruses each.
    • End: Loop last phrase 3 times, then Basie “plink, plink, plink”, C9

2. Song For My Father

    • Intro: Bass Line figure by bass and piano, w/ drums (4m’s)
    • Head once
    • solos: F blues scale
    • End: Loop last 2 notes. Slight ritard last time

3. Summertime

    • Ethan sings
    • Mr. MacDonald will bring chord changes in Gmi concert for everyone.
    • Intro: last line of the tune, played by everyone
    • Solos: use G blues scale
    • Ending: tagged ending of last 4 measures, cued by Ethan

4. Cantaloupe Island

    • Head 2X’s, in and out
    • drum solo over Rhythm Section vamp

5. Doxy

    • slightly faster than the previous tune
    • Head twice, in and out
    • End: Last line tagged, then Ab7, A7, Bb7

Additional tunes if time permits or if encores are requested:

  • Footprints (bass figure intro)
  • Maiden Voyage
  • Impressions

Personal Practice/Assignments:

Jan. 5, 2020:

New Lick: Write out the transpositions. Start learning it in 12 keys, doing one transposition at a time. Work your way down the left column first, before learning the keys on the right column.

Jazz LickNew Tunes:


Maiden Voyage:

Also: in addition to the 1,2,3,5 pattern we have been playing around the circle of 4ths, we added a new pattern: 1 3 5 1.

December, 2019:

Here’s a summary of what I’d like us all to practice before our next rehearsal:

  1. Major scales around the circle of 4ths. (Swing eighth notes. Rest for 2 measures before going to the next key)
  2. 1,2,3,5 pattern around the circle of 4ths.  Quartet notes, for now.  Gradually increase the speed once you’ve got it.
  3. Plug in our “V to I” lick on Autumn Leaves.  Practice each lick separately, and isolate the tricky spot where you have 3 in a row.  When you are ready, practice with the play-a-long recording.  Start by only playing the licks.  When this is mastered, feel free to play in the other measures, but never miss a spot where you can insert a lick.
  4. Try playing Summertime in the new key: G minor.  Think about the 3 key areas using Roman numerals.
  5. Memorize Doxy and Impressions.  Be sure to learn the melody for Impressions exactly as it is notated in the Aebersold book.  If you learn another version, we will sound sloppy when it is played in unison.


All selections are currently found within Vol. 54, “Maiden Voyage” (book/CD, book without CDiTunes) of Jamey Aebersold’s play-a-long series. Bring your book to every rehearsal.

  • Sonny Moon For Two (Bb Blues)
  • Impressions
  • Blue Bossa (Solar Flair)
  • Summertime
  • Song For My Father
  • Doxy
  • Satin Doll
  • Watermelon Man

At this point, the melodies for most of these pieces should be memorized, or close to it.

Practice Exercises:

  • major scales, followed by the 4 triads (maj, mi, dim, aug)
  • circle of fourths: 1,2,3,5 pattern
  • seventh-chord arpeggiation through tunes (1, 3, 5, 7)

YouTube Videos:

  • Sonny Moon for Two (Bb blues)

  • Impressions

  • Blue Bossa (Solar Flair = play-a-long track)

  • Summertime

  • Song For My Father

  • Doxy

  • Satin Doll

  • Watermelon Man

Tips (Tune Specific):

  1. Bb Blues
    • Bb and G blues scales both work.  Experiment with each.
    • Practice singing the root motion. “I — IV — I — I—, IV etc.
    • Arpeggiate through the progression.  Ascending and Descending.
    • Try playing with guide tones only.  (3s and 7s, alternating)
  2. Impressions
    • AABA form
    • Same harmony as Miles Davis’ “So What.” Listen to this too.
    • C major scale for A sections
    • Db major scale for B sections
    • Try practicing the two major scales in thirds, and then try soloing using thirds.
    • Rachael: try to transcribe a 32-bar chorus of the bass line from the play-a-long recording. Let me see what you’re able to accomplish on your own, and then I’ll help if needed. Also all the bass lines from this recording are transcribed in a book which you could order here:
  3. Blue Bossa (Solar Flair)
  4. Summertime
    • D blues scale can work for the entire song
    • the form is a 16-measure, modified blues
    • Ideally, you should try to outline the 3 main key areas: Dmi7, Gmi7 and F major.
  5. Song For My Father
    • F blues scale can get you through the entire tune.
    • Be aware of the “break” and have something bluesy and strong ready to plug in here.
  6. Doxy
    • Bb blues scale works throughout.
    • Listen to how Miles Davis approaches this solo. Very simple, melodic ideas, using chord tones.
  7. Satin Doll
    • Start by learning the melody really well and then playing around with it.
    • Use really simple motifs, sequencing your ideas through the tunes.  Start with the roots, then add the second degree of the scale. Go back and forth between the two notes.  When this is mastered, add the 3rd degree and then the 5th.
  8. Watermelon Man
    • Again the F blues scale is your friend with this song.
    • Like on Song for My Father, be ready for “the break” within the form.
    • Don’t get tricked by the song’s extended form.  It is 16-measures long; not 12.

Recommended Books and Resources:

  • The Real Easy Book – C, Bb, Eb, and bass clef versions
  • Jamey Aebersold Jazz “Play-A-Longs”: 

– Vol. 1, “How To Play Jazz and Improvise” (book/CD, book without CD, download tracks)


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