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Savvy

TromboneImprovisation

Dolphin Dance excerpt by MichaelLake

1
T
hese next few pages are from my book, Trombone Improvisation Savvy. This excerpt will help you learn and
improvise over the song Dolphin Dance. The full book contains several songs, each being a chapter teaching
various songs within the jazz repertoire. This is the Dolphin Dance section.

As with the book, this excerpt references lots of sound files. Listening and practicing over rhythm tracks is a key
element of my teaching method. I’ve provided audio tracks for modeling the melody, for modeling the exercises,
and for rhythm-only exercise phrases and the full form.

The following page describes how to play the sound files from the Soundcloud playlist.

Another part of my method is to provide you with lots of options. Too many? I take you through a logic process for
developing an ear for the tune, but feel free to use these sound files as you wish. Let me know if you discover some
interesting use for them in learning Dolphin Dance.

Keep in mind that the entire first half of the book is dedicated to ear training, melodic construction, building
rhythm skills, and some theory. I am not suggestion that you can become a good improviser solely by imitating the
solos and playing of others, but it does have an important role.

I believe that hearing yourself playing within the changes and playing phrases and rhythms that normally
don’t come to mind will help you develop some very important ear training and muscle memory. For the more
comprehensive foundation for improvising, part one of the book is necessary.

As of this writing, I am projecting a June 2017 publication date for the book. For more detail, follow my blog at
www.altobone.com and while you are there, sign up for my free monthly music feed. This month, for example, I
created and sent out a special arrangement of Dolphin Dance. Each month, I’ll send you my latest alto trombone/
sound design piece.

Michael Lake
mlake@altobone.com

April, 2017

2
Accessing and utilizing the audio files
Several audio files accompany the following song for accompaniments throughout this excerpt. They are organized
as a Soundcloud playlist and can be accessed through the URL: www.bit.ly/dolphin-dance.

Each time a soundfile is available, you will see the music icon followed by the name of the file. For example:


œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance “Dolphin Dance - melody”

In the above example, you would go to the soundcloud playlist at bit.ly/dolphin-dance and then select the file
called “Dolphin Dance - melody” within the playlist. By the way, the full URL is: https://soundcloud.com/mlake/
sets/dolphin-dance-excerpt. I shortened the link to make it easier for you to get to the playlist of files.

I purposefully chose not to place these audio files on a disk within the book because I wanted to prevent the cost of
the book from significantly increasing. I also felt that digital files accessible on-line was more convenient. CDs are
becoming more and more a relic of yesterday’s technology.

That said, I know this will inconvenience some of you. If you lack an internet connection that feeds a sound
system, perhaps find a fast connection and download into a folder some or all of the files. Then feed them through
your sound system which could be everything from a state-of-the-art sound system to an iPhone. Upon selecting
a sound file on the Soundcloud playlist, click to the right of the file and select Download from the dropdown
options.

The very bottom of the Playlist page displays some controls for going to the track start, play/pause on current track
and next track. There is also a cycle link that will repeat the current track if you want to keep cycling the track. A
good application for that would be to cycle the track Dolphin Dance exercise bars 9-12 - rhythm only as you work
on playing over the G pedal on bar 9.

hit to cycle the track

2
Dolphin Dance
At the time Herbie Hancock wrote Dolphin Dance, it was one of the most harmonically complex jazz pieces of its
time. Let’s learn how to improvise satisfying music over this great song. Below are two audio files: a recording of the
melody and three choruses of the rhythm.

œ œ bit.ly/improvbook
“Dolphin Dance - melody”
œ œ
Dolphin Dance
bit.ly/improvbook

bmaj7 bmin7 bmaj7


“Dolphin Dance - rhythm only”

?4 Ó œ bœ bœ œ œ bœ bœ œ
E B E Dª G7
w Ó w
Trombone 4
A ö
b
? .. Ó bœ œ œ œ ˙. bœ œ œ œ
C min7 C min7
˙.
A min7 D7
J Ó œ
J
b b b
Tbn.

D7 B 7
5

b œ w w
F min7
œ bœ œ œ
G maj7 A min7
? . #œ ˙ bœ.
œ J J
b
Tbn.

œ œ œ w w
9
C min7 C min7/B A min7 D7
? œ. bœ ˙ bœ œ œ œ
Tbn. J

œ œ œ œ
13

w œ œ œ œ
G maj7 G\ A/G G\
?Ó Ó w
Tbn.
17

bœ œ œ œ w
E min7
œ
A7
?Ó bœ œ
F\ G/F F\
Tbn. J J œ ˙. Ó
b ˙
œ œ ˙
E 7
21

œ œ #œ œ œ œ
A min7 D7 B min7 E7 D min7
? œ bœ ‰ œ œ œ œ ‰
œ. ˙

# #
Tbn.

F 7
#œ. œ œ
25
C min7
#˙. 2
B min7/E A min7/E
? #œ #œ œ w w
Tbn. J «
bmin7 B ï
b b
œ bœ bœ bœ B Y
29

w œ bœ bœ œ
B Dª Gï
?Ó Ó w ..
Tbn.
35
3
Dolphin Dance is a beautiful tune that doesn’t get played more because it presents improvisers with two very
difficult challenges. On the one hand, the harmonies change rapidly from one tonal center to another fairly distant
one. For example, in bar 9, we go from G major to Gb major. While the half step difference may sound close,
weaving a melodic phrase from one sharp to six flats is challenging. The next staff down travels from Bb major to G
major. Bar 25 starts with an Eb7 then goes to the key of G major, then to B minor (A major) to two passing chords
leading to the dreaded C# minor 7 (B major), but then fools us with a resolution to B minor.

The second challenge are those parts of the song that provide static harmonies for two to four bars. You’ll hear
them as pedals on G, F, B and Bb. Playing over the more static harmonies of pedals may seem to make things
easier, but keeping melodic interest over the same root is not always simple.

We will focus on both these aspects of improvising over this song with the goal of helping you much more easily
navigate its challenges.

My treatment of the song

While considering Dolphin Dance for this chapter, I was due to release the month’s “The essentials of
song for my Electrik Project subscribers at altobone.com. I decided to produce a jazz are: melodic
unique arrangement of the song that would serve two purposes: a release for this improvisation, melodic
month and a showcase of Dolphin Dance for this book. invention, swing
& instrumental
I chose not to transcribe the solo from the arrangement since it wasn’t recorded for personality.”
modeling. Feel free to transcribe and play along if you wish. The solo for modeling
is on page nine. I kept the rhythms in this somewhat basic while trying to create -Mose Allison
something interesting that will let you hear yourself playing within the changes.

œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance “Dolphin Dance Arrangement”

Screenshot from altobone.com music page

Start by learning the melody of the song. Herbie wrote a great melody that brilliantly weaves through the seemingly
desperate harmonies and mood changes. Memorize the melody so that you can hear the form and changes. Again,
the audio track of me playing the melody is bit.ly/dolphin-dance - Dolphin Dance - melody.

4
Analyzing the song

There are variations on the chords of this song depending on the source. One that I have chosen to use is the E
pedal in bars 30 through 33. The Real Book shows it as a B pedal, but Ron Carter plays the E on Herbie’s original
recording (Maiden Voyage). There are also variations on the chords being played over the pedal, but I am using the
B minor and A minor chords.

For purposes of analysis, let’s consider the key of the song to be C minor. The first chord of the song is Eb major, of
which C minor is its relative minor. Notice that after the four bar intro, the first chord of the repeating solo section
is C minor. The last bar of the song is D half diminished and G7b9 which is the II-V getting back to C minor.

b b b
Rather than doing a bar by bar analysis, let’s look at certain four bar sections.

hint 4 œ b œ bharmony
œ œ (barsw 17-20), it only lasts one bar before b œ œ to thew Ab-7/Db7
œ b œmodulating
E maj7 B min7 E maj7 Dª G7
a? of anÓupcoming G-based Ó
4
After the intro, the song begins in C minor. Bar eight is a turnaround to the modulation into G major. As almost

Trombone resolving into the key of Eb (F min7/Bb7). I’ll provide an exercise for those four bars shortly.

b ö
? .. Ó bœ œ œ bœ œ œ œ ˙.
We then return to C minor in bar 13. That lasts two bars before another turnaround that puts us into G. This is our
C min7pedal, and while there are on these C
J œ ˙.
bars in other lead sheets, I’mAusing D7
Ó
A variations min7 min7 the following:
œ
first sustained four

J
bmin7 b b
Tbn.

D7 GZB 7
5

b œ .ww œ b œ œ œwb œ w w
G maj7G maj7 A GZ A/G F min7
? . # www# œ ˙ ww J # ww w
w
ww
? œ
4 wJ
4 w b
Tbn.
C min7w/B w A min7 w D7
bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ w w
Trombone 9 C min7
? œ . b Jœ ˙
Tbn. The “sus" designation means that instead of the third of the chord, we use the fourth (C). Without the third of a
chord, there is neither major nor minor tonality. Play this chord on a keyboard to hear it’s unique sound. In the

œ œ œ œ w
13

œ œ œ w
the G. While you’re at the keyboard, play the A majorG\
œ
thirdGbar, we play an A major triad overG\
A/G triad over a G. I have


maj7

Ó
created an exercise of this sequence as well: bit.ly/dolphin-dance Dolphin Dance exercise bars 17-20.
Tbn. Starting in bar 21, we have a similar sequence using the F pedal. This sequence begins, not with an F major (as with
the previous G pedal), but with the F7 suspension. The fourth bar contains a turnaround that, instead of resolving
17

œ œto a resolution
w to B
E min7
œ ascension
A7
?Eb7Ó in bar 25b œbegins
œ a melodic œ
to D major, it resolves one half step up to Eb7.
F\ G/F F\
œ ˙ . b
to the climax ofÓthe song in œ
J form endsJwith a restatement of the melody in the very top of the song.
That bar 29 leading
Tbn. minor in bar 31. The

b ˙
E 7 œ ˙
21

œ # œ
A min7 D7 B min7 E7 D min7
b œ
? œ ‰ œœœ œ œ . ˙ œ œ œ œ
‰ ‰ œ
# #
Tbn.

F 7
#œ. œ œ
25
C min7
#œ #˙. 2
B min7/E A min7/E
? # œ œ w w
Tbn. J «
b bï bY
b œ b œ
29

œ b œ w œ bœ b œ
B min7 B B Dª Gï
?Ó Ó œ w ..
Tbn.
35 5
Players have their particular difficulties with this song. I’ve created the following six exercises to help with specific
sections. For each four-bar exercise, three melodic lines have been recorded over that section of rhythm as models,
followed by three more four-bar phrases of rhythm only. A rhythm track without the recorded line follows for you
to either play the model lines or to practice improvising your own. The 12 audio files are listed on page 11.

You’ll be surprised at how much these focused exercises will improve your facility with this song. Generally people
practice improvising over the entire form over and over, and never stop to concentrate only on the more difficult parts.

Bars 5-8
The melody uses the #11 (D natural) of the Ab7 so your improvisation can use that colorful tone as well. The fifth
bar is included because the fourth bar (II-V) resolves into that next bar (I).

b A ö
˙ œ bœ œ ˙ bœ œ b œ ˙ œ b œ3 œ A˙min7 œ D7
C min7 C min7 G maj7

?4 œœ w
3 3

Trombone 4
b
A ö
bœ œ œ
C min7
œ bœ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ #œ œ œ
C min7 A min7 D7 G maj7
bœ œ œ œœ ˙ œœ w
?‰ J
Tbn.

b
A ö D7 œ
œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ ˙
G maj7
œ
œ bœ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ œ
A min7
œ
C min7 C min7
? Ó œ bœ œ œ Œ ‰ œ œ œœ
œ
Tbn.

Bars 9-12
This exercise helps you transition smoothly from the one sharp of G major to the six flats of Gb major, then to the

bmin7 D b7 b
three flats of Eb major.

B 7
#œ œ œ œ œ bœ bœ bœ œ N˙ bœ œ œ ˙
G maj7 A F min7

?4 bœ
∑ Ó
Trombone
Tbn. 4
b b
D7
b7
bœ ˙ œ œ
˙ œ œ #œ œ bœ nœ bœ bœ œ œ œ œ bœ œ
G maj7 A min7 F min7 B
bœ œ
?
Tbn.

bmin7 b7 b B 7
œ #œ
G maj7 bœ bœ œ
D A
œ œ œ bœ œ œ bœ bœ œ bœ œ œ
F min7
œ b œ b œ
?œ ‰ ‰ ‰ J J ‰
Tbn.
6
Bars 17-20
The first pedal sequence over G brings in and out a variety of tones including B and C#.

˙ #œ œ œ
œ nœ ˙ œ œ #œ
G maj7 G\ A/G
œ nœ
G\
w
?4 ‰ J œ œ
Trombone 4

œ œ #œ œ œ œœ œ œ œ œ œ ˙
G maj7 G\ A/G
#œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
G\
? J J J œ œ
Tbn. J

#œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ w
G maj7 G\ A/G G\

? œ œœœ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ
Tbn.
J J

?
Bars 25-28 ∑
Tbn.
These four bars begin the ascension to the song’s climax, and in the process, take you through a variety of
modulations. The following bar of C#min7 is included in order practice landing well on this chord.

b #
E 7
œ œ #œ œ
A min7 D7
œ œ # œ œ E7# œ # œ œD min7 C min7 œ ˙
B min7

? 4 œ œ bœ œ œ #œ œ
Trombone 4
b E 7
#min7
œ #œ #œ #œ ˙
A min7 B min7 E7
œ #œ œ œ ˙
D7 D min7
˙ ˙
C
? œ œ #œ ˙ œ œœ ˙
Tbn.

b
Eœ 7 D min7 C #min7
œ bœ bœ œ œ nœ
A min7 D7 B min7
œ œ œ œ E7
#˙ n˙ ˙
œ. œ œ œ œ œœ
? J #œ Ó
Tbn.

7
Bars 29-32
As the climax of the song, we should be comfortable playing in B major over the C# minor/F#7. This exercise provides

#min7
you the opportunity to play just over that II-V in B major. C#min7 is not an overly-intuitive chord for trombone!

F 7
#
œ œ œ
C B min7/E

A min7/E
#œ #œ #œ œ #œ œ #œ w
? 4 #œ œ ˙
Trombone 4
#min7 #
F 7
#œ #œ #œ
C
œ #œ œ œ
A min7/E
œ œ
#œ #œ œ #œ œ œ œ
B min7/E
œ #œ œ œ
? J J J J
Tbn.

#min7 #
F 7
#œ #œ œ #œ œ œ
#œ #œ œ #œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ
C B min7/E A min7/E

? œ œ #œ œ
Tbn. Œ

Bars 31-34
Here’s a relatively simple four-bar pedal over B. Think of it as playing two sharps (F# and C#) over the Bmin7 and

?
one sharp (F#) over the Amin/B. You are basically alternating your use of the C#.

œ #œ ∑B min7/E
œ œ
B min7/E A min7/E A min7/E
#œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙ œ œ œ ˙
?4
Tbn.

J J J J
Trombone 4
A min7/E œ
#œ œ œ #œ œ
B min7/E A min7/E
œ œ œœœ œ
B min7/E
œ œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
?
Tbn.

#œ #œ œ œ œ œ œ
B min7/E A min7/E B min7/E A min7/E
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œœ ˙
Tbn.
? œœ œ ˙ #œ œ œ

Putting it all together, on the following page is a one chorus solo recorded for modeling. As I wrote earlier, I’ve kept
the rhythms somewhat simple and the tonal range fairly reasonable. Just like the melody recorded for the song, two
choruses of rhythm follow the solo’s one time through the form. Three choruses all together. Remember that you
can always hit the cycle button at the bottom of the Soundcloud playlist page for more repetition.

? ∑
8

Tbn.
Recorded solo for modeling on Dolphin Dance

œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance
“Dolphin Dance - melody”

bmaj7 bmin7 bmaj7


Eœ œ œ œ B E œ œ œ œ b œ Dªœ b œ G7œ œ œ
4
? Œ ‰J œ bœ ˙. Œ ‰J
Trombone 4
œ œ œ b œ œ . œ Aœbö˙ œ b œ œ œ. œ #œ œ
A min7 D7
œ bœ
C min7
C min7
? .. J Œ ‰ J J
b
Tbn.

b D7
b B 7
3 œ bœ bœ œ œ
5

˙ œœ b œ bœ b œ œ N œ œ œ bœ
b œ œ
G maj7 A min7 F min7
? œ bœ bœ Œ
bœ3

b
Tbn.

œ œ œ œ œ œ #3œ œ
9

œ
C min7 C min7/B A min7 D7
b œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ3 œ œ
? Œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ
3 3
Tbn.

œ # 3œ G\ A/G œ œ G\ œ ˙
˙ œ ˙ 3œ œ # œ . aœ Nœ. J
13
G maj7
? Œ Œ J ‰ J
Tbn.

˙ œ œ G/F œ b œ œ
E œmin7
œ œ œ
œ œ3 œ œ b œ œ A œ œ œ #œ œ œ
A7
˙
17
F\ F\
? bœ Œ
b
Tbn.

E 7
˙
21

bœ œ bœ œ œ # ˙
A min7 B min7

Œ #œ œ. œ
œ œ #œ œ ˙
D7 E7 D min7
? ˙
Tbn.
25
# #7
# œ # œ œ œ œ œ
F
? #œ#œ œœ œ#œ œ œ œ #œ #œ
B min7/E A min7/E
œ œ œ œ œ #œ œ œ œ
C min7
œ
3
œ
b b
Tbn.

œ œ # œ œ b ˙
B min7
œ B ï
. œ œ Nœ
29

# œ
B min7/E A min7/E
? œ j #œ œ J bœ œ
Tbn. œ Œ ‰ # œ œ ‰ J
b b˙

33

B Y œ ˙

œ œ b œ œ
? œ bœ œ ..
Tbn.
37
9
©
Below is Chet Baker’s one-chorus solo from a big band album called The Legacy.

Notice that the solo lies at the very bottom of the trumpet, which translates
the same for the trombone. Feel free to take most of it up an octave if it is
easier. Bars 13 and 14 will present a bit of difficulty in that range, but overall,
it’s probably worthwhile to take it up.

Notice Chet’s very laid back feel influenced by the tempo the low range of the
solo and his very liberal use of rests. See how his rhythmic speed increases a
bit at the climaxing phrase of the song starting in bar 26?

Here’s the three-chorus rhythm-only track for Dolphin Dance.

œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance
“Dolphin Dance - rhythm only”

Chet Baker’s solo on Dolphin Dance

bmaj7 bmin7 bmaj7


?4
E B E Dª G7
Trombone 4 ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑
C min7 A 7
b C min7 A min7 D7
?Ó ‰ œœ b œ œ ‰
3
œ œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙
3
Tbn.
J ˙ #œ œ œ œ
b b
A min7 D b7 F min7 B 7
5
G maj7
? œ # œ œ3 b œ ˙ Ó Ó Œ ‰ œ3 b œ b œ œ b œ œ œ œ A œ b œ
Tbn.
#œ œ œ
C min7 b œ œ
b
œ œ œ œ œ œ ˙.
9

œ
A min7
N œ b œ œ
C min7/B
œ œ œ bœ œ œ œ œ bœ
D7
?
bœ œ œ œ
3 3
Tbn.

œ œ3 œ ˙ œ œ3 œ œ œ œ
13
G maj7 G\ A/G G\
? ˙ œ œ œ œ œ œ
Ó Œ Œ ‰ J
3 3
Tbn.
17
F\ G/F E min7 A7
œ b œ œ mœ œ œ œ ˙
F\
? ˙ 3
œ
3 3
Tbn.
˙. œ œ œ #œ œ œ #œ ˙
21
b
E 7 B min7 E7
‰ œj œ # œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ
A min7 D7 D min7
? b˙ Ó œ œ Nœ #œ œ
œ
3 3
Tbn. #œ
25

# #
10

C min7 F 7 B min7 A min7/B


œ3
3 3
3
?
b˙ Ó ‰ œj œ # œ œ œ œ œ # œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ Nœ #œ œ
Tbn. #œ
25

#min7 #
C F 7 B min7 A min7/B
? œ œ # œ œ œ œ œ œ3# œ ˙ . # œ n œ œ # œ œ # œ nœ œ ˙ œœ
3
Œ Œ #œ nœ œ œ
3
3
Tbn. #œ
29
bmin7
bw
B min7 A min7/B
? #œ œ œ œ ˙ œ œ œ œ # œ3 n œ œ œ œ
B
œ
3
Tbn.

b b
B Y
B ï bœ œ bœ œ bœ
33

œ bœ œ bœ œ œ œ œ œ œ bœ Ó
Dª Gï
? Œ Ó Œ œ œ
Tbn.
36
©
The following sound files correspond to the earlier exercises. On the left is the recording of the three sections played
on trombone. On the right is the rhythm-only track for your practice with these four-bar phrases. Just pick what you
want to work on. As I did with a few of them in the recordings, feel free to take any of them down an octave.

œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance
“Dolphin Dance exercise “Dolphin Dance exercise
bars 5-8” bars 5-8 - rhythm only

œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance
“Dolphin Dance exercise “Dolphin Dance exercise
bars 9-12” bars 9-12 - rhythm only

œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance
“Dolphin Dance exercise “Dolphin Dance exercise
bars 17-20” bars 17-20 - rhythm only

œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance
“Dolphin Dance exercise “Dolphin Dance exercise
bars 25-28” bars 25-28 - rhythm only

œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance
“Dolphin Dance exercise “Dolphin Dance exercise
bars 29-33” bars 29-33 - rhythm only

œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance œ œ bit.ly/dolphin-dance
“Dolphin Dance exercise “Dolphin Dance exercise
bars 31-34” bars 31-34 - rhythm only
11