Play alongs are important for us jazz musicians. There is nothing better than working on a tune or exercise and then being able to cue up a play along and put into action what you have been working on. It’s like having a band on retainer to play whatever you want, whenever you want.
The first source of play alongs that I love is a Youtube channel that has been growing over the years and now has almost every tune you could imagine. The channel is called, “Learn Jazz Standards,” and is free for anyone to use. We all know that Youtube has democratized the Internet, and this is a perfect example of how that benefits us, the jazz musicians of the world. Gone are the days when we would have to go out and buy a volume of Jamey Aebersold’s play alongs just to have a quality track to practice with. I’m not knocking Jamey’s play alongs either. I grew up on those things and the rhythm sections are FANTASTIC. He also has put out a number of collections that aren’t available anywhere else which are still very useful to me. But, these on demand play alongs, the like you can find on Learn Jazz Standards, have really benefited me and my practice time.
You can find the channel by following this link.
The second resource that has become an important part of my practicing and teaching is an app called iReal Pro. This app does a number of things really well. The first thing is an electronic real book. The only difference is there are no melodies, but this is perfect if you need a quick chord reference and even more perfect if you are a rhythm section player that doesn’t necessarily need the melodies to every tune. The beauty here is that with the click of a button, you can transpose any tune to any key. This app comes in handy if you are playing with a vocalist or a band that does things in different keys than you’re used to.
This app also doubles as a play along. Granted, it is a semi-cheesy midi play along, but it gets the job done. Again, the advantage here is that you can put any tune in any key and play it at any tempo. The best feature of the play along function is that you can create your own chord charts. This shines in all sorts of situations. In fact, I create play alongs for all of the exercises I’m working on with this app. These are things I can’t find anywhere else and I wouldn’t be able to go without this app at this point in my life.
Do yourself a favor and get this app today!
Here is the purchase link for Android users, Apple users can download from the app store.
Is there anything I’m missing? What are some of your favorite play alongs and resources?