Tag Archives: Bebop

Barry Harris Half Step Rules

The video above was filmed at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, NL. It is part of a collection of video chronicling workshops that were given by pianist Barry Harris between 1989 and 1998. That collection can be found on the Barry Harris Videos channel on YouTube. There is a lot of great information there. Dr. Harris’s career has spanned over half a century and at the age of 85, he continues to perform and teach.

In the video, Harris outlines and demonstrates a set of rules for dealing with descending dominant (Mixolydian) scales. The basic concept is that in particular circumstances, the addition of half steps is necessary to insure that chord tones (1, 3, 5, b7) occur on downbeats instead of upbeats.

In the handout below, I wrote out the rules outlined by Dr. Harris in the video. Harris briefly talks about rules for the Major scale, but only mentions the use of a half step going from 6 to 5 before returning to the discussion of the dominant (Mixolydian) scale.

 

Transcribed: Charlie Parker – Score of 4 Relaxin’ At Camarillo Solos


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!

Transcribed: Charlie Parker – Relaxin’ At Camarillo (Take C)

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.

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Transcribed: Charlie Parker – Relaxin’ At Camarillo (Take E)

Here is another take from “The Complete Dial Sessions.” After putting this 3rd take down on paper, I’m beginning to see some patterns emerge throughout. I’ll share some of those in a later post.

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Transcribed: Charlie Parker – Relaxin’ At Camarillo (Take D)

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.

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Transcribed: Charlie Parker – Relaxin’ At Camarillo (Take A)

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.

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Transcribed: Bill Evans – Oleo

I’ve decided to move on from Hank Mobley for the moment and change strategies. One of the main things I’m working on right is learning tunes. I’ve been working on a couple of rhythm changes heads over the last couple weeks and thought it would be good to transcribe a solo with those changes to tie things together.

This particular solo is taken from the 1958 album, “Everybody Digs Bill Evans.” The trio on this recording is Bill Evans with Sam Jones on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums. This solo shows Bill Evans using several melodic fragments/shapes and moving them around. This occurs sometimes in the form of a sequence (bars 41-44, 2nd A section of the 2nd chorus), but more often this movement is done chromatically and moves in and out of the changes. It really shows that a strong melodic line can stand on its own, regardless of its relationship to the chord changes.

Rhythmically, parts of this solo were difficult to notate, particularly the 3rd chorus. There is a 3/8 figure (an eighth-note triplet followed by an eighth note) that is played and repeated over the 4/4 meter. This creates a few awkward divisions of the beat, but I think that looking at the transcription while listening to the solo will help anyone make more sense of what’s going on there. It looks more complicated than it really is.

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Transcribed: Hank Mobley – Cattin’

Here is Hank Mobley’s solo from Cattin’ from The Jazz Message of Hank Mobley, Vol. 1. Cattin’ is a 12-bar blues in Bb. On Hank Mobley’s and Donald Byrd’s solos, there is a 16-bar tag added at the end. It’s 14 bars of a G pedal (F concert) It lands on C (Bb concert) on bar 15 and sets up the break for the next soloist to begin. There is also a measure and a half solo break before the beginning of the first chorus.

I really enjoyed learning this solo. There were a lot of little twists and turns that were revealed in the process. Hank Mobley superimposes some other chords over what the rhythm section is playing in a number of spots. For example, measures 9 and 10 of the first chorus could be interpreted as | Dmin7 / Eb7 / | Abmin7 / Db7 / | played over Dmin7 – G7. There are also cases of tritone substitution in bars 8 and 10 of the second chorus. There are a couple of other things in there too, but I won’t ramble on and risk being too pedantic.

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Transcribed: Doug Watkins – Cattin’

This is the next solo from “The Jazz Message of Hank Mobley.” Bassist Doug Watkins takes a 1-chorus solo on Cattin’, a 12-bar blues in Bb. This is the first bass solo I’ve ever transcribed. This is basically a chorus of walking bass, but it was interesting for me to see how often Doug Watkins’ first note on a chord change would be on something other than the root. This isn’t something really radical, but if you don’t know about it, you don’t know. I didn’t know.

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Transcribed: Ronnie Ball – Cattin’

This is the next solo from “The Jazz Message of Hank Mobley.” Pianist Ronnie Ball plays 4 choruses on Cattin’, a 12-bar blues in Bb. Unlike the solos of Hank Mobley and Donald Byrd, there is no F pedal tag at the end; it goes straight into a bass solo.

This is a nice solo that makes use of chromaticism, enclosures, and chord superimposition. The first 4 measures of the 2nd chorus also show the influence of Ronnie Ball’s study with Lennie Tristano. An 8-note motif is played first in 4 beats and then repeated 3 times using only 3 beats per repetition. The pitches are repeated exactly each time, but the rhythm is different each time. The 1st half of the motif is repeated a 4th time to end the phrase.

Another interesting motif occurs at the beginning of the 3rd chorus. There is a line comprised of notes from the B pentatonic scale superimposed over Bb7. The line is then repeated and resolved down a half step with a Bb pentatonic scale over Eb7. The 3rd measure has the same contour as the first 2 bars, but contains different intervals.

The last thing I think is mentionable is the 7th and 8th measures of the 4th chorus. The 7th measure starts with a D-7 arpeggio with an enclosure going to B natural. The B natural is the first note of a descending C#-7 arpeggio which connects to an ascending C-7 arpeggio.

So far out of the solos I’ve transcribed from this album, Ronnie Ball is the guy who I find the most interesting. I find myself in a position, as a listener, where I’m wondering what he’s playing and how does that relate to the changes of the tune. Transcribing these solos is turning out to be a great way of finding that out.

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