Good Musicians Borrow, Great Musicians Steal!

“On a Slow Boat to China”

Here’s a great tune that I took from Brisbane Bop. If you listen to Barney Kessel’s “Kessel Plays Standards” you will hear that Jimmie Rivers obviously took the arrangement right from this record.

BK Tele

Download lead sheet “On a Slow Boat to China

Listen to Barney Kessel’s version

Here are a few other versions that I checked out while learning this tune

Y’all know Charlie Parker dug country music right?

It’s facinating to me that a tune written for a musical in 1924 by a composer who studied with Dvorak would become a country standard.

“Indian Love Call” – Rudolph Friml

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In listening to Billy Jack Wills, Spade Cooley, and bands from the Western Swing tradition I was introduced to the song “Indian Love Call”. It was one of those songs that immediately grabbed me. There was something about it that drew me in and I wanted to find out about it’s history, learn it and make it a part of my repertoire. The song has been recorded by many artists including, none other than the “Yodeling Cowboy” Slim Whitman, Artie Shaw, Chet Atkins, and countless others including Roots Reggae pioneer Bobby McCook!

How it became a standard: (from Wikipedia)

Indian Love Call” (first published as “The Call“) is a song from Rose-Marie, a 1924 operetta-style Broadway musical with music by Rudolf Friml and Herbert Stothart, and book and lyrics by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II. Originally written for Mary Ellis, the song achieved continued popularity under other artists and has been called Friml’s best remembered work.

The play takes place in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and features the sonorous tune in the overture and in Act One while the love interests call to each other per a supposed Native Canadian legend about how men would call down into the valley to the girls they wished to marry. In most (or all) versions of Rose-Marie, including the best-known movie version, the tune is reprised several times throughout the narrative.

The musical was the longest running musical of the 1920s, enjoyed international success, and became the basis of four films with the same title. As the musical’s biggest hit, “Indian Love Call” outlived its origins. The New York Times described the song as being among those Rudolf Friml songs that became “household staples” in their era. The song was said to have been a favorite of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

About the Lead Sheet:

The version I used as a reference for the transcription was Chet Atkins’ version. For the most part the tune seems to be played most often in either the key of D or Eb. The country versions tend to use the IV/V/I progression vs. the II/V/I progression more often than not but there are examples of different subs being used from version to version. I kept it simple here so there would be flexibility to add or subtract subs depending on your taste.

Download Lead Sheet “Indian Love Call

Here is the Chet Atkins‘ version that I based the lead sheet on:

Here is the Slim Whitman‘s version:

Here is Artie Shaw‘s version:

and last but not least Tommy McCook and The Supersonics‘s rock steady version!

Y’all know Charlie Parker dug country music right?

Jimmie Rivers’ solo on “Back Bay Shuffle”

Download Jimmie Rivers’ solo on “Back Bay Shuffle

Someone recently asked me the question, “Who is the most underrated guitarist in the history of guitar?” I can easily answer that…Jimmie Rivers! The album Brisbane Bop from Jimmie Rivers and the Cherokees featuring steel guitar ace Vance Terry is a must have for any serious jazz or western swing fan. The whole record from start to finish is amazing. Luckily for us someone was smart enough to record the band during their four year stint at the 23 Club. Jimmie’s solos are blazing and inventive and even though his recorded output is limited to a few records it was enough to solidify him as one of the greatest guitarists ever!

Jimmie R


Learning to play along with this solo was challenging but so much fun. Some of my favorite parts of the solo is the yelling and screaming from the audience. The raw energy and joy felt in those screams and yells puts you right in the space as if you you right there at the 23 Club digging the band.

Here is where it all happend.
23 Club, Brisbane, CA
23 club

For more info on Jimmie Rivers and the Cherokees click here

Two Jimmy Raney Tunes

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For as much as I absolutley love Jimmy Raney’s playing, I equally love his composing, something I feel he is not known for. Sometime ago I went on a streak of trying to learn as many of his tunes as I could find. There are only a handful that he wrote but these are two of my favorites.

“Action”, which was also titled “Motion” is based on the standard “You Stepped out of a dream” (Also check out Chick Corea’s “Chick’s Tune” for another great line on these same changes). Download Lead Sheet here….. “Action” – Jimmy Raney

“Signal”is a classic example of a tune that embodies the sound and vibe of the classic quartet with Stan Getz. It is basically a Bebop tune but there is a distinct modern/angular shape to the melody that points in another direction. Download Lead Sheet here……. “Signal” – Jimmy Raney  (note: The basic gist of this chart is here but if I had time I would go back and edit some of the ways I notated the rhythms and I would add some of the counter lines and hits that are an important part of the tune..FYI)

To learn more about Jimmy Raney visit the the Jimmy Raney Website

Jimmie Rivers and the Cherokees w/ Vance Terry!

Recently I have been on a major Western Swing kick and have been loving discovering a ton of new music. There is always so much to learn and you never know what new discoveries are waiting just around the corner.

“Back Bay Shuffle” is an old Artie Shaw tune that is the opening track from the amazing record “Brisbane Bop” from Jimmie Rivers and the Cherokees featuring Vance Terry.

Jimmie R

Jimmie and Vance Terry and the whole band are completely burning on this. Western Swing and Jazz are so connected but I feel like this often gets lost on many hardcore jazzers. The band on this record has a deep sense of swing, a highly sophisticated sense of melodic improvisation, and a super tight and highly arranged group dynamic.

Check out the original from the Artie Shaw band

Download the Lead Sheet for “Back Bay Shuffle

* Please note that the lead sheet is a basic version of this tune, it doesn’t feature the harmonizations played on the record.

Thanks goes out to Lee Jeffries and Raphael McGregor for hipping me to a ton of great music!

Peter Bernstein solo on “Metamorphosis” (transcribed by Tono Gonzalez)

2014 was a big year for the blog. The blog gained many new followers and reached out to thousands across the world. I was delighted to receive an email on the last day of 2014 from Tono Gonzalez from Mexico who transcribed and submitted this wonderful solo from Peter Bernstein from his Criss-Cross record Earth Tones. One of my goals with the blog is to have people from all over submitting their work, so to get this email from Tono was very exciting.

tono

I wrote back to Tono because I wanted to know a little about him and his background, this is what he wrote:

“I’m from Mexico, of Durango city, I’ve actually course the 4 semester of Musical Education bachelor’s on the “Escuela Superior de Música UJED.

About the solo… I like so much the first lick, over a A7alt for resolve it to a Dm6addd9, is a part of solo what i most  can internalize; I would also stand out the rhythm,  in some parts is really interesting, with a triplets of crotchet and quaver are a resource what is very easy to learning, but dificult to apply in your own playing (at least for me), the last part of the one chorus solo have a great lick for learn because cross over a great chord changes, from to A7alt-Dmaj9-C#7alt-F#maj9 back to the A7alt and resolve it to a Dm6add9; the harmony of the song in general is easy to learn, move for 4ths and chromatics 4ths with a exciting dominant chords for move between the chords in the part B; really I keep working in  this solo, I hope you can analize it with me, is a great solo of a great song! “(sorry my english is so basic)

Tono….even though your written English might be basic that is OK! We all speak the universal language of Music and that is what really matters in the end. And if you really think about it, I couldn’t even attempt to write and email in Spanish so you have way more together than I do!

Thanks again for sharing and I hope this gives others the motivation to submit their work.

Download Solo HerePeter__Bernstein_Metamorphosis

 

Real Book Rant: Transcribe some changes from a classic recording!

Usually when one thinks about transcribing, you mostly think about transcribing an improvised solo. Solos are important to transcribe for all the obvious reasons. However, it is also a good idea to get into transcribing other aspects of playing such as: melody, harmony, rhythm, voicings, intros, endings, etc. When learning new tunes I encourage students to find a good lead sheet to have as a reference to start with in learning the melody and the changes to a tune but to also take the extra effort to research several recordings to determine if the melody and changes on the sheet are good or not. I recently started learning the tune “Poor Butterfly” after listening to one of my all time favorite recordings “Glad to Be Unhappy” by Paul Desmond featuring Jim Hall.

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So I got out my Real Book out and found a chart on the tune to see if the melody was close to what Paul Desmond was playing. Indeed, it was very close and seemed accurate. The tune is usually considered a ballad but on this recording they play it as a medium swing. Right away the recording was offering some insight into the tune that the lead sheet could never be able to offer me. The melody, as written on the chart is good but the changes seemed a little “suspect” and I felt like the way they played it on the record was so much hipper so I thought I’d better dig in a little deeper.

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Disclaimer #1  These may be the real original changes above and although mostly good, I wanted to learn what Paul and Jim were playing! The next step would be to check out some other classic versions of this tune and do a compare and contrast.

So……….. here is what I heard on the Paul Desmond recording:

Poor Butterfly

As you can see, there are some similarities between the two versions, but there are also some subtle things happening that really make a difference in my mind… i.e. Bars #3-4 (I – IV – iii – VI), Bars #5-6 (half step ii V > VI7) Bars #9-12 (II7 – ii – V – I w a quick V to vi) Bars #13-16 (ii – V/V –  ii –  V). The second half of the tune is mostly the same with the exception of Bars #25-28 (ii – BD ii V – I – IV – iii – VI).

Disclaimer #2  I don’t want to seem like a tune snob from this post or that I am offering up any new “news” that many teachers haven’t said a million times before me. I know a lot of folks who know way more tunes, hip changes and re-harms than I…. but……. I am seeing too many folks reaching for their iPhones at Jam Sessions and it just seems a little weird. “Yeah… I can play that tune….let me grab my phone real quick….”  I am not against reading tunes out of Real Books when needed in playing situations…..but……My main goal for this post is to encourage students to take the next steps and research other options and dig into the repertoire a little deeper.

This track is a masterpiece in every way! and don’t sleep on Gene Cherico on bass… Holy moly that’s a feel.

In doing some research for this post I also happened upon the great Steve Khan’s transcription and analysis of Jim Hall’s magical solo. Check it out! Steve’s site has a treasure trove of amazing transcriptions. His playing is super great as well.

-NF