Jazz School: “Memphis Underground”


This one chord jazz-rock tune by Herbie Mann is about as simple as it gets, but it introduces you to the delicious mix of discipline and freedom that is jazz improvisation…

Special Note: When Frank met Mister Mann many years ago, Herbie shared his one musical regret: That he never learned how to read music!


Listen to Frank play the chart…

Listen to Original Recording

Improvisation Lessons

Lesson 1: The Form…

Lesson 2: Meter & Feel…

Lesson 3: Tonality & Useful Scales…

Lesson 4: Comping Patterns…

Lesson 5: Play the Idea…

Lesson X: Please let Frank know if there is something else you would like to understand!

Your Turn to Improvise…

Download the following bass and drum practice track recorded by Frank…

Yes, Frank is neither a bass player nor a drummer!

Improvisation Tips

  1. Think, hear, feel, and play in 8-bar choruses and 4-bar phrases.
  2. The “feel” is a straight Rock Beat 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
  3. Tonality: C Mixolydian, C Major Blues
  4. Useful Scales: Minor Blues, Major Blues, Mixolydian, Minor Pentatonic
  5. Don’t get scale happy.
  6. Commit to playing coherent IDEAS.
  7. Vocabulary Sources: Rock, Jazz, Blues, Boogie Woogie, Gospel
  8. Borrow ideas from the head (the original melody).
  9. Cop ideas from other players.
  10. It’s not all about playing leads. It’s often about creative and tasteful comping, too!
  11. Don’t just think… FEEL & LISTEN!
  12. Experiment like a child playing with building blocks.
  13. Take your shoes off!

learn more… Jazz School