Here’s a couple of great tunes I had a hard time finding transcriptions of. The first is “Butch and Butch” from Oliver Nelson’s “Blues and the abstract truth” album. I’ve transcribed it for two altos — melody line plus a simple harmony line — but the original is well worth a listen since it contains stupendously well-arranged horn backings too. The second is Bud Powell’s ballad “I’ll keep loving you”. The form of this tune varies quite a lot because it’s often played as a solo piano piece, so I’ve taken the form as done by Paul Motian and the Electric Bebop Band. Enjoy!
On holiday in France, me and my family were walking along a road through a field of smooth mud/dirt. The sun was coming from the right hand side. Looking to the left hand side, the field looked a sort of clay-y orangey tan. Looking to the right, it looked dark brown. When we came to another road that was parallel to the original one, the field that had been on our right and looked dark brown was now on our left, looking orangey tan instead.
This seemed a bit weird, because the field was very smooth and there weren’t any trees or buildings casting shadows. What (I think) explains it is that the surface of the field, although smooth-looking, was slightly rough, being made of dirt. So, on a scale of a few inches, the field’s surface had little peaks and troughs, as shown in the diagram. When the observer is looking in the direction that the sun comes from, this means that lots of tiny bits of the field are in shadow, caused by raised and depressed bits of dirt, as shown in the inset.
Because it had been made quite smooth, we couldn’t really see the actual texture of the field, but the overall reduction in the amount of sunlight reaching us from it made it look dark when viewed in this way, even though the whole field was ‘really’ the same colour. The field, viewed from the right direction, is ‘in shadow’, but on a very small length scale. The relative difference in perceived colour or brightness when you look in each direction must be related somehow to the density and characteristic size of the peaks and troughs in the field’s surface. Fun bit of maths to do?
Here’s a clip of York piano player Karl Mullen playing some boogie-woogie. I’ve played at the Phoenix jam in York a few times with him and he’s great — really clever and inventive language in a jazz setting. This is something else completely though, and even includes a bit of Bohemian Rhapsody at the end. Quality busking.
Highlight is the camerawoman suggesting they give Karl some money to buy his lunch — I think he’s doing alright in this respect thankfully. At some point I need to find and re-post an article I once wrote about the conflation of busking with begging and destitution.
I came across something really cool this morning. It’s a ‘build thread’ (i.e. a forum thread detailing the process of building a bass) by an Israeli builder named Gil Yaron, who hand-builds replicas of what he calls ‘Golden Era’ guitars and basses. I hadn’t seen one of these threads before so it was pretty interesting, and the guy’s attention to detail is just astounding, both as a builder and as a photo-documentarian. On page 5 he even provides a nice interlude detailing the ‘building’ of his breakfast, having just finished hand-winding a pair of pickups.
The end result looks pretty great, but the main value of this is the microscopic level of detail that goes into the building process. Amazing. Here’s the thread.
Great weekend — a day after my lesson with Geoff Chalmers, I went for one with another Leeds-based player, Scott Devine who by all accounts is one of the very best electric bassists in the UK. His website and free video lessons are extremely popular, so when I found out he was based in Leeds I had to go for a lesson in person. We focused on building a consistent technique, listened to a lot of cool stuff and went over some soloing approaches and a few clever tricks. Most of all, it was great to meet someone with so much experience who is still head over heels in love with playing and talking about bass.
The important thing about Scott and Geoff is that neither of them have a dogmatic approach to either technique or theory, so there was no prospect of any overloading or confusion despite having the two lessons back to back. It’s very true that, (paraphrasing George Millard), ‘there are some things you have to be able to do and that’s how it is’, but my two teachers were well aware that the details of how you approach doing those things can vary dramatically to suit each person.
Whether you prefer to think of a G altered scale or an Ab harmonic minor, they’re both good ways to pull off wicked-cool altered licks and impress your friends. It’s important to be able to get the fat, punchy sound that Geoff in particular emphasised to me, but whether you descend by raking or strict finger alternation is down to comfort. Both Geoff and Scott had rock solid technique and focused on giving me ways to develop my own, rather than sticking religiously to the particular details of their techniques. These two are highly recommended!
Recital season at Leeds University is just finishing, and I played on a couple of the jazz ones: George Millard‘s and James Kelsall‘s. Good fun. They all get recorded on one of those handheld recorders, so I’ve grabbed the audio and done a bit of tape-simulated mastering as best I can.
I’ll be putting some more up on my media page soon, but for now here’s a couple from George’s. He put together a septet with Steve Hanley (drums), Aron Kyne (piano), me (bass), Matt Yardley (trumpet), Ben Lowman (bari) and his teacher, Jim Corry (tenor). All of them were great and very generous with their time, and the recital just seemed like a really nice gig. Blues for CT is a Parker blues from Jim Corry’s Tribute to Atlantic Jazz project, and Clinicology is a Phil Woods head over Cherokee, with a Nigel Hitchcock intro stuck on the beginning. Enjoy:
[All the original recital recordings are up at: http://www.personal.leeds.ac.uk/~lecdrhg/final_recitals_summer_2012/]