<![CDATA[bobbysternjazz.com - Blog: B Natural]]>Fri, 19 Aug 2016 10:13:56 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Monk's "Skippy" - The Etude]]>Wed, 17 Aug 2016 12:03:11 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/monks-skippy-the-etudeMonk’s “Skippy” - The Etude Picture
Based on a previous post, which included a breakdown of Thelonious Monk's challenging original, "Skippy", I finally got around to putting together a one chorus, 32 bar "solo style" etude, as a means to decipher ways to navigate the changes of this roller coaster ride of a tune.

Monk's only recording of "Skippy" was from the 1952 Blue Note session that was released as part of "The Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 2", and which included an alternate take of the tune, as well.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, composing an etude for oneself can be extremely beneficial, in that it slows down the improvisational process and allows one to better see, hear and comprehend certain melodic and harmonic connections and how they tend to resolve - or not.

It's kind of like transcribing your own mind.

"Skippy" is, in itself, a study in the usage of dominant 7ths and their tritone substitutions (eg. F#7 for C7), moving around the cycle of fifths, as well as descending chromatically.

As the defining characteristic of a dominant 7th chord is the tritone between its 3rd and b7th (C7 = E & Bb, and its tritone sub; F#7 = A# & E), and being that there are only 2 beats per chord for the bulk of the tune (one beat per chord in measures #25-28), I've included the tritone melodically for each chord, in most cases, usually as part of a 2, 3 or 4 eighth note grouping; of which there are more than a few possibilities.
First of all, check out the pretty colors!

The 3 note shape that makes up the first three dominant chords (D7, G7, C7 concert) is highlighted in yellow in the above graphic. It transposes down chromatically (with slight variations in rhythm) for the first measure and a half, and each chord has a single note placed between its respective tritone.

In the case of the D7, it's a Bb (b13 or +5) between the F# (3) and C (b7) tritone. The symbol for this type of chord usually reads D7+5, referring to an augmented 5th, but I'll stick with b13 this time.

For the next chord, G7, the figure transposes down chromatically, but the root cycles down a perfect 5th. The F becomes the b7 and is on the bottom while its tritone B, is the Maj 3rd and on top. The A, as natural 9th in this case, is placed in between the two.

Had the root also moved down chromatically, in parallel with the rest of the figure, we would have simply had a Db7 (b13), the tritone sub of G7, with the exact same interval relationships as the previous chord.

In measure #2, the 3 note figure again moves down chromatically. The root resolves once more to the next V7 (C7) in the cycle of 5ths. The 3rd (E) is again on the bottom while the b7 (Bb) tritone is on top. The b13 (Ab) is, as before, caught in the middle.

While this 3 note figure could be derived from several scale systems, the most obvious choice would be the whole tone scale (a favorite of Monk's); followed by melodic minor (a favorite of mine). They are both excellent choices for conveying the 7 b13 (or 7+5) sound.

Speaking of melodic minor, the two 4 note groups in measure #3 (purple highlight) which make up Bb7 and A7, are derived from that scale (as well as from the Major scale system). This configuration yields a D Maj 7#11/ Bb, better known as Bb7 #9 b13 (see graphic for note labels), and moves down a half step in parallel (including its root), to A7 #9 b13, the tritone sub of Eb7, the next point in the cycle of 5ths.

The cycle continues chromatically with a descending Ab7 9 arpeggio in measure #4, connecting in anticipation to the b7 (B) of the next cycle point, Db7. The 4 note ascending figure (green highlight) in whole steps (b7-1-2(9)-3, in terms of the root) is an important one, which was often utilized at one point by a well known, former Monk disciple named John Coltrane, as part of his legacy, which became known as "Coltrane Changes".

As previously mentioned, there are more than a few ways to place melodic content in and around a tritone. Some other configurations in this etude are:

b7-1-2-3 (G7) & (F7) meas. #5

3-#4-#5-b7 (Ab7) same as b7-1-2-3 (D7) tritone sub - meas. #7

3-#4-b7-1 (G7) meas.#8

b5-3-1-b7 (F#7) meas.#9

3-2-b7 (E7) meas. #10

b7-6-b7-3 (Ab7 & G7) meas. #11

Can you find any others?

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Bb         C         Eb

Note: The harmonic substitutions in measures 29 & 30 are voiced E-D#-G-B (Eb7+5/ E) and Eb-G-A-Db (Eb7b5) (concert) respectively, each lasting a bar apiece.
Both the melody and harmony from those 2 bars are derived from the E Melodic Minor scale system.
B. Stern
<![CDATA[A Line in Fourths ii-V7 - 027 Trichords]]>Thu, 14 Jul 2016 12:06:36 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/a-line-in-fourths-ii-v7-027-trichordsA Line in Fourths ii-V7 - 027 Trichords
This 4 bar melodic line is built predominantly on the interval of a perfect 4th, wrapped neatly within the confines of various 027 (Major Scale steps 1-2-5) trichords (3 note groupings) and their inversions.

As a technique for melodic and harmonic improvisation, 027s began to show up regularly in the early to mid 1960's in solos and compositions of such pioneers as McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson; Woody, Wayne, Herbie .....y'know; them guys.

The use of the 027 trichord, as a basic melodic unit, was and is a practical way to break free of the standard bebop scalar motif approach. It not only opens the door to a more intervallic melodic line (perfect 4ths, pentatonics), but can easily lead to the creation of an inside-outside (and vice versa) tension and release approach to building improvised and composed melodic lines; not to mention the potential for piquing ones interest in other types of trichord units (013, 025, etc).

First of all, the numerical designations of any trichord are based on the distance, in half steps, ascending from the "root".

Ex: C=0, D=2 (half steps), G=7 (half steps).

In 12 tone parlance, a trichord's inversion is known as a a rotation. Root position (C-D-G) is prime form. First inversion (D-G-C) is called first rotation. Second inversion (G-C-D) is second rotation.

Fair enough?

In this eight bar line, different inversions of 027s are employed over a 4 bar ii-V7-i; with a slight harmonic detour. The time signature is 12/8, which should feel like 4/4 being played in triplets. Tempo:  dotted quarter = 120 bpm.
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The above example demonstrates how this line, consisting of 027s might be harmonized. In this case, I tried descending tritones (dominant 7ths, cycle of 5ths, tritone subs), for the most part, and they seemed to work. In most cases, the bottom note of each chord voicing is the root, which might normally be played by a bassist.

The chord symbols refer to the left hand voicings only and don't take into account the extensions created by the melodic line.

In the second four measures, various eighth notes are replaced with rests. This method of tonal subtraction is an example of how one might break up the potential monotony of a constant stream of eighth notes, and inject the line with a rhythmic life of its own.

Here's a breakdown of the trichords in Measure #1. Remember, "root position" of an 027 is the same as Major Scale steps 1-2-5, with the bottom note determining its so called "key":

A-7       D-A-E desc.   first inversion (rotation)   prime form:  D-E-A

F7b5     F#-B-C#         second inversion              prime form:  B-C#-F#

Bb9  -  This trichord (Ab-Eb-F) is not an 027 (it's an 025). However, if we include the final note of the previous trichord (C#) with the first two of this one, we get C#-Ab-Eb (first inversion of Db-Eb-Ab prime form) trichord. The C# overlaps and is an extension (b13 and #9) to both F7 and Bb7, respectively. This type of anticipation works moving into the next chord, as well: Eb-F-Bb prime form.

Eb7b5  -  Trichord F-Bb-C (second inversion, Bb-C-F) again starts from the final note of the previous group. The trichord under the Eb7 (Bb-C-G) is an 029, but from its second note, it overlaps 027-wise into the next chord D13 (C-G-D descending; prime form C-D-G).

See if you can label the trichords in the next measure? It's as easy as 125 (or 027)!

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Treble Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[A 'Trane Back@sswards - The Cycle of Ascending Major Thirds]]>Mon, 20 Jun 2016 10:41:29 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/a-trane-backsswards-the-cycle-of-ascending-major-thirdsA ‘Trane Back@sswards - The Cycle of Ascending Major Thirds
"Giant Steps, Giant Steps, Giant Steps"! How we love ya! As one of John Coltrane's best known originals, it's been an obstacle course as well as a right of passage for several generations of aspiring improvisers since its recorded inception in 1959.

Despite its notoriety, "Giant Steps" is but one of 9 known Coltrane originals in which he featured, in whole or in part, the Cycle of Descending Major 3rds, aka "Coltrane Changes ("Countdown", "Satellite" and "26-2" are some of the others).

Originally, 'Trane's intended use of this cycle was as a substitution for the more mundane ii-V7 harmonic movement as well as a device, which in his own words, "...would take me out of the ordinary path".

Since the Cycle of Major 3rds uses three key centers and divides the octave into 3 equal parts, regardless of direction (eg. B-G-Eb / descending or B-Eb-G / ascending), this poses a question: What's the difference in the quality and effect of a descending cycle (Coltrane Changes, aka Giant Steps Changes), as opposed to an ascending one?

To ponder this query, let's take a few giant steps back, so that we might get a more cosmic view of the larger picture. Shall we?

First, let's do an aural and visual comparison of the two versions of this cycle, each of which consists of 3 Maj key centers - each a Maj 3rd apart, preceded by its dominant (V7).

Each of the 4 bar piano examples below contains a complete cycle with repeat, with the last two quarter notes of measure #4, in each case, representing a ii-V7 turnaround back to the top. They are presented here at a slow 100 bpm, using basic shell voicings (root, 3rd & 7th), and written an octave up from where they sound for easier reading.

Both examples are in "Giant Steps" key - B concert.

Ex. 1:

Cycle of Descending Major 3rds (aka "Giant Steps" changes or "Coltrane Changes"):
                                           B Maj  D7 / G Maj  Bb7 / Eb Maj  F#7 / B Maj

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The root movement in the above example goes "up a minor 3rd, down a 5th" (octave displacement due to contrary motion notwithstanding) measure by measure. This translates, unsurprisingly, to 3 Maj chords, descending by a Maj 3rd, preceded by their dominants (V7).

That's the basis for "Giant Steps", "Countdown", "Satellite", etc. But you knew that already, right!?

While an understanding of the root movement can be important, thinking of each chord as its own, separate harmonic entity can give one the impression that there's more here to navigate than there really is.

Because the dominant chord on beats 3 & 4 of each measure and the tonic chord on beats 1 & 2 of the following measure are V7 - I to the same key, there are really only 3 harmonic entities (key centers) to deal with rather than 6.

With this in mind, it becomes much easier to create basic digital (as in fingers, not 1s & 0s) patterns and arpeggios, as Coltrane did, which cover both the dominant and tonic chords and treat them as a harmonic pair. This holds true for both cycles (Ex 3 & 4).

Ex. 2:
Cycle of Ascending Major 3rds:
                                     B Maj  Bb7 / Eb Maj  D7 / G Maj  F#7 / B Maj

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In the example of the "NOT Giant Steps" Cycle of Ascending Maj 3rds above (Ex. 2), the root movement is down a half step, down a 5th (or up a 4th). The order in which the key centers in measures 2 & 3 (Eb & G) appear are now reversed from that in the descending cycle (Ex. 1).

Upon listening to Ex. 2, one's initial reaction might be, "...kinda sounds & feels like "Giant Steps", but...it's different!"; which would be a pretty fair assessment. It's still a Maj 3rd cycle, only the direction has changed; with the obvious difference being in the route taken - low road vs. high road, so to speak.

One thing comes to mind here. Because the Descending Maj 3rd Cycle (Ex. 1) has, what in a classical sense might be considered as being the "stronger" root movement of the two, it's probably no surprise that John Coltrane chose the descending version of the cycle over the ascending one (Ex. 2) for his "device". I think it would be safe to assume that he was well aware of both versions, and he made his choice.

That's not to say that the ascending cycle can't be just as interesting or useful. To the contrary, I feel that its possibilities are definitely worthy of further investigation and exploration, don't you?

Besides direction, another important difference between these two examples is, in each case, the different possibilities for connecting the Maj. and dominant chords melodically in each measure.

To illustrate this difference, the line in the example of your basic "Giant Steps" formula below (Ex. 3) uses a 'Trane-like digital 1-2-3-5 pattern for the tonic Major key and chord (B Maj), for the first 2 beats of measure #1; followed by the dominant (D7) of the new key a Major 3rd lower (G Maj) in bar #2. The 5-4-3-2 numerical annotation refers to scale steps of the new key, and not its dominant, which resolves neatly back to the tonic (G - scale step 1).

This pattern repeats itself for the next 2 measures (the new key centers being G and Eb) with measure #4 being a ii-V7 turnaround, prolonging the movement back to B Maj in measure #1. Coltrane would usually have a ii-V here leading into a different set of key centers ("Satellite", "Giant Steps", "26-2", etc.).

Ex. 3:

Translating, or transposing that formula to the Ascending Cycle works out just fine, as in the example below (Ex. 4) as well as the download.

The connection points between the Maj and dominant chords are different in each cycle - notes F# & D connect chords B & D7 in measure#1 of Ex. 3 (descending cycle) - while at the same spot in Ex. 4 (ascending cycle), notes F# & Bb connect chords B & Bb7. Notice that both connection points are intervals of a Maj 3rd - one descending, the other ascending.

This basic, symmetrical melodic pattern is just the tip of the iceberg of melodic possibilities. It outlines the harmony and connects the key centers easily. It may not be something you'd use all the way through if you were actually improvising, but as an exercise, it's an excellent way to get this cycle into your ears, brain,  and under your fingers.

Ex. 4:

Ok! So now that you've seen, heard, and got a whiff of both the Descending and Ascending versions of the Maj 3rd cycle, you might be asking yourself, "What's the purpose!?", or "I have enough trouble playing "Giant Steps", why do I need to add this to my headaches?"

My answer to the first question, which applies to the second as well, is that one needs to be reminded once again of Coltrane's original intention for this cycle; which was as a substitution and enhancement device for the garden variety ii-V7-I chord progression. Being fluent in both of these cycles (and others, as well) will only increase your options and open up new avenues of discovery.

To the second question, I would answer simply; put the tune "Giant Steps", to the side for the time being! Focus on learning it's main element, the Cycle of Maj 3rds, descending and ascending, and the universe will open up and "Giant Steps" truths will reveal themselves to you in abundance!

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Treble Clef                Bass Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Shape Up! - A Melodic Minor ii-V7 Shape]]>Sun, 22 May 2016 17:57:38 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/shape-up-a-melodic-minor-ii-v7-shapeShape Up! - A Melodic Minor ii-V7 Shape Picture
Here's a four bar Melodic Minor ii-V7 "shape" that will get and keep you in shape - and you don't even need to join a gym, Jim!

The simplicity and symmetry of this little shape make for a perfect warmup type exercise, especially when taken through all the keys.

If you're looking for a way to familiarize yourself with the sound and feel of a Melodic Minor ii-V (using two different Melodic Minor scales), right here might not be a bad place to start.

As with the vast majority of exercises on this blog, you'll find it transposed to all 12 keys. Here, each key is presented in a pair of four bar phrases - the first in continuous eighth notes (first 2 bars); the second broken up a bit by replacing certain notes with rests, thus introducing an element of rhythmic tension and release to the line.

Adding a suggested left hand piano voicing was done originally for my own edification (I am definitely a non-pianist). As with the line itself, the left hand comping rhythm varies between the first and second four bars - the first 4 is in whole notes; the second 4 broken up rhythmically to compliment the line itself, as well as to add a further rhythmic dimension.

                                                                         Take a look:

                                                                        Have a Listen:
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The basic melodic breakdown goes something like this:

Line #1, measure #1ii - E-7b5 - G Melodic Minor (E Locrian ♮2, hence the F#).

Line #1, measure #2V7 - A7alt - Bb Melodic Minor (A altered - b7 = G, b9 = Bb, b13 = F, root = A, b7 = G, b5 = Eb, 3 = Db (C#), b13 = F)

Line #1, measures #3 & 4I or i - resolves to D..., but D what? If you take a look at the left hand voicing D-A-B-C# (with an E in the melody), you'll notice that the 3rd, either Major or minor (F# or F), has been omitted; so you be the judge. It's purposely meant to be ambiguous here, in order to work with both Maj. & min. melodic material.

In making a comparison of the line between bars #1 & #2 (the ii & V chords), we notice that while both phrases are not exactly symmetrical in their comparative interval relationships, they're virtually identical in regards to their shape. The directions and numerical values of the intervals are all the same; the differences lie only in their qualities (i.e., Maj. vs. min. 2nds and 3rds). Check it out.

Meas. #1 - M3-P4-m3-m2-M3-m2-m3
Meas. #2 - m3-P4-M3-M2-M3-M2-M3

Except for the second and fifth intervals of each measure, all the other interval qualities are reversed. The fact that in measure #2, the altered dominant (altered scale) pattern begins a minor third lower than in bar #1, might have something to do with this phenomenon.

For those of you who are familiar with using different Melodic Minor scales over a ii-7b5 and a V7alt (The Melodic Minor Handbook), a common trick is to transpose exactly what's played on the ii chord, up a min. 3rd to the V. This creates a true symmetrical relationship between the the two phrases, with all their intervals being exactly the same in each case.

In this case, though, starting the second Melodic Minor phrase a minor 3rd lower creates an almost complete inverse interval relationship of sorts.

Kinda gives ya goose bumps, doesn't it?!

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                                                                          Treble Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Playin' the Angles! - An Angular, Intervallic ii-V7-I Line]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 11:01:11 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/playin-the-angles-an-angular-intervallic-ii-v7-i-linePlayin' the Angles!
An Angular, Intervallic ii-V7-I Line

Picture"Angular" by Stephen Younts
This nifty little 4 bar ii-V7 line is based on a somewhat angular shape, which is almost identical for both the ii and the V chords.

The line's angularity is due to the absence of any consecutive 2nds (Maj. or min.), with the bulk of its interval content being comprised of different qualities of 3rds and 4ths.

This, however, is not a line built on a four or five note scale. Rather, the ii chord contains 6 out of the 7 diatonic note choices from the dorian mode, while the V7 contains all 7 from Melodic Minor (altered scale).

One of the beauties of this line lies in observing how, while moving from the ii to the V7, the scale tones become altered on the dominant side, while the integrity of its shape remains intact.

Using Line #1 as an example: G-7 / C7alt / F / F | (your basic ii-V7-I with an altered dominant).

The time signature is 12/8, felt as 4 dotted quarters (same as a 4/4 triplet feel). Each measure is comprised of four 3 note groupings.

In Line #1, measure #1, groups 1, 2 & 4 are inversions of 027 trichords (Maj. scale steps 1-2-5); the exception being group 2, which is a root position min. triad.  A trichord is a three note grouping defined by the distance, in semitones between each note, from its root, which is "0" to the other two member tones.

eg.: F = 0, G = 2, C = 7. If we were to put the F on top (G-C-F, ie. two P4ths) we have a first inversion 027 trichord, which happens to be the initial grouping in measure #1.

It's possible to build 5 different 027 trichords from a Major Scale. In F Maj:

F-G-C,  G-A-D,  Bb-C-F,  C-D-G,  D-E-A. The highlighted bottom notes spell out a Bb Pentatonic Scale (IV Mode). In a Major Scale, the relationship between P4s (of which there are 6), 027s (5), and Maj. Pentatonics (3) is intertwined & inescapable (like white on rice; spots on dice, etc.).

Intervallically and directionally, measure #1 also looks like this:

     up: P4 - P4 | down: m3 - M3 - m3 | up: P4 | down: M2 - P4 - m3 | up: P5 | down: M2 / m3

Line #1, measure #2 is based on a C# Melodic Minor scale (C7alt), and all seven note possibilities
are present.

Melodic Minor - and therefore the altered scale - has a unique interval make-up consisting of four P4s, a pair of tritones, and a diminished 4th (which sounds and functions, in most cases, as a Maj. 3rd).

Because of this, the harmonically neutral 027 trichord does not really capture the sound of an altered dominant 7th chord, even though the Melodic Minor system has 3 of them.

eg. C# Melodic Minor (measure #2) - C#-D#-G#,  F#-G#-A#,  G#-A#-D#. So, no 027s here my friends!

Here is the interval breakdown for bar #2 (C7alt):

      up: #4 - P4 | down: m3 - M3 - M3 | up: P4 | down: M2 - M3 - M2 | up: P4 | down: M2 / up: m3

Here's measure #1 once more for a side by side comparison:
     (up: P4 - P4 | down: m3 - M3 - m3 | up: P4 | down: M2 - P4 - m3 | up: P5 | down: M2 / m3)

I count 5 small interval changes (4 by half step; 1 by whole) and 1 directional change. The shape lives on!

Here's how the 4 bars might look when stacked vertically (with the b5 omitted from the dominant):

              G-7                                 C7alt                               F Maj7 #11

This line feels good when played at ca. dotted quarter = 120 bpm (quarter note = 180).
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Treble Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Korner Karnataka #7 - Melakarta #45 - Shubhapantuvarali]]>Tue, 15 Mar 2016 10:39:22 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/korner-karnataka-7-melakarta-45-shubapantavaraliA Little Shubhap in Your BeBop?
Melakarta #45 - Shubhapantuvarali

In this post we'll take a look at Melakarta #45 - Shubhapantuvarali (that's shoo-bop pahn-too-vah-rahlly....no really!). "Shubhap" (for short) has the same tonal DNA as another Melakarta, namely, #36 - Chalanata, which is the subject of an earlier post. It might be helpful to check that out for some pertinent background info, as well as any of the other posts in this category (hey, why not? - they're FreeB's).

Due to the process known as graha bedham, which changes the śruti, or tonic, of a scale (Melakarta) to a different note within that scale, Melas #36 and #45 have the same tonal makeup, with each containing the exact same interval relationships. Only the starting point is different in each case.

This is the same type of relationship found between, for example, the Major scale and any of its modes (Dorian, Phrygian, etc.) - same 7 scale tones; different tonic.

As with the other posts on the subject, the objective here is to investigate the usage of these Carnatic (South Indian) Melakartas (there are 72 in all), as one would treat any 7 note western scale - as a melodic improvisational tool.

Shubhap (#45) can be thought as being formed from the 3rd scale step of Mela #36 (Chalanata). Conversely, the tonic of Chalanata can be found on the 6th scale step of Shubhap.

Each scale, however,  has it's own distinct "soul", with Shubhab having, decidedly, the darker vibe of the two; similar to Mixolydian vs. Locrian, for example, in a modal sense.

In actuality, its tonal layout - 1-b2-b3-#4 5-b6-7-8, would equate this Mela to a Phrygian #4, 7, in western terms. The b3, #4 and the resulting diminished triad from the root - helps to give this scale its dark, brooding and mysterious quality.

Referring to the keyboard graphic on the right, the tritone between scale steps 1 & #4; as well as a full Ab7#9, make for a possible bVI7 - V7 - i harmonic movement.

Although lacking a tritone, the V7 (G7 in C) could theoretically come from the scale tones G (root), Ab (b9), B (3), C (11), Db (b9), & Eb (b13).

The 8 two bar melodic phrases on page 2 of the download are but a few possibilities as to how this Mela might be used melodically in this type of improvisational setting.

It's always fun to practice with a drone. Download these shruti box drone tones, or stream them online.

Shubhap! And ya don't stop!

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Treble Clef               Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[JoHen Tunes Up "Night & Day" - Joe Henderson's Reharm & Solo Transcription]]>Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:52:02 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/johen-tunes-up-night-day-joe-hendersons-reharm-solo-transcriptionJoHen Tunes Up "Night & Day"
Joe Henderson's Reharmonization and Solo Transcription

PictureJoe Henderson w/ Horace Silver in France- July, 1964
Joe Henderson's tenor saxophone solo on his reharmonized version of Cole Porter's "Night & Day" (downloadable transcription below), was recorded for the Blue Note label at Rudy Van Gelder's studio (where else!) in Engewood Cliffs, NJ on Nov. 30th, 1964, ten days before John Coltrane recorded "A Love Supreme" in the same studio.

"Night & Day" would be the final track on the "B" side of the original vinyl LP "Inner Urge", Henderson's fourth as a leader for Blue Note; and featured then current Coltrane Quartet members McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones on piano and drums respectively; as well as Bob Cranshaw, who was pretty much Blue Note's house bassist at the time

The album "Inner Urge" was titled after the now classic Henderson original and the subject of an earlier post. Both the tune and the album are iconic examples of '60's compositional, harmonic and improvisational innovations.

PictureA stamp for JoHen?
At this early juncture of his career, Joe was a busy man; having not only recorded 3 of his own albums as a leader for Blue Note during the preceding year and a half, but having also appeared on at least a dozen albums as a sideman for Blue Note during that period; including the "hit" recordings of Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder" and Horace Silver's "Song for My Father". Henderson also became a regular member of Silver's quintet that Spring; a gig that would last nearly two years.

As guitarist Tim Fischer pointed out in his excellent post on the subject of Henderson's reharm of "Night & Day", Joe's choice of that tune for this session was unique because it turned out to be the only standard he recorded on any of his 5 albums for Blue Note.

Interestingly, Fischer points out composer Cole Porter's frequent use of a ii-V7-I harmonic substitution based on the b6th degree of the parent key at the start of several of his best known standards.

All of You” (iv min. - I), “I Love You”, “What is This Thing Called Love” (ii-7b5 - V7 - I), and “Night & Day” (bVI Maj7 - V7 - I) all use some version of this substitution, which includes Maj. or minor chords with roots in the same diminished triad as the b6.

He also notes how the b6 Maj7 creates a Maj. 3rd key relationship to the home key, reminiscent of Coltrane's use of the  "Cycle of Descending Major Thirds", better known as "Coltrane Changes".

In Henderson's version and key, that translates to:

Bb Maj7 / A7 / D Maj7 / C-7 F7 // Bb Maj7 /

The Maj. 3rd relationship (in Henderson's case Bb and D Maj), had already been established by Cole Porter in his original version. Henderson simply inserted a ii-V7 (C-7 F7) in measure #4 in order to take it back to Bb in bar #5, thus creating a true descending Maj. 3rd (Coltrane Change) movement.

Fischer points out that Henderson does not complete the Maj. 3rd cycle which would temporarily modulate into Gb Maj.  Although he cites examples between Henderson's reharm and Coltrane's "Countdown", it has seemed to me that Henderson's "Night & Day" might have more in common with the tune from which "Countdown" was derived; namely, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson's "Tune Up". 

Tune Up (meas. #13-16):
E-7       /    F7         /  BbM7       / A7     /

Henderson's  "Night & Day" (meas. #13-16)
E-7 A7  /  C-7  F7  /  BbM7 A7  / DM7 F7 /

Coltrane's "Countdown" (meas. #-1-4)
E-7 F7 / BbM7 Db7 / GbM7 A7 / DM7

Except for the last measure and a half, Henderson's 4 bar turnaround in bars #13-16 of "Night & Day" is close to an exact match with the corresponding 4 measures of "Tune Up". Joe added the V7 (of D) in the second half of the first bar and the ii-7 (of Bb) in the first half of the second, establishing a 2 beat per chord harmonic rhythm, a la "Countdown".

Henderson then shifts the A7 (V7 of D), originally in measure #16, to the last 2 beats of the preceding bar, resolving up a Maj 3rd (from Bb) to the tonic D Maj for the first 2 beats of bar #16, only to descend back down a Maj 3rd to Bb Maj via 2 beats of F7, its dominant, to begin the second "A" section.

As mentioned previously, Henderson's reharm never moves to Gb, which would complete a full descending Maj. 3rd cycle.

What's curious here is that both tunes are in the same not often played key of D Maj (E Maj for the tenor saxophone). The original key for "Night & Day" is the very common key of Eb Maj concert (tenor key F).

Why then, did JoHen choose D Maj, of all keys; the same key as "Tune Up"?

My guess is that he saw the inherent Maj. 3rd harmonic relationships in both the last 4 bars of "Tune Up", as well as the aforementioned in "Night & Day", and made the necessary harmonic and key change adjustments to successfully fuse the two.

Just a thought!

Anyway, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's take a look at the solo.

One of the most notable features of Joe Henderson's playing of this period was his use of "sequencing", whereby he would repeat a short melodic shape and / or rhythmic motif, and take it through a set of harmonic changes.

Joe wasted no time here, as he jumped right in at bar #3 with a descending figure, mainly in 3rds, bouncing lithely and tap dancing through several key centers thru bar #8.

What could be the most memorable, singable (danceable?), etc. part of the solo, comes at the end of the second "A" section of Joe's 2nd chorus, from bars #73 thru #79.  It includes the 4 bar descending min. & dim 7ths as well as the previously mentioned turnaround.

What makes this section so musically satisfying, is that he not only maintains the melodic shape over the changing harmonies, but slight variations in rhythmic placement make it a living statement.

Sweet, indeed!

After McCoy's piano solo, in bars #258 - 263, Henderson arpeggiates descending diatonic 7th chords against the changing harmonies; accenting rhythmically, along with Elvin, and against the pulse.

These are just a few of the things, 50-plus years after the fact, that still make Joe's solo here, as well as the whole album, a timeless gem.

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Bb       Concert       Eb
B. Stern
<![CDATA[A Cool Tonic for Your PentaUp b6]]>Thu, 14 Jan 2016 13:25:41 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/a-cool-tonic-for-your-pentaup-b6A Cool Tonic for Your PentaUp b6
Here's another in a series of Pentatonic lines aimed at stomping out the flames "Vitamin" b6 deficiency.

It's not supposed to be some sort of "snake oil" remedy you can sip on or chug down (although that could be hip), or some magic potion you could pour in your ear, so you might be able to "hear the music before it comes", a la Eddie Harris (which would be even hipper).

What it is, in fact, is another way of hearing and approaching a common 4 bar minor ii-V7-i cadence, using 3 Melodic Minor derived Pentatonic b6s, employing the "ACE" method, as described in a recent post.

All things considered, it's tried and true pretty hip, too

PictureA melodic minor (she's just 17)
If you've been reading some of my posts for a while, you might get the impression that I'm fixated on this Penta b6 thing. You could be right!

However, it's not really intentional. It just happens that I often hit upon certain ideas and relationships while in the shed that both sound fresh (to my ears, anyway) as well as pique my curiosity from an intellectual and theoretical standpoint.
In any case, this Penta b6 exercise is a result of that, and it makes as good a subject for another blog post as anything else I can think of at the moment.

So here goes.

The first thing you might notice about each 4 measure line is the time signature, 9/8; which is really the same as if it were 3/4 and the eighth notes were being played as triplets. This way, the page isn't being cluttered with tiny 3s above each of the note groupings.

The Penta b6 is derived from the 5-6-7-9-b3 scale degrees of Melodic Minor
(G Penta b6 = G-A-B-D-Eb = C-D-Eb-F-G-A-B = C Melodic Minor)

A quicker way to arrive at the same conclusion is to take a Maj. pentatonic and flat its 5th degree (Maj. 6th from the root - CDEGA becomes CDEGAb); however understanding it's Melodic Minor derivation is crucial.

As far as the ACE method is concerned; since I don't think I can explain it any better than I already have, I think I'll "plagiarize" myself just this one time (hopefully).

"ACE" refers here to the 3 different Melodic Minor keys used in a 4 bar minor ii-V-i resolving to E min. (ii: F#-7b5 / V: B7alt /i:  E- / E-), where: F#-7b5 = A Melodic Minor / B7alt = C Melodic Minor / E- = E Melodic Minor (see line #9 of this downloadable exercise).

Since Melodic Minor has no "avoid notes", we can therefore use any combination of notes from that Melodic Minor scale / key, including any of its native pentatonics.

In this case, those Pentatonic b6s would be:

F#-7b5 = A Melodic Minor = E Penta b6 (E-F#-G#-B-C)
B7alt = C Melodic Minor = G Penta b6 (G-A-B-D-Eb)
E- = E Melodic Minor = B Penta b6 (B-C#-D#-F#-G)

where the letter names of the Penta b6s would rightfully be a perfect 5th above those of their respective melodic Minor "keys".

In terms of Line #1 of the exercise below, that would translate to:

D-7b5 = F Melodic Minor = C Penta b6 (C-D-E-G-Ab)
G7alt = Ab Melodic Minor = Eb Penta b6 (Eb-F-G-Bb-Cb)
C- = C Melodic Minor = G Penta b6 (G-A-B-D-Eb)

While the letters of the Melodic Minor keys don't spell ACE anymore, the result (FAbC, in this case) always spells out the name of a minor triad.

Each measure contains all 5 notes belonging to that particular Pentatonic b6.

It's highly recommended to practice this, as well as any other exercise on this blog, with some type of play along (Aebersold, Band in a Box, iReal,etc.). If you can, play along with just a simple bass line (or just the roots), to best hear and get a feel for how the line moves against the ii-V.

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Treble Clef              Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Korner Karnataka #6 - Melakarta #36 - Chalanata]]>Fri, 11 Dec 2015 17:07:52 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/korner-karnataka-6-melakarta-36-chalanataMela Down Easy With #36

I recently stumbled upon this scale, not quite knowing if it belonged to the 72 scale South Indian Carnatic Melakarta family or not. I discovered that it was, in fact  #36 - Chalanata, the sixth ragam of the sixth chakra, or group of six, and is from the same chakra as the subject of an earlier post, #31 - Yagapryia.

Checking it out from a Western point of view as a tool for improvisational vocabulary, which is my main intention; Chalanata is a seven note symmetrical scale; the two tetrachords being built off of the exact same interval scheme.

C - D# - E - F  /  G - A# - B - C

1 1/2    1/2   1/2       1    1 1/2    1/2    1/2

The sound of Chalanata should already be pretty familiar to many, as 5 of its seven scale tones form a much used minor pentatonic scale:

In C: C - D# - F -
G - A# = C minor pentatonic (aka 5th mode of Eb Maj. pentatonic).

The "soul" of this scale, however, lies in its inclusion of both Maj. & min. 3rds and 7ths, which create some further pentatonic possibilities; eg.:

D# Penta b2 = D#-E-G-A#-C (also found in the diminished scale)

D# Penta b6 = D#-F-G-A#-B (also found in Ab Melodic Minor)

As each of these two pentatonics contains a tritone (E-A# & F-B), some kind of V-I harmonic resolution could be implied in each case.

It's inherent triads, built in thirds are C Maj., C min., D# Maj., D# aug., E min. & E dim.

Because of this scale's interval layout, the common tone among all these triads turns out to be "G" in each case; which means that there are no mutually exclusive triad pairs available in Chalanata.

One of the more interesting
aspects of the Melakarta system of scales is the phenomenon of graha bedham; which shifts the tonal center (root) of a scale to another note of that same scale, while retaining its original notes and interval make up; similar to the Western modal system (D dorian, E phrygian, F lydian, etc. in C Maj.).

A certain set of criteria must
be met in order for for a scale to be considered a legit member of the 72 scale Melakarta family. However, many very different sounding and intriguing scales, legit or not, can be formed by this method.

In the case of Chalanata,
if we take the same 7 notes and hear "E" as the root (and "B" as the 5th) of the scale, we get Mela #45 -
Shubhapantuvarali, which creates a whole different vibe and atmosphere, but nevertheless, very hip and mysterious.

Chalanata, in all it's forms, is a beautiful scale, familiar yet exotic, which lays easily on the ears and in  the fingers and contains an inherently sophisticated, yet funky, bluesy quality.

Cha-la-nata! Sounds kind of "creamy"!

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   (3 Pages)
Treble Clef                     Bass Clef

Before performing the Chalanata ragam, Dr. Pantula Rama, explains its structure and note names, and that the more popular method of performing this scale is through it's offshoot janya raga, known as Nata, which omits the notes "da" & "ga" (Bb & E, in C) while descending the scale.
This video is evidence that MF was hip to Chalanata back in the '70s. This is a pretty cool arrangement, in a Las Vegas-y sort of way.
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Back to the Future 'Trane - Transcription of John Coltrane's 1954 Solo on "In a Mellow Tone"]]>Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:29:41 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/november-16th-2015Back 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.

The first thing that should be apparent to anyone listening to this recording is: "Ain't no bebop bein' played here!". The rhythmic pulse of this music is of the Ellington and Armstrong era: quarter note bounce; swinging and danceable.

Coltrane, who almost certainly grew up hearing Ellington's music, and so was intimately familiar with it, was originally a Charlie Parker inspired alto saxophonist, switching to tenor more or less for good in 1949 or '50, while as a member of the big bands and small groups of one of bebop's co-founders', Dizzy Gillespie.

So it's like pre-Bird meets post-Bird; and in the middle.....no-Bird!

Also importantly, leading up to his tenure with Hodges, 'Trane was the tenor saxophonist with popular Rhythm & Blues (the original R 'n' B) saxophonist, Earl Bostic, for which Coltrane had great respect.

The saxophone, alto and tenor, was the main solo instrument in R 'n' B and pop music, before the advent and popularity of the electric guitar in the next decade. This is notable because 1950s R & B is in unmistakeable evidence in Coltrane's approach here.

So it's against this backdrop that Coltrane's solo on "In a Mellotone" takes place.

Coltrane takes the third solo, behind Hodges and Shorty Baker. Both solo's are swing era in style and content; Hodges' typically lithe and bouncy and Baker hitting you with his melodic and rhythmic inventiveness, blues, growl and a timely placed quote from Khachaturian's, "The Sabre Dance".

Enter Coltrane, who comes on like the "Tenor Player Who Fell to Earth"; heralding things to come. The first thing you notice, as always, is his presence. His sound is big and robust with his familiar edge; evident even though the recording quality is less than one might be used to by today's standards. Also evident is his typical sense of urgency and insistency in his phrases.

His vocal sounding "hoy, hoy"
on the "high G" of the tenor saxophone in bars 12 and 13 induce the shivers.

For me, the beauty of this chorus is in its relative simplicity
and in the way 'Trane outlines each chord change. Then there are, of course, the intangibles (tone, nuance, etc.) that made anything Coltrane did greater than the sum of its parts.

I think they call that "soul".

This is a very singable chorus and not
that technically challenging. It's a fun solo to memorize, study and try to emulate. It's taught me how certain basic chordal structures can sound really great in the right context.

It's also fun to realize that this is the same guy who, less than 5 years later, gave the world "Giant Steps", and then "A Love Supreme" some 5 years after that.

Space", anyone?

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Bb                Concert                Eb

This video is of the complete album. "In a Mellotone" starts at ca. 9:13
Coltrane's solo starts at ca. 13:10

B. Stern