Your Only Source for Downloadable Play-Along Tracks
Practicing jazz should be fun. That's why we created a series of jazz play-alongs — to help you enjoy building your improvisational chops, no matter what level you are or what instrument you play. For more info about jazz play alongs and access to all of our tracks please visit

Monday, September 28, 2009

PJN Recording Session 9/09

We just spent a good long day in our favorite studio here in Chicago working on some new tracks. There'll be some jazz standards (including Doxy, Half Nelson and Groovin High), some challenging tunes and progressions in 5/4, 7/4 and 7/8, and a wacky sounding (but very helpful) 12 key trip through all the M7 #5 chords.

We'll be mixing and getting things ready for the release of these new playalongs sometime around Halloween.

For more pix of the trio hard at work, please go HERE.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More Jazz Poetry: Sonny and Joe

I've just posted a couple of wonderful poems by Illinoisian Paul Freidinger HERE. The first piece references the life of Sonny Rollins; the second Joe Henderson.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jazz Education Network

I am certainly not one to get all weepy over the demise of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). For a variety of reasons I was not a big fan of that organization, which, it seems to me, had outlived its usefulness and grown far too unwieldy for its britches.

However, I do have reasons to believe that IAJE's successor organization, the Jazz Education Network, will do a far better job for all of us who play, teach and love jazz. JEN's mission statement reads:

The Jazz Education Network is dedicated to building the jazz arts community by advancing education, promoting performance and developing new audiences.

It seems like the folks behind the Jazz Education Network have the right idea, in terms of starting small and using the experiences gleaned from IAJE to do things a better way. There are some excellent people involved in the new project, which is just over one year old.

PlayJazzNow is a proud member of JEN, and I invite you to visit their website and join with your fellow musicians in making this organization a success.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jazz Humor: You Don't Know Where One Is

If you know who wrote this please let us know. We like to give credit where its due.

[Sung to the tune "You Don't Know What Love Is"]

You Don't Know Where One Is

You don't know where one is.
You never know the changes or the form.
Your playing is so far below the norm.
You don't know where one is.

You don't know what beats are.
You cannot tell beat one from that of three.
Just how lame can one poor fellow be?
You don't know where one is.

Don't you know the key or chords
For tunes that you claim you are knowin'?
No wonder you sound so lost
Once you've started blowin'.

I can't tell from your line
Whether you're in three or in five four.
I tell you this and tell you one thing more,
You don't know where one is.

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Giant Steps stuff

Here's a nice post celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of John Coltrane's Giant Steps. There are links to some entertaining and enlightening videos plus some cool info to go along with my previous posts regarding this wonderful, challenging tune.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Watch, Listen and Learn

Despite all of the challenges facing us politically and economically, we are living in a fine time to enjoy expressing ourselves as jazz musicians. There's a wealth of great new music being created at this very moment and, because of contemporary technology, we have almost instant access to it. We can listen across a broad spectrum of genres and styles as I pointed out in my post about Pandora.

We are also fortunate in that we have easy access to the great tradition of jazz history. Jazz enthusiasts used to have to haunt record shops and spend a fortune collecting LPs of favorite artists. Now I can go to iTunes and purchase 70 minutes of great music for under $10 without putting on my shoes. We could certainly have a heated discussion about many aspects of the current paradigm, but there's no ignoring the fact that, as students of jazz, we have it much easier than did previous generations of players.

Along with easy access to audio, there is also a rich assortment of historic video footage available online. It is very enlightening to see the masters performing, not to mention a huge kick. There is a great benefit in actually seeing your favorite players doing what they do. Listening and transcribing is essential, of course, but the visual component can add a whole new dimension to your understanding of a musician's technique.

Musician and educator Brad Sharp has spent some time scooping up links to jazz videos at YouTube. His Jazz Video Search page has a ton of links, organized by instrument and then by musician. He's got the musicians listed chronologically by date of birth, a very interesting way to view the history of jazz. I don't remember ever seeing a list that includes both Buddy Bolden and Chris Potter. If you're in the mood to do some research on your instrument, Brad's links are really helpful. You'll probably see some names you don't recognize, so it's a great way to expand your knowledge of styles, techniques and different ways of approaching improvising.

Warning: Only go there if you have some time to burn, because there are many hundreds of jazz videos represented on that page. And you WILL get mesmerized, I guarantee.

Here's some rare footage of Charles Mingus' Quartet I found via Brad's list. The band is Clifford Jordan-tenor, Jaki Byard-piano, Mingus-bass and Danny Richmond-drums.

Monday, January 12, 2009

ii/V/I Lesson by Randy Hunter

Saxophonist and teacher extraordinaire Randy Hunter has kindly allowed PJN to post a very informative lesson on playing the most common jazz progression: ii/V/I. This lesson explains very simply what the progression does and how to go about internalizing the sound of it. Randy also gets into some basic chord/scale applications that work with the ii/V/I. If you're just getting started improvising I highly recommend that you check it out.

Randy Hunter's ii/V/I Lesson (audio)
(PC users right click, Mac users option click to download)

Randy Hunter's ii/V/I Lesson (pdf examples)

PJN's very first two sets of tracks were created to help you learn the ii/V and the ii/V/I/VI progressions in all 12 keys. Please visit our HOME PAGE and click on your instrument to put some of Randy's concepts into practice.

More Giant Steps Resources

Our compatriot Evan Tate has written a couple of etudes based on the chord progression from Coltrane's Giant Steps. The two versions, for tenor and alto saxophones, are NOT identical. I'm sure any instrumentalist would derive great benefit from studying and learning these etudes:

HERE are the Bb choruses.

HERE is the Eb study.

Of course you can use these etudes with our newly released TRANE TRAX, featuring Giant Steps changes at three tempos (slow bossa, medium swing and uptempo swing).