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Misty (Jazz Standard)

The Justinguitar.com Jazz Guitar Lessons

Look at me, I'm as helpless as a kitten up a tree

Misty was written in 1954 by the jazz pianist Erroll Garner, originally an instrumental (on his album Contrasts). Lyrics were written by Johnny Burke and the song became a hit for Johnny Mathis in 1959.

It's been covered extensively and is a great one for beginners because it's slow and takes substitutions and extensions well.

1. Listening

Before starting work on the song, you really should try and listen to a few versions, particularly vocal versions, I think listening to one with a lyric really helps you understand the phrasing of the melody. Of course some songs don't have words, but if a song has words, find some vocal recordings.

Check out how they all vary the melody a bit, and remember when you play it you don't have to play it 'exactly as the book says', in fact if you do, you are missing the point!

Vocal Versions:
Johnny Mathis - had the first big hit with the song.
Ella Fitzgerald - what a voice, incredible variations on the melody too!
Frank Sinatra - always gotta check how Frank did it, brilliant as ever.
Sarah Vaughan - this girl is simply incredible, messes with the melody in a fantastic way - so late at the start!!

Instrumental Versions:
Erroll Garner - the guy who wrote the song, obviously a must check out, and boy can he play!!
Joe Pass - wow, Joe is incredible, I love everything he plays. This is awesome. Also on LP Virtuoso #2.
Wes Montgomery & Wynton Kelly - Wes is a legend of jazz guitar, hear why with this simple but beautiful version.
Lou Donaldson & Grant Green - Lou makes the sax sing beautifully and Grant is a master guitarist.

2. Learn The Chords - Video Lesson (JA-530)

Remember to start real simple and learn the root notes and chord types and be real solid with them before getting into any substitutions!

 

3. Learn The Melody - Video Lesson (JA-531)

Make sure you memorise the melody in one position. Of course later it's a good idea to be able to play it all over the neck wherever you want, but that will come later, first really nail it in one position.

 

4. Harmonic Analysis - Video Lesson (JA-532)

Next up is understanding what is going on with the song harmonically, looking at the key changes and what scales would be played over each chord. Here's the PDF File of the Tip Sheet for you too!

 

The Form: A A B A
Most usual Key: Eb Major

[A]      
I II - V (of Ab) I of Ab / IV of Eb II - V of Gb
EbMaj7 Bbmin7 Eb7 AbMaj7 Abmin7 Db7
I - VI II - V I - VI7 (V/II) II - V
EbMaj7 Cmin7 Fmin7 Bb7 EbMaj7 C7 Fmin7 Bb7
[A]      
I II - V (of Ab) I of Ab / IV of Eb II - V of Gb
EbMaj7 Bbmin7 Eb7 AbMaj7 Abmin7 Db7
I - VI II - V I - bVII7 I
EbMaj7 Cmin7 Fmin7 Bb7 Eb6 Db9 EbMaj7
[B]      
II V I  
Bbmin7 Eb7 AbMaj7 AbMaj7
II - V (of G) II - V (of Bb) II - V (of F) II - V (of Eb)
Am7 D7 Cmin7 F7 Gmin7 C7 Fmin7 Bb7
[A]      
I II - V (of Ab) I of Ab / IV of Eb II - V of Gb
EbMaj7 Bbmin7 Eb7 AbMaj7 Abmin7 Db7
I - VI II - V I - VI II - V
EbMaj7 Cmin7 Fmin7 Bb7 EbMaj7 Cmin7 Fmin7 Bb7

 

* Note - the chords shown above are from my own composition "Slightly Foggy" which happens to have the same chord changes as Misty, but as they use the same harmonies it's worth looking at here!

 

5. Exploring

Now this bit I can't help you with much because it's better if you do it on your own. But here's some basic things you should be exploring:

1. Try playing the melody in different parts of the neck (different positions)
2. Try out some chord substitutions, both extensions and substitutions and seeing what works.
3. Try using only arpeggios to make an improvised solo.
4. Try using only scales to make an improvised solo.
5. Try playing the song in other keys.
6. Transcribe as many solos for this song you find THAT YOU REALLY LIKE (I don't recommend wasting time transcribing and learning solos that you don't like, it's a waste of time).
7. Try using the licks you steal from your transcriptions and mixing in with your improvisations.
8. Try making up your own chord melody (chords and melody at the same time).
9. ?

 

 

You'll find the chart for this tune in both of these Real Books!

Real Book 1

The Real Book Vol. 1 in C

This is the "real" real book. The original one, well not quite, it's the slightly newer version that the one 'everyone uses' which is the 5th edition - but this one is LOADS better, seriously, loads better. I bought this 6th Edition after starting this course and wish I'd bought it sooner!

Buy at Amazon.co.uk
Buy at Amazon.com

New Real Book

The New Real Book in C

This is a "new" edition with lyrics and more modern jazz classics and fusion tunes - compliments the above real book, both are recommended.

Buy at Amazon.co.uk
Buy at Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson ID: JA-530