This solo is a masterpiece by Wes. There’s everything you’re used to hearing in his improvisations: Double stops, quartal structures, tritones, pentatonic ideas, dorian phrases, fast and wide arpeggios and his famous octaves all along his last choruses. That’s probably because it was recorded in 1965 (only three years before his death, in June 15th 1968 – 45 years ago) with the wonderful Wynton Kelly Trio. It’s really a solo to remember by all guitar students and improvisational musicians.
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 →
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.
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.
I’m FINALLY posting a cello solo, and since I’m an improvising cellist, it’s about time. There are actually quite a few fabulous cello-playing improvisers out there, and Eugene Friesen is a leader in the field. This whole album, Carnival of Souls, is full of cello techniques and tone colors that you’ve probably never heard, some of them pulled from the acoustic bass, or even guitar lexicons. As a trio member, Friesen excels at holding down the rhythmic accompaniment with arpeggiations and intricate basslines, as well as soaring, lyrical melodies when Howard Levy takes over the accompanimental role.
This track grooves so hard I can’t possibly sit still while I listen. It’s the way Hollenbeck employs distinctly different snare drum timbres and perfectly compliments the utterly simple descending bassline, and then Moran’s vibes solo floats effortlessly over the top and constantly subverts the swung 4/4 feel with 12/8 and straight 4/4 references. This tune is incredibly special because it is a hard-grooving lament in memory of Matt Moran’s late father, Tom; have you ever heard of a hard-grooving lament? No, me neither.
Lady Be Good, written by George/Ira Gershwin and performed by: Django Reinhardt, guitar; Michel Warlop, violin I; Stephane Grappelli, violin II; Eddie South, violin III. From the album ‘Django Reinhardt Crazy Rhythm,’ released on the Iris Records, recorded in 1937.
This is the third transcription I’ve done in a row featuring Stephane Grappelli, and after this one I’ll do something different – but this trifecta of violin solos was just too cool to pass up.
This Thursday sokillingman.com broke 1,000 views, so thank you! We’re really excited to have so many people interested in this project and we have all sorts of plans for development. Here’s a little bonus post in celebration:
This tune is absolutely classic, and very well could have been the first tune I heard that convinced me that I understood what Gypsy Jazz sounds like. It’s just that kind of recording. While it’s not the whole picture by any means, this tune exemplifies a lot of the rules and conventions of the genre and has a very balanced ratio of variety to continuity. So I figured this would be a great study tool for said reasons, and I love the solo, so it was a no-brainer. Continue reading →