PlayJazzNow.com, a new website that launched last month, offers downloadable jazz play-along tracks that will enable every instrumentalist and vocalist to work out with a world class rhythm section.
"It was impossible to find any recordings my students could play with to help them become better accompanists and soloists - and it was very frustrating," says PlayJazzNow "trackmeister" Bill Harrison, a professional jazz bassist who has been playing and teaching for nearly 30 years. "PlayJazzNow.com provides tracks that any musician, regardless of their level or instrument, can use to hone their musical skills," he explains. "These tracks give musicians the support and tonal reference they need for mastering scales, rhythms and the other fundamentals of jazz improvisation."
For example, bassists can play-along with piano and drums - allowing them to feel what it's like to synch up with a great drummer and to hear their bass lines in the context of the chord changes. Piano, guitar and vibes players can practice with bass and drums; horn players and singers can work out with a full jazz trio. "There's really nothing else out there like it. In fact, our tagline is "The World's Only Source for Downloadable Play-Along Tracks," says Harrison.
Until the last decade or so, players would learn a lot 'on the job' and at jam sessions, but now there are a lot more players - and a lot fewer sessions. Harrison feels that budding jazz musicians need a way to practice regularly with a real rhythm section.
PlayJazzNow.com addresses this need. The website offers jazz play-alongs that are quite different from the CD/book sets of play-along tunes sold by Jamey Aebersold. PlayJazzNow.com tracks consist of chord progressions - turnarounds and forms that occur in all types of standards and jazz compositions. Harrison states, "PlayJazzNow's play-alongs are available for immediate download, come in all 12 keys and you can find the precise tracks you need for your level and your instrument."
PlayJazzNow.com play-along tracks are much more affordable than other CD-based play-alongs on the market. A track set, comprised of 12 identical tracks - one in each key - runs a little over a dollar per track. Since the tracks are made up of chord changes and not "songs" per se, they provide the jazz musician with the freedom and flexibility needed to practice whatever they choose.
PlayJazzNow.com offers several progressions to choose from, including simple two-fives, blues, and turnarounds in major and minor. Future tracks will deal with "rhythm" changes, more complicated forms of major and minor blues and other common harmonic formulas. Tracks will feature a variety of rhythmic feels including swing, Latin and African grooves. There are also plans to create a series of play-alongs for drummers and percussionists, something that will be unique to PlayJazzNow.com.
Bill Harrison is an accomplished jazz bassist who has performed with many jazz masters including; Clark Terry, James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Kenny Burrell, Bunky Green and Joe Daley. He has been a faculty member of Chicago State University and the American Conservatory of Music, and has taught at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Clark Terry's Great Plains Jazz Camp and the Saskatchewan Summer School for the Arts. Harrison currently plays jazz, commercial and theatre gigs in Chicago and maintains two teaching studios.