The difficulty of the material and the amount covered will be dictated by the level of the group and is subject to change if the tutor feels that something else would be more appropriate and helpful, so this list may be updated. Of course there are many recorded examples of all of these tunes, but it is essential that you are very familiar with the original or definitive versions of the tunes you are trying to learn.
For the current series of workshops we'll be looking at the following tunes and we'll be using transcriptions of these specific recordings, not "Real Book" or "Aebersold" or "Hal Leonard" versions. Make sure you are sourcing the correct version in the correct key and make sure you know the particular recording that we will be working on, not another version.
Freddie Freeloader - by Miles Davis - as recorded on "Kind of Blue" (1959)
Saint Thomas - by Sonny Rollins - as recorded on "Saxophone Colossus" (1956)
Of course, I would recommend that you get the whole albums, not just the tracks, and check them out too. But that is not an essential requirement for the workshop sessions.
Kind of Blue is a studio album by American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. It is regarded by many critics as jazz's greatest record, Davis's masterpiece, and one of the best albums of all time. Its influence on music, including jazz, rock, and classical genres, has led writers to also deem it one of the most influential albums ever recorded. The album was one of fifty recordings chosen in 2002 by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry, and in 2003 it was ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Kind of Blue was recorded on March 2 and April 22, 1959, at Columbia's 30th Street Studio in New York City, and released later that year on August 17 by Columbia Records. The album featured Davis's ensemble sextet, consisting of pianist Bill Evans, drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, together with pianist Wynton Kelly on one track. After the entry of Evans into the sextet, Davis followed up on the modal experimentations of Milestones (1958) by basing Kind of Blueentirely on modality, in contrast to his earlier work with the hard bop style of jazz.
Though precise figures have been disputed, Kind of Blue has been described by many music writers not only as Davis's best-selling album, but as the best-selling jazz record of all time. On October 7, 2008, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it quadruple platinum, indicating sales of at least four million copies.
Click HERE to see the rest of the information on the "Kind of Blue" Wikipedia page.
Saxophone Colossus is a studio album by American jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins. It was recorded on June 22, 1956, with producers Bob Weinstock and Rudy Van Gelder at the latter's studio in Hackensack, New Jersey. Rollins led a quartet on the album that included pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Max Roach. Saxophone Colossus was released later that year by Prestige Records to critical success and helped establish Rollins as a prominent jazz artist.
In 2017, Saxophone Colossus was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."
Click HERE to see the rest of the information on the "Saxophone Colossus" Wikipedia page.
A thought about jazz repertoire in general...
Jazz has been around for about 100 years and over that time it has evolved and is continuing to evolve. As each new generation came along with a new style of jazz, so they approached the music in new and radical ways. There are many different ways of playing jazz, each with its own sets of protocol and concepts according to each different style and individual approach. Thus, we need to be aware of the history and development of each different style and approach to jazz and understand the different concepts and how they work in context with the music and what the musicians were trying to do at the time. The concepts and musical devices that Louis Armstrong used for improvising were different to Dizzy Gillespie, and Dizzy Gillespie used different methods to Miles Davis, and so on. As the music evolved so did the methods and concepts for improvising on the music. This can be confusing for students of jazz who may have learned one thing from one teacher or workshop and then struggle to apply it in another situation, which may be out of context. Playing Jazz Standards from Real books can add to this confusion because they can feel very generic and not specific to any style. Of course, for the experienced jazz musician this can be beneficial and liberating as it enables the music to be played in any style. But for the jazz student this lack of context can be confusing as there is no protocol to guide them. Therefore, when learning it is extremely beneficial to focus on particular recordings, as they give a sense of time and place and context, which can guide the student when making artistic choices.