Jazz Smugglers Master Workshop

Jazz Smugglers Master Workshop
Click on photo for Jazz Smugglers website

Sunday, 18 August 2013


Imogen Ryall at the Verdict in Brighton, with Rod Hart piano, Dave Trigwell drums, Mark Bassey trombone and it looks and sounds like Paul Whitten on bass. Notice how Mark drifts out of sight when the others are playing to give them the stage. But does Rod take an unexpected extra chorus of solo?. Dave Trigwell is a master at picking up lines from the soloists. He only does it once with Rod's solo, at 3.31 minutes. 

This girl does her own thing with a jazz song. She plays with it, she messes with the phrasing, moves the melody around, makes the song her own. You can't take your eyes off her either.

So many things about Imogen's style. The voice is exceptional.  She feels the lyrics. Technique is effortless.

Her jazz idiom is highly creative, she uses her voice in the same way as an instrumentalist. She has wonderful stage presence. Charming manner, approachable. She is truly nice. You can tell that by the number of people who come just for her gigs. She must have had a personal following about over 20 in the pub in Hove last week.

I asked her the same questions I ask instrumentalists.
"Rhythm, harmony, tune are all equally important really, but for me it was the rhythm I noticed first. When I was little I used to sing little rhythmic phrases. For jazz singers rhythm is so often underrated."

Here is a surprising thing to hear a jazz singer say, "I need to listen to the drums and the bass. The melody is always there anyway." At the gig the bass, keyboard and Imogen all interacted together with little phrases.

"When improvising over a chord sequence I rely almost entirely on my ear and obviously knowing the song and chords"

"I will sometimes try to sing 'outside' the harmony in the way an instrumentalist does but it takes some practise because as a singer you've always got to create the notes unlike an instrumentalist who has them at their finger tips and generally speaking, ones natural instinct is to resolve!"

"It's important to learn the vocabulary of jazz and over the years, I've listened to everything from Scott Joplin to Charlie Parker to Pat Metheny and everything in between! I've learned instrumental solos by ear and transcribed some which is also extremely useful."

"I always tell students (when asked!) to spend a good percentage of their practise time just listening to music, particularly the rhythm section. What's the bass doing? What's the rhythm pattern of the hi-hat? What's the piano player doing in his left hand?"

"Also when learning new songs, once I've learned the melody and lyrics, I'll listen to as many instrumental versions of it as I can so that I don't get stuck singing Ella's or Sarah's version for example (as brilliant as they are!) It's absolutely essential to explore one's own voice and style".  

Ps. Imogen is the leading jazz vocal tutor in the South. If you want to contact her then use

The Jazz Smugglers bands in Sussex
The Jazz Smugglers workshop, Bosham, Sussex

The workshop will be opening again on Sunday September 8th. We can take one extra front line player, possibly. If you would like to try out you would be welcome that evening, but let me know in advance.
This site is to help the Jazz smugglers workshop group and provide informtion about the following weeks work. We will be working on widening our range of playing styles as individuals, working together in a band, and practising the more difficult things. You need to be able to read.

If you have a Facebook account can you LIKE our band page on Facebook please, 
and LIKE our workshop page as well.

In this blog We will produce tips for jazz piano, and jazz guitar together with jazz saxophone. We will cover jazz chords, jazz guitar chords, and we will deal with jazz scales. We will cover jazz songs. This site is all about jazz improvisation. you can sign up directly to this blog site as a FOLLOWER, bottom rh side panel, you'll get all the posts.

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