I'm trying to learn some clarinet just to play along with records and relax. I love Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong -- jazz from the twenties or thirties mostly.

My clarinet teacher gave me Mile Davis's So What because it's 'modal' and only has a couple chords, so it should be a lot easier for me to play along with than the kind of songs I like. But that's not going to work for me. I know the older songs have lots of chord changes, but I can whistle or sing some kind of solo along with them that sounds good to me. Nothing I sing or play along with So What is going to sound particularly good to me. I stumbled upon this great explanation here so I have a better sense of what my teacher is getting at. But I don't think I can do it.

It seems like there ought to be some relatively simple blues I might be able to do something with. I should stick close to Bb since I don't know my way around the clarinet that well. Maybe I'm totally wrong, but aren't there songs where you could bumble around a pentatonic scale on the tonic and sound basically ok through all the chord changes?

Besides some general advice about what I'm trying to do and simple-ish song I might be able to do it with -- any ideas about how I find specific recordings on spotify or whatever that would be in keys that would work for me?

  • 2
    Asking for a list of songs is probably off-topic here, maybe you should edit that part of the question. That said, look up any classic jazz record from the fifties and look for songs that have the word 'blues' in the title; that should give you a wealth of great material. Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 19:50
  • Sorry about that. I haven't read the posting guidelines. Guess I'd better. What would really help me is if I had some way of searching for lead sheets paired with recordings. I have fake books and could find songs in Bb that don't seem too hard, but I'd have no idea how to find recordings that use the same chords.
    – Sigfried
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 20:52
  • 1
    @Sigfried, just a comment here. Your description of what your seek ("songs where you could bumble around a pentatonic scale on the topic and sound basically ok through all the chord changes") sounds a lot like modal tunes. It's harder to do this with songs that have lots of changes, and after long enough, it becomes obvious that the soloist isn't playing the changes and is just thinking about the pentatonic scale.
    – jdjazz
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 1:46
  • Might want to check out the Real “Easy” Book - the Bb version will have the chords transposed for you. Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 3:45
  • I get how the Bb Real Book songs will be transposed from keys in the plain Real Book, but how is the key chosen in the "C" version? Is it based on the key the song was originally published in? Or on some canonical recording? Something else?
    – Sigfried
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 20:54


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