i started learning the coltrane tune "central park west" last week.
so i learned the chord progression and the basic melody and tried to make sence of the basic feel.  then i hoped in may car and drove from cape cod (where i live) to central park in nyc (about a 4 hour drive) to see if i could find out more about what the tune was about.  i drove down 57 th street and then up the southern end of central park and looked over all of central park west from my car, before i finally parked up about harlem and then got out and walked back to central park west and finally had lunch at the boat house.  
    dose anyone have any other tips for other ways to work on this tune?
There are 21 comments, leave a comment.
i think you're on the right track mike.  i think if you back pack home from the boat house, you'll have it down
well honestly i think i am playing the head ok and i think i have an acceptable to feel to comp the chords if i were to play behind a horn, but i just can not feel how to approach a melodic line for improvisation on this one... it has me a little stumped.
well, i usually try to think of the common tones to help connect the chords. like the melody, where an f# connects the bmaj and e-. c# between dmaj and bb-...  

i also like to practice playing a shape or contour, and changing it based on the chords, to help visualize the changes of voice leading in my ear. think of a pattern, but leave it up to your ear to figure out how to change or resolve it over every chord. i'm in a coffee shop right now, but just imagining the sound of the changes guided me to something like this:

c#- f#7: f# e b g# a# c# e g#
bmaj: f# d# b a# b c# d# f#
e- a7: f# d b a b c# e a
dmaj: g# f# d a b c# e g#
bb- eb7: bb ab f c db f g bb
abmaj: eb c bb g ab bb c eb
g- c7: e d bb f g bb c e
fmaj: g f c a g a c f
not the best line, but practicing in this perpetual eighth note type way may lead you to some discovery on how to play melodically on the tune. this type of thing always seems to open up more melodic ideas for me when i'm not playing eighth notes

good luck!
take a look at this(esp.giant steps section)-
maybe my problem needs an explanation  ...  when playing any swing tune improvisations for me are based on flowing 1/8 note lines which i feel in groups of 4.  over the years i have internalized this.  i no longer ever think about it but i know that is what is going on.  on bossa's and latin music and the occasional classically inspired improvisation or rock fusion improvisation for me i simply straighten out the eigth notes but pretty much keep the rest of my concept ...feel.... in place.  my question has to do with on this tune
my general approach... how one generally aproaches the feel of a melodic line on a swing tune or a bossa does not work on cpw ... so how do you cope... i wish dave frank were out there for this one...  
he would understand the question.
your question is: how do you play on ballads as opposed to swing tunes. it's a good question because the improv approach is definately different on ballads. the feeling in fours concept applies to line playing on changes. the basic concept on playing on ballads is "creating a new melody". the improv line on a ballad will have more held notes, approximating the melodic flow of a standard melody.

it can be useful to think of it as walking up a few steps on a ladder, hanging out on a rung for a moment, then doing it again, perhaps in a different direction..you're trying to create a new melody on the changes rather than blow linear lines. lots of pauses are good, sections for chord playing in the midst of the melody, etc..

sometimes you can build from the creating a new melody to the linear  feeling in fours on ballads, and it may also help if you wanna play lines over the ballads to feel 8's instead of fours.

hi mike. next time you're in nyc say hello you beast.

dave frank
thanks a mica dave.  i thought about calling, but it was a family day type of thing and i ran out of time.  but i am much more familiar with the area now to find u the next time.
the other day when i posted (take a look at this(esp.giant steps section)- above,somehow i didn't get the link in the thread,here it is-  

coltrane playing central park west live

no that is not central park west they are playing in that video.
to see a video  of coltrane playing "central park west"  go to utube and type "central park west" where it says search.
yeah jazz+ that's "i want to talk about you"
i know that was a link to something else. i have played central park west for years and find it a very comfortable set of changes.
about 30 years ago i first started playing the tune,
then why would you post
"coltrane playing central park west live"
and then put a link to a different tune misleading people to
think the wrong tune was central park west.  
that makes no sence at all jazz+
please explain
okay, sorry, on a more serious note, here is coltrane performing cpw

look it is ok that you do not know the tune "central park west" and you mistakenly posted a link to "i want to talk about you" thinking that was it.  the tune is not really considered a must know standard.
so why you then have to go into this elaborate defence talking about how you have been playing it for 30 years which obviously can not be true or you would not have mistook "i want to talk about you" for it and then continue trying to joke about it...
listen... chill its ok... i know a lot of perfectly good musicians who do not know and have never played central park west.
it's ok man.
i have played it for 30 years, i googled that link and did not bother to listen to it and posted, so there. my bad!

hardy har har

and even though i
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