hi there,  

i am nor, i've got an email from my friend mark levine, please read below:

mark levine is a wellspring of knowledge on modern jazz piano playing. his books are invaluable tools in aiding the aspiring pianist. furthermore, his brilliant playing is proof that he knows what he's talking about.  --  mulgrew miller

this "drop 2" book is the meat and potatoes of jazz piano playing. these voicings and movements will make you sound like a real jazz piano player in no time.  mark combines soul and intellect in an easily understandable manner. i've learned so much from this book. thank you, mark.  --  jamey aebersold
*********************end of message**************************

There are 31 comments, leave a comment.
as far as i can tell, the book isn't out yet. i'll ask him for a copy to put up a review, though!
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hmm, sounds like it will be a book on block chords in drop 2, an expansion on chapter 19 in the jazz piano book. fifteen years ago he gave me about a dozen arrangemets he had done of standards in drop 2 block chords.  

i intensly studied mark levine's comping voicings on the abersold record "the magic of miles" and i realized he favors the same 7 voicing systems again and again like clockwork. his choices are very predictable and the result of years of controlled practice.
fascinating.  the chapter on block chords in the piano book is by far the best thing mark levine ever wrote, imo.  i just was rereading that chapter for a while yesterday, and really missed the fuller explanation that lurks beneath the surface of his fairly terse, dense prose (and examples).  especially given his (successfully-fulfilled!) desire to make a completely systematic approach to "that sound" he's going for/attempting to describe.  

this is going to be an interesting book.
jazz+, can you list the seven voicing systems he uses?
yes, please do jazz+
bump to hear response from jazz+...

are you talking about, like triads over dominant chords, block chords, 3 or 7 "root" rootless chords, etc. as "systems"?  i can only think of three obvious examples, but then, i tend to only think of block chords (shearing-style) as a systematic tool.  i'd be interested to know how some of the others come to be systems as well -- certainly, that seems to be the way levine thinks on paper (haven't caught him live yet -- now that i get to the west coast more often, perhaps i can change that).
i've heard so many good things about mark levine, yet i've never read any of his books!  can somebody recommend one of his books that is not for a beginner player?
i don't know that any of his books are really just for a "beginner player".  it depends on the chapter.  and his books are more for playing/learning/working out of, rather than just reading.
he only has two books that i know of, one is the jazz theory book and the other is the jazz piano book. i have the jazz piano book, and it pretty much runs the gamut from beginner material to highly advanced. i think in general his target audience is intermediate to advanced.
anyone interested in the beauty of bill evans' arrangements needs to look at block chords.  the basic lesson i took away was how to play with both hands in unison on the major and minor chords.
ok, i´ve checked out "the magic of miles" and this seems to be mark levine´s "seven voicing systems":

stacks of thirds
stacks of fourths
stacks of fifths ("kenny barron" voicings)
"so what" chords (and inversions of them)
left-hand voicings with octave+fifth or octave+third in right hand
upper structure triads (often combined with left-hand voicings)
drop 2 block chords

is your list different jazz+?

grrrrr...scot gets all the free books :-(

evans style chords that drop the second and third notes from the top an octave.

never having read any of the levine books, i wouldn't know...
well done, savage! it's almost as predictable the seasons. also verify with the comping on seven steps and blue in green.
thanks :-)
hey 7, could you elaborate on that?? i don't get it

"from the top an octave"  

could you give an example? maybe i am familiar with the chords... but i don't get it...

i still don't get it... drop 2 drop 2-4? what are you dropping.. in the sense of not playing?
drop-2 is really an awful misnomer.  the "2" is really meaningless.

7 is saying you "drop" a note out of a voicing, by moving it down an octave from where it normally sits in the voicing.
the idea of counting chord tones downward from the top in a voicing is ludicrous to me, but whatever.
you will notice in the example that the second tone down from the top of the voicing has been removed from that voicing and played an octave lower -- perhaps even by the left hand.
that's what is meant by drop-2.
the "2" does not refer to a 2nd nor to the "2" of the scale.
it's not ludicrous, the term "drop 2" comes from professioanl big band arrangers:

1st voice (alto sax)  
2nd voice (alto sax)
3rd voice (tenor sax)
4th voice (baritone sax)
in that context, it makes sense.  it was just counterintuitive to me, as a pianist.
so jazz+ (sorry but i'd like to be sure i've understood), in your list, which one is the "2" to be "dropped", and does it mean this "dropped voice" plays entirely an octave lower ?
i'm not jazz+, but i'm gonna take a crack at it-

drop 2 means take the second note from the top of the chord and drop it down one octave. from a pianists point of view it is a way of taking a 4-note, one handed, closed position chord, and opening it up into a two handed, open position chord. so if you are voicing a d-9 chord as f-a-c-e, you would take the second note from the top, c, and play it an octave lower. lh would play c and f, right hand would play a and e. you could practice a/b rootless voicings this way, you'd find yourself playing the voicings in open position, but you'd still have smooth voice leading.

arrangers think of jazz chords as being 4-note chords. the single most important distinguishing difference between jazz harmony and classical harmony is that classically chords are based on triads, jazz chords are based on triads with a 7th, the seventh always being considered an essential part of the chord. a jazz pianist might voice a d-7 chord as f-a-c-e and think of it as a "rootless" voicing, an arranger would think of it as a typical 4-note jazz chord where the 9th has taken the place of the root.

the guy i learned theory from was an arranger, he would say "sure, you can have a four note chord with other notes added on to it, but that's  all that it is - a four note chord with other notes added to it." i don't really think this way any more, i think that "so what" chords are legitimate 5-note chords, where you have both the 3rd and the 11th, but it's an interesting way to think about voicings.
yeah, it would be beneficial to get away from the notion that chords are based on four notes and sometimes more are added.

i'm sure that some of the more modern players like keith jarrett and brad mehldau would say that the sound you want to get is more important than the notes you are playing.

i've been experimenting, well, forcing myself rather, to play with more five and six note voicings (and more) and i'm getting most interesting sounds out of the piano.  most of them are good, sometimes i hit a real klunker though.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
hi all,

mark levine here, just snooping around your great site!  


it had been published for 2 month but i did find it in store. any feedback for this book?  pls. recommend. thanks.
wrong typing. i didn't find it.
it is available from jamey aebersold
this book sounds interesting.  when i studied with danilo, a big part of what we talked about revolved around using drop2s.  it completely changed my outlook on piano playing.  i will elaborate more later.
i have it, it's almost the same as the chapter in the jazz piano book on block chords with a few more examples.
think about drop2 outside the box.  since it is such a strong structure in the jazz idiom, it's structure alone creates the basis for a strong sound.  experiment with playing drop 2s of chords that are similar to the chord you are actually playing on.  for example.......what is a chord that is similar to a-7?  how about fma7?  what if you played an fma7 drop2 over an a-7?  yeah, it has an f in it..........but, it can really work well in some cases because the structure is so strong.  what about a g7 chord leading to it's i........c.  try playing a c#-7 with a drop2 over g in the bass....... g, ab(octave above), db, e, ab, b.  yeah, that's a g7b9#11....but.........it's so sweet to think of c#-7 over that chord.........try playing lines that outline c#-7 over the g7.......you'll find that thinking outside the box like this leads you to so many different possibilites.  experiment with drop2s outside the usual, and you'll find some really cool stuff.  i have a neat example over autumn in new york that i came up with to illustrate.  i need to notate it and make it a .pdf.  i"ll post when i get it done.
crap....sorry, take the ab second from the top out of that g7 chord i gave.  that would be the 2 you are supposed to drop :o)  (i've had a couple glasses of cabernet, sorry).
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