Gary was awarded the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for "Hot House," which he recorded with Chick Corea. Learn More
Although it’s not uncommon for musicians to develop their improvisational chops by simply listening to recordings and imitating what they hear or playing with other aspiring improvisers in ensembles, once a musician has achieved a modest level of fluency, a more detailed understanding of the process is necessary to improve further and truly master the art of improvisation. There are few musicians more qualified than Gary Burton to provide this guided path for an aspiring improviser.
Winner of six Grammy Awards (and 15 nominations), Gary Burton is recognized as one of the best improvisers in the jazz world and known as an inspiring educator. Burton codifies a sought-after “Berklee approach” that has been at the core of Berklee’s jazz improvisation curriculum for decades.
Gary Burton: Jazz Improvisation begins with an overview of the mental processes that take place in improvisation and goes on to provide an explanation and understanding of harmony and melodic construction that is unique to improvising as compared to the performance of written music. You’ll learn how to shape solos, use dynamics effectively, and employ reharmonization techniques, in addition to how to analyze and interpret songs, make effective performance decisions, and work successfully with an ensemble. The course explores different types and styles of compositions from the perspective of the improviser, and takes an in-depth look at how music learning experiences contribute to the instinctive skills that the improviser puts to use when taking a solo. The course features compositions from the standard repertoire by established composers such as Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, along with more contemporary composers such as Chick Corea, Michael Gibbs, Carla Bley, and Steve Swallow. You will learn a set of skills specifically tailored to the art of improvisation, all intended to make it possible for you to make the necessary musical decisions required for improvising in real time. You will also gain a full understanding of the musical and mental processes that are unique to improvisation, and learn about it all from one of the living legends in the jazz world.
By the end of the course, students will have a solid background in:
interpreting harmonies and composition structure in real time while improvising
demonstrating a variety of improvisation techniques, including use of chromaticism, voice leading, and theme development
effectively practicing the art of comping
analyzing compositions from the perspective of the improviser
understanding the mental processes required for successful improvisation