One of the really cool things about the saxophone is that many musicians have been able to play it within many different musical traditions. Kadri Gopalnath is one of those saxophonists who pushed boundaries and made the saxophone a legitimate instrument in a tradition that is hundreds of years old.
Carnatic music is the traditional music of South India. Many people refer to it, and the Hindustani music of the North, as Indian classical music.
Kadri Gopalnath started out playing the nagaswaram, a double-reed instrument considered to be very auspicious. It’s often played in Hindu temples and at weddings. It is also the world’s loudest acoustic non-brass instrument. Having heard them when I went to India, I can definitely confirm that to be the case. Kadri switched to the alto saxophone after hearing one in a band. He worked for 20 years to learn to play the saxophone in the Carnatic style.
My saxophone professor in college, George Wolfe, introduced me to Kadri Gopalnath’s playing. I was blown away by it and had no idea that someone could play the horn like that. Check out the video and see for yourself.
I’ve taken all of the solos I transcribed on Relaxin’ At Camarillo and put them in a score. The take is listed at the beginning of each stave. It’s pretty cool to look at these solos stacked up like this. There are a few instances where Charlie Parker played exactly the same line in the same spot in 2 different solos; a few rhythms line up like that, too. I will be taking a look at these and doing some analysis that I’ll share in the days to come. Enjoy!
From the four takes that we have of Relaxin’ At Camarillo, Take C is the one that was chosen for release. This was actually the first of these solos I transcribed. The difference between this and the others was that I learned this one by ear and committed it to memory before writing it down. With the others, I listened to the recording and slowed it down using Transcribe!, wrote down what I heard, and checked it with my alto when I had it all written down. I thought that would be a good, practical application of the ear training I’ve been doing lately.
Here is the next take of Relaxin’ At Camarillo. If you look at the 8th and 9th bars of each chorus, you’ll see that they’re almost exactly the same. Also, check out the 4th bar of the second chorus. To my ears, it sounds like a mistake and the last two notes are articulated in kind of an unusual way.
I’m spending a lot of time with Charlie Parker right now and thought I’d share a little bit of my work. This solo can be found on “The Complete Dial Sessions” by Charlie Parker. It’s a 4-disc set and has multiple takes of several tunes. It’s neat to listen and hear the differences and similarities between takes. I did have to adjust the pitch on this recording. “Relaxin’ At Camarillo” is a blues in C and the recording was flat by over a quarter-step, so it sounded like it was in B. I will be posting transcriptions of the other takes in the next few days.
Before Lenny Pickett was playing up in the stratosphere, there was Earl Bostic. He is completely raging on the track on this video, Up There In Orbit. This is a showcase of altissimo, both in terms of extreme range and technical fluidity.
I’m back! After a nice trip to LA and a few days of catching up, I’m ready to get back with the ii-Vs. I haven’t mentioned this before, but I am transcribing these ii-Vs as I present them. I don’t have a big notebook or anything that I just pull from. I get up everyday and transcribe a new ii-V.
Relaxing With Lee is a 32-bar AABA form tune based on Stompin’ At The Savoy changes. Savoy is usually played in Db and this is also the case for Relaxing With Lee. On the recording, it sounds like Parker plays a composed theme for the first 8 measures and then begins his improvised solo.
Here is a leadsheet for the tune this blog is named after, Drifting On A Reed. This tune was recorded with various titles. The most common title, and the one that I originally knew this tune as, is “Big Foot”. Other titles include “Giant Swing” and “Air Conditioning.”
There are versions for C, Bb, Eb, and Bass Clef instruments. The tune is a 12-bar blues in the key of Bb. If you listen to the recording and try to play along, you’ll notice that the recording is actually in B. It’s not uncommon to come across recordings from this time that were sped up a little and sound higher than they actually were.
I decided to transcribe this melody for two reasons – it’s the tune from which I got the name for the blog and more importantly, it’s not in the Charlie Parker Omnibook. Enjoy!