Tag Archives: piano

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: 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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Videos: Mulgrew Miller – Advice for Young Jazz Musicians and Learning to Improvise

Here are two videos of jazz pianist Mulgrew Miller speaking and answering questions at a master class. The basic point he makes in these videos is that you must actively listen to the music to understand it and to learn to play it. Good stuff from a master musician.

Transcribed: Ronnie Ball – There Will Never Be Another You

ronnie ball

Today’s transcription is the next in the series from The Jazz Message of Hank Mobley. Ronnie Ball isn’t a terribly well-known pianist. In fact, this album cover was the only photo I could find of him. The only other album I own with him playing is Lee Konitz with Warne Marsh. In that context, it isn’t much of a surprise that Ronnie Ball studied with Lennie Tristano. I think that influence can be heard in terms of rhythmic displacement and also in some of his note choices.  I have only transcribed what Ronnie played in the right hand. This is my first piano solo transcription and I’m not quite ready (at all!) to transcribe the solo and the comping.

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ii-V of the day: Oscar Peterson – 9.20.10

Today’s ii-V comes courtesy of Oscar Peterson from his Au Privave solo from his Nigerian Marketplace album, recorded live at the 1981 Montreux Jazz Festival.

The ii-V starts with a 3-note pickup of a descending A Major triad, the dominant of Dmin7. Once we’re in the Dmin7 measure. We have scalar motion from the root to the 5th which then jumps down to the 3rd and moves back down the scale. In the G7 measure, we start with an extended enclosure. The line is descending by half steps on beats 1 and 2, landing on the 3rd of the chord (B) on beat 3. We then have an appoggiatura (B>G>F) which is followed by an enclosure resolving on beat 1 of the CMaj7 measure on the 3rd (E). The first measure of CMaj7 consists of two diatonic 7th chords. (The first one might not be very obvious, but if you drop the E down an octave you’ll see what I mean.) The second measure has an enclosure that starts on the G and ends on the E on beat 3. C6 is then outlined on beats 3 and 4. The last measure has a 1-5-7-1 figure, it very firmly establishes the tonic sound.

This ii-V comes from the last 4 bars of a 12-bar blues form and the phrase extends into the first bar of the next chorus. If you’re working on these with a play-along recording and the line is too long for the recording or if your recording has a turnaround on the VI7b9 (A7b9 in C) to get back to the ii. You can always trim off some of the line to fit your needs. If you do that, I would suggest ending the line on beats 1 or 3 of either of the CMaj7 measures. I played around with this a little myself to check and the line will sound fine ending in any of those places.
For saxophone players, as you can see, the line as written is too low to play on the horn. By raising the line an octave, beginning with the G on the “and” of 1 in the 3rd measure through the rest of the line, you can fix this.

Au Privave is a 12-bar blues usually in F. I have a few recordings (Hank Mobley, Tete Montoliu) that are in Bb.

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