<![CDATA[bobbysternjazz.com - Blog: B Natural]]>Sat, 23 Sep 2017 12:48:24 -0400Weebly<![CDATA["26-2" and "226 Retrosteps" - An Addendum]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/26-2-and-226-retrosteps-an-addendum"26-2" and "226 Retrosteps" - An Addendum
Since I can't seem to get this “Cycle of ASCENDING Maj 3rds” thing out of my system just yet, I thought I'd experiment a bit and see how it might translate, harmonically and melodically, to one of John Coltrane's original “Cycle of DESCENDING Maj 3rds” (aka "Coltrane Changes") compositions.

For no real, apparent reason, I chose “26-2”, which is itself Coltrane's "Descending Maj 3rds Cycle" adaptation of Charlie Parker's “Confirmation

Rather than try to completely do my own thing with the melody, I chose to stick with 'Trane's original melodic rhythm and stay as true as possible to his original melodic shapes, adapting them to the change in direction of the Maj 3rds harmonic cycle.

The results, interestingly enough, retain the basic sound and feel of the original.
                                   Listen                                                                          Listen
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The above notation and audio examples are used to illustrate and compare the harmonic effect of the two versions of the Maj 3rd cycle (descending & ascending), all other elements being pretty much equal.

On the left is the head of John Coltrane's original version of "26-2", which employs the "Cycle of Descending Maj 3rds". The audio example is from the original Atlantic recording from October 26, 1960 (hence the title), which, in addition to Coltrane on the tenor saxophone, included McCoy Tyner - piano, Steve Davis - bass and Elvin Jones - drums..

On the right is my own experimental adaptation, titled "226 Retrosteps", which utilizes the "Cycle of Ascending Maj 3rds". As previously mentioned, I tried to remain true to the melodic rhythm of 'Trane's original. The tempo I chose is a bit faster than the original - ca. 225 vs. 196 - which is due to my not checking the original beforehand. It turns out, though, not to really matter for demo purposes - plus it feels good at that tempo, for what it is.

There is, of course, no comparison to the bounce created by 'Trane & Co.'s live, in-studio version. Plus,  the accompanying chords were programmed, for the most part, at 2 full beats apiece, which works fine, again, as a demonstration, but is (hopefully) not the way a real pianist would comp (check McCoy).

That aside, let's take a look at the first 8 bars (A section) of each version of the Cycle of Maj 3rds:

26-2 (Descending - F-Db-A)
226 Retrosteps (Ascending - F-A-Db)
The most immediately noticeable similarity between the two is that each of the corresponding 4 bar lines of each version begin and end - melodically, harmonically and rhythmically - in almost identical fashion.

It's the "diddle in the middle" that creates the difference, and that difference, as mentioned in the previous post, is  the juxtaposition of the first two V7-Is of each cycle:

                          ex. Line #1: (F Ab7 | Db & E7 | A C7 | C-7 F7) of 26-2 are
swapped in 226 Retrosteps  (F E7 | A & Ab7 | Db C7 | C-7 F7)

Similarly, Line #2 of each example starts on Bb Maj and completes only two-thirds of a full cycle before resolving to the secondary dominant (D-7 G7) in the 3rd bar, resolving to the ii-V7 (G-7 C7) back to F for the second A section. The Db7 in measure #6 of "226 Retrosteps" is the tritone sub of the following dominant (G7), and actually extends the secondary dominant function by anticipating it by 2 beats.

Second 4 bars of:“26-2”:                      | Bb  Db7 | Gb   A7 | D-  G7 | G-7  C7 |
Second 4 bars of: “226 Retrosteps”:  | Bb    A7 | D   Db7 | D-  G7 | G-7  C7 |

I'm honestly a bit surprised at how similar, both versions of the cycle sound, when utilized in this manner. If I heard "226 Retrosteps" for the first time without knowing what it was, I'd probably say, "That's "26-2"..... I think?"

In any case, not to get too lost in the weeds, I've included the full C, Bb & Eb lead sheets, as well as the 4-note voicings plus bass, of "226 Retrosteps" as an addendum to last month's Shortbook
of the Month, "Retrosteps - The Cycle of ASCENDING Major 3rds".

Everyone who's already purchased their copy should receive a freebie code per email in order to download their updated version, by the time this goes live.


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B. Stern
<![CDATA[Shortbook of the Month: RETROSTEPS - The Cycle of ASCENDING Major 3rds]]>Tue, 22 Aug 2017 10:45:42 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/shortbook-of-the-month-retrosteps-the-cycle-of-ascending-major-3rdsShortbook of the Month: RETROSTEPS - The Cycle of ASCENDING Major 3rds
RETROSTEPS – The Cycle of ASCENDING Major 3rds” is an expression of some of the relationships and subsequent ideas I've stumbled upon while coming to grips - an having fun - with the legendary John Coltrane's so called “Giant Steps Changes” (aka “Coltrane Changegs”), and known technically as the “Cycle of DESCENDING Major 3rds”.

Coltrane's original intention for this cycle was as a harmonic substitution device that would take him “out of the ordinary path”, meaning the common ii-V7 cadences that most standards and jazz tunes were (and are) based on.

Retrosteps is a further variation of the Major 3rd cycle – the “Cycle of ASCENDING Major 3rds” - the directional description in caps being of primary importance.

Both descending and ascending versions of the cycle consist of Major triads, 6th or 7th chords and divide the octave into three equal parts (as does the notes of an augmented triad). Each successive Maj. chord is preceded by its respective dominant 7th chord. Both progressions move clockwise around the circle.

In a four bar melodic sequence - on which the exercises in this book are based (3 bar cycle, plus 1 bar ii-V7 turnaround) – each version of the cycle would be spelled as follows:

Cycle of DESCENDING Major 3rds

||: B  D7 | G  Bb7 | Eb  F#7 | B  F#7 :||

Cycle of ASCENDING Major 3rds

||: B  Bb7 | Eb  D7 | G7  F#7 | B  F#7 :||

A closer look reveals that the only real difference between the two forms is that the order of the first and second V7-I pairs (D7 – G & Bb7 – Eb) are reversed.

Everything else remains identical!

This “switcheroo” into the Ascending Cycle opens up a whole new realm of possible melodic connection & resolution points between each V7 & I chord, as well as between each I chord and its following V7.

It should be noted that the B Section of the tuneGiant Steps” is based upon a progression of Ascending Maj. 3rds, with each Maj. chord as well as its ii-V7, lasting a full measure of 4/4, as opposed to 2 beats apiece per chords in “The Cycles”. The subject at hand here is not "Giant Steps" the tune; but rather the cycle that Coltrane used to compose it (and others), and its variant.

As with “Coltrane Changes”, a plethora of possible 4-note “digital” patterns are available, useful and even necessary; although the usual melodic connection points (normally a half or whole step between chords which best support a smooth melodic flow) will have shifted.

The Good News is: a slew of altered dominant, whole tone & diminished material will be available for good use.

Another interesting Retrosteps phenomenon is the possible reversal of the descending whole tone bass line, as found originally in Coltrane's “Satellite”: G Bb7/F | Eb F#7/C# | B D7/A | G alternating root and 5th in the bass.

Below is a harmonized example from the book, of a Retrosteps ascending whole tone bass line, alternating the 3rd and 5th of each chord in the cycle. It works very well with the example's descending melodic line, made up of familiar diminished scale fragments.

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Here's another example using the ascending whole tone bass line:
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A line in 4ths with a "regular" Retrosteps bass line.
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....and one more for the road!
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The exercises, lines, patterns and sequences in this book have been organized according to the root, 3rd, 5th, as well as the 6th, 7th & 9th of each sequence's initial Major chord as starting points, and transposed to all keys. Each key has its own chapter (see TOC).

RETROSTEPS – The Cycle of ASCENDING Major 3rds” is the perfect companion to “Changing 'Trane's - The Cycle of Descending Major 3rds”, also available from this website.

The material in each of these publications should aid in broadening one's understanding, appreciation and skill level in negotiating melodic lines through both variations of the Cycle of Major 3rds.

As was John Coltrane's original intention, it will guide you “out of the ordinary path”

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B. Stern
<![CDATA[Shortbook of the Month: Augmented Scale Reality]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/shortbook-of-the-month-augmented-scale-realityShortbook of the Month:
Augmented Scale Reality

"Augmented Scale Reality", this months  Shortbook, is  - at 100 pages on the nose - starting to make these so called "short books" seem not so short after all.

Considering that the previous Shortbook
, "Changing Trane's" was also 100+ pp - could this possibly mean more bang for the buck?

Judging from the quality and quantity of the material in this book, I'd say that's a reality!

So here's a taste of "Reality" by way of the book's introduction, including several notation and audio examples:

The six note (hexatonic) symmetrical “Augmented Scale” has been, historically speaking, somewhat of an enigma to practitioners of modern improvised music. While it has shown up in the works of several noted late 19th, as well as early 20th century classical composers, noted examples of its usage in jazz have been limited to but a handful of the most common “cliches”.

Oliver Nelson's line from the bridge of his composition “Hoe Down”, John Coltrane's “One Down, One Up”, as well as several examples from various Michael Brecker solos, are the usual suspects. There are many other examples, to be sure, but because of the scale's ethereal nature, they may not have been so clearly or immediately recognized as such.

Ethereal, mysterious or enigmatic? These terms have been commonly used to describe the sound and feel of the Augmented Scale, most likely due to the unsettled, symmetrical nature of the Augmented Triad itself.

Unlike its symmetrical cousins, the Diminished and Whole Tone Scales – the Augmented Scale possesses no tritone, making its tendency toward traditional resolution potentially vague.

Although the Augmented Scale possesses these somewhat ambiguous qualities, it nevertheless has a strong melodic and harmonic character, unique to itself. Its successful usage takes a certain amount of practice and patience, before one can “hear” the scale in context with the usual Major and minor harmonic systems. That's where the exercises in this book come in.

The formation of the Augmented Scale can be broken down in the following ways:

Augmented 2nd – semitone (-2nd) / aug. 2nd – semitone / aug. 2nd – semitone //
This configuration can be flipped, and is known as the inverted (aka auxiliary) Augmented Scale. Conversely, there  two different Augmented Scale possibilities for each note of the chromatic scale.

An Augmented Scale can also be viewed as:
2 Augmented Triads (triad pair), either an aug. 2nd (min. 3rd) or half step (min. 2nd) apart.

3 Major triads, a Major third apart (C-E-G, E-G#-B, Ab-C-Eb, spelled enharmonically).

3 minor triads, a Major third apart (C-Eb-G, E-G-B, Ab-B-Eb).

1 Maj triad & 1 min triad (triad pair) a Maj 3rd below (or min 6th above it) (C-E-G & Ab-B-Eb).

Exercises and sequences are also included for the four note Major 7th Chords (C-E-G-B), Major 7+5 Chords (C-E-G#-B), minor (Maj7) Chords (C-Eb-G-B), as well as a Maj #9 (E-G-C-Eb) configuration. Clickable links to their respective pages can be found in the Table of Contents.

Three Augmented Scale ii-V7-i
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The above example, from the section on ii-V7s, illustrates how melodic & harmonic material from 3 different Augmented Scales can be used, similar to the 3 scale Melodic Minor ii-V7 concept.

In fact, both of these scale systems share two crucial 4 note configurations, with a common Aug. triad:

the Maj7+5 (Eb-G-B-D in C Melodic Minor as well as the Eb,G & B Augmented systems) and

the min (Maj7) (C-Eb-G-B in C Melodic Minor as well as C, E & Ab Augmented).

ii-V7-I Melodic material from a single Augmented Scale
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The above example illustrates that melodic material from a single Augmented Scale also works well over a Maj or min ii-V7. The underlying supportive harmonic material need not be drawn exclusively from the Augmented Scale system, which due to its hexatonic construction, can pose a few limitations.

Attention should be paid to avoiding, or at least not accenting, non-chord tones, such as F# (from the G Aug. Scale) on a G7 chord, except as a passing or approach note. Enough conscious practice should make this a routine habit, but it all depends on what sounds “good” to you. The examples here were meant to sound as consonant as possible, which is neither “good” nor “bad”.

The exercises and sequences found in the following pages have been organized according the inherent interval, triad and seventh chord configurations which make up the Augmented Scale system.

It is of course, of primary importance to be familiar with the scale itself, so checking out the basic sequences & motifs beginning on p. 1 is probably a good idea, even if it's only to review. However, one should not hesitate to explore the other chapters at any point.

The goal here is to internalize the different shapes and configurations of the Augmented Scale in sound and feel so that one is eventually comfortable enough to know instinctively which scale sounds best over a particular chord type, and how it might be resolved.

Since the connection should be an obvious one, this book would not have been complete without some mention of the Cycle of Descending Major Thirds (aka “Coltrane Changes”), so I included a page of sequences taken from my previous Shortbook “Changing Trane's”, which is tweaked a bit and presented in the key of C only.

The Augmented Scale, as John Coltrane said of his Descending 3rds Cycle, is a device that can take one “out of the ordinary path”; and like a strong spice, is most tasty and effective when combined in the “right” dosage with material from the other scale systems.

You're the chef, so that “dosage” is, of course, completely up to you!

Happy cookin'!
View Samples
Click each image to enlarge

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B. Stern
<![CDATA[Yellin on Henderson: A Candid Interview With Saxophonist Pete Yellin]]>Tue, 20 Jun 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/yellin-on-henderson-a-candid-interview-with-saxophonist-pete-yellinYellin on Henderson:
A candid interview with saxophonist Pete Yellin

PicturePete 'n' Joe
I feel very fortunate to have come across this interview, conducted in 2001, with the late alto saxophonist and long time fixture on the New York scene, Pete Yellin; courtesy of Canadian saxophonist / educator, Sundar Viswanathan, who is currently an Associate Professor of Jazz at York University in Toronto,  and posted here with his permission.

Sundar, then a doctoral candidate at NYU, interviewed Pete as part of his 540 page dissertation, bearing the title "An Analysis of the Jazz Improvisation and Composition in Selected Works From the Blue Note Records Period of Tenor Saxophonist Joe Henderson from 1963-1966", leaving no doubt as to who, what and when, and which he was most generous to have shared with me recently.

The main subject and focus of the interview is, of course, none other than tenor saxophone titan Joe Henderson,  with whom Yellin had a long friendship and musical relationship, dating back to the early 1960's.

Sundar's interview with Pete Yellin took place on March 21st, 2001, just three months before Henderson passed away. It presents a unique insight into Joe Henderson - the man; about whom not much is really known from a personal perspective; especially when viewed proportionate to his legacy as as a true innovative stylistic force on the tenor saxophone, both as an improviser as well as composer. Pete Yellin, who over the years, was a member of Henderson's various sextets and big band projects, shows a deep respect for Joe, both as a person and musical giant.

Pete Yellin passed away on April 13, 2016 at age 74.

The Players
Sundar Viswanathan - The Interviewer
Joe Henderson - Mid '60s Blue Note Period
Pete Yellin - The Interviewee

Interview © 2001 by Sundar Viswanathan. Used here by permission.

PictureKD & JoHen
SV: How did you meet Joe Henderson, did someone introduce you?

PY: Well, of course, everybody knew Joe from his great playing and Joe was in Brooklyn... he started a Big Band, and just from word of mouth friends of mine told me he was changing personnel around a lot... people were coming and going, you know, 'cause a lot of people were not available to make rehearsals and so forth.

And so one guy told me 'Why don't you call him... and tell him you're an alto player and you want to play in the band." So I did. He said 'Come to the rehearsal'. So I came to the rehearsal, and I met him. At the rehearsal....he never heard me or anything.... we sat down and played and he was fine with it, and he said, “Come to the next rehearsal” and so on. I got to know him, 'cause he was very affable and very friendly, and he also lived right near me. He was living in Brooklyn and so was I. I had a car and would drive him home sometimes after rehearsals.

SV: What area were you guys living in? What area of Brooklyn?.

PY: He lived in Brooklyn Heights on Montague St. and I lived on Eastern Parkway. But I would drive him home. I just loved hanging out with him. And so, I would go to his pad and hang out with him and then drive him home from rehearsal and then we'd just hang out all night, you know, unless he had something to do, but nine times out of ten he didn't. So we'd just sit and talk and talk, like six hours at a time in his little pad up there. We had other interests in common. He was studying  Eastern Philosophy, y'know. That's when he was into Shade of Jade, and Punjab, and those tunes that he wrote.

He was into all that, eclectic and Eastern Philosophy, and he was reading the Bhagavad Gita, I think it was? And he was reading Thomas Mann, you know, all the things that the '60's people were into — about drugs, about acid, about this, about pot, y'know. We were all into that. Everybody was into it. So we had a lot in common. We would sit and talk hours and hours about stuff - politics, race, music and influences and everything and anything. He knew that I had some Classical background at Julliard, so he was interested in getting into that and learning to play some of the classical pieces, but he already had some classical training himself, in Detroit.

SV: From Wayne State?

PY: Yeah, from Wayne State - he studied with Lawrence Teal, who's a famous saxophone teacher in Michigan.

SV: Right. Did he study saxophone or did he study clarinet?

PY: Yeah, saxophone... and as far as I know he didn't study anything else but he did pick up flute, actually, 'cause Herbie (Hancock) wanted him to play some flute, some bass flute or alto flute or something on one of the records. So, in order to play Herbie's book he had to do that.

SV: So, in that, going back to the Big Band project, was that the one co-headed by Kenny Dorham?

PY: Yeah, originally. But when I got to it, Kenny was supposed to show up and never did. Kenny was a little bit spacey and hard to pin down and maybe he wasn't really into it, so Joe kinda broke it off with Kenny and just took it over himself.

SV: What tunes were you doing at the time, do you remember which..?

PY: Mostly Joe's originals - “Shade of Jade”, he used to come in with “Isotope”,... he used to come in with 12 bars at a time and he would pass the music out. The band was an all-star band. All these incredible cats - like I said, Chick (Corea) played in the band and, Ronnie Mathews, and Roy Haynes played in the band and Joe Chambers.. y'know, different guys all the time.. Garnett Brown and Slide Hampton. Trumpet section was all all-stars all the time..who'd show up was like Jimmy Owens, and Randy Brecker. Lee Konitz played alto sometimes, it was just unbelievable.

SV: So Joe didn't have, like, the full pieces of the charts in? He sort of put it together?

PY: Yeah, he was listening a lot to everybody, Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie Band - you could hear it in the writing - and he would just come in with the 8 bars. He would just take one of his tunes, Serenity, or Punjab, The Kicker, or a blues., all the things that he recorded with Blue Note or that he recorded with Horace – or anything that he would write - he would come in with a chart on it. And it would just be, like, the melody - and that would be it. Then he would voice - have an interesting approach to the melody - Without a Song or whatever he wrote in and change the harmony. We'd try the first 32 bars, and he'd play a few choruses.

There was a guy taping it at rehearsals. The guy who ran the studio had a setup to record. So he'd record Joe. I mean, people love Joe. So they'd do favors for him. He was such a sweet guy and a great musician, he just had such a sweet way about him, and the band was so good that people would just do him favors, man. He had the tape with the melody with the way he voiced it. He'd solo and then he'd let one of us solo, whatever, and then he'd play the melody again. He'd come back with another chorus, maybe, the next week until he had enough for an arrangement.

Most times he was like that that. He could like write 8 bars for another tune... or another tune. So that's the way he approached his Big Band. He was learning. It was like on-the-job training - learn as you go. He was learning how to write for big band, and he was so talented that it would sound great. And totally original; very original, you know?

SV: In terms of a director, a band leader, was he very specific or was he open to peoples' input and stuff like that - did he like hearing from you guys in the band in terms of how it should sound?

PY: No, not especially. He was just interested in developing his writing. There was not much you could say. .. he had very good handwriting, he was very meticulous, the voice-leading stuff was, like, very few mistakes. Every once in a while you'd find a mistake, you know, but, what can you add to somebody who's presenting what he is trying to learn how to write? He's doing his thing. I mean, if I bring in a chart, no one can say “Pete, it should have a sax chorus there, or it should have brass here”.

Guys would say things like “This is too high”, but nobody would ever say, “This is too hard” (laughs), because he would be up to the challenge. Man, he would write some sax stuff that was like... the stuff he played! And that's very hard to write out. And he would write it out. Y'know, all those.. triplet, sixty-fourth note triplet figures.. (Sings).. All those kind of things.. his own, unique rhythms and stuff. Plus, nice bebop lines. Beautiful. Once we heard how it goes after reading it down a couple of times, then we would see how brilliant it was. So, there was not much you could input into the guys writing, you know?

SV: Do you know if he studied composition formally with anybody?

PY: I don't know. I doubt it. I really do. I think he was just, learning by rote. Bringing his stuff, listening to it, and if he liked it, he kept going with it. If he didn't like it, he would change it.

SV: When you guys got together and talked about music, or talked about, say, recordings that you liked, was there anything that you used to talk about, any specific recordings you were listening to? Do you remember?

PY: Well, obviously, you know, anything, Charlie Parker, anything under the stars. Sonny Rollins. He was into Monk. Anything Monk, he was crazy about. He liked some rhythm and blues people, the way they'd swing.

SV: Anything specific?

PY: Some of those sixties rock band guys, maybe, uh.. Slide (sic) & the Family Stone and., , Richie Havens., some people like that. Folk singers with serious swing..he would be listening to. He also liked listening to ragas and Indian Music. He also liked listening a lot to Stravinsky, and classical., you know, anything that was great. What we all considered great. He listened to them too. And he also listened to a lot of 'third-world' African bands, rhythmical, especially. I think he liked the African rhythmical, because he put some stuff on his telephone answering machine that sounded like African Music. He'd come on the machine and ..”Yeah, this is Joe, leave a message” (laughs), and stuff like that. But he was into it definitely. And it was anything, anything.

That's one thing about Joe that was unique in a way. I thought – was that he’s open to anything and everything, no matter what it was. If it caught his ear and it swung., if it had something going, he'd be open to it. And he liked all kinds of players. He loved the Lennie Tristano-Lee Konitz school, 'cause he used Lee Konitz a lot in his bands and stuff. He made an album with Lee, also. A duet album.

SV: Was it his album, or Lee's?

PY: No, it was Lee's album. He played some duets with Joe, just unaccompanied.

SV: I'll have to look it up.

PY: Yeah, you've gotta find that., it's one of Lee’s albums. Duets it's called. It's some different duets with different groups.. A couple with Joe.

When I was with Joe's sextet, we used to drive to gigs and I'd usually drive cause he didn't have a car. Then I'd talk to him a lot in the car about his philosophies. So I got to know the way he was thinking. His attitude about jazz was very unique. He had this attitude of...when you get to the bandstand, that's when you try stuff out. It didn't necessarily have to be a finished product.

He liked to experiment right on the bandstand., and of course he had so much skill already that he brought to it that, you know, he had the ability to experiment. That was one of his attitudes. He would try things on the bandstand. Especially in the sixties, when experimentation and people were playing “out'”, like really “out, out”... He was into that, he loved that. And he'd like, sometimes, sing a bass line, to the bass player, and then,..Stanley Clarke, who was playing bass at the time would just get the bass line and the tempo would start, and he'd start playing. And they would go wherever it goes.

SV: I think there's one tune on that album, the Milestone album, like one that you and Stanley Clarke, and George Duke..

PY: Yeah.

SV: And Joe, and Woody., is Woody Shaw on that? I don't know if Woody Shaw is on that track.. They say in the liner notes that the guy asked him a question and says 'What's this song?'. I can't remember the name of it off-hand but he says “Yeah, I just took the theme and I just went, you know, to see where it would go”.

PY: Yeah. He liked to do that on the bandstand. And he even made up a tune one time, he called it Bodycount, because the Vietnam War was in progress, you know, and they were carrying bodies, coming back from Vietnam. He was very moved by that so he just got up on the bandstand and called this tune Bodycount, and he just started playing. And the guys just fell in. And it went., the tune just kept going in and out of stuff, you know, like when I would start playing they'd go into a different rhythm, go into a ballad, go into a 6/8, or change the harmony a little bit. Everybody was into it being very loose. And, a lot of it was probably more fun for the band than for the listener. But, when Joe plays it was, like, very interesting.

SV: I read that he was influenced by literature. He read a lot.

PY: Yeah he did. He was very intellectual. He was reading Thomas Mann, uh...”Magic Mountain”, and he was also reading “The Bead Game”.

SV: Yeah, Hermann Hesse.

PY: He named it.. Hesse, yeah. And like I said he was reading a lot of Eastern literature..he was reading all that, uh.. Jack Kerouac, all that hippy stuff that was coming out in the sixties. He was reading a lot. And of course, then, later on he got into languages. He started to study. He already could speak like, three or four languages, fluently. And then he started studying Japanese because he was constantly going to Japan so he started teaching himself Japanese and I think he's doing very well with that. Very intellectual.

SV: And I guess, does that go back to his family?

PY: I think so. You know, I’m not sure. I've met his mother-she's kinda older, a little bit feeble when I met her, but, yeah, he has eleven brothers or twelve brothers.. Some of them are MIT scientists. I think they're all successful and very intellectual, that whole 'strain'. I met his brother who's very smart and very sharp, so I think it's the kind of thing that runs in the family, you could say.

SV: Did you practice with him in his apartment?

PY: I never practiced with him. But I used to hear him practice. He used to practice a lot, you know, but I didn't practice with him. But I know he used to work very hard, working out some of those rhythms, some of those substitute changes. He used to be at the piano all the time. You know, he was constantly working, constantly developing himself.

Picture"Bird" - Charlie Parker
SV: He used to practice, literally practice figuring out rhythmic ideas and things like that?

PY: Oh Yeah, definitely. I mean, he'd do everything everybody does. In the beginning you could see that he did a lot of transcribing. Matter-of-fact, he told me and he told the workshop that I had him at LIU, which is where I teach - I brought him over there and he did a workshop for us - and he was talking about practicing, and he said in the beginning he used to transcribe Charlie Parker solos, write 'em out and he learned the language that way.

He also learned to hear what the piano was doing behind Bird and so forth and how the drum figures.. 'cause he was there in Lima, Ohio or something and it was very hard to hear, to get to hear any live jazz there, so he learned off records, but then he would go to Detroit and he'd play more there.

SV: Did he ever talk about his aspirations?

PY: Yeah, he wanted to be the best saxophone player that he could be, or that ever could be. He wanted to be the best, period, number one. He had a lot of pride,y’know. He's competitive but in a quiet way. And he'd just work hard to be the best, you know? And I think he achieved it. He was the best, if there IS a best. I don't know if you can describe it. It's a personal thing. Like, I like how so-and-so plays even if so-and-so has no real technique but has a sound and an approach that's funky.

So, let's say, for instance, Stanley Turrentine. A lot of people might have preferred Stanley Turrentine to Joe, but., like, I remember going to a gig where they were both playing, two bands playing, and Turrentine was breaking everybody up, he was getting over, unbelievable, and Joe's stuff was just going right by everybody, y'know, because it was so amazing and so incredible. It's hard to compare, who's better. But in my mind, there was nobody, no technician who could do the things Joe could do..the top and the bottom of the horn, all original stuff, that everybody was stealing. That's another thing. Everybody was stealing his stuff.

SV: Even at that time?

PY: Absolutely. As soon as he'd come out with a record and his approach to the record - his approach to the tune, especially the ones with Horace., everybody would immediately start playing like that. It was like 'Trane; the same effect 'Trane had on people. 'Trane came this way, and everybody started playing like that, and 'Trane went out, and the modal thing and everybody started going out. Sonny Rollins had that effect, and Bird had that and Joe Henderson had that. He was so charismatic, y'know, people just wanted to play like him. You hear that, you just want to play that way.

SV: Did you hang out with him in Detroit at all? That was when he went to Wayne State, so I guess that was before you met him, right?

PY: Yeah, I hadn't met him.. I heard him about him in Detroit. I heard a record he made, or a tape he made in a club and he sounded like Charlie Parker but on tenor. He just like, had ALL of Bird's shit down - unbelievable. Yeah, he was playing all the shit, he was playing Lover on this tape. As a matter of fact, Javon Jackson, the tenor player, has this tape.

I studied Bird, really, really deep. I was trying to play a lot like Bird and I almost couldn't play a tune unless I heard Charlie Parker play it first, and I was playing all the licks and everything. Joe, and I think Charles McPherson,.... I never heard anybody get close to it like that. I think I was in that area for a while, but then, I guess I knew that I had to get out of there, stop playing like Bird, or else (laughs) I'd be in trouble.

SV: Can you describe what you might consider his stylistic periods, and maybe how his playing changed over certain points in his life?

PY: Well, Yeah... it definitely changed. When he was younger his playing was exuberant, and youthful. His chops were up and he was experimenting, like I said, and his sound was still vibrant. As he got older, everything matured and got mellower. I think it's obvious.. When he won the Grammy that, "Lush Life" got, it was a kind of a 'mellow' Joe Henderson, you know, 'cause the Shade of Jade and those albums are hard-core. Joe Henderson's tunes, are really difficult - a lot of changes, and the chords have a lot of tensions in them: b5Maj7 chords, and moving in all kinds of patterns. You could hear the math, and the way he thought compositionally.

He was playing harder and longer solos. So many times when I heard him, he was just so incredible. He was just playing so much stuff, you know, that nobody could keep up with him. It was just so beautiful, the rhythm section - he would just leave them..somewhere, WAY behind him! He just soared out above everybody. 'Trane had that ability, you know. And 'Trane finally hooked it up with Elvin. That was a smart thing 'Trane did, 'cause they became a tandem, that could do all that, with McCoy. So that worked.

If Joe could have kept a band that was up to his level, that probably would have been the best thing, but, the business in the '60's was so difficult that you couldn't really keep a band, you couldn't keep working. The work was too difficult, so Joe had to keep getting different bands, and playing with different people. People quitting, and going this way, going that way, going into rock, going into the fusion thing. Even Joe tried some fusion...

SV: His own stuff?

PY: Yeah.. Well, he made made some funk albums, but, they were sort of fusion albums, I would say. But that was a slightly different time, you know. There was like, ten years difference (in age) between 'Trane & Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson. So those guys were able to play more “in there”. Sonny Rollins played with Clifford Brown, and he was really able to develop at Blue Note with the same band. Joe got the chance with Herbie Hancock and Horace, but when he went on his own he couldn't keep a set band together. He tried but it didn't work out that well.

SV: Did that have anything to do with the record-company label support?

PY: Yeah, it has to do with all that. They wanted him to record a rock, a funk album, they wanted him to use certain people all the time, you know. And these labels start telling you what to play, who to play with and what to record. Stuff like that. He actually even won a Grammy. I think it was all the record label when he won the Grammys. The thing at that time was to have a theme for your album ; so this is tunes by Strayhorn, or by Ellington. And, so that's why the company put that together for him. They hired Christian McBride, and whoever, 'cause he wasn't playing with Christian McBride at the time.

PictureJoHen & Friend
SV: Did he ever talk to you about his work that he did with “Blood, Sweat, and Tears”, I mean, the stuff that he did outside of his own projects?

PY: See, that's another example of Joe trying to make some money and keep working. It was very hard to make money. A guy of that caliber and that talent, and trying to make money. When "Blood, Sweat and Tears" comes and offers to put him on salary. And, you know, play with the band and so forth, he just said, “Yeah! 'Cause, you know, I have expenses. I have things I like to do in life”.

He had a dog, he had a very expensive dog - an Afghan! He had an Afghan, he had a motorcycle, he had a lot of things that he enjoyed. He had them right here in Brooklyn. And, he wanted wanted to pursue some things, he wanted to have a good life. So, here comes some money down the road. So he took it.

SV: Did he like it?

PY: Blood, Sweat, and Tears never worked out because I think that he never was interested in the music that much.

SV: Did he get to do some writing for them, some arranging or anything like that?

PY: Umm. I don't know if he had any 'eyes' to do that. I don't think the rhythm section or those people were on his level. I think he still wanted to play jazz more than anything. He just knew that he could do some funk and just make some money , you know, his head wasn't into it... he never talked about it a lot though.

SV: He didn't talk about it, I see. What did he like talking about - mostly about philosophy, you said? Did he have any ideas or something that was unique to other things that he talked about philosophy?

PY: One thing about his philosophy that I picked up: he had this thing about 'good' and 'bad', 'evil'. And that the two things were intertwined and bad things could become good things and good things could become bad things. It was an interesting philosophy that he picked up. I don't know exactly, where that comes from or whatever, but, like, if you have some bad habits, or if you do things that aren't healthy that can lead to awakenings and good things - they cancel each other.

SV: That's interesting.

PY: Yeah, it was a very weird thing and.., we used to talk about it. It had something to do with drugs, and the philosophy of taking drugs, and., how, while some people collect money, other people are strung out on, you know, like material wealth, and some people are strung out on heroin and some people are strung out on this or that, or cars, or anything.

So, it's very hard, he was saying, to judge what's good and what's not good. Well, collecting money in this society is supposed to be a good thing, it shows someone is powerful. But it's really just as evil to be greedy as being a junkie, which is not evil and greedy, it's just, something that you do. He had a rationale for some of his pursuits. He had this thing where he could justify, could rationalize all of the things he was doing. Some of them were negative, some of them were positive, you know, and he was able to keep going with whatever he felt that needed doing. That was bad., or...people would say it was evil or bad for you.

I used to try to be the Devil's Advocate - I didn't agree with what he was saying. I would say "But Joe, man, this is destructive, this is 'X', 'X', 'X', and 'X'. It's destructive. And it's bad for you. It's bad for your this, and it's bad for that, it's bad for your body, it's bad for your creative juices". And he would say " No - but look at so-and-so. He's an example of somebody who pursues this, and look how brilliant and amazing his life, and his contribution is." You know? And so then I would say "But, look, that might be good for him, but he's only one out of a trillion, man. So you know that fell off the tree, man. It's not right - you can't keep justifyin'." But he'd never get it. So that was just one interesting part of his philosophy.

In the sixties, the difference between good and evil was a very gray area. What's good for some is bad for others, and he would say... in politics, for instance, “democracy doesn't work in some places”. You can't impose Western., values on some of these Eastern people because it's different., they have a different style. So, you know, some religions are this way, some religions are that way - you can't impose your religion on people. It doesn’t work for certain people.

SV: Speaking of which, did Joe have any religious affiliation, or was he just spiritual?

PY: He was a spiritual person, in that he respected and knew a lot about religion and philosophy, but I don't think that I ever heard about him going to Church, although he respected the Church. He loved Gospel music and loved religious Indian music and the African music. He listened to all this music and you know like,.. folk music and stuff; a lot of it was religious oriented. But as far as I know he never went to Church or Synagogue, or anything like that, but I know that he respected the philosophies. 'Cause it was just a philosophy.

SV: How about his... did he have any children? Did he get married?

PY: Yeah. He has more than one., maybe three. He has a son, who lives in New Jersey. But he didn't raise the son. I think they've had a relationship in the past six or seven years., especially when he got sick. And I heard that his son went out to be with him in San Francisco. Last time I called him [Joe Henderson], he had a nurse - this was about, three months ago. The nurse was there and the nurse said that he was doing ok, but she didn't let me speak to him. I have a feeling that he's having trouble physically.

SV: He is having trouble physically?

PY: I think so. Because he's the kind of guy who., he would have to be at a high level of operation to want to come out, to play. Because he wants to be, like I said, the best, and he wants to be at such a high standard, that if he's not physically fit, he probably wouldn't want to come out and play.

SV: How did he influence you as a person; as a musician?

PY: Oh! In so many ways: to be open minded about music, about all different people, about peoples' contribution, about seeing how music that's not related to jazz can help you in your jazz music, in your music that you pursue. In philosophy, he influenced me a lot. There'd be that whole approach on the bandstand of trying things and not being afraid to take a chance on this and take a chance on that. And to think of jazz in that it's different from other music in the sense that you could go on the bandstand and you can experiment, and that it's ok.

I feel that it shouldn't have to be set up... three choruses, bass solo, and piano is, you know, like record dates, and stuff. That's anti-jazz in a way. Even on a record Joe would try to be “loose and see what happens” kind of thing. A lot of producers won't let that happen, but you know, there was a spirit in the '60's... When I get on the bandstand, even though I'll take the first choruses or something in the conventional sense, I'm still always thinking of what can we do here to open this up a little bit, or to make this a little more creative, you know. Let's play some stop time, let's play some without the rhythm section, or let's cancel out the piano and play with just the bass a little, something like that. Or, let's just trade with the drummer - I'll play with the drummer for a while. You know, stuff that's a little., a little bit experimental. It's not as wild and crazy as the Art Ensemble of Chicago, or one of those bands that's really creative...,but they can't play conventionally, you know.

So, I like a certain amount of convention, that's my, personal thing. But Joe helped to bring me out a little bit - being experimental on the bandstand, and also, his respect for music and his regard for the music. When he comes to the gig he means business. He gets up there, and he just plays the very, very best that he can possibly play and he never really plays “down” to the audience or tries to play “funky” when he doesn't feel “funky”, or whatever. He plays honest, real honest, you know, and he’s an intellectual. A brilliant guy, and that's what he plays. That's what he always did - this beautiful way of figuring out what to do to get his best stuff out, even, when he needed to play really soft, or really beautifully. He could play so many different ways, as you know. He could make that instrument sound like a flute, if he wanted to. Or he could play hard-core when he felt like it.
SV:  Did he ever play soprano?

PY: Uh.. I don't know if he ever..., probably played it a little bit. I remember that he tried to play the alto one night, cause his tenor was broken. Didn't sound very good, you know, but he didn't have a setup. Y'know, alto is - this has nothing to do with Joe- but, alto is a very tough instrument. To really sound good, a good alto player, it's very hard for a tenor player to pick up an alto and sound like a good alto player. That's not easy. I don't know many people who could do it. Matter of fact, I can't even think of one except Sonny Stitt.

SV: (laughs) Sonny Stitt - I was going to say him.

PY: He's an alto player, and a tenor player. But I've heard guys, often pick up an alto, like Joshua Redman, or Joe Lovano.. they do not sound like alto players. They just sound like they're "playing the alto". To me, anyway. That's personal. As great as they are on their instrument.

SV: Do you think Joe ever really got his due? Do you think he ever got what he deserved, in terms of his playing, do you think his music was appreciated at the time, or., do you think he achieved the type of success he should have achieved?

PY: Oh, definitely not. DEFINITELY not. Even though he won two Grammys, I think, and was nominated two or three times. Even though he did that, he didn't get his due until he was in his middle fifties. That's late, that's too late. He should have been getting that acclaim when he was with Horace, or when he was coming up with Herbie and all those groups. People should have seen the genius of him. But he was too good for people to hear. And also the fusion stuff was taking over. Jazz wasn't getting the acclaim in general.

When Joe was at the height of his powers, jazz wasn't getting as much acclaim. NOW, it's if Joe Henderson came on the scene., he'd be..., look how he can play compared to Wynton Marsalis. Look how much he can play. I mean, Wynton is a great musician, a great spokesman, a great role model, a great human being, a great historian, and everything. But look at what Joe played, man, compared to what Wynton played. I mean, it's not even comparable.

So, if Wynton is a Pullitzer Prize winner, Joe should have been getting those kinds of awards, 'cause to me, he's almost as powerful as Charlie Parker., as powerful as 'Trane, you know, the way he turned jazz around. People started combining the modal with the bebop, and he just brought the stuff to another area that was powerful.. I'm tellin' you, every tenor player, and many alto players who were coming up in NY: Michael Brecker included, and Bob Berg and all these guys - you can think of so many. They just imitated Joe Henderson, period. Imitated!

SV: I read an interview where someone asked Joe what he thinks of people emulating him, in their playing. And he said "You know, I think it's great, but, you know, when they like, come up with a solo and they quote me directly and they don’t say where it's coming from., that's uh.. that's theft!" (laughs)

PY: Exactly! You know, like Gary Bartz, for instance, who's a pretty original player, and a good friend of mine. He used to come with a tape recorder to Joe's gigs, and Kenny Garrett also. They used to come to all of Joe's gigs. But when it came to the liner notes or something, they would never give Joe his due. They'd say "Who are your influences" and they would all say, you know, the same old cast of characters (Laughs). They wouldn't say Joe Henderson - I can't figure it out. And even on that, you know that Jazz, uh.. did you see that Jazz....?

SV: Ken Burns, Ken Burns's stuff? They didn't talk about Joe at all.

PY: Yeah. Ken Burns! They didn't mention Joe Henderson - I can't believe it! I don't think he even got one mention!

SV: I'm trying to figure out why? Why do you think that is?

PY: He's too... too hip for people. It goes right past people.

SV: He's too forward thinking?

PY: Right! They can't deal with Inner Urge. Only musicians can, but they...it's too hard. It's too "out", what Joe was playing! And what he was hearing and those rhythms he plays. It'd just go right past people. They'd just go "Oh my God". They can't deal with it! Until he still won a Grammy, finally. But he had to tone it down. Don Sickler, and the people who produced those albums figured out how to put Joe into a space where people could appreciate him.

SV: Those Blue Note albums that he did from '63 to '67, they're so powerful - all the compositions, and of course, all the playing. Yet, I read that due to lack of support from the label, they didn't get that much play.

PY: Yeah, probably not. I don't know. I don't know the business that well. I haven't really followed Billboard - what albums are selling what, so I don't know. But, as far as I do know, every musician has 'em! (Laughs) And, all the guys were writing tunes that were similar to Mode for Joe, and all those. Oh man, that was such fertile, beautiful music - Chick Corea did whole arrangements on a bunch of Joe’s tunes.

SV: You participated in the big band album with 'Verve', that Joe did five years ago or so, right?

PY: Yeah. There's two big bands on that album. There's one studio-type band, there’s one that's supposed to be Joe's big band.

SV: Are those the same charts that he put together before?

PY: Yeah. The ones that Joe wrote are the same ones that he wrote, like, twenty years ago. Look how fresh and good they are.

SV: Right. You guys didn't record though, back in the '60s?

PY: No. We didn't. This is the first record. That's why they put it together.

SV: That would have been something to compare the two bands. To see the differences in approach, or at least between the band that you played with in the sixties and the band that you played in on this recording.

PY: Oh, this later band – yeah. I don't know if there was that much difference.

SV: There are a lot of younger players in the recent band, right?

PY: Yeah, but the band that Joe put together which was supposed to be made up of the cats from the later band, was pretty close. Pretty close, but it didn't have the looseness, because nobody got to blow, except Joe. That was another thing that takes away from an album. You know, that's the producers again. Only Freddie Hubbard and maybe, a couple of piano solos to break it up a little bit. But, nobody else played any solos except., well, Freddie (Hubbard) played on the band that I played on, and Nicholas Payton was on the other one. Maybe another trumpet player.

But no other sax solos, I don't think there was any trombone solos. Just a couple of bass solos, by Christian (McBride). But, and then Chick Corea, of course, was on one of the bands, so he got to solo on a lot. He plays his ass off on that album. Just beautiful. But, you know, the whole spirit was that nobody was blowing on anything. So I think that takes away from the spirit. When you know you're going to solo, you're going to be heard, it makes you much more... alive.

SV: Did you go and hang out with him in San Francisco at all, when he was out there?

PY: Yeah, I met him in San Francisco, and we went out. I talked to him on the phone for about four hours from San Francisco., he was going to come to a gig that I was on. I went out there with the Machito Big Band. It was led by Mario Bauza at the time, and Joe was going to come to the gig. But, uh.. we talked for about four hours on the phone in the afternoon and he said that he'd see me at the gig and he never showed up; but I never went to his house.

SV: I'm just trying to figure out what type of places he played at in San Francisco; which places, like specific hangs.

PY: He played at ALL the jazz clubs.

SV: Do you know, approximately, when he left New York and moved out to San Francisco?

PY: Not really..., seventy something. I think Orrin Keepnews had something to do with it, 'cause Orrin Keepnews was working for a record company out on the West Coast. And Joe was recording for them. So he moved Joe out there. And Joe found a house. But I don't know dates.. seventies, definitely.

SV: Did he like it out there? What took him to... I mean, apart from Orrin Keepnews, was it the environment or was it..?

PY: I dunno. It's a laid back lifestyle, it's nice weather, probably easier to live there than New York City, you know. I mean, a LOT of cats went out there at that time. Freddie went out, Herbie Hancock went out, a lot of cats. Because at that time, if you were an international star, you didn't have to be in NY anymore. You could just do your business, you know. Fax machines were starting to get popular. An agent would book you anyway. It's a nice lifestyle, to have a house and a pool. You couldn't have that in NY.

SV: I guess Joe was doing some teaching out at... Stanford?

PY: He was teaching at one of those colleges, yeah.

SV: Didn't he do something at Stanford Jazz Workshop, as well?

PY: Yeah... he was telling me he had some students. He got some students from this alto player who used to play with Charlie Mingus, who was out there.... John Handy.

SV: Oh, John Handy.

PY: Yeah he got students from him out there. He was teaching, but his lessons, I hear, were funny as hell. You'd go there, and he was upstairs or downstairs. And you can wait downstairs for an hour or more. Then finally he comes down and he might give you a couple of lines to play and then he cuts out. A funny teacher.

SV: Yeah, I heard a story where, someone went to have his first lesson with Joe, and he picked him up in the car. And Joe needed to drive him somewhere. So, this kid drove Joe to this place, and Joe said, "Ok. Just wait here, I'll be back". And Joe didn't come back, for, like, three hours..

PY: Oh Shit!!

SV: Then Joe got in the car and then the kid took him back home. That was it! (laughs)

PY: Really!? He didn't even take his horn out?

SV: That's what I heard. I forget who I heard it from, this was a long time ago. 

PY: I didn't know that Joe. You see, I didn't know that crazy Joe. I just knew Joe like a spiritual guy, we just used to hang out and talk; but I never knew the Joe, this teacher who was so evasive - "the 'Phantom" and what not.

SV: Why "the Phantom"? How did that name come about?

PY: I don't know. Because he's like.... very hard to pin down for some people. He doesn't like to hang out with a lot of people. I don't know why. He and I, our vibe was just really cool all the time. I mean, even when I was on the road with some band - I was on the West Coast with Bob Mintzer's big band one time and Joe was on the same bill. He was playing with his trio with Al Foster and the bass player.

So, after the set, I met Joe after and we hung out all night. He didn't want to hang, he just wanted to get away from the crowd. Everybody was getting to hang out with him, so he just ran away and said, "I'll meet you at the hotel - let's get together”, you know.. He liked to hang with me. Whenever he got a chance to he did. We'd hang for hours and hours and hours. And he felt comfortable. To do whatever he wanted to do, and it was cool. And we just talked and he'd tell me about this country he was in, and how the money was all crazy. Brazil, he thought the finances in Brazil were just — there was so much inflation, the money was so weird.

SV: When he was doing the stuff with Jobim?

: I don't know. They just brought him down to play. Maybe he was doing a concert, a big concert. They brought him down there, and he was just telling me how musical the country is, it's an amazing country for music. That they play even on the airplane the music that they play. They used to play during the flight while you were getting in your chairs, the beautiful bossa-nova rhythms. It was really something. He really loved it. You know, we used to talk shit like that. And, then we'd talk about inflation and the politics in this country and that country and his travels, and this is his shit and this scene that he was in and that scene that he was in, and whatever. You know, what he wants to do, he wants to get his band together, and all of the things that he has coming up.

SV: I guess you're very fortunate to get him to open up to you like that.

PY: Maybe so. I don't know. It's like, hopefully I was thinking that some his intelligence might rub off on me! (laughs)

SV: Now, what languages did he know again?

PY: Oh, he spoke Spanish, beautifully, French, beautifully, English.. I think he could speak some Portuguese, and he was studying Japanese. But the Spanish and French, and, maybe Italian - the Romance languages - he really could speak. He had a nice accent and everything.

I think he learned some of that in the army. He was in the army you know, he traveled around. His life in the army was interesting. He told me he originally played the bass. When he was drafted he took up the bass because that was the only instrument they needed. So he played the bass all around Europe. All over South America and all over Europe playing with an army band playing bass. And he, finally in some kind of way, switched over. He always played the sax, but not in the army. But he had a great time in the army. He loved his experiences. He didn't even have to wear Army clothes half the time. He'd wear civilian clothes and do jazz concerts.

SV: Did he ever talk about specific compositions, about how he composed..

PY: One composition he did talk about,... what was that? Yeah, it has a bass line, he took it from Stravinsky. Maybe it was Pursuit of Blackness... or.. No. (sings bass line) That's the bass line. It was a bass line that he got from Stravinsky, (goes to piano, plays bass line and melody). He got that from Stravinsky. He got some other stuff from classical music.

SV: Who did he like in Classical Music?

PY: Well, like I said, Bartok, Stravinsky, Alban Berg. You know, the twelve-tone..

SV: So he liked the Serialists?

PY: Some of it. But I think he was more into Debussy, more into Modem Classical. He appreciated all the best writers, but I know that Debussy was important to him. And probably Ravel. Everybody was into Impressionism, back in the sixties. Because it broke away from the Classical 'ii-V' stuff. And Impressionism was a free thing, or an open sound. And that's where jazz was going, you know. Playing on one chord for a long time and stuff like that. The seventies. Everybody was doing that.

SV: Did he mention playing with Miles?

PY: Yeah. He talked about Miles, but it was a very short thing. Miles had a rehearsal at his house, but he watched television the whole time. Miles hardly ever rehearsed anything, I think. Miles just said "You know the stuff, right?".

SV: (laughs)

PY: Yeah. And then Joe said "Yeah, Yeah". And he said "We'll get it together on the bandstand". And they went to the Village Vanguard. I was there, actually, one night. They played two tenors. Wayne played and then Joe played long solos trying to figure out the tunes and what not. But it was superfluous, - it wasn't necessary. It was too long. Every tune was a half hour. Then when Wayne would finish Joe would start. And then Miles' music didn't really lend itself to Joe's style that much.

PictureHorace Silver & JoHen
Anyway, I think Joe wants to be the bandleader. He never really says it that much, but , you know, he really wants to play his music. It's like Monk or somebody. He really doesn't want to be a sideman. Wayne fits in more as a sideman, because he can write for a specific band and it works. Joe could do that too, but he wanted to be a bandleader, I think, after he played with Horace. Horace taught him that being a bandleader was the best thing, you make the most money and stuff.

SV: (laughs) Oh, I see..

PY: 'Cause Horace, would keep a lot of the money, would make the big money in the band. Guys in the band didn't get paid well. I remember hearing Joe with Horace. I mean, Joe is not a dope. He was the star of the band., it wasn't even close. Horace is incredible, swinging and crowd-pleasing and knows the blues. Swings his butt off and plays great, quotes and things in his playing, but Joe, at that time, playing with Horace, he got the audience, man. The audience was screaming when Joe was playing. He'd do all his “out” stuff within the context of Horace's funky tunes. It was so hip.

I remember, I was in Washington - I was playing with Pearl Bailey and Louis Bellson big band - and we went to see Horace Silver when Joe was in the band. The band was in this one room, in this club, and there was a big lounge, and Joe was in the lounge with his tenor - I guess he was late for the set. He heard the trumpet player finish so he started his solo in the lounge. And he started walking into the other room up onto the bandstand.

It was so hip and slick for him to do that. And then he would, started playing. He took the whole place over. I think that he was so heads and shoulders above, you know, cats in the band with Horace. He knew that he should be making some good money. He told me he learned some business things from Horace. I know that Joe wanted to have his own band. That was his, you know, he'd play his own music. He wanted to make the leader money, whatever. He deserved it.

SV: I don't know exactly when he went back to San Francisco, but there was a certain time period there when people said, quote, unquote, he wasn't "in sight" as much. He wasn't recording as much, and doing as much, putting out as much music.

PY: Oh, where, in San Francisco, when he was out there?

SV: Yeah.

PY: I don't know what his scene was, 'cause I wasn't there. He had a big band out there, but there was one point there that he stopped writing, he stopped. He was still playing his brains out, but he stopped writing, he stopped big band writing. He just started to get, I don't know, I wouldn't say lazy but just uninspired. You know, just, discouraged with the scene. But he was still playing on a lot of records as sideman, he was still doing it. And eventually, he won the Grammys, so, you know, he became like a Superstar.

PictureJoe Henderson - Nine of Cups
He had a good run there, for the next seven or eight years or more, where he was earning top dollar, making incredible money. I think he told me one time that he was paying income tax, like more than he ever made in ten years. You know, he was paying out income tax. He said (laughs), 'cause he was trying to figure out how to save money. I told him he should get a money manager, or get incorporation going, or something, or “Joe Henderson Drug Rehab Foundation” or something, or get a foundation, man.

Then he could buy a car, and get an office, just like all the ball players do, 'cause he was making that kind of money, he was always playing with a trio most of the time. He was making up there near a million 'cause he was paying half of it - five hundred thousand to the government. So get a corporation started. Keep it away and actually do some good with the money.

SV: At that point, I guess....

PY: Oh, then he got sick.

SV: Is there anything you want to add, just to cap it all off; just something off the top of your head, something you want to add — your own feelings?

PY: I just think that what you said about being an unsung hero. He did have some good years. I think that if he had kept his health, kept himself together health wise, he could have been doing more stuff. He should have been on par with Wynton and you know, those people. He should have been doing that and he should have had much more recognition from a jazz (media perspective)... Ken Bums or any of those... and, writers (who) passed him by, I don't know why. I can't think of why.

But he'll always be one of my heroes! (Laughs) That's all I can say!

SV: Thank you very much. I truly appreciate it.

*      *      *      *      *      *      *
Edits & Layout: B. Stern
<![CDATA[Changing 'Trane's - The Cycle of Descending Major 3rds]]>Tue, 23 May 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/changing-tranes-the-cycle-of-descending-major-3rdsShortbook of the Month: Changing 'Trane's - The Cycle of Descending Major 3rds
If you are reading this, it probably means that you are, to some degree, already familiar with the short harmonic progression that has come to be known alternately as "Coltrane Changes" or "Giant Steps Changes".

Among self proclaimed theory nerds (such as yours truly), it's also known by its more accurate description, namely "The Cycle of Descending Major Thirds", which is in fact, exactly what it claims to be.

Made famous by
legendary saxophonist and innovator John Coltrane, he crafted the cycle into a number of his own well known compositions, which were all recorded between March, 1959 and late October, 1960 on the Atlantic label. One of the earliest and most influential among them being “Giant Steps”.

While the cycle's harmonic movement, often described as being “up a minor third, down a fifth” accurately reflects the bass movement, a much truer and more defined harmonic description of Coltrane's cycle is that it divides the octave into three equal parts, or key centers (e.g. CAbE) resulting in Maj 3rds, with each succeeding Major tonic chord being preceded by it's dominant, hence "The Cycle of Descending Major Thirds".

C (or D min) – Eb7 / Ab B7 / E G7 / (C) /

ii: D min7               / V7: G7 / I: C      /C  /

This “3 in one” approach was originally conceived by Coltrane as a harmonic substitution for the more mundane ii – V7 – I cadence (above), and of which he was quoted as saying would “take me out of the ordinary path”.

Evidence of this usage of the cycle can be found on several of his originals, based on standards, all employing the cycle as part of the tune itself:

"Satellite" ("How High the Moon"), "26-2" ("Confirmation"), "Countdown" ("Tune Up"), "Fifth House" (over a pedal bass, "What is This Thing Called Love"), as well as reharmonizations of "Body & Soul" and "But Not For Me".

'Trane's fascination and experimentation with this aspect of "his changes" was short lived, however, and confined to the to the roughly 18 month time period mentioned previously. Instead, his use of permutations from this, and other harmonic cycles and devices, continued over the more static modal and atonal harmonies which became the foundation of his music moving forward, until his passing in 1967.

"Coltrane Changes" continues to be required practice for any improviser, aspiring and accomplished alike. Having a grip on the "Cycle of Descending Major Thirds" means one more tool of many in the contemporary improviser's arsenal.

The exercises contained in this pdf book are presented in 12 keys as four bar sequences; the first three bars being the full descending cycle, resolving to the tonic chord in the fourth bar for two beats followed by the V7, which then resolves back to the tonic in the first bar of the same or next line.

They are organized, per key, according to the starting notes of the first Major chord (3rd, Root, 5th
& 6th
), as well as a page devoted to negotiating the Cycle with a single Augmented Scale.

Special attention was given to the playability, musicality and especially the connectivity between the changes, resulting in smooth resolutions and playable lines and sequences. Part of this is due to the avoidance, for the most part, of using straight-up, 1235 digital patterns on the dominant chord (e.g. D-E-F#-A for D7, resolving to G Maj), as has been commonly done in several books on the subject to date. Instead, C-D-E-F# or C-E-F#-B might be employed in that instance, for example, as both contain the all important tritone.

The Table of Contents contains interactive links, so that clicking a page name or number will take you to that page. Likewise clicking on that pages title header will take you back to the TOC.

All pages are fully printable, meaning you can print a single page to work on, or the whole book. It's up to you.

The material here was not transcribed directly from any one particular source. Rather, it's a result of
years of listening, practicing and assimilation.

I sincerely hope you get the same enjoyment and benefit from it as I have, and continue to do so.

Check out is SSL safe and secure through my E-Junkie store and PayPal.
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Lines in 4ths - The iii-VI-ii-V-I Progression]]>Sun, 23 Apr 2017 15:55:45 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/lines-in-4ths-the-iii-vi-ii-v-i-progressionShortbook of the Month: Lines in 4ths
The iii-VI-ii-V-I Progression

The interval of a perfect 4th has been an important melodic and harmonic component of the improvising musician's language since the early 1960s, being introduced to the idiom and popularized by pianist McCoy Tyner, and featured in the compositions and solos of pianists Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea (among others); B3 organist Larry Young; saxophonists John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter and Joe Farrell; as well as trumpeter Woody Shaw and guitarist Karl Ratzer, to name just a few.

A good bit of info on the subject has already been posted on this site, and in order to avoid a trip to the Office of Redundancy Office, the dozen or so posts are all linked under the "Fourths" category. Check 'em out!

The exercises contained in this post are from a new Shortbook
, which is in the form of 12 individual melodic lines in 4ths, over the basic premise of the familiar iii-VI-ii-V-I chord progression and transposed into all twelve keys.

Augmented 4ths (aka diminished or flat 5ths), diminished 4ths (sounds and functions as a Maj 3rd; derived from the Melodic Minor system), as well as perfect 4ths are all featured in these melodic lines.

Due to its strong root movement along the cycle of 5ths, the ii-VI-ii-V-I harmonic cadence is one of the most common in popular music and found in the vast majority of jazz and pop standards. Its use in this book gives the melodic material a sense of form, resolution and familiarity.

However, a few altered variations of iii-VI-ii-V-I form are used for most, if not all of the lines.

As in the first example below, this might be the most common:

                               iii          VI7           biii     IV7(bVI7)     ii                            bii           bII7
The resulting combination of descending chromatic with perfect fourth root movements creates an added sense of tension and release.It gives one the opportunity to break up the cycle of perfect fourths, employing “shifts”, as Walter Bishop, jr described this technique in his book "A Study in Fourths".
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The example below is a bit more jagged, due to the rhythmic variation of the chords themselves, evoking a strong McCoy-ish vibe. It's also interesting to note the relationship between perfect 4th groupings and pentatonics, both real and implied.

In the example below, the first 4 notes of the melody (B-E-A-D), plus the F# at the top of the E9sus chord spells out a D Maj. Pentatonic / E, followed by the same 4 melody notes with an F natural in the E7b9 chord this time, yielding a D Pentatonic b3 (D-E-F-A-B) over E.


C-F-G in the melody + Eb & Bb (Eb6 9) = Eb Pentatonic
Bb-F-C-G in the melody + Eb-Ab-Db (Eb13) = Eb Mixolydian (the whole scale)

D-G-C-A in the melody + F (D-11) = F Maj Pantatonic / D
D-G-E-C in the melody + F & Bb (C7sus) = C & Bb Triad Pair (Hexatonic)
Bb-Eb-Ab in the melody + C + F root = Ab Maj Penta / F (should read F-11)
C-F-Bb-G in the melody + the same (G-7sus) = Bb Maj Penta / G (if added D), resolves to:

B-A-G-E in the melody + D & C (C Maj7 9 13) = G Maj Penta / C
Melody rests + F-G-Bb-C (F9 sus) = Eb Maj Penta / F (if added Eb), Bb Maj Penta / F (if added D)
A-D-G in the melody + E (C Maj6 9) = C Maj Penta, G Maj Penta / C (if added B)
F-C-G in the melody + Eb-A-D (B7alt) = F Maj Pent / B, C Penta b3 / B, G Penta b6/ B, C- & D- triad pair (Hexatonic).

And back to E9 sus, no muss, no fuss, Gus!

Did I miss anything?

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The graphics above with voicing possiilities to the single lines are from the last part of the book, and are in the key of C only. Although they are suggestions meant to justify and support the lines, they often reveal much more harmonically than do the single lines alone.

There's much more where this came from!
42 pages of fresh new material.

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Yagapriya and the Tonnetz]]>Sat, 18 Mar 2017 15:24:06 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/yagapriya-and-the-tonnetzThe Tale of Yagapriya and the Tonnetz
PictureYagapriya and the Tonnetz
This is the tale of Yagapriya and the Tonnetz. Yagapriya was a fair maiden who, while bathing her lovely body in the sun sparkled waters of the stream back in the woods, didn't fail to catch the eye of the dashing young Prince Tonnetz, and....(CUT!) ...OK, let's go! Take #2...

Yagapriya is the 31st raga, out of a total of 72, in the Carnatic (South Indian) Melakarta system of seven-note parent ragas, from which other smaller ragas are derived.

Besides its Carnatic origin, this post was inspired as much by my belated introduction to the Neo-RiemannianTonnetz (German for “tone network” and pronounced "tone netz"), which clearly illustrates Yagapriya's internal intervallic and chordal relationships.

I had never heard of the Tonnetz before receiving an email recently from Uruguayan mathematics researcher and amateur guitarist Alfonso Artigue, who's interest in both disciplines lead him to the discovery of the relationship between the Tonnetz and the Yagapriya raga. He had found an earlier post I had done on the scale and contacted me about his discovery. I Thank you, Alfonso!. Yagapriya thanks you, too.

The above graphic shows a zoomed in cutout portion of the Tonnetz, relating to the Western equivalent of Yagapriya. The seven circles, each representing a scale tone, form a hexagon, plus the one in the middle.

Each horizontal line, from left to right, is in perfect 5ths (Ab - Eb, F - C - G, A - E).

The diagonal from top left to bottom right is in Maj 3rds (Ab augmented triad).

The diagonal from top right to bottom left is in min 3rds (A diminished triad).

Each triangle within the hexagon forms a Major or minor triad.
F min., Ab Maj., C min., F Maj., A min., C Maj

These triads can be expanded into four note 6th and 7th chord configurations as well.
F Maj7 (9), F min7 (9), F7 (9), F min(Maj)7 (9), A min7 (C6), A min(Maj)7, A min7b5 (C-6), Ab Maj7, Ab Maj7+5, Ab6, E Maj7+5,

The C in the middle of the hexagon is common to each triad / 7th chord and is, not coincidentally, also the root of the scale formed as “C" Yagapriya :
C – Eb – E - F – G - Ab – A - C

Yagapriya's uniqueness also stems from its scalar interval scheme,
       1 ½ steps½ step½ stepwhole step½ step ½ step1 ½ steps

   (C                 Eb            E             F        ---        G            Ab            A                C)

with the two tetrachords being an intervallic mirror image of each other; a scalar palindrome of sorts.

Prominent derived pentatonics include: C Pentatonic #2 (C-Eb-E-G-A), Ab Pentatonic b2 (Ab-A-C-Eb-F) & F Pentatonic b7 (F-G-A-C-Eb).

It contains four perfect 4ths and one tritone (EbA), which doesn't serve as a function of diatonic resolution (V - I) as it would in the Major scale system. However, a type of ersatz V7 – I movement can be established since the scale itself yields a V7sus b9 9 b13 13 (G-C-F-Ab-A-Eb-E) configuration.

Both the diatonic triadic and seventh chord harmonizations of Yagapriya in the examples below, as well as the arpeggio exercises found in "Yagapriya - A New Look for the Improviser", were conceived with smooth melodic and harmonic movement in mind. In fact, the original concept behind the Tonnetz, nearly three hundred years ago, was as a visual aid for detecting common tones between triads, which results in smooth voice leading.

Yagapriya - Triads
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Yagapriya - 6th & 7th Chords
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The fact that the tonic - C in the middle of the hexagon - is the shared common tone in each and every chord of the scale, means that harmonization of each scale step necessitates that the other two (or three) chord tones change with each subsequent chord, in order to create a sense of harmonic movement and color.

The seventh chord arpeggio exercise (see download, chords above) which harmonizes each scale step, alternates a tonic Maj6 (C6 in C) chord with the Maj6 (Ab6) chord built on the sixth scale degree - or interchangeably, its inversion, a min7 (F-7), from the fourth scale degree. The exception here is the seventh degree, which employs a half diminished chord (A-7b5). In other words, as C is constant throughout, the notes A-E and G swap inversions with F-Ab and Eb (except for the half diminished chord).

The melodic patterns here were conceived as non Carnatic in nature. Instead, they focus, for the most part, on a more familiar blues oriented coloration, due to the presence of both Major and minor 3rds & 6ths.

Once it becomes familiar, this can be a very natural, earthy sounding scale. The absence of a b7 or #4 doesn't prevent Yagapriya from being one funkified pitch collection!

One suggestion would be to play the scale, exercises, patterns, etc. against a drone of different scale tones, know in Carnatic terms as "graha bhedam".

Interesting results are sure to abound!

Want a more in-depth look at Yagapriya and some of its potential uses in contemporary improvisation?
Shortbook of the Month:
Yagapriya - A New Look for the Improviser

36 pages of scales, sequences and melodic patterns in 12 keys

Only $5.99 cheap
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Bach to Basics - BeBoppin' the 6th / Diminished Scale]]>Mon, 13 Feb 2017 14:59:15 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/bach-to-basics-beboppin-the-6th-diminished-scaleBach to Basics - BeBoppin'
the 6th / Diminished Scale
PictureJohann Sebastian Bop (1685 – )
For those who are familiar with the so called “Bebop Scale” this may not come as a revelation; but then again - it still just might.

For the uninitiated, a basic Bebop Scale is a Major scale with an added passing tone between the 5th and 6th scale degrees (Ab in C Maj.). The reason for this added half step is so that when the scale is played in eighth or sixteenth notes in either direction over a Major tonality, the Maj chord tones (scale steps 1-3-5 & 6) will fall on down beats. As such, the scale can originate on any of the chord tones with the same effect.

There is also the Dominant Bebop Scale, used over unaltered dominant 7th chords which inserts a passing tone between scale steps 7 & 8 of the Mixolydian mode (steps 4 & 5 of the Major Scale).

Also on the Bebop Scale hit parade is the Dorian Bebop Scale (3 & 4), as well as the Aeolian (Natural Minor) Bebop Scale (7 & 8). Unsurprisingly, all three are modes (V, ii & vi respectively) of the Major version, and while I wanted to point them out, they're not really relevant to this particular discussion; so... (see above picture).

Flatting the 3rd (as was done here in the downloadable pdf example), results in a minor version of the Bebop Scale, which can be viewed as either Melodic Minor with an added b6th, or Harmonic Minor with an added natural 6th.
In each case, we're dealing with an octatonic scale.

The term "Bebop Scale" was first introduced by trombonist, cellist, composer and Jazz Education pioneer, the late David Baker, in the 1970's. I first became aware of it through Baker's three volume series of books titled “The Bebop Era” (still in print). There were several pages at the beginning of each volume presented in the key of C only, with the heading of “Daily Exercises: Major Scales with Added Notes”, consisting of scalar exercises pertaining to not only the chromatic passing tones between Maj scale steps 5 & 6 and 4 & 5, but also 1 & 2 ,2 & 3 and 6 & 7.

Back in b.c. (before computers) these were probably the first cases in which this type of information was made available in any kind of book form and accessible to the general public. Up until that point, I guess, you had to have a private teacher or fellow musician who knew this stuff, or you figured it out for yourself by transcribing solos from vinyl.

Fast forward ahead to the here & now - with the advent of the internet, YouTube vids and unlimited info pertaining to virtually any subject imaginable - enter  legendary pianist and preeminent Bopologist, Barry Harris, demonstrating "the 6th Diminished Scale" system and even half jokingly calling it “his scale”.

Not being a pianist, and not immediately relating fully to Mr. Harris' piano-centric approach, I at first just thought “bebop scale”, until I came across guitarist (and Harris disciple) Roni Ben-Hur's video (below).

Suddenly, my "duh!" sign switched off and I realized that the so called "passing tone" between scale steps 5 & 6 was not just a passing tone, but actually part of an eight note harmonic system, which in turn formed a diminished seventh chord from it's 2nd, 4th, b6th & 8th degrees, as well as a Maj6 chord and its inversions on scale degrees 1, 3, 5 & 6.

By alternating inversions of Maj6 (or min6) chords with diminished 7th chords built on alternate steps of this eight note scale, a repeating I6 – V7b9 harmonic movement is created.

As previously mentioned, flatting the 3rd creates a Minor 6th / Diminished Scale.

Below is a harmonized example of a C Minor 6th / Diminshed Scale, using drop 2 voicings. Note the dim7 chord on the added b6th (Ab).

C Minor 6th / Diminished Scale - alternating min6 & dim 7
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While I had been aware of this as a common arranging technique, used to give a static Major or minor chord some harmonic movement, I hadn't, as a saxophonist, considered it as a method for creating single note, arpeggiated lines with an automatic, built in V-I resolution.

So, for my own edification, I created a set of basic scalar arpeggio exercises from this concept, gradually adding permutations. I was surprised at how simple the concept was and how "right" it sounded as an "inside" diatonic melodic exercise.

Basic arpeggios alternating inversions of Cmin6 & D (F-Ab-B) dim7
The downloadable pdf presented here employs the C Minor 6th / Diminished Scale.

Why minor?

Simply because I was in a minor mood for a minor mode. Seriously tho'..., I just felt it had a bit more color, flavor, oo-poo-pa-doo, etc. - not that Major should be ignored. Once you get either one in your ear and under your fingers, it shouldn't be all that difficult to do the other – it's a matter of raising or lowering the 3rd scale degree.

Comparisons have been made between classical music from the Baroque period and Bebop.

Because the alternating min6 & dim7 chords creates an automatic sense of harmonic movement - repeating V7-i (or I) cadence (one of the fundamentals of Western music) -  this is an excellent ear and warmup exercise for single line instrumentalists (and anyone else), regardless of their level.

Check it out!

Want even more Minor 6th / Diminished Scale arpeggio exercises?
 A 26 page Shortbook with arpeggio exercises in all keys
Only $4.99 cheap!

Still got questions about the scale? Guitarist Roni Ben-Hur's video should set you straight.
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Unintended Intro - iii-VI-ii-V Descending Four-Note Sequence]]>Thu, 19 Jan 2017 22:50:32 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/unintended-intro-iii-vi-ii-v-descending-four-note-sequenceUnintended Intro - iii-VI-ii-V Descending Four-Note Sequence
Here's an exercise sequence which utilizes a melodic cell of four notes (pentatonic minus one) per measure (except for the 4th & 8th bar, which uses four notes per chord), descending over, under, around and through a iii-VI-ii-V7 cadence.

It's basically a four bar sequence which repeats with rhythmic, melodic and directional variations the second time around.

The idea here is to maintain the integrity of the four note cell per measure / chord, while connecting the following measure / chord via a descending (mostly) whole or half step.

This results in the overall descending shape of the line.

The graphic below illustrates the eight bar melodic line, with chords voiced underneath. The line in the first four bars is comprised of uninterrupted eighth notes. Rests and triplets are employed in the second 4 bars as a way of creating a slight variation of the first four.

The first chord in the graphic below (E-7) should have actually been labeled E-7b5, due to the Bb in the chord voicing.

Playing by the numbers, the line breaks down as such:

Measure #1:          E-7 or E-7b5     4-b3-1-4   b3-1-b7-b3                   4-note cell (A-G-E-D)

Measure #2:           A7alt                 b13-b9-3-b13   b5-3-b9-b5                             (Bb-Db-Eb-F)
Between the the melodic line and the chord voicing, all seven notes of the Bb Melodic Minor scale
(A altered) are accounted for.

Measure #3:           D-7                    1-b7-5-1   b7-5-4-b7                     4-note cell (D-C-A-G)

Measure #4:           Ab7alt                #9-b13-b7-b9                                                  (E-F#-A-B)

                                G7alt                  #9-b9-b13-b7                                                  (Bb-Ab-F-Eb)
When the melody and voicings are combined, both of these chords contain the full compliment of pitches from A and Ab Melodic Minor, respectively.

The Ab7alt (bVI7), is essentially a tritone sub for a D7 (II7), or secondary dominant. The chromatic root movement, from bVI to V7 (commonly found in the 9th & 10th bars of a "Mr. PC" type minor blues), is a bit more interesting.

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Measure #5:           C6 9                   3-5-6-3   5-6-9-5                      4-note cell (E-G-A-D)
Resolving momentarily to the tonic chord, the melodic figure changes shape and direction from its counterpart in measure #1.

Measure #6:           A7alt                  Essentially the same as measure #2, with the first 2 beats modified rhythmically with an eighth note rest and triplet.

Measure #7:           D-7                    An eighth note rest on beat 3 and the second C being omitted from the group is the only difference from meas. #3.

Measure #8:          Ab7alt & G7alt    The eighth note triplet on beat 3, with the final two notes trading position, are the only differences from measure #4.

Modifying the line slightly in the second 4 bars with rests an triplets gives the line some added rhythmic tension, compared to the steady stream of eighth notes in the first four.

Although I didn't intend it as such, these eight bars came out sounding like a pretty straight ahead, bebop iii-VI-ii-V-I intro that you might hear a rhythm section play to kick off a tune, especially since it resolves momentarily to the tonic chord in bar #5.

Anyway, it be what it B, so check it out and see what you can C.

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Diminished Perspective vs. Altered Reality - The Fight For Dominants]]>Mon, 26 Dec 2016 19:56:14 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/diminished-perspective-vs-altered-reality-the-fight-for-dominantsDiminished Perspective vs. Altered Reality
The Fight For Dominants
Dominants”…as in V7, dominant seventh, etc., dig? And I'll bet you thawt I coodent spell!

Referring to none other than the Diminished vs. Altered Scale, I've been privy to recent discussions as to which one is the more suitable choice to express an altered dominant chord.

Therefore, I thought we might get these two dominant scalar heavyweights to slug it out in the ring for 13, or maybe even b13 rounds. This is a telling number, but we’ll get to that momentarily.

In the near corner, wearing the purple trunks, hailing from Symetria, Octatonia – the octatonic Diminished Scale, aka Auxiliary Diminished, Diminished Dominant, Half Step/ Whole Step. He’s been called other things, as well.

This guy is known to have a pronounced split personality, which actually works to his advantage once he swings into full action. If his initial move is a whole step, he falls into predominantly diminished 7th chord patterns.

On the other hand, when he sets it off with a half step, his perfect 5th personality comes out of hiding and his dominant 7th side, with three of the four possible altered extensions (b9, #9 & #11) plus a natural 13, goes into full effect.

He’s akin to a right handed fighter, who normally leads with his left, who can change up at a moments notice and lead with his right, lefty style - a switch hitter of sorts.

He also has the supernatural power to divide himself into two and / or four “mini me’s” simultaneously, making him very formidable in any context.

It’s this unusual style that has, for many years now, confused both friend and foe alike. “What’s wit all da toiminolgy”, is the common cry among the ranks. Half step/ whole step, Whole step/ half step, Inverted, Auxiliary, schmilary…watch that hole...step! Aaarrgh!

I’d like to do my civic duty and add to the confusion.

Anybody who is familiar with Afro-Cuban music and its derivations, will be familiar with the concept of “clave”, the two measure rhythmic “key” - the foundation that everything else is built upon.

It has two perceived sides – either 3-2 (ta – ta – ta/ - ta – ta) or 2-3 clave ( - ta – ta/ ta – ta – ta), depending on where the “one” is perceived to be at.

Not to deviate, but the point here is, that if the two sides of clave can be identified by inverting a number which describes its accents per measure, why can’t we do the same thing, name wise (describing it’s interval order), for the diminished scale?

Because - we can!

How about the 2-1 Diminished (whole step side), or 1-2 Diminished Scale (half step side), in reference to the number of semitones at the start?

Makes sense to me.

We just have to keep in mind that when expressed vertically, as a chord in thirds, the

2-1 Diminished = dim.7 (Maj7) 9 11 b13, "diminished side", and
1-2 Diminished = 7 b9 #9 #11 13, "dominant side".

In mind it’s kept.

It is with his 1-2 (dominant) side that he will be entering the ring. After all this is the “Fight for Dominants”, right?

Now, over here in the far corner, in the gold trunks, the pride of Melodicus Minorus, the scion of its Seventh House, is none other the "Altered Scale", who's true title is "Seventh Mode of Melodic Minor".

Altered indeed. This dude is a direct descendant, although a mutant one, of the Major Scale Matrix, which is in itself a manifestation of the cosmic overtone series, known to one and all as the “Circle of Fifths”.

As legend has it, at birth, one of his genes - the Maj 3rd - was mutated down a half step, so that it became a min 3rd instead, which in turn interrupted the Cycle of Fifths, transforming him into a multiple Tritonian.

This mutation has given him the special powers that he is able to manifest, chief among them being the ability not only to exhibit half / whole step diminished scale characteristics, like his ring partner, but also pure whole tone / augmented tendencies, as well. Hence, the moniker “Diminished / Whole Tone Scale”, often mentioned when referring to his Seventh Mode.

He also answers to Ascending Melodic Minor, Jazz Minor and Ionian b3.

But, since its his Seventh Mode from which his fame is most assuredly derived, as it contains the root, 3rd & 7th of a dominant 7th chord, plus all four of the possible altered dominant extensions - b9, #9, #11 (b5) & b13 – he became known far and wide as the “Altered Scale”.

There are, however, still too many members of the community who don’t realize or recognize that all these names, labels and aliases refer to one and the same entity. And that they all led back to the one – Melodic Minor!

So now that we’ve got the preliminaries for each out of the way, it’s time to weigh in with a physical comparison.
To state the obvious, the Diminished Scale has the longer reach - eight notes; compared to seven for the Altered Scale. But let's not sell the Altered Scale short.

The above graphic illustrates how these two altered dominant favorites, dressed up in their own altered versions of G7, stack up against each other.

First of all, the first five notes, plus the last one, of each scale are exactly the same. The only difference occurs on the sixth degree (and seventh of the diminished). As the arrows in the above graphic point out, the Altered Scale actually "splits the difference" between the Diminished Scale's sixth and seventh scale step, D (5) and E (13); settling on an Eb (b13) as its sixth step.

That, in a nutshell, is the difference between these two scales. That the 1-2 Diminished Scale has a natural 13, while the Altered Scale sports a b13, pretty much sums the difference.

But what does it all mean, Mr. Natural?

Well, for starts, the Eb creates a five-note consecutive whole tone row - from Cb through G - just one note short of a full Whole Tone Scale.

It also cancels the Diminished Scale's total half step / whole step symmetry, although from F through Db, it's still in full effect.

This process, which is really only used here as an example to point out the differences between the two scales, can be reversed as well.


Am I the only one who heard a bell?

B. Stern

<![CDATA['Trane Changing Tracks - Rhythmic Variety]]>Mon, 21 Nov 2016 09:00:46 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/trane-changing-tracks-rhythmic-variety'Trane Changing Tracks - Rhythmic Variety Picture
In belated remembrance of the late John Coltrane's 90th birthday, here's a cute little four bar "digital pattern" exercise based on the Cycle of Descending Major 3rds (a.k.a. Coltrane Changes) through the keys.

As mentioned previously in these pages, 'Trane used these four note digital groupings, played in eighth notes, to better negotiate the rapid tempi of several of his classic originals (Giant Steps, Countdown, Satellite, etc), which were based on the descending Maj. 3rd Cycle.

'Trane had an arsenal of these groupings, many of them variations of simple 1235 on Maj. chords (C-D-E-G on C Maj) and b7123 on dominant chords (Db-Eb-F-G on Eb7), as classic examples.

The exercise contained in the downloadable pdf is based on 3513, b795b7.(F-Ab-Db-F on Db Maj & D-F#-B-D on E7), which in eighth notes, can be viewed as inversions of a Major triad (Db) and a minor triad (B min) one whole step lower. As these triads transpose down a Maj 3rd in each instance for the next two measures (A Maj | G min and F Maj | Eb min, respectively), this equates to a descending whole tone bass line in as in "Satellite", (in G concert) where the 5fth of the dominant chords (the minor triads here) are in the bass.

While playing the line in this exercise- or any line, for that matter - in constant eighth notes can be great for practicing, it can quickly get tiring and monotonous if done in a real world performance situation.

Rhythmic variety and balance is the ingredient that gives all the other ingredients their dimension.

Below are examples of how one could simply add rhythmic variety to line #1 of this exercise, without changing the melodic content.

The first two bars of the original exercise, shown below in Ex. #1, are all in eighth notes.

Rhythmic motion, tension and release can be obtained by employing rests, by omitting selected notes, and by moving remaining notes so that they fall and accent different parts of the beat, as in Ex. #2.

Ex. #1

Since there are two F's in the first group of eighth notes in the original, and two D's in the second group, we can replace one apiece with eighth note rests, shifting several of the other notes rhythmically by an eighth note (below).

Ex. #2.

Ex. #3 (below) is a variation of ex. #2. with strategically placed rests.
Another method of rhythmic displacement, (Ex. #4), is anticipation. The pickup note to bar #1, sets the tone as it shifts the first group of eighth notes earlier, so that the last eighth of each 4 note group in both measures (the "ands" of 2 & 4), "anticipates" the chord change on the next downbeat.

Ex. #4
Another important and classic rhythmic device used in breaking up eighth note monotony is the judicious use of triplets. That just might be the subject of another post.

These are just a few quick examples, as there are an almost unlimited number of possibilities in general. As an improviser, being able to take a phrase of straight eighth or sixteenth notes and create rhythmic diversity with rests, for example, is an essential skill to develop.

It can make your exercises sound like music and your music sound even more musical.

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Treble Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[8 Will Get You Six - A Diminished Scale Hexatonic]]>Fri, 21 Oct 2016 09:46:32 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/8-will-get-you-six-a-diminished-scale-hexatonic8 Will Get You Six - A Diminished Scale Hexatonic
The 8 note (octatonic) diminished scale has been an essential and popular improvisational tool since at least the mid 1950's. Over dominant chords especially, it's been a common “go to” device for creating “inside / outside“ harmonic tension and resolution.

Because of its alternating whole step / half step (and vice versa) interval scheme, a symmetrical scale structure is formed, which divides the octave into 4 equal parts, spaced in minor thirds.

This symmetrical construction not only builds diminished triads and 7th chords on each of its scale steps, but forms, as well, a number of leaner, meaner 6 note permutations of the original 8 note scale, consisting of several combinations of Major and minor triads.

This simple four bar line is fashioned from 2 of these triads (triad pair) found in any of the three diminished scales – namely, a Major triad and the minor triad found a min. 3rd above it (eg. C Maj & Eb min). The resulting 6 note (hexatonic) scale in this case would be (in C): CEbE - Gb - GBb.

Formed vertically as a chord, this configuration spells out a C7 #9#11 (Eb min. over C Maj).

Functionally, if employed as a bII7, it resolves smoothly to Bb min over B Maj. (B Maj7#11) or C# Maj. over B Maj (B 6/9 #11).

Expressed melodically, the ear would perceive it as having both Maj and min 3rds, as well as both a flat and natural 5th. This creates a strong blues oriented flavor.

Although formed from the above mentioned Major and minor triads, this particular line, ascending and descending in diatonic 3rds, might more accurately be considered a hexatonic line rather than a triad pair, as I have sometimes wondered what the difference is, if any, between the two.

So then, what is the difference?

A triad pair, by definition, is two mutually exclusive triads (i.e. no repeated notes between them). A hexatonic scale can be any scale containing six notes.

A triad pair, being comprised of six notes, will always be hexatonic, while a hexatonic scale need not be a triad pair. Also, the order in which the triads are presented is not always important, although it can make a difference as to how one hears the root or tonic of that particular group of pitches..

A line from a triad pair might alternate through several inversions of each complete triad (eg. G-C-E-G, Gb-Bb-Eb-GbE-G-C-E,  Eb-Gb-Bb-Eb, etc.); whereas a hexatonic line, such as the subject of this post, might be expressed in a non-triadic, linear fashion.

The net harmonic flavor would be about the same with both, the difference being the effect that the melodic order and rhythm of the line would have on the listener. 

Or am I just be splitting hairs here?

Also of note is the close relationship this 6 note scale has with the 5th mode of an Eb Pentatonic b2 (C - Eb - E - G - Bb).

In fact it is a Penta b2 with an added Gb.

There are 4 of these mutually exclusive hexatonic / triad pairs found in each of the three diminished scales, making 12 in all.

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Treble Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[For Your High-Ness: An Etude on "Someday My Prince Will Come"]]>Tue, 20 Sep 2016 14:00:44 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/for-your-high-ness-an-etude-on-someday-my-prince-will-comeFor Your High-Ness:
An Etude on "Someday My Prince Will Come"

Picture"Heah come da Prince!"
This is yet another solo style etude, which I this time fashioned from the chord changes of the popular Standard American Song, "Someday My Prince Will Come".

This tune has been in my repertoire for a while, but I started to take a closer look at it recently, for reasons I'll get into.

The music for "Someday My Prince Will Come" was composed and scored by Frank Churchill back in 1937 for the first ever full length animated Disney movie, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".

I don't think I've ever actually seen the whole movie myself, but I think we all grew up knowing about little Ms. White and her seven vertically challenged buddies (Sleepy, Creepy, Peepee, Goofy, Doofy, Humpty & Dumpty....I think - off the top of my head; no?!?!?).

In any case, Someday My Prince has been a staple for improvising musicians and singers and has been recorded often - the definitive version possibly being Miles Davis' 1961 recording on Columbia (featuring tenor solos by both Hank Mobley and John Coltrane) from the album of the same name.

A few of the elements that have made this tune attractive to improvisers (and the classic that it's become) are:
it's 32 bar ABAC song form,
3/4 waltz time and
simple but deceptive chord changes.
One of the first things I had to clear up for myself was how to understand and negotiate the D7 (concert) something in the second bar of of each A section (bars #2 & #17). As it relates to the melody notes - Bb & F# (concert), or b13 & 3 - I suspected some type of altered dominant scale possibility, so I went with D7altered scale material (Eb Melodic Minor) here..

One might first think of a D7 resolving to some kind of G (V7-I), but wait......it deceptively resolves to Eb Maj, which is a Maj 3rd down from G. The A in the melody would suggest an Eb lydian type of scalar approach. Actually, one might still think of it as G natural minor (aeolian) with an Eb in the bass.

The other interesting point - for me, probably the most interesting - is the descending Db dim.7 passing chord which takes place in bars #10 & #14, in the B, or second 8 bar section of the tune. What threw me a bit in the beginning was choosing which diminished scale sounds best here, half tone/ whole tone (Db-D-E-F-G-Ab-Bb-B) or whole/ half tone (Db-Eb-E-F#-G-A-Bb-C).

At first, the former choice of the half/ whole diminished scale seemed to make the most sense, since it contains all the notes of a G7b9#9#11 13 chord which is the V7 of the next chord - Cmin7,
but it just didn't sound or feel right against the recordings, including the Aebersold track used in the audio example (link below) of this etude.


Because, I finally realized that the whole tone/ half tone diminished scale contains the notes of a C7 with a b9, #9, #11 & 13, the dominant of the root of the next chord after Cmin7; which is F7.

In fact, the A in the melody (13th of C7) in that measure is the giveaway, since it is present only in the whole/ half.

In other words, the Db dim7 in bars #10 & #14 basically functions as a C7b9 13 with the b9 in the bass (C13/ Db), or the II7 (V7 of V7) in the key of Bb. The whole purpose of most dim.7 passing chords, ascending or descending, is to facilitate the creation of a chromatic bass line; in this case D - Db - C and possibly F7/ B as a tritone sub in bars #9-12 and #13-17.

Uhh....I think I've got it now.

Getting to the etude specifically, I wrote it from my horn, phrase by phrase as I might play it and then tweaked it, where needed.

Some of my scale choices throughout are:

Melodic Minor over dominant 7th chords (measures #2, 4, 6-8, 12, 16, 18, 20, 24, 26 & 30)

Whole Tone/ Half Tone Diminished over dim. 7th chords in bars #10, 14 & 28.

I managed to sneak in an Augmented scale over the Eb Maj7 in bar #19, and a piece of the same scale again in bar #22.

Bars #11-12 and #15-16 are examples where I express the ii-V7 (C-7 / F7alt, in each case) intervallically - the Dorian mode for the ii and Melodic Minor for the V7alt; using intervals, for the most part, other than that of a second, although there are a few in there.

In bars #29-32, the focus is on the use of "digital type" patterns (i.e. 1235, (b)7123, etc.), a technique frequently employed by John Coltrane from ca. 1957 - 1961, give or take.

Bar #29 (Bb Maj7/ F) starts with a 3 4 5 6 (Bb Maj. scale) sixteenth note pattern the 2nd beat, moves down to a b3 4 5 6 (Ab Melodic Minor) sixteenth note group on the first beat of bar #30 (B dim7/ F, which is the same as G7b9), moving down to the G on the first 16th note of bar #31. This is where it gets kind of interesting. Originally I had the first group of 4 sixteenth notes as G-A-B-D, but removed the A to break up the stream a little bit. With the A still in there, the whole measure would read: 1235 in G;; 8 7 b7 8 over Bb7 (Mixolydian); 3 b3 2 b2 in Eb Maj.

If you didn't catch it already, the superimposed harmony in bar #31 that the line suggests (G - Bb7 - Eb) represents exactly one half of a complete Cycle of Descending Major thirds, or "Coltrane Change cycle, which would continue as (-Gb7 - B - D7) to complete the cycle.

As it is, the cycle continues in bar #32. The original lead sheet might say F7, the line says superimpose 1 2 3 5 in Eb; b7 1 2 3 of F#7; and 1 2 3 5 of B; which is the tritone sub of F7, (the V7 of Bb, the home key) and which resolves perfectly.

All this sounds especially good over these last four bars, since it is over an F pedal, which heightens the tension before going back Bb at the top.

Rhythmically, I felt a lot of triplets, which is something I'm still trying to smooth out the rough edges with.

A triplet feel undercurrent is going on all the time in this music, (listen to Elvin Jones) and there are ways to express it and break it up. I guess I also wanted to avoid steady streams of straight eighth notes and/ or constant 16th note feel. To to achieve a rhythmic balance within the phrases themselves, I've tried to mix it up.

I think there's a lot of practice material here. Maybe take it a line at a time. Isolate some of the ii-V7s and play them through the keys. Use your imagination and have as much fun with it as I did.

For the recorded example, I used a short piece at the beginning of the track from Aebersold Play-a-Long #58 "Unforgettable Standards".

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Bb         Concert         Eb

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Monk's "Skippy" - The Etude]]>Wed, 17 Aug 2016 12:03:11 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/monks-skippy-the-etudeMonk’s “Skippy” - The Etude Picture
Based on a previous post, which included a breakdown of Thelonious Monk's challenging original, "Skippy", I finally got around to putting together a one chorus, 32 bar "solo style" etude, as a means to decipher ways to navigate the changes of this roller coaster ride of a tune.

Monk's only recording of "Skippy" was from the 1952 Blue Note session that was released as part of "The Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 2", and which included an alternate take of the tune, as well.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, composing an etude for oneself can be extremely beneficial, in that it slows down the improvisational process and allows one to better see, hear and comprehend certain melodic and harmonic connections and how they tend to resolve - or not.

It's kind of like transcribing your own mind.

"Skippy" is, in itself, a study in the usage of dominant 7ths and their tritone substitutions (eg. F#7 for C7), moving around the cycle of fifths, as well as descending chromatically.

As the defining characteristic of a dominant 7th chord is the tritone between its 3rd and b7th (C7 = E & Bb, and its tritone sub; F#7 = A# & E), and being that there are only 2 beats per chord for the bulk of the tune (one beat per chord in measures #25-28), I've included the tritone melodically for each chord, in most cases, usually as part of a 2, 3 or 4 eighth note grouping; of which there are more than a few possibilities.
First of all, check out the pretty colors!

The 3 note shape that makes up the first three dominant chords (D7, G7, C7 concert) is highlighted in yellow in the above graphic. It transposes down chromatically (with slight variations in rhythm) for the first measure and a half, and each chord has a single note placed between its respective tritone.

In the case of the D7, it's a Bb (b13 or +5) between the F# (3) and C (b7) tritone. The symbol for this type of chord usually reads D7+5, referring to an augmented 5th, but I'll stick with b13 this time.

For the next chord, G7, the figure transposes down chromatically, but the root cycles down a perfect 5th. The F becomes the b7 and is on the bottom while its tritone B, is the Maj 3rd and on top. The A, as natural 9th in this case, is placed in between the two.

Had the root also moved down chromatically, in parallel with the rest of the figure, we would have simply had a Db7 (b13), the tritone sub of G7, with the exact same interval relationships as the previous chord.

In measure #2, the 3 note figure again moves down chromatically. The root resolves once more to the next V7 (C7) in the cycle of 5ths. The 3rd (E) is again on the bottom while the b7 (Bb) tritone is on top. The b13 (Ab) is, as before, caught in the middle.

While this 3 note figure could be derived from several scale systems, the most obvious choice would be the whole tone scale (a favorite of Monk's); followed by melodic minor (a favorite of mine). They are both excellent choices for conveying the 7 b13 (or 7+5) sound.

Speaking of melodic minor, the two 4 note groups in measure #3 (purple highlight) which make up Bb7 and A7, are derived from that scale (as well as from the Major scale system). This configuration yields a D Maj 7#11/ Bb, better known as Bb7 #9 b13 (see graphic for note labels), and moves down a half step in parallel (including its root), to A7 #9 b13, the tritone sub of Eb7, the next point in the cycle of 5ths.

The cycle continues chromatically with a descending Ab7 9 arpeggio in measure #4, connecting in anticipation to the b7 (B) of the next cycle point, Db7. The 4 note ascending figure (green highlight) in whole steps (b7-1-2(9)-3, in terms of the root) is an important one, which was often utilized at one point by a well known, former Monk disciple named John Coltrane, as part of his legacy, which became known as "Coltrane Changes".

As previously mentioned, there are more than a few ways to place melodic content in and around a tritone. Some other configurations in this etude are:

b7-1-2-3 (G7) & (F7) meas. #5

3-#4-#5-b7 (Ab7) same as b7-1-2-3 (D7) tritone sub - meas. #7

3-#4-b7-1 (G7) meas.#8

b5-3-1-b7 (F#7) meas.#9

3-2-b7 (E7) meas. #10

b7-6-b7-3 (Ab7 & G7) meas. #11

Can you find any others?

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Bb         C         Eb

Note: The harmonic substitutions in measures 29 & 30 are voiced E-D#-G-B (Eb7+5/ E) and Eb-G-A-Db (Eb7b5) (concert) respectively, each lasting a bar apiece.
Both the melody and harmony from those 2 bars are derived from the E Melodic Minor scale system.
B. Stern
<![CDATA[A Line in Fourths ii-V7 - 027 Trichords]]>Thu, 14 Jul 2016 12:06:36 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/a-line-in-fourths-ii-v7-027-trichordsA Line in Fourths ii-V7 - 027 Trichords
This 4 bar melodic line is built predominantly on the interval of a perfect 4th, wrapped neatly within the confines of various 027 (Major Scale steps 1-2-5) trichords (3 note groupings) and their inversions.

As a technique for melodic and harmonic improvisation, 027s began to show up regularly in the early to mid 1960's in solos and compositions of such pioneers as McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson; Woody, Wayne, Herbie .....y'know; them guys.

The use of the 027 trichord, as a basic melodic unit, was and is a practical way to break free of the standard bebop scalar motif approach. It not only opens the door to a more intervallic melodic line (perfect 4ths, pentatonics), but can easily lead to the creation of an inside-outside (and vice versa) tension and release approach to building improvised and composed melodic lines; not to mention the potential for piquing ones interest in other types of trichord units (013, 025, etc).

First of all, the numerical designations of any trichord are based on the distance, in half steps, ascending from the "root".

Ex: C=0, D=2 (half steps), G=7 (half steps).

In 12 tone parlance, a trichord's inversion is known as a a rotation. Root position (C-D-G) is prime form. First inversion (D-G-C) is called first rotation. Second inversion (G-C-D) is second rotation.

Fair enough?

In this eight bar line, different inversions of 027s are employed over a 4 bar ii-V7-i; with a slight harmonic detour. The time signature is 12/8, which should feel like 4/4 being played in triplets. Tempo:  dotted quarter = 120 bpm.
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The above example demonstrates how this line, consisting of 027s might be harmonized. In this case, I tried descending tritones (dominant 7ths, cycle of 5ths, tritone subs), for the most part, and they seemed to work. In most cases, the bottom note of each chord voicing is the root, which might normally be played by a bassist.

The chord symbols refer to the left hand voicings only and don't take into account the extensions created by the melodic line.

In the second four measures, various eighth notes are replaced with rests. This method of tonal subtraction is an example of how one might break up the potential monotony of a constant stream of eighth notes, and inject the line with a rhythmic life of its own.

Here's a breakdown of the trichords in Measure #1. Remember, "root position" of an 027 is the same as Major Scale steps 1-2-5, with the bottom note determining its so called "key":

A-7       D-A-E desc.   first inversion (rotation)   prime form:  D-E-A

F7b5     F#-B-C#         second inversion              prime form:  B-C#-F#

Bb9  -  This trichord (Ab-Eb-F) is not an 027 (it's an 025). However, if we include the final note of the previous trichord (C#) with the first two of this one, we get C#-Ab-Eb (first inversion of Db-Eb-Ab prime form) trichord. The C# overlaps and is an extension (b13 and #9) to both F7 and Bb7, respectively. This type of anticipation works moving into the next chord, as well: Eb-F-Bb prime form.

Eb7b5  -  Trichord F-Bb-C (second inversion, Bb-C-F) again starts from the final note of the previous group. The trichord under the Eb7 (Bb-C-G) is an 029, but from its second note, it overlaps 027-wise into the next chord D13 (C-G-D descending; prime form C-D-G).

See if you can label the trichords in the next measure? It's as easy as 125 (or 027)!

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Treble Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[A 'Trane Back@sswards - The Cycle of Ascending Major Thirds]]>Mon, 20 Jun 2016 10:41:29 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/a-trane-backsswards-the-cycle-of-ascending-major-thirdsA ‘Trane Back@sswards - The Cycle of Ascending Major Thirds
"Giant Steps, Giant Steps, Giant Steps"! How we love ya! As one of John Coltrane's best known originals, it's been an obstacle course as well as a right of passage for several generations of aspiring improvisers since its recorded inception in 1959.

Despite its notoriety, "Giant Steps" is but one of 9 known Coltrane originals in which he featured, in whole or in part, the Cycle of Descending Major 3rds, aka "Coltrane Changes ("Countdown", "Satellite" and "26-2" are some of the others).

Originally, 'Trane's intended use of this cycle was as a substitution for the more mundane ii-V7 harmonic movement as well as a device, which in his own words, "...would take me out of the ordinary path".

Since the Cycle of Major 3rds uses three key centers and divides the octave into 3 equal parts, regardless of direction (eg. B-G-Eb / descending or B-Eb-G / ascending), this poses a question: What's the difference in the quality and effect of a descending cycle (Coltrane Changes, aka Giant Steps Changes), as opposed to an ascending one?

To ponder this query, let's take a few giant steps back, so that we might get a more cosmic view of the larger picture. Shall we?

First, let's do an aural and visual comparison of the two versions of this cycle, each of which consists of 3 Maj key centers - each a Maj 3rd apart, preceded by its dominant (V7).

Each of the 4 bar piano examples below contains a complete cycle with repeat, with the last two quarter notes of measure #4, in each case, representing a ii-V7 turnaround back to the top. They are presented here at a slow 100 bpm, using basic shell voicings (root, 3rd & 7th), and written an octave up from where they sound for easier reading.

Both examples are in "Giant Steps" key - B concert.

Ex. 1:

Cycle of Descending Major 3rds (aka "Giant Steps" changes or "Coltrane Changes"):
                                           B Maj  D7 / G Maj  Bb7 / Eb Maj  F#7 / B Maj

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The root movement in the above example goes "up a minor 3rd, down a 5th" (octave displacement due to contrary motion notwithstanding) measure by measure. This translates, unsurprisingly, to 3 Maj chords, descending by a Maj 3rd, preceded by their dominants (V7).

That's the basis for "Giant Steps", "Countdown", "Satellite", etc. But you knew that already, right!?

While an understanding of the root movement can be important, thinking of each chord as its own, separate harmonic entity can give one the impression that there's more here to navigate than there really is.

Because the dominant chord on beats 3 & 4 of each measure and the tonic chord on beats 1 & 2 of the following measure are V7 - I to the same key, there are really only 3 harmonic entities (key centers) to deal with rather than 6.

With this in mind, it becomes much easier to create basic digital (as in fingers, not 1s & 0s) patterns and arpeggios, as Coltrane did, which cover both the dominant and tonic chords and treat them as a harmonic pair. This holds true for both cycles (Ex 3 & 4).

Ex. 2:
Cycle of Ascending Major 3rds:
                                     B Maj  Bb7 / Eb Maj  D7 / G Maj  F#7 / B Maj

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In the example of the "NOT Giant Steps" Cycle of Ascending Maj 3rds above (Ex. 2), the root movement is down a half step, down a 5th (or up a 4th). The order in which the key centers in measures 2 & 3 (Eb & G) appear are now reversed from that in the descending cycle (Ex. 1).

Upon listening to Ex. 2, one's initial reaction might be, "...kinda sounds & feels like "Giant Steps", but...it's different!"; which would be a pretty fair assessment. It's still a Maj 3rd cycle, only the direction has changed; with the obvious difference being in the route taken - low road vs. high road, so to speak.

One thing comes to mind here. Because the Descending Maj 3rd Cycle (Ex. 1) has, what in a classical sense might be considered as being the "stronger" root movement of the two, it's probably no surprise that John Coltrane chose the descending version of the cycle over the ascending one (Ex. 2) for his "device". I think it would be safe to assume that he was well aware of both versions, and he made his choice.

That's not to say that the ascending cycle can't be just as interesting or useful. To the contrary, I feel that its possibilities are definitely worthy of further investigation and exploration, don't you?

Besides direction, another important difference between these two examples is, in each case, the different possibilities for connecting the Maj. and dominant chords melodically in each measure.

To illustrate this difference, the line in the example of your basic "Giant Steps" formula below (Ex. 3) uses a 'Trane-like digital 1-2-3-5 pattern for the tonic Major key and chord (B Maj), for the first 2 beats of measure #1; followed by the dominant (D7) of the new key a Major 3rd lower (G Maj) in bar #2. The 5-4-3-2 numerical annotation refers to scale steps of the new key, and not its dominant, which resolves neatly back to the tonic (G - scale step 1).

This pattern repeats itself for the next 2 measures (the new key centers being G and Eb) with measure #4 being a ii-V7 turnaround, prolonging the movement back to B Maj in measure #1. Coltrane would usually have a ii-V here leading into a different set of key centers ("Satellite", "Giant Steps", "26-2", etc.).

Ex. 3:

Translating, or transposing that formula to the Ascending Cycle works out just fine, as in the example below (Ex. 4) as well as the download.

The connection points between the Maj and dominant chords are different in each cycle - notes F# & D connect chords B & D7 in measure#1 of Ex. 3 (descending cycle) - while at the same spot in Ex. 4 (ascending cycle), notes F# & Bb connect chords B & Bb7. Notice that both connection points are intervals of a Maj 3rd - one descending, the other ascending.

This basic, symmetrical melodic pattern is just the tip of the iceberg of melodic possibilities. It outlines the harmony and connects the key centers easily. It may not be something you'd use all the way through if you were actually improvising, but as an exercise, it's an excellent way to get this cycle into your ears, brain,  and under your fingers.

Ex. 4:

Ok! So now that you've seen, heard, and got a whiff of both the Descending and Ascending versions of the Maj 3rd cycle, you might be asking yourself, "What's the purpose!?", or "I have enough trouble playing "Giant Steps", why do I need to add this to my headaches?"

My answer to the first question, which applies to the second as well, is that one needs to be reminded once again of Coltrane's original intention for this cycle; which was as a substitution and enhancement device for the garden variety ii-V7-I chord progression. Being fluent in both of these cycles (and others, as well) will only increase your options and open up new avenues of discovery.

To the second question, I would answer simply; put the tune "Giant Steps", to the side for the time being! Focus on learning it's main element, the Cycle of Maj 3rds, descending and ascending, and the universe will open up and "Giant Steps" truths will reveal themselves to you in abundance!

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Treble Clef                Bass Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Shape Up! - A Melodic Minor ii-V7 Shape]]>Sun, 22 May 2016 17:57:38 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/shape-up-a-melodic-minor-ii-v7-shapeShape Up! - A Melodic Minor ii-V7 Shape Picture
Here's a four bar Melodic Minor ii-V7 "shape" that will get and keep you in shape - and you don't even need to join a gym, Jim!

The simplicity and symmetry of this little shape make for a perfect warmup type exercise, especially when taken through all the keys.

If you're looking for a way to familiarize yourself with the sound and feel of a Melodic Minor ii-V (using two different Melodic Minor scales), right here might not be a bad place to start.

As with the vast majority of exercises on this blog, you'll find it transposed to all 12 keys. Here, each key is presented in a pair of four bar phrases - the first in continuous eighth notes (first 2 bars); the second broken up a bit by replacing certain notes with rests, thus introducing an element of rhythmic tension and release to the line.

Adding a suggested left hand piano voicing was done originally for my own edification (I am definitely a non-pianist). As with the line itself, the left hand comping rhythm varies between the first and second four bars - the first 4 is in whole notes; the second 4 broken up rhythmically to compliment the line itself, as well as to add a further rhythmic dimension.

                                                                         Take a look:

                                                                        Have a Listen:
                                                          (player opens in new tab/ window)

The basic melodic breakdown goes something like this:

Line #1, measure #1ii - E-7b5 - G Melodic Minor (E Locrian ♮2, hence the F#).

Line #1, measure #2V7 - A7alt - Bb Melodic Minor (A altered - b7 = G, b9 = Bb, b13 = F, root = A, b7 = G, b5 = Eb, 3 = Db (C#), b13 = F)

Line #1, measures #3 & 4I or i - resolves to D..., but D what? If you take a look at the left hand voicing D-A-B-C# (with an E in the melody), you'll notice that the 3rd, either Major or minor (F# or F), has been omitted; so you be the judge. It's purposely meant to be ambiguous here, in order to work with both Maj. & min. melodic material.

In making a comparison of the line between bars #1 & #2 (the ii & V chords), we notice that while both phrases are not exactly symmetrical in their comparative interval relationships, they're virtually identical in regards to their shape. The directions and numerical values of the intervals are all the same; the differences lie only in their qualities (i.e., Maj. vs. min. 2nds and 3rds). Check it out.

Meas. #1 - M3-P4-m3-m2-M3-m2-m3
Meas. #2 - m3-P4-M3-M2-M3-M2-M3

Except for the second and fifth intervals of each measure, all the other interval qualities are reversed. The fact that in measure #2, the altered dominant (altered scale) pattern begins a minor third lower than in bar #1, might have something to do with this phenomenon.

For those of you who are familiar with using different Melodic Minor scales over a ii-7b5 and a V7alt (The Melodic Minor Handbook), a common trick is to transpose exactly what's played on the ii chord, up a min. 3rd to the V. This creates a true symmetrical relationship between the the two phrases, with all their intervals being exactly the same in each case.

In this case, though, starting the second Melodic Minor phrase a minor 3rd lower creates an almost complete inverse interval relationship of sorts.

Kinda gives ya goose bumps, doesn't it?!

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                                                                          Treble Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Playin' the Angles! - An Angular, Intervallic ii-V7-I Line]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 11:01:11 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/playin-the-angles-an-angular-intervallic-ii-v7-i-linePlayin' the Angles!
An Angular, Intervallic ii-V7-I Line

Picture"Angular" by Stephen Younts
This nifty little 4 bar ii-V7 line is based on a somewhat angular shape, which is almost identical for both the ii and the V chords.

The line's angularity is due to the absence of any consecutive 2nds (Maj. or min.), with the bulk of its interval content being comprised of different qualities of 3rds and 4ths.

This, however, is not a line built on a four or five note scale. Rather, the ii chord contains 6 out of the 7 diatonic note choices from the dorian mode, while the V7 contains all 7 from Melodic Minor (altered scale).

One of the beauties of this line lies in observing how, while moving from the ii to the V7, the scale tones become altered on the dominant side, while the integrity of its shape remains intact.

Using Line #1 as an example: G-7 / C7alt / F / F | (your basic ii-V7-I with an altered dominant).

The time signature is 12/8, felt as 4 dotted quarters (same as a 4/4 triplet feel). Each measure is comprised of four 3 note groupings.

In Line #1, measure #1, groups 1, 2 & 4 are inversions of 027 trichords (Maj. scale steps 1-2-5); the exception being group 2, which is a root position min. triad.  A trichord is a three note grouping defined by the distance, in semitones between each note, from its root, which is "0" to the other two member tones.

eg.: F = 0, G = 2, C = 7. If we were to put the F on top (G-C-F, ie. two P4ths) we have a first inversion 027 trichord, which happens to be the initial grouping in measure #1.

It's possible to build 5 different 027 trichords from a Major Scale. In F Maj:

F-G-C,  G-A-D,  Bb-C-F,  C-D-G,  D-E-A. The highlighted bottom notes spell out a Bb Pentatonic Scale (IV Mode). In a Major Scale, the relationship between P4s (of which there are 6), 027s (5), and Maj. Pentatonics (3) is intertwined & inescapable (like white on rice; spots on dice, etc.).

Intervallically and directionally, measure #1 also looks like this:

     up: P4 - P4 | down: m3 - M3 - m3 | up: P4 | down: M2 - P4 - m3 | up: P5 | down: M2 / m3

Line #1, measure #2 is based on a C# Melodic Minor scale (C7alt), and all seven note possibilities
are present.

Melodic Minor - and therefore the altered scale - has a unique interval make-up consisting of four P4s, a pair of tritones, and a diminished 4th (which sounds and functions, in most cases, as a Maj. 3rd).

Because of this, the harmonically neutral 027 trichord does not really capture the sound of an altered dominant 7th chord, even though the Melodic Minor system has 3 of them.

eg. C# Melodic Minor (measure #2) - C#-D#-G#,  F#-G#-A#,  G#-A#-D#. So, no 027s here my friends!

Here is the interval breakdown for bar #2 (C7alt):

      up: #4 - P4 | down: m3 - M3 - M3 | up: P4 | down: M2 - M3 - M2 | up: P4 | down: M2 / up: m3

Here's measure #1 once more for a side by side comparison:
     (up: P4 - P4 | down: m3 - M3 - m3 | up: P4 | down: M2 - P4 - m3 | up: P5 | down: M2 / m3)

I count 5 small interval changes (4 by half step; 1 by whole) and 1 directional change. The shape lives on!

Here's how the 4 bars might look when stacked vertically (with the b5 omitted from the dominant):

              G-7                                 C7alt                               F Maj7 #11

This line feels good when played at ca. dotted quarter = 120 bpm (quarter note = 180).
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Treble Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Korner Karnataka #7 - Melakarta #45 - Shubhapantuvarali]]>Tue, 15 Mar 2016 10:39:22 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/korner-karnataka-7-melakarta-45-shubapantavaraliA Little Shubhap in Your BeBop?
Melakarta #45 - Shubhapantuvarali

In this post we'll take a look at Melakarta #45 - Shubhapantuvarali (that's shoo-bop pahn-too-vah-rahlly....no really!). "Shubhap" (for short) has the same tonal DNA as another Melakarta, namely, #36 - Chalanata, which is the subject of an earlier post. It might be helpful to check that out for some pertinent background info, as well as any of the other posts in this category (hey, why not? - they're FreeB's).

Due to the process known as graha bedham, which changes the śruti, or tonic, of a scale (Melakarta) to a different note within that scale, Melas #36 and #45 have the same tonal makeup, with each containing the exact same interval relationships. Only the starting point is different in each case.

This is the same type of relationship found between, for example, the Major scale and any of its modes (Dorian, Phrygian, etc.) - same 7 scale tones; different tonic.

As with the other posts on the subject, the objective here is to investigate the usage of these Carnatic (South Indian) Melakartas (there are 72 in all), as one would treat any 7 note western scale - as a melodic improvisational tool.

Shubhap (#45) can be thought as being formed from the 3rd scale step of Mela #36 (Chalanata). Conversely, the tonic of Chalanata can be found on the 6th scale step of Shubhap.

Each scale, however,  has it's own distinct "soul", with Shubhab having, decidedly, the darker vibe of the two; similar to Mixolydian vs. Locrian, for example, in a modal sense.

In actuality, its tonal layout - 1-b2-b3-#4 5-b6-7-8, would equate this Mela to a Phrygian #4, 7, in western terms. The b3, #4 and the resulting diminished triad from the root - helps to give this scale its dark, brooding and mysterious quality.

Referring to the keyboard graphic on the right, the tritone between scale steps 1 & #4; as well as a full Ab7#9, make for a possible bVI7 - V7 - i harmonic movement.

Although lacking a tritone, the V7 (G7 in C) could theoretically come from the scale tones G (root), Ab (b9), B (3), C (11), Db (b9), & Eb (b13).

The 8 two bar melodic phrases on page 2 of the download are but a few possibilities as to how this Mela might be used melodically in this type of improvisational setting.

It's always fun to practice with a drone. Download these shruti box drone tones, or stream them online.

Shubhap! And ya don't stop!

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Treble Clef               Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[JoHen Tunes Up "Night & Day" - Joe Henderson's Reharm & Solo Transcription]]>Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:52:02 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/johen-tunes-up-night-day-joe-hendersons-reharm-solo-transcriptionJoHen Tunes Up "Night & Day"
Joe Henderson's Reharmonization and Solo Transcription

PictureJoe Henderson w/ Horace Silver in France- July, 1964
Joe Henderson's tenor saxophone solo on his reharmonized version of Cole Porter's "Night & Day" (downloadable transcription below), was recorded for the Blue Note label at Rudy Van Gelder's studio (where else!) in Engewood Cliffs, NJ on Nov. 30th, 1964, ten days before John Coltrane recorded "A Love Supreme" in the same studio.

"Night & Day" would be the final track on the "B" side of the original vinyl LP "Inner Urge", Henderson's fourth as a leader for Blue Note; and featured then current Coltrane Quartet members McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones on piano and drums respectively; as well as Bob Cranshaw, who was pretty much Blue Note's house bassist at the time

The album "Inner Urge" was titled after the now classic Henderson original and the subject of an earlier post. Both the tune and the album are iconic examples of '60's compositional, harmonic and improvisational innovations.

PictureA stamp for JoHen?
At this early juncture of his career, Joe was a busy man; having not only recorded 3 of his own albums as a leader for Blue Note during the preceding year and a half, but having also appeared on at least a dozen albums as a sideman for Blue Note during that period; including the "hit" recordings of Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder" and Horace Silver's "Song for My Father". Henderson also became a regular member of Silver's quintet that Spring; a gig that would last nearly two years.

As guitarist Tim Fischer pointed out in his excellent post on the subject of Henderson's reharm of "Night & Day", Joe's choice of that tune for this session was unique because it turned out to be the only standard he recorded on any of his 5 albums for Blue Note.

Interestingly, Fischer points out composer Cole Porter's frequent use of a ii-V7-I harmonic substitution based on the b6th degree of the parent key at the start of several of his best known standards.

All of You” (iv min. - I), “I Love You”, “What is This Thing Called Love” (ii-7b5 - V7 - I), and “Night & Day” (bVI Maj7 - V7 - I) all use some version of this substitution, which includes Maj. or minor chords with roots in the same diminished triad as the b6.

He also notes how the b6 Maj7 creates a Maj. 3rd key relationship to the home key, reminiscent of Coltrane's use of the  "Cycle of Descending Major Thirds", better known as "Coltrane Changes".

In Henderson's version and key, that translates to:

Bb Maj7 / A7 / D Maj7 / C-7 F7 // Bb Maj7 /

The Maj. 3rd relationship (in Henderson's case Bb and D Maj), had already been established by Cole Porter in his original version. Henderson simply inserted a ii-V7 (C-7 F7) in measure #4 in order to take it back to Bb in bar #5, thus creating a true descending Maj. 3rd (Coltrane Change) movement.

Fischer points out that Henderson does not complete the Maj. 3rd cycle which would temporarily modulate into Gb Maj.  Although he cites examples between Henderson's reharm and Coltrane's "Countdown", it has seemed to me that Henderson's "Night & Day" might have more in common with the tune from which "Countdown" was derived; namely, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson's "Tune Up". 

Tune Up (meas. #13-16):
E-7       /    F7         /  BbM7       / A7     /

Henderson's  "Night & Day" (meas. #13-16)
E-7 A7  /  C-7  F7  /  BbM7 A7  / DM7 F7 /

Coltrane's "Countdown" (meas. #-1-4)
E-7 F7 / BbM7 Db7 / GbM7 A7 / DM7

Except for the last measure and a half, Henderson's 4 bar turnaround in bars #13-16 of "Night & Day" is close to an exact match with the corresponding 4 measures of "Tune Up". Joe added the V7 (of D) in the second half of the first bar and the ii-7 (of Bb) in the first half of the second, establishing a 2 beat per chord harmonic rhythm, a la "Countdown".

Henderson then shifts the A7 (V7 of D), originally in measure #16, to the last 2 beats of the preceding bar, resolving up a Maj 3rd (from Bb) to the tonic D Maj for the first 2 beats of bar #16, only to descend back down a Maj 3rd to Bb Maj via 2 beats of F7, its dominant, to begin the second "A" section.

As mentioned previously, Henderson's reharm never moves to Gb, which would complete a full descending Maj. 3rd cycle.

What's curious here is that both tunes are in the same not often played key of D Maj (E Maj for the tenor saxophone). The original key for "Night & Day" is the very common key of Eb Maj concert (tenor key F).

Why then, did JoHen choose D Maj, of all keys; the same key as "Tune Up"?

My guess is that he saw the inherent Maj. 3rd harmonic relationships in both the last 4 bars of "Tune Up", as well as the aforementioned in "Night & Day", and made the necessary harmonic and key change adjustments to successfully fuse the two.

Just a thought!

Anyway, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's take a look at the solo.

One of the most notable features of Joe Henderson's playing of this period was his use of "sequencing", whereby he would repeat a short melodic shape and / or rhythmic motif, and take it through a set of harmonic changes.

Joe wasted no time here, as he jumped right in at bar #3 with a descending figure, mainly in 3rds, bouncing lithely and tap dancing through several key centers thru bar #8.

What could be the most memorable, singable (danceable?), etc. part of the solo, comes at the end of the second "A" section of Joe's 2nd chorus, from bars #73 thru #79.  It includes the 4 bar descending min. & dim 7ths as well as the previously mentioned turnaround.

What makes this section so musically satisfying, is that he not only maintains the melodic shape over the changing harmonies, but slight variations in rhythmic placement make it a living statement.

Sweet, indeed!

After McCoy's piano solo, in bars #258 - 263, Henderson arpeggiates descending diatonic 7th chords against the changing harmonies; accenting rhythmically, along with Elvin, and against the pulse.

These are just a few of the things, 50-plus years after the fact, that still make Joe's solo here, as well as the whole album, a timeless gem.

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Bb       Concert       Eb
B. Stern
<![CDATA[A Cool Tonic for Your PentaUp b6]]>Thu, 14 Jan 2016 13:25:41 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/a-cool-tonic-for-your-pentaup-b6A Cool Tonic for Your PentaUp b6
Here's another in a series of Pentatonic lines aimed at stomping out the flames "Vitamin" b6 deficiency.

It's not supposed to be some sort of "snake oil" remedy you can sip on or chug down (although that could be hip), or some magic potion you could pour in your ear, so you might be able to "hear the music before it comes", a la Eddie Harris (which would be even hipper).

What it is, in fact, is another way of hearing and approaching a common 4 bar minor ii-V7-i cadence, using 3 Melodic Minor derived Pentatonic b6s, employing the "ACE" method, as described in a recent post.

All things considered, it's tried and true pretty hip, too

PictureA melodic minor (she's only 17)
If you've been reading some of my posts for a while, you might get the impression that I'm fixated on this Penta b6 thing. You could be right!

However, it's not really intentional. It just happens that I often hit upon certain ideas and relationships while in the shed that both sound fresh (to my ears, anyway) as well as pique my curiosity from an intellectual and theoretical standpoint.
In any case, this Penta b6 exercise is a result of that, and it makes as good a subject for another blog post as anything else I can think of at the moment.

So here goes.

The first thing you might notice about each 4 measure line is the time signature, 9/8; which is really the same as if it were 3/4 and the eighth notes were being played as triplets. This way, the page isn't being cluttered with tiny 3s above each of the note groupings.

The Penta b6 is derived from the 5-6-7-9-b3 scale degrees of Melodic Minor
(G Penta b6 = G-A-B-D-Eb = C-D-Eb-F-G-A-B = C Melodic Minor)

A quicker way to arrive at the same conclusion is to take a Maj. pentatonic and flat its 5th degree (Maj. 6th from the root - CDEGA becomes CDEGAb); however understanding it's Melodic Minor derivation is crucial.

As far as the ACE method is concerned; since I don't think I can explain it any better than I already have, I think I'll "plagiarize" myself just this one time (hopefully).

"ACE" refers here to the 3 different Melodic Minor keys used in a 4 bar minor ii-V-i resolving to E min. (ii: F#-7b5 / V: B7alt /i:  E- / E-), where: F#-7b5 = A Melodic Minor / B7alt = C Melodic Minor / E- = E Melodic Minor (see line #9 of this downloadable exercise).

Since Melodic Minor has no "avoid notes", we can therefore use any combination of notes from that Melodic Minor scale / key, including any of its native pentatonics.

In this case, those Pentatonic b6s would be:

F#-7b5 = A Melodic Minor = E Penta b6 (E-F#-G#-B-C)
B7alt = C Melodic Minor = G Penta b6 (G-A-B-D-Eb)
E- = E Melodic Minor = B Penta b6 (B-C#-D#-F#-G)

where the letter names of the Penta b6s would rightfully be a perfect 5th above those of their respective melodic Minor "keys".

In terms of Line #1 of the exercise below, that would translate to:

D-7b5 = F Melodic Minor = C Penta b6 (C-D-E-G-Ab)
G7alt = Ab Melodic Minor = Eb Penta b6 (Eb-F-G-Bb-Cb)
C- = C Melodic Minor = G Penta b6 (G-A-B-D-Eb)

While the letters of the Melodic Minor keys don't spell ACE anymore, the result (FAbC, in this case) always spells out the name of a minor triad.

Each measure contains all 5 notes belonging to that particular Pentatonic b6.

It's highly recommended to practice this, as well as any other exercise on this blog, with some type of play along (Aebersold, Band in a Box, iReal,etc.). If you can, play along with just a simple bass line (or just the roots), to best hear and get a feel for how the line moves against the ii-V.

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Treble Clef              Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Korner Karnataka #6 - Melakarta #36 - Chalanata]]>Fri, 11 Dec 2015 17:07:52 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/korner-karnataka-6-melakarta-36-chalanataMela Down Easy With #36

I recently stumbled upon this scale, not quite knowing if it belonged to the 72 scale South Indian Carnatic Melakarta family or not. I discovered that it was, in fact  #36 - Chalanata, the sixth ragam of the sixth chakra, or group of six, and is from the same chakra as the subject of an earlier post, #31 - Yagapryia.

Checking it out from a Western point of view as a tool for improvisational vocabulary, which is my main intention; Chalanata is a seven note symmetrical scale; the two tetrachords being built off of the exact same interval scheme.

C - D# - E - F  /  G - A# - B - C

1 1/2    1/2   1/2       1    1 1/2    1/2    1/2

The sound of Chalanata should already be pretty familiar to many, as 5 of its seven scale tones form a much used minor pentatonic scale:

In C: C - D# - F -
G - A# = C minor pentatonic (aka 5th mode of Eb Maj. pentatonic).

The "soul" of this scale, however, lies in its inclusion of both Maj. & min. 3rds and 7ths, which create some further pentatonic possibilities; eg.:

D# Penta b2 = D#-E-G-A#-C (also found in the diminished scale)

D# Penta b6 = D#-F-G-A#-B (also found in Ab Melodic Minor)

As each of these two pentatonics contains a tritone (E-A# & F-B), some kind of V-I harmonic resolution could be implied in each case.

It's inherent triads, built in thirds are C Maj., C min., D# Maj., D# aug., E min. & E dim.

Because of this scale's interval layout, the common tone among all these triads turns out to be "G" in each case; which means that there are no mutually exclusive triad pairs available in Chalanata.

One of the more interesting
aspects of the Melakarta system of scales is the phenomenon of graha bedham; which shifts the tonal center (root) of a scale to another note of that same scale, while retaining its original notes and interval make up; similar to the Western modal system (D dorian, E phrygian, F lydian, etc. in C Maj.).

A certain set of criteria must
be met in order for for a scale to be considered a legit member of the 72 scale Melakarta family. However, many very different sounding and intriguing scales, legit or not, can be formed by this method.

In the case of Chalanata,
if we take the same 7 notes and hear "E" as the root (and "B" as the 5th) of the scale, we get Mela #45 -
Shubhapantuvarali, which creates a whole different vibe and atmosphere, but nevertheless, very hip and mysterious.

Chalanata, in all it's forms, is a beautiful scale, familiar yet exotic, which lays easily on the ears and in  the fingers and contains an inherently sophisticated, yet funky, bluesy quality.

Cha-la-nata! Sounds kind of "creamy"!

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   (3 Pages)
Treble Clef                     Bass Clef

Before performing the Chalanata ragam, Dr. Pantula Rama, explains its structure and note names, and that the more popular method of performing this scale is through it's offshoot janya raga, known as Nata, which omits the notes "da" & "ga" (Bb & E, in C) while descending the scale.
This video is evidence that MF was hip to Chalanata back in the '70s. This is a pretty cool arrangement, in a Las Vegas-y sort of way.
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Back to the Future 'Trane - Transcription of John Coltrane's 1954 Solo on "In a Mellow Tone"]]>Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:29:41 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/november-16th-2015Back to the Future 'Trane
Transcription of John Coltrane's 1954 Solo on "In a Mellow Tone"

This transcription of the first chorus of John Coltrane's tenor solo on Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone", was taken from a live (possibly radio) recording from sometime in mid 1954, when 'Trane was on the road with Johnny Hodges' septet. The band included Hodges' fellow Ellingtonians, Harold "Shorty" Baker - trumpet, and Lawrence Brown on trombone.

This version of "Mellotone" was originally released, to my knowledge, in on a "bootleg" vinyl in the 1970's on the "Enigma" label. A friend of mine had it and I promptly copied it to cassette (remember those?.....OK, maybe not).

Then as now, 'Trane's solo here blew me away for several reasons.

First of all, through this recording, we get a glimpse of a 27 year old John Coltrane, who was still a little more than a year away from the start of his historical association with trumpeter Miles Davis. In the second chorus of this solo, which is not transcribed here, we hear a portent of things to come; i.e. sixteenth note scalar runs, which he seemed to be hearing as if from a distance, but didn't quite have the concept, which we would later know as "sheets of sound", under his complete control yet.

The first thing that should be apparent to anyone listening to this recording is: "Ain't no bebop bein' played here!". The rhythmic pulse of this music is of the Ellington and Armstrong era: quarter note bounce; swinging and danceable.

Coltrane, who almost certainly grew up hearing Ellington's music, and so was intimately familiar with it, was originally a Charlie Parker inspired alto saxophonist, switching to tenor more or less for good in 1949 or '50, while as a member of the big bands and small groups of one of bebop's co-founders', Dizzy Gillespie.

So it's like pre-Bird meets post-Bird; and in the middle.....no-Bird!

Also importantly, leading up to his tenure with Hodges, 'Trane was the tenor saxophonist with popular Rhythm & Blues (the original R 'n' B) saxophonist, Earl Bostic, for which Coltrane had great respect.

The saxophone, alto and tenor, was the main solo instrument in R 'n' B and pop music, before the advent and popularity of the electric guitar in the next decade. This is notable because 1950s R & B is in unmistakeable evidence in Coltrane's approach here.

So it's against this backdrop that Coltrane's solo on "In a Mellotone" takes place.

Coltrane takes the third solo, behind Hodges and Shorty Baker. Both solo's are swing era in style and content; Hodges' typically lithe and bouncy and Baker hitting you with his melodic and rhythmic inventiveness, blues, growl and a timely placed quote from Khachaturian's, "The Sabre Dance".

Enter Coltrane, who comes on like the "Tenor Player Who Fell to Earth"; heralding things to come. The first thing you notice, as always, is his presence. His sound is big and robust with his familiar edge; evident even though the recording quality is less than one might be used to by today's standards. Also evident is his typical sense of urgency and insistency in his phrases.

His vocal sounding "hoy, hoy"
on the "high G" of the tenor saxophone in bars 12 and 13 induce the shivers.

For me, the beauty of this chorus is in its relative simplicity
and in the way 'Trane outlines each chord change. Then there are, of course, the intangibles (tone, nuance, etc.) that made anything Coltrane did greater than the sum of its parts.

I think they call that "soul".

This is a very singable chorus and not
that technically challenging. It's a fun solo to memorize, study and try to emulate. It's taught me how certain basic chordal structures can sound really great in the right context.

It's also fun to realize that this is the same guy who, less than 5 years later, gave the world "Giant Steps", and then "A Love Supreme" some 5 years after that.

Space", anyone?

Download PDF
Bb                Concert                Eb

This video is of the complete album. "In a Mellotone" starts at ca. 9:13
Coltrane's solo starts at ca. 13:10

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Slide, Glide & ACE a Ride on the Wild Side With This Penta Flat-6 Two Five]]>Wed, 21 Oct 2015 16:16:25 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/slide-glide-ace-a-ride-on-the-wild-side-with-this-penta-flat-6-two-fiveSlide, Glide & ACE a Ride (on the Wild Side)
With This Penta Flat-6 Two Five

In automotive terms, a flat-6 is a six cylinder, horizontally opposed engine used by Porsche, among others.

Since automotives is not really my thing, the flat-6 (b6) referred to here is none other than an old "5 cylinder" friend
and Melodic Minor derivative, the Pentatonic b6.

As explained in several previous posts on the topic, The Penta b6 can be thought of either as a Maj. Pentatonic with a flatted 6th degree from the root (ie. C Pentatonic b6 = C-D-E-G-Ab), or; as being built from the 5th-6th-7th-9th-b3rd scale degrees of F Melodic Minor, in this case.

It can also be built simply from scale steps 1-2-3-5-b6 of the Harmonic Major Scale, but it's the Melodic Minor derivation that we'll be dealing with here.

This exercise is the latest of several posts which deal with the Pentatonic b6 as applied over a 4 bar, minor ii-V7-i cadence, using the "ACE" three Melodic Minor "scale / key" approach.

"ACE" refers here to the 3 different Melodic Minor keys used in a 4 bar minor ii-V-i resolving to E min. (ii: F#-7b5 / V: B7alt /i:  E- / E-), where: F#-7b5 = A Melodic Minor / B7alt = C Melodic Minor / E- = E Melodic Minor (see the next to last line (#11) of the downloadable exercise).

Since Melodic Minor has no "avoid notes", we can therefore use any combination of notes from that Melodic Minor scale / key, including any of its native pentatonics.

In this case, getting back to line #11, the three Pentatonic b6s used for the ii-V7-i would be:

F#-7b5 = A Melodic Minor = E Penta b6 (E-F#-G#-B-C)
B7alt = C Melodic Minor = G Penta b6 (G-A-B-D-Eb)
E- = E Melodic Minor = B Penta b6 (B-C#-D#-F#-G)

The "ACE" acronym, referring to the applicable Melodic Minor scale / keys, is cool because it spells an identifiable word, at least in this particular key.

However in all cases, the letters used spell out the notes of a minor triad a perfect 4th above the tonic minor (i) key. (eg. A-C-E for the roots of the scale /keys and E-G-B - the actual letters of the tonic (home key) minor triad - for the roots of the applicable Penta b6

As a further exercise, label each measure of the downloadable PDF with its appropriate Melodic Minor scale as well as its Pentatonic b6.

The first measure of each line is actually missing a single scale tone from being a true Penta b6. Can you find the missing note in each case?

Is there an appreciable difference in sonority, with and without?

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Treble Clef          Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[A Plus in Your Scale Arsenal - Augmented Scale ii-V7-I]]>Tue, 15 Sep 2015 13:44:38 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/september-15th-2015A Plus in Your Scale Arsenal: Augmented Scale ii-V7-I
This is the latest post in the Augmented Scale category, this time with an exercise that negotiates a common ii-V7-I with a single augmented scale, which is:

A six note scale (hexatonic), formed by:

2 augmented triads a minor third apart (C-E-G# & Eb-G-B = C-Eb-E-G-Ab-B)

2 augmented triads a half step apart (C-E-G# & Db-F-A =

A Major triad and a minor triad a Maj 3rd below (C-E-G & Ab-B-Eb = C-Eb-E-G-Ab-B)

A minor triad and a Major triad a Maj 3rd above (C-Eb-G & E-G#-B = C-Eb-E-G-Ab-B)

3 min 2nds a Maj 3rd apart (C-Db, E-F, G#-A)

3 min 3rds a Maj 3rd apart (C-Eb, E-G, Ab-B)

There are also Perfect 4ths and 5ths, as well as Maj & min 6ths, plus Maj 7ths included.

Check 'em out.

This exercise came about as an altered, Augmented scale version of the typical 1-2-3-5 or 1-2-3-4 type major scale "digital" scale patterns, made up here exclusively of scale tones from a single Augmented scale, over a ii-V7-I chord sequence.

One of the more interesting (and challenging) aspects of using the Augmented scale in this manner is the fact that the Augmented scale has no tritone (eg, F - B), which makes its tendencies toward normal resolution (as in Major or minor scale harmony) somewhat ambiguous.

But hey, ambiguous is good in this case; as in "inside-outside" and vice versa.

The Breakdown:

The whole first line uses the Bb (D, F#) Augmented Scale (Bb-C#-D-F-Gb-A) over
C-7b5 / F7 / Bb / Bb /

Line #1, Measure #1 - C7b5 (Parts of the chord in parenthesis):
D (9) - F (11) - Gb (b5) - Bb (b7)   A (6) - Bb (b7) - D (9) - F (11).

Pretty consonant (inside), actually.

Line #1, Measure #2 - F7sus:

C# (#5) - D (13) - F# (b9) - Bb (11) - A (3) - Gb (b9) - Db (b13) - F (root).

As mentioned previously, the Augmented scale is devoid of tritones, but melodically, in this case, it still pulls toward a resolution to Bb; with the root and 3rd of the V chord being present. The Bb in the scale also supports this.

Line #1, Measures #3 & 4 - Bb Maj7

A straight up Bb Maj7 with a C# (#9 or b3) and Gb (b13 or #5)
thrown in for flavor.

As the Augmented scale divides the octave into 3 equal parts
, the result is 4 different Augmented scales. The exercise is transposed by ascending half steps into all 12 positions (keys), the basic scale repeating every 5th line (ie. line #1 & line #5 are from the same Augmented scale).

If you have a sequencer (Band in a Box, iReal), try practicing first with just the bass notes or bass line, then add shell voicings (3rds and 7ths).

Download PDF
Treble Clef            Bass Clef
Want more Augmented Scale ii-Vs? Check out this Shortbook:
B. Stern