Back 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.


Slide, 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-octave-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.


A 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.


NOT Peanut But Uhhh...
Thelonious Monk's "Skippy"

"Skippy", which was originally recorded by Thelonious Monk for Blue Note on May 30th, 1952, might be considered (no, is!) one of his most challenging compositions.

The melody alone, which is uncharacteristically dense by Monk standards, is a workout in and of itself.

Harmonically, the descending cycle of 5ths and chromatic tritone subs
require considerable "'shedding" in order to confidently negotiate improvised lines through the changes.

In this post, we'll just concentrate on the head, with the rest to follow.

"Skippy" is 32 bars long
with what appears to be an A1-B-A2-C song form. The tune is Monk's reharmonization and abstraction
of Vincent Youmans' well known standard, "Tea for Two", which due to the melodic consistency between the sections, comes off more like an A1-A2-A3-B form.


Dig it All!
Melodic Minor "Digital" ii-V7-I Exercise

I'm going to try and keep this brief, so I'll refer you to an earlier post for the basic premise of this exercise.

The difference here is that:
1) this one focuses on "digital patterns" starting on the 3rd degree of the Melodic Minor scale (scale steps 3-4-5-7 / 6-7-8-4; ie. F#-7b5 = A Melodic Minor = C-D-E-G# / F#-G#-A-D), and

2) as a ii-V7-I, the pattern transposes up exactly a minor third from the ii7 to the V7 chord (B7alt = C Melodic Minor = Eb-F-G-B / A-B-C-F. It should be noted that the order of the two 4 note cells can be reversed with no change in effect
(A-B-C-F / Eb-F-G-B).

This is a nifty little device, which if not overused, can be quite effective over a ii-V. It is also a good sounding "altered" alternative to your typical Major Scale ii-V7 melodic patterns.


Spring's the Thing! - An Etude Based on Freddie Hubbard's
"Up Jumped Spring"

Seasonally speaking, I realize I'm a few days late, but one tune I've always enjoyed playing is Freddie Hubbard's classic jazz waltz, "Up Jumped Spring" - so I wrote a "solo style" etude based on its changes, which I present here.

Freddie Hubbard was not only one of the music's all-time great trumpet voices, he was also an accomplished and prolific composer who contributed a number of classics to the repertoire (Little Sunflower, Birdlike, Red Clay, etc.), as well as some great lesser known gems (Lament for Booker, Blue Spirits, among others).

"Up Jumped Spring" has a form of A1-A2-B-A3. Each "A" section  is 16 bars long and has a different ending. The bridge, or "B" section, is 8 bars long, which adds up to and makes this a 56 bar tune.

Can you name another tune with the same form?

One tune which immediately "springs" to mind is Kurt Weil and Ogden Nash's "Speak Low" (Shhh! It has the same AABA, 16-16-8-16 = 56 bar form, in 4/4).


Diminishing Perspective - A Diminished Scale Line

Here's a nifty little four bar line, best served over a modal type vamp, which utilizes the complete 8 note symmetrical diminished scale.

Because the diminished scale is devoid of avoid notes, and due to its symmetry, is essentially polyphonic in nature (hosting 4 Major and 4 minor triads, 4 dominant 7th chords, as well as 2 distinct non enharmonic diminished 7th chords), a single tonal center can be somewhat ambiguous and not always immediately apparent. Nor does it need to be.

However, for the purpose of this exercise, letting my ear be the guide, a tonal center was chosen which felt natural, with alternates, based in the same diminished 7th chord (listed in parentheses).

They all "work", in both theory and practice, and are only suggestions in any case.


Three's a Pair! - Part 2
Melodic Minor Triad Pairs - "Rhythm Changes" Bridge

Back on the subject of Triad Pairs in general and Melodic Minor derived triad pairs in particular, this previous post would be a good preliminary read, containing the basic premises for this post.

As mentioned in that article, the pair of adjacent triads which most captures the sound of Melodic Minor are the Major & augmented triads, built off of the 4th and 5th scale steps, respectively.

(In C Melodic Minor = F Maj.(F-A-C) & G aug. (G-B-Eb) triad pair).

However,  the quality of the pure diatonic triad built on 5th step of Melodic Minor is not augmented, but Major - G Maj. = G-B-D, which is exactly the same in C Major.



Polly Juanna Safecracker?
Pentatonic b6 Combination Exercise

PictureMs. Polly Juanna Safecracker
Been feeling locked out (or up!) lately?

This pretty little combination exercise, which unlocks the door and lets you get "up close and personal" with the Pentatonic b6 scale and its modes, is similar in construction to an exercise which I posted previously, based on the Pentatonic b2 scale.

While the Penta b2 could be considered as a derivative of the 8 note diminished scale system (as well as the lesser used Harmonic Major scale),
the Penta b6 is derived from the Melodic Minor harmonic system (scale steps 5-6-7-9-b3), but also found as part of Harmonic Major (scale steps 1-2-3-5-b6).

As its name suggests, the Penta b6 is a 5 note pentatonic scale with the 6th
(as being the interval measured from its root, not its scale step), flatted (eg. G Penta b6 = G-A-B-D-Eb, derived from C Melodic Minor or G Harmonic Major).


Toot Your Own Horn Dept.:
A Self-Transcription of  "Like Someone in Love"

PictureThe Rev. Dizman Tootoot
Welcome to another, "Toot my own horn!" moment, featuring a self-transcription of the van Heusen-Burke standard, "Like Someone in Love".

As I'd been checking this tune out lately (for about 30 years), I thought it would make good subject matter for a post, with a recorded solo example, as well as an audio file thereof; both downloadable.

Now ain't that generous?!

I think it's a very healthy thing, in terms of self-analysis, to record and  transcribe one's self from time to time. The fact is, that if you don't happen to be one of the handful of "household (make that "practice room") names", you might as well transcribe yourself, for yourself.

Besides, "it's my blog and I'll toot if I want to"! Dig?!