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El Blog

Clifford Brown, Daahoud, and Ears 

Do you remember three-dimensional chess in the old Star Trek? That’s an image that kept coming back to me as I tried to pick apart this solo, along with a nagging question: What would this performance - note-for-note, the exact thing, played by the same guys - what would it’ve sounded like recorded and mixed on today’s equipment? And this: Jazz today operates in a world where we can make a “perfect” recording, fixing after the fact anything that might be perceived as a mistake. More and more young jazz…

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Georg Friedrich Händel, Sonata in Gm, op.2 no. 8: A Quick and Dirty Analysis 

I was faced with the assignment of realizing a continuo part for banjoist john Bullard's upcoming cd, and I thought it would be helpful to both of us if I had a look under the hood. I forgot to turn off spellcheck, and didn't realize until I posted this that every time I wrote "counter-theme" it got corrected to "countermine." Like i said, quick and dirty!

Performing J.S. Bach: Courante and Double (Partita #1 in Bm) for bass guitar. 

   A Bach piece usually comes to us without much (from the composer at least) in the way of  direction, an omission which is unfortunately taken all too literally in many performances. Most likely a bit of interpretive latitude was permitted, though it is just as easy to find romantic, even overwrought playing of the same pieces. The question of how much freedom we may take while respecting Bach's intent - or our perception of it - is one we musicians have been grappeling with ever since his era passed into…Read more

Lester Young on "Back Home in Indiana" 

I lost the CD I originally heard this stunning solo on, transcribed it off a youtube video which was subsequently scrubbed. There's a few versions of Prez doing "Indiana" on there, but I can't seem to dig up this one so I can't post the URL at the moment.

It always makes sense to transcribe Prez' version of the head, that's the first chorus in Ab, after which he modulates to F. He actually takes 4 or 5 choruses on this cut, though I only did the first and a couple of bars of the second.

Quarter notes whether… Read more

6-string Bass 7th-chord Arpeggios 

  The other night on the gig, I was muddling through the usual way and thinking "what happened to all that stuff I've been practicing at the last two weeks?" Suddenly, some time in the second set it just...dropped into my brain. It was like the moment in The Wizard of Oz where it went from black and white to color. It wasn't "remembering" per se, but a sensation more like being present at the formation of a synapse. Totally made my night! This is what I'd been messing with:          These can be… Read more