ABSTRACT

Jazz improvisation is the art of creating new melodies from existing harmonic material, often taking place in real time on the bandstand. Although counterpoint is used frequently in jazz music, contrapuntal improvisation receives scarce attention as a standalone concept. This chapter explores how harmony provides a framework for contrapuntal improvisation. Musical examples, written exercises, and listening recommendations are used to compare stylistic and harmonic approaches of jazz pianists ranging from Lenny Tristano's left-hand walking bass to McCoy Tyner's use of fourths. This chapter's objective is to illuminate the range of harmonic possibilities inherent in these musical stylings and techniques.