Daily Practice 17: Major 9 #5 Melody

This short warm up is a melody based on a Major 7 #5 chord.  The melody starts on the Root, ascends to the #5, ascends to the Major 3rd, descends to the Major 7, ascends to the Major 9.  The melody starts on concert C major 7 #5 and continues around the circle of fourths through the 12 keys.  This melody will work well as a substitute for a normal Major chord and also works well on it’s relative minor – i.e. C Major 7 #5 used over A minor Major 7.

~ Enjoy!

New CD ~ Iberica

Our newest album, “Iberica” has been released on Origin Records!
Dan McClenaghan, from All About Jazz, has given it a nice review which you can read below.

Here’s a preview of the track “St. Paul”:

 Saxophonist Matt Otto presents the ambitious Iberica, a trip into the sounds of music from the Iberian Peninsula—Spain and Portugal. Ensemble Iberica joins him, a guitar trio that adds—in addition to their guitars—the cavaquinto, the oud, and the Cuban tres, crafting a delicate yet expansive soundscape in this tranquil, flowing, chamber jazz outing.
                        Matt Otto Iberica

This is Otto’s first Origin Records outing since 2005’s Red, a superb quartet recording, featuring the tenor saxophonist with a guitar/bass/drums rhythm section. Iberica has a similar, cool mood—Otto’s creative vision is finely focused, and unwavering, from Red through several excellent outings on Jazz Collective Records. The addition of the multiple guitarists, along with Brad Cox on Fender Rhodes and effects, Karl McComas-Reichl on bass and cello, and steel guitarist Mike Stover, wrap Otto’s measured chamber approach in a beautiful lushness, diaphanous and understated, full of graceful harmonics and delicate, shimmering beauty.

Its not an orchestra, but Iberica sounds like the best of the jazz-with-strings genre, similar to, though more restrained and contemplative than Stan Getz‘ work with Eddie Sauter—especially Focus (Verve Records, 1961)—or Michael Brecker‘s Cityscape (Warner Brothers, 1982), with composer/arranger Claus Ogerman. Ensemble Iberica is exquisite in its contributions, but much credit has to go to the sweet, encompassing sustain of Stover’s steel guitar, and keyboardist Cox’s deft yet subtle Rhodes and effects work.

This is enchanting, luminous music. It sounds as if Matt Otto set out to create unalloyed beauty, and succeeded.

Here’s a preview of Elm:


All About Jazz Review (click here).


Daily Practice 16: 4 Half Diminished Modes

Here’s a simple melody that outlines the 4 distinct half diminished modes or scales.

The PDF contains both scale and the melody (which uses the half diminished 7th chord and the 9 and 13 as embellishment).

The modes are:

  1. the 7th mode of the major scale (locrian) which has both a b9 and a b13.
  2. The 6th mode of the melodic minor scale (locrian natural 9) which has a natural 9 and a b13.
  3. The 2nd mode of harmonic minor scale (locrian b9 natural 13).
  4. The 2nd mode of harmonic major scale (locrian natural 9 natural 13).

The mp3 plays through both each scale and each melodic phrase and repeats 8 times.  Use this to sing along with for ear training or to play along with.




Download: PDF 4 half diminished modes.

Daily Practice 15: Melodic Minor Modes

Although I believe there is a limit to value of practicing and understanding chord scale theory, the melodic minor scale is so prevalent in jazz improvisation and composition, I think that it’s important and relevant for the developing improviser to learn these modes in all keys.

Here’s a PDF and an mp3 of all the melodic minor scales and the modes.  I made a call on the en-harmonic spellings in the various keys in an attempt to make each mode easier on it’s own.  You can play along with or sing along to the mp3 for ear training and to help you hear if and when you are making a mistake in a scale or mode




Click the link below to download the PDF of the modes in all 12 keys:

PDF: Melodic Minor modes 12 keys