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!”.
Kind of Blue is one of the most iconic jazz albums recorded to date. This track and this solo are probably the most well-known recordings on that album. Miles is one of my favorite horn players because everything he plays sits so perfectly in the pocket. On this recording especially you can hear him playing primarily on the back side of the beat. It sounds so effortless! This is also a great study in melodic development since most of these ideas are just triads!
I just bought this record and when I heard this track, I immediately thought of transcribing some of this stuff for SoKillingMan. Vu picks a few of the most standard standards and plays them as the first few tracks of his record Leaps of Faith (2011). What’s great about it is that Cuong Vu does his Cuong Vu thing over these tunes. These old, overdone, dried-out standards sound like they could be just another original on his new album. Listen closely though, and the form, melody, and harmony become obvious in the tunes we know. Continue reading →
Blue Mitchell’s Solo on “Bluesville” from the album Step Lightly (1963). Players on album: Blue Mitchell (trumpet), Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Gene Taylor (bass), Roy Brooks (drum set). Transcribed by Lukas Skrove, Spring 2012. Solo begins 0’38’’
With transcribing the jazz language I’ve always been fascinated with the process of figuring out what the great players of the 50’s and the 60’s played. With such ease and flow their language of be-bop, and blues just feeds the ears of our generation with so much substance that I feel we sometimes miss out on. I’m a young musician trying to study this music and hopefully begin to understand it a little bit more with everyday that goes by. At school I try to transcribe as many solos as I can. This semester my trumpet teacher Adam Rossmiller came across this solo of Blue Mitchell’s and told me to check it out and transcribe it. So I did!
If there is one thing no one can deny about Chet Baker, it is that he was a master of melody (and that he was a massive drug addict). These early 1954 live recordings show too that Chet was well-versed in the bebop language and had been listening to and even playing with Charlie Parker. It’s this early playing that I think is Chet’s most potent as an improvisor. Continue reading →
First of all, I’d like to send a quick shout-out to Darcy James Argue, who wrote this award winning (Charlie Parker Composition Award, 2004) piece, and is the leader of currently my favorite big band record, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Infernal Machines, on which this Ingrid solo is lifted. I am constantly inspired by Darcy’s music, and he is a big influence on my own big band writing.
Ambrose. My newest obsession on the trumpet. It took me months before I could remember his name “uhh…it’s this long name and starts with A, but he’s ridiculous!” but I’m sure I’ll never forget it. Ambrose is the perfect mix of math and emotion. Right when you think he’s lost you in a solo, he reels you back in with a sweet, warm melody, or just a straight up funky blues lick. Ambrose’s sound is mesmerizing. It’s always the first thing you hear, the sound of the instrument. Before all the licks, and all the “finger flapping” as Ambrose so humbly (he’s clearly full of it) calls it, you hear the sound. Just the pure sound of the instrument. Your sound is the #1 most important thing in your playing. It might sound weird, but I truly believe that. How can you tell when it’s Miles? It’s that sound. Dizzy? Louis? Clifford? Same thing. It’s their individual sounds, sometimes brittle, other times hypnotic, that make you go “No doubt about it, that’s Lee Morgan.” Continue reading →
Today’s awesome guest post, which looks at four different Miles Davis solos over the same tune, comes from trumpeter John Raymond. John has a new album coming out so be sure to check it out on his website!
A little bit ago I did a transcription research project on Miles Davis doing the tune “Walkin” four different times over the course of the first part of his career. The recordings I transcribed were:
These recordings give such a vivid display of Miles’ growth throughout the first few decades of his career. They also serve as a vivid display of Miles’ constant search for spontaneous and uninhibited improvisation, as well as his prowess, maturity and evolution in the three primary spheres of improvising: melody, harmony and rhythm.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I love me some Dave Douglas. Dave has been a huge influence on me both as a writer and a trumpet player, and this particular solo has been one that has haunted me for many years. Dave is a lyrical master, and this solo is a perfect example of his prowess. Almost the whole solo is played over a simple I (vi), ii IV V progression, but its basically just Bb major the whole time. His two horn writing is really some special as it is on display on this track.
Just a Closer Walk With Thee:
This week is a two-for-one. If you read my blog post on my trip to New Orleans, you know that I had an exciting time while I was there. Among other things, I had the absolute pleasure of getting to hear Leroy Jones at Preservation Hall, and since the Jack Brass Band (band I was on tour with) had played there the night before, I got to meet Leroy and talk to him a little. Mainly, it was just a treat to hear this man play traditional New Orleans music all evening.
Since most people don’t know who Leroy Jones is (which is a damn same), I’ll just give you a short synopsis. Leroy is probably best know for his work with Harry Connick, Jr, but he was also a member of the band that became the famous Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Leroy has been performing all around the world with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Harry Connick, and was born and bred in New Orleans. Leroy is as authentic as it gets, and when you hear him play over these simple I IV V I progressions, you wonder if you should ever even try to play trads again. It’s that good.
Somehow Leroy has gone widely unnoticed in the trumpet community, which I am particularly perturbed about. It seems as though if a trumpet player comes out of the woodwork with a less than “standard” trumpet sound, the International Trumpet Guild doesn’t know what to do with him. He fits nicely in his cute little New Orleans box, so that’s where we put him and that’s where he stays. Spoiler alert: You’ve all been missing out. Continue reading →