I still haven’t decided which is my favourite track on Roy Hargrove’s ‘Earfood’ – either “Strasbourg St. Denis” or “I’m Not So Sure”. Or was it “Starmaker”? I started writing out Roy’s solo in “I’m Not So Sure” some time ago already, and then shelved it. I’ve finally got around to finishing it and digitizing it in MuseScore.
What struck me immediately as I was writing out this solo was the sparsity of notes and delicacy of the phrases at the beginning, followed by sudden outbursts of expressive lines (like bars 21 and 31/34). What I’ve noticed from my own playing is that I often play far too much in trying to find my way through the changes, so this is definitely a lesson to take home.
Writing out phrases such as bars 5, 21-22, 36 and 44 actually doesn’t do the solo justice, and they shouldn’t be taken too literally (as with most solos, I’d say). These lines have their roots in soul and gospel – the kinds of phrases that make you want to jump out of your seat and shout “AMEN!”.
Roy is one my favorite trumpet players of all time. His mix of hard bop and soul/gospel in his playing is exactly where I want to be as a player, so I tend to listen to a lot of (too much?) Roy. This tune is no exception. It’s from his record Earfood, which is pretty much a standard quintet record, except it has this track on it, and this track really just blows away the rest of the album, as good as it is. Everyone on the record plays great throughout, but it’s like they were all born to play this tune. Each solo builds on the last creating a track that ebbs and flows just right, until you’re hitting the back arrow on your ipod to listen again.
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.