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 →
*I can’t seem to find my original Finale file for this transcription. I’m in the process of creating a new one so that I can provide Eb, Concert pitch and bass clef versions of the solo; hopefully in the next few days.
This Bennie Wallace solo from the album Bennie Wallace Plays Monk is quite a unique approach to the blues form. Quite honestly I don’t even know where to begin analyzing this solo in terms of harmonic language; this solo is far different from anything other I’ve looked at. Bennie is clearly influenced by Monk in his use of harmony, interval jumps and even phrasing. In a few spots he is definitely basing his lines (or at least parts of his phrases) around certain intervals – typically starting low on the horn and jumping up by 6ths, 7ths, 8ths or 9ths. A lot of the solo is “out” with respect to the chord changes which has a great tension building effect. Bennie eases the tension a few times by hinting at a resolution to the 3rd of the I7 chord (see mm 83, 107-108, 217).
Starting around mm 145 the bass drops out making it a drum/sax duet. This section builds to a frenzy with more frequent octave leaps (mm 151, 158, 163, 165, 173 etc…) and more 16th note lines and flurries of notes up until the bass comes back in at mm 205. Bennie counterbalances the frantic nature of the duet section by holding out a nice long G for three beats in mm 205 which brings the tension back down and leads to the end of Bennie’s solo.
I really wish I could provide the full solo for you to listen to because it is insanely awesome. Please check out Bennie’s website and pick up this track on Amazon or iTunes. Definitely worth it to get some different ideas on the blues.
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.
So I love listening to and transcribing solos that break lots of rules–and although rule-breaking isn’t a new concept in music (or any other creative activity for that matter), I like to think that it’s largely responsible for the generation of new musical material and original ideas in general. Ben Goldberg breaks lots of rules in this solo, but for as far out as he goes there’s always a strong indication that he knows where the key center/next downbeat is. It’s uncanny, really. And as musically aware Ben must have been to play these killer lines, in an email Ben told me: “I took a nap in the studio and then just walked out in a daze and played that — I didn’t want to be thinking about it too much.” Continue reading →
Today’s post is a short and sweet Ben Webster solo over Duke Ellington’s rhythm changes tune “Cottontail.” Ben uses a fair amount of repetition to develop his ideas through the solo. In mm. 1-4 he repeats the rhythm while stepping down chromatically each repetition. Each bridge has an idea that he repeats throughout each chord change (mm. 17-23 and 49-56).
Measures 33-40 act almost like an interlude between choruses even though the form doesn’t change. This is also a great example repetition. Each time he repeats the motiv he moves up higher in the register which, along with the diminished sound, creates a ton of tension and a very nice peak to the solo.
This was a slightly challenging solo to transcribe because it is such an old recording and some parts of the solo are very hard to hear because they get covered up by the brass hits. I think the transcription is pretty accurate, but I might be off in some of those spots.
Rhythm. What can be more definitive in music? Rhythm is what drives music forward, particularly in music that derived from African roots like jazz. Trombone Shorty knows all about rhythm. He’s one of those New Orleans guys who never really shook that New Orleans attitude in his playing (thankfully). Trombone Shorty’s playing on this track especially, is derived from New Orleans Brass Band trombone playing. He approaches his solo very rhythmically, and doesn’t vary the notes he uses hardly at all. I think he steps outside the notes of the Eb minor pentatonic scale maybe once in this entire solo. The information is not in the note choice, but in the rhythmic development. Continue reading →
I’ve always been more of a straight ahead/bebop kind of player and since my main gig is with a pop band I’ve been looking towards some more pop oriented influences to help myself feel more comfortable soloing in that style. The real lesson in this transcription is in the inflections, articulation and use of grace notes; I think that is really what makes this style come alive so to speak. I tried my best to notate some of the more distinct articulations and grace notes, but you really are going to have to spend a lot of time just listening and following along with the transcription to pick up on these things.
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 →
This is one of my favorite tunes on the album for its cleverness, lopsided time signature, and killer solos! Rob Burger absolutely tears it up and Carla Kihlstedt swoops in and picks right up where he leaves off, both of them navigating 5/4 time like it’s their respective jobs. Which it is. So there you go. This tune has a very simple chord progression and A/B form which balances out the quirky time signature–and the tuba does a very clever hemiola bassline in the B sections (mm. 17-18, 21-22, 49-54) that’s just charming as hell, and really caught me off guard ten times I listened to it. The combination of simplicity, innovative quirks and killer playing epitomizes the impression I get from this whole album, so if you like this track I STRONGLY suggest buying the whole album.
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.