If I Were A Classical Musician

A Premier at Le Poisson Rouge, NYC. Courtesy http://www.brooklynvegan.com

Next month, I will graduate from the U of MN with a Masters degree in trumpet performance. My studies in my Masters program have been primarily in the classical trumpet field, though I did serve as the jazz theory TA for a semester, and have taken jazz comp lessons for three semesters (I have a BA in Jazz Studies). So when I say “If I were a classical musician….” I mean to say that I do not identify as a classical musician because the majority of the playing I do professionally is in a jazz setting.

So…If I were a classical musician, I would be treating my art as if I were a jazz musician. Jazz musicians are self-made performers. They grind it out searching for clubs that will have their music and pay them a little money to play it. When they’re not playing a gig, they’re likely practicing, transcribing, rehearsing or blogging about their art. They are visible, and they treat themselves sort of the same way a rock band might. You promote your music, play in clubs, and try and build a fan base. Really, jazz musicians look at themselves as independent musicians. Period. Not “jazz musicians,” just “musicians.” This at least does away with all the recent “jazz is dead” talk, and allows you to simply function as someone who makes good music. If you make good music, and you believe people will enjoy it, then who cares what it is called?

So why are classical musicians not acting this way? Continue reading

Chet Baker, Zing! Went the Strings of my Heart

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Download the PDF: CBb, EbBass Clef

“Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” solo by Chet Baker, From Quartet Live Vol. 3 (Aug 1954).

What I love about this solo is how surprised I was when I found out this was Chet Baker. The tempo is absolutely blazing fast and Chet just rips this tune apart playing a mix of beautiful melodies and chromatic eighth notes. Chet is known for slow songs, and his eerie singing, but this track shows why Charlie Parker was so excited to play with Chet with Parker got stuck in LA. This recording is part of a set of nights in LA with Chet’s quartet, right after Chet gets back from touring with Bird. I have all three nights (Quartet Live Vol1, 2 & 3) and they’re all phenomenal. It’s clear that this early playing by Chet is the reason Bird warned Miles and Dizzy of a this guy out on the West Coast.

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Roy Hargrove, Yardbird Suite

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Download the Transcription:  CBbEbBass Clef

Since this is my first transcription going up on this blog, I’d like to take a second and talk about why I chose this solo, and subsequently why I choose every solo I transcribe. There is always some intangible that sticks out to me about something I pick to transcribe. When I listen to a particular solo over and over again, it’s these solos that really stick with me, and that’s when I decide “you know what, I should transcribe this.” I start by playing along with the solo (usually), and then I sit down and write it out. This solo stuck out to me (this whole record, actually) because it’s a bebop record tribute to Charlie Parker, but the instrumentation is just bass (Christian McBride), Piano (Stephen Scott) and Trumpet (Roy Hargrove). The instrumentation alone had me interested, and then I heard how tight and swinging the grooves were without drums and I was blown away. This track is just a piano/trumpet duo, and the interplay between Stephen Scott and Roy Hargrove is just ridiculous. I was attracted to this particular solo for that reason.

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