Block-chord harmonization (also known as locked-hands playing) is the technique of harmonizing each note of a melody with a three- or four-note chord to create a lush, full-bodied sound reminiscent of the sax sections of the swing era big bands. Popularized by George Shearing in the 1950s and used extensively by Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson and all manner of straight-ahead jazz pianists since then, it remains a fundamental skill of the modern player.
A transcription of Dave Brubeck's The Duke is used to introduce the concepts of this technique in this lesson, followed by the note-by-note block chord harmonization of excerpts of three tunes commonly played in this style (Polka Dots and Moonbeams, You Make Me Feel So Young, and What Am I Here For?) showing three ways to create standard block-chord harmonizations: four-way close, four-way close double lead, and drop 2. The accompanying PDF practice sessions will guide you further through the harmonization of these and other tunes.
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