<![CDATA[bobbysternjazz.com - Blog: B Natural]]>Wed, 30 Jul 2014 02:02:43 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Melomina's Delight - Minor Tonic to Dominant (i - V7alt)]]>Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:45:18 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/07/melominas-delight-minor-tonic-to-dominant-i-v7alt.htmlMelomina's Delight - Minor Tonic to Dominant (i - V7alt)
PicturePrincess Melomina von Melodicus
This minor Tonic - Dominant (i - V7alt) exercise is the third in a series, and works in tandem, more or less with the posts from 02/25/2014 and 03/10/2014.

Checking them out, particularly the former, might not be a bad idea

The premise of all three exercises is to familiarize oneself with Melodic Minor, both technically and aurally, over a basic minor i - V7 cadence; which as explained in the first post, happens to be the first eight bars of the well known and oft played standard, "Softly As In a Morning Sunrise".

As in the first post, this exercise utilizes all 7 diatonic scale tones of the D and Bb Melodic Minor scales, alternately; D MM for the tonic (i) D min. chord and Bb MM for the altered dominant (V7alt) A7alt chord, each lasting a measure apiece.

The difference here is that the scales are laid out in directionally alternating diatonic 3rds; ascending / descending, etc., in an ascending direction and descending / ascending on the way back down.

This exercise should be viewed and practiced as a collection of two bar phrases with repeats (Note: Bars 2 & 8 should have repeat signs at the end).

Some of these 2 bar` phrases can be used as interesting alternatives to the normal stuff one might play over these chords. If nothing else, this exercise will help your chops and expand your vocabulary once internalized.

Note: When playing along to a tune like "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise", bear in mind that this exercise is in Bb Tenor key, which is D minor (C minor concert).
Download PDF
Treble Clef             Bass Clef (Concert)
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Chops Duster! - Fingerbuster!]]>Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:06:20 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/07/chops-duster-fingerbuster.htmlChops Duster! - Fingerbuster!
Picture"Hey look Ma......! It really works!!"
Contrary to the condition of the gent's digits in the picture below, this is a mild version of a "fingerbuster" (I'm not referring to the Jelly Roll Morton composition of the same name).

A "fingerbuster" could be considered as an instrumentalist's version of a "tongue-twister" which is usually defined as a group of words, or a phrase, that is considered to be difficult to execute.

While the degree of difficulty
varies with both the phrase and the ability of the practitioner, constant repetition, in any case,  at a slowed down tempo, usually serves to iron undo the knots before gradually bringing it back up to speed.

This particular "finger-twister" appeared out of the blue recently while I was doing my saxophonistic due diligence, and it gave me "the finger".

You might feel differently.

The pattern here is deceptively simple:

Two measures and 4 groups of eighth notes, consisting of 3-b7-8-3, 4-b7-8-4, 5-b7-8-5, 4-b7-8-4

This configuration has a basic mixolydian dominant 7 - sus 7 - sound, in and of itself. Like most "finger-twisters", there is repetition involved, with scale steps 3 - 4 & 5 moving back and forth against steps b7 - 8, which remain constant as the second two notes within each 4 note grouping.

As the level of difficulty probably varies with the instrument involved (guitarists, keyboardists, bassists, trombonists, as well as trumpeters), I'd suggest starting out at a "slow enough" tempo (whatever that might mean to you) and gradually increase the speed each time you play the 2 bar phrase, say,  4 times without a mistake, and feel comfortable with it.

Then, move on to the next key, which is presented here in ascending chromatic order.

Once you've straightened out a few knuckles, try altering some of the notes.

For example, make scale step 4 a #4 (Lydian Dominant). Change scale step b7 to a natural 7.


Dust 'em, don't bust 'em!
   Download PDF
Treble Clef                     Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[BRANCHER-FRANCE TSG Tenor Saxophone Play - Test]]>Fri, 04 Jul 2014 09:41:33 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/07/brancher-france-tsg-tenor-saxophone-play-test.htmlBRANCHER-FRANCE
TSG Tenor Saxophone Play - Test

I am taking this opportunity to happily announce here that I am now a proud endorser for BRANCHER-FRANCE Saxophones.

I had the good fortune of meeting Msr. Pascal Brancher, Mr. BRANCHER-FRANCE himself, maker of fine saxophones and accessories, in March 2014 at the Frankfurter Musikmesse (Frankfurt Music Fair).

The Brancher stand was located directly across the isle from the Bari Woodwinds booth  (manned by Jim Cavanaugh and Ron van Ostenbridge) whose Bari Hybrid mouthpiece and synthetic reeds I have been playing exclusively and endorsing for a number of years, going back to the days of the company's founder, the late Wolfe Taninbaum.

So meeting "the Branchers" was kind of like meeting the people next door.  I had never even heard of the Brancher brand before this, so I was certainly not familiar with their line of horns.

The short of it is; that after 2 days of checking out all the major  (and minor) saxophone names  (eg. Cannonball, P. Mauriat, Keilwerth, whom I formerly endorsed, Antigua Winds , Inderbinnen and Yanigasawa), I realized that the theretofore unheard of Brancher tenor, compared favorably in every way to any of the just mentioned names.

First off, the low register response is amazing. The production of sub-tone, in the lower half octave (E - Bb) is much easier and more responsive than on either my Keiwerth SX 90R or 66xxx Series Mark VI.

To that effect, Pascal Brancher explains that, "
The low register response, as well as the rest of the registers, is enhanced & improved by the special "cymbal like" shape of the resonators. Their larger diameters help in that regard as well.

Each horn comes with 2 necks, with either one or two ring markings engraved a the base.

Since we started designing saxophones in 2007", says Brancher, "we've made & tested a lot of different necks. At least two of them were really amazing, so we kept them and include them both with each saxophone.

One ring engraved on the neck normally gives more depth of tone. Phrasing & legato are also easier. Two engraved rings normally gives a bit more volume, brightness and bite.

Since we started marketing these horns in 2008, we've had saxophonists who've preferred either or.....so we continue to deliver horns with both."

In my experience with the horn so far, the differences between the two
necks are very subtle. For the play-test examples below, I'm using the 1 ring neck.

More info can, of course, be found on the Brancher-France website.

As I consider myself to be a saxophone "player", rather than a sax "tech buff", or "connoisseur collector", etc..(I've tightened a few screws and even changed a pad or two in my day), all this talk about neck rings and shiny pearls and things, might pretty much as well be in Taiwanese to me; which incidentally, as you may already know, is where the basic manufacturing for Brancher-France saxophones is done (with customizing and modifications done at Brancher-France World HQs in
Champforgeuil, France). Taiwan is also where the manufacturing of every one of the brands mentioned above is done, with the exception of Keilwerth (Germany), Yanagisawa (Japan) and Inderbinnen (Switzerland).

Of course, we cannot forget, "ze good ol' Sel-merrr" (Pah-reee, naturellement)!

So now that we know that Taiwan seems to be the spot, it really doesn't mean blip to me, in this "global NWO" economy, where these horns are manufactured!

The question is: How do they play? How do they sound?

All I can give you here is my own humble offerings via "aural evidence" of my actual recordings with the BRANCHER-FRANCE TSG tenor saxophone, which I think is no less than a spectacular horn.

Give it a listen. You be the judge!

The demos I present below, coming to you from the sound in the clouds, are from three different
  sub-styles, common in a saxophonists repertoire; straight eighths, ballad, and medium tempo swing.  All three tunes feature myself on the Brancher-France TSG Tenor.

The results are a happy combination of the "Killer B's", Bari, Brancher....and Bobby!

Track 1- The playback track I'm using here for this demo of Wes Montgomrey's "Road Song" is from Hal Leonard Jazz Play-a-Long Vol. 50 "Great Jazz Classics".  It features an excellent rhythm section and is a funky, bluesy classic.

Track 2 - This is my attempt at unaccompanied solo saxophone (which is a work in progress);  Mal Waldron's classic ballad "Soul Eyes". I used to see Mal all the time back in the day when I lived in Munich, Germany, and at the time, really had no idea about the man's history and accomplishments. This is dedicated to Mal and all the questions I would probably bug him with now.

I used` a room mic and tried for the most natural dry sound I could get.

Track 3 - The backing track I'm using here for this demo of "Monk's Dream" is from Hal Leonard Jazz Play-a-Long Vol. 90 "Thelonious Monk Classics".  This is an awesome volume, along with Vol. 91, of Monk classics; especially if you might not have access to a great (or even good) rhythm section, that can play Monk well. This can be pure gold for you.

The Trio here features: Renowned veteran Ronnie Mathews - piano (who does an incredibly authentic "Monk"); Ben Riley- drums (Monk's drummer throughout the 60's); and Kiyoshi Kitagawa- bass.

These two volumes are a must have for anyone who wants to learn and practice Monk tunes.

So to sum up: I'm really happy with this Brancher Tenor.  When I first got it, it had a much different "feel" than the Keilwerth SX-90R that I've been playing for the past 18 years. I was concerned that I might have difficulty getting around the horn like I'm used to...but that doesn't seem to be the case, as over time I'm starting to get used to it.

The horn itself has a mellow middle range with overtones of cedar, spice and hay!


Oh snap, I thought this was a cigar review!

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Korner Karnataka #5 - Take A Ride on the "South Indian Line"]]>Fri, 27 Jun 2014 15:58:21 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/06/korner-karnataka-5-take-a-ride-on-the-south-indian-line.htmlAll Aboard!
Take A Ride on the "South Indian Line"

"People get ready, there's a train a-comin''. Don't need no ticket, just get on board "  - The O' Jays

(...and If you actually get to where you're goin' in one piece. you'd better thank the Lord!)

The exercise here is a page from my personal workbook (as is most of the stuff I post, I guess).

In order to kill two birds with one stone, I thought I'd create` these lines for myself as a method to get closer and more personal with this odd meter Carnatic composition "South Indian Line", and post them here, to share with my fellow masochists

PictureUJRE 2G
I'm currently a member of a fairly well known 10 piece Jazz - Rock ensemble, aptly named the United Jazz & Rock Ensemble, Second Generation (UJRE 2G).

This band, whose original incarnation dates back to the early 1970's and whose charter members featured such names as Charlie Mariano, Kenny Wheeler, Albert Mangelsdorf,  Jon Heisman, & Eberhard Weber, among others; is to this day still somewhat of an institution in Germany.

It's founder and leader (musically, spiritually & financially), both then and now, is our beloved septuagenarian pianist / composer / arranger; the one and only, Wolfgang Dauner.

PictureCharlie Mariano & Nadaswaram
One of the tunes in the band's book is a piece entitled "South Indian Line". This composition is credited to the late great alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano and arranged by Wolfgang Dauner, but I have reason to believe it has more traditional origins, possibly even being composed by Carnatic singer / composer R.A. Ramamani.

The original recordings of "South Indian Line" featured Charlie Mariano on nadswaram, a Carnatic double reed instument, which he studied in Bangalore with a master teacher.

I've had the
privilege of both recording and performing "South Indian Line" live with UJRE 2G and being featured on soprano saxophone (as I don't play nadaswaram).

The tune itself is based over a vamp in Eb concert, consisting of a cycle of 24 beats (eighth notes), which is divided up and notated as::

2 measures of 5/8; 1 measure of 4/4; and 1 measure of 3/4

This 24 beat, eighth note cycle could be expressed in Konnakol as:
Ta-da-gi-na-tom (5), Ta-da-gi-na-tom (5), Ta-ka-di-mi (4), Ta-ka-di-mi (4), Ta-ka-di-mi (4), Ta-ka (2).

As one of my goals here is to play over the vamp using primarily 16th notes, the first two 5/8 measures can be further broken down into a group of ten 16ths (3rd speed) like this:

Takita (dotted 8th = 3 16ths); 
Takita (dotted 8th = 3 16ths); Takadimi (2 8th notes = 4 16ths)

PictureRidin' the Line
Playing in odd meters has always been one of my weaker points; so the whole purpose, for me,  in composing these lines is to familiarize myself with different possibilities in sub-dividing the rhythm, according to the way the vamp is constructed; sort of playing "inside" the time, rather than solely playing over the top of it, as I did on the recording (vamp begins ca. 1:54, soprano solo ca. 3:02).

Melodically, the tune is based on Melakarta #16 (Chakravakam)

In Eb concert:

Eb - Fb - G - Ab - Bb - C - Db

It could be considered in western scale terms as an Eb Mixolydian b2,
or as the 5th mode of Ab Harmonic Major.

On the recording, I used a combination of the original scale together with an Eb Dorian b2 (2nd mode of Db Melodic Minor), which changes the original scale by one note (G becomes Gb, Maj 3r to min 3rd).

In these line exercises, I'm experimenting with breaking it down further
by using combinations of Pentatonic b2s and Augmented Scales, as these scales contain both Maj and min 3rds, relative to the key.

It's not my goal to memorize and use these composed lines as "plug & play" phrases; rather I'm hoping it will give me some added ways of ultimately seeing and intuitively approaching an improvised solo over this multi-metered vamp.

Download PDF
      Bb                      Concert
Bass Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[2 B Continued...Continuous Melodic Minor ii-V7-i, 3 Scale Exercise]]>Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:53:16 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/06/june-19th-2014.html    2 B Continued...
Continuous Melodic Minor ii-V7-i
3 Scale Exercise

The purpose of this minor ii-V7-i exercise, which utilizes 3 Melodic Minor scales (in directionally alternating diatonic 3rds), is at least three-fold:

1) Because Melodic Minor has no "avoid" notes, one can start and resolve the ii-V7-i cadence on each and any scale degree.

2) To smoothly connect, by whole or half step, from one scale to the next, moving in the same ascending or descending

3) Most importantly, to help train the ear to the sound of Melodic Minor in general and to the sound of this type of polymodal ii-V7-i in particular, as well as to build instrumental technique.
The basic diatonic scalar notation scheme here is:

   skip up - step up - skip down - step up - skip up - step up - skip down

D     -      F        -        G           -         E        -        F   -      Ab          -         Bb       -           G

These notes spell out the F Melodic Minor scale (with the exception of the note C) over the D-7b5 (ii chord) which is built from the 6th scale step of the "key" of F Melodic Minor, in the first measure of line one of the exercise.

In measure #2, starting on the next available scale tone from the next scale (Ab Melodic Minor), we use the same diatonic scheme:

   skip up - step up - skip down - step up - skip up - step up - skip down

Ab     -    B     -     Db      -     Bb     -     B    -      Eb    -      F      -       Db

These notes spell out the Ab Melodic Minor scale (with the exception of the note G) over the G7alt (V7 chord) which is built from the 7th scale step of the "key" of Ab Melodic Minor..

In measures #3 and 4, starting on the next available scale tone from the next scale (C Melodic Minor), we continue with the same diatonic scheme:

   skip up - step up - skip down - step up - skip up - step up - skip down

D     -      F     -     G       -      Eb      -     F    -     A     -      B       -       G
A     -      C     -     D       -      B        -    C    -     A       ---------------------------------

These notes spell out the C Melodic Minor scale over the C min. tonic (i chord) which is built from the 1st scale step of the "key" of C Melodic Minor.

The breakdown:

ii   = D-7b5 = 6th scale step of F Melodic Minor

V7 = G7alt  = 7th scale step of Ab Melodic Minor
i    = C-      = 1st scale step of  C Melodic Minor

Shortcuts to memorization:

ii chord = 6th scale step of 
V7 chord = 7th scale step of

i chord = !st Scale Step of

For example, if your trying to quickly determine the Melodic minor scales to use over a ii-V7-i in G minor, you could easily figure the ii of G minor is A-7b5, the V7 of G minor would be D7alt and the i chord in G minor would be, of course, G min.

The magic numbers above are 6, 7 & 1 as relates to the scale steps from which these three chords are derived
; so to find the Melodic Minor scales to match the three chords of an A-7b5 / D7alt / C- ii-V7-i cadence:

A-7b5 is derived from the 6th scale step of C Melodic Minor.

D7alt is derived from the 7th scale step of Eb Melodic Minor.
G- is derived from the 1st scale step of.................................... G Melodic Minor.

I smell smoke! Is that your brain frying or mine?

OK. So now that we've gone through the preliminaries, there is an easier way to find these scales.


Taking the just witnessed key of G Melodic Minor as an example:

The scale for the ii chord begins on
The scale for the V7 chord begins on Eb
The scale for the i chord begins on G

Those scale roots spell out C - Eb - G, a C minor triad, where the home key in question (G min.) is the 5th!

However, this has absolutely nothing to do with the key C min, it's just a trick shortcut to determine the Melodic Minor scales in a G minor ii-V7.

Let's take the key of Bb (Maj. or min.).
Consider Bb as the 5th. The root would be Eb, the min. 3rd would be Gb. The 5th would be Bb.

So in the key of Bb (Maj. or min.);
The Melodic Minor scale for the ii chord (C-7b5) = Eb Melodic Minor

The Melodic Minor scale for the iV7 chord (F7alt) = Gb (F#) Melodic Minor
The Melodic Minor scale for the tonic i (I) chord (Bb-) = Bb Melodic Minor

Eb - Gb - Bb, spells a Eb min. triad. The roots of the Melodic Minor scales in a ii-V7-i in Bb, and nothing to do with Eb, only a name.

Just think of the key in question as being the 5th of a minor triad.

How about the Melodic Minor scales for ii-V7s in the keys of:

D min; B min
, F#min Ab min.

Easy as A-B-C.....if you just put the time into it!

   Download PDF
Treble Clef                   Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA['Trane Fare for Slonimsky - A Diminished Scale Sequence]]>Thu, 12 Jun 2014 18:36:23 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/06/trane-fare-fo-slonimsky-a-diminished-scale-sequence.html'Trane Fare for Slonimsky - A Diminished
Scale Sequence

PictureA Beautiful (Musical) Mind - Times 2
Here's another symmetrical scale exercise.

This time, it's 2 minor 7th chords a tritone apart,  a pair of 4 note patterns, which reveal all 8 notes of a diminished scale.

I was sure this pattern, which has its descending version in retrograde of its ascending form (second two measures), was contained somewhere in the depths of Nicolas Slonimsky's "Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns".

But it wasn't!

Slonimsky (popularly misnomered as Slavinsky, Slaminsky, etc.) was a Russian born composer, pianist, conductor and most notably, author. Probably his biggest claim to fame was his "Thesaurus",  which was studied in the late 1950's, by, among others,  John Coltrane himself.

This fact has been verified by people who knew
'Trane and worked with him.

The basic premise
of the "Thesaurus", is the division of one (or more) octaves into 2, 3, 4 , and sometimes more, parts.

These equal division create basic "cells" which can be filled in with
notes within the boundaries (Intra, Ultra & Inrra-Inter-Ultrafpolation, huh?) of those cell groupings, forming short musical phrases which are repeated symmetrically according to the frequency of the octave divisions.

If you are at all serious about this theoretical knowledge stuff, you probably already have the "Thesaurus.

If not, it's a must have!

If you're just a casual observer, you should get it anyway, and make it part of your music book library.

I still have my hard cover copy which I've had since the early '70s which I think is an original printing from 1947
, published by Charles Schirmer's Sons. It even smells old.

While I admit I have barely scratched the surface of this books contents, I have grown to understand it's premise in dividing the octave and the scales and harmonic systems that result from it.

Nicolas Slonimsky died in 1995 at 101 years of age. He was revered by many, including Frank Zappa, who he befriended and with whom he performed.

Back to this "Slonimsky-like" diminished scale sequence,  it's a 5-1-b3-b7 pattern, which repeats up a tritone. It can be utilized wherever a diminished scale is called for; most commolly, with a dominant 7, (natural) 13 in the chord.

   Download PDF

Treble Clef                     Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Rep. Tile Dept. - Express Your "Scales" as Arpeggios]]>Thu, 05 Jun 2014 16:00:12 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/06/rep-tile-dept-express-your-scales-as-arpeggios.htmlPictureIguana play some scales
Musically speaking, a scale (in German "Tonleiter" or "tone ladder") is an ordered set of pitches, either ascending or descending.  Such scales can be expressed stepwise (horizontally) or intervalically as  arpeggios (vertically).

The subject of this exercise is the arpeggiated version of
the Melodic Minor Scale starting on it's 4th scale degree (Lydian Dominant), over a minor ii-V7-i root movement.

A wealth of information on Melodic Minor harmony can be found in previous
posts on this blog, together with ii-V7 exercises.

In looking at the first line of the downloadable pdf exercise below, we see that measure #1 (ii chord)  contain all seven notes of an C7#11 13 arpeggio. If we were to build an ascending scale, stepwise, starting from C, with those same seven notes, we would get:


This scale goes by the name of C Lydian Dominant
, which happens to be the mode built from the 4th scale step of G Melodic Minor (Jazz Minor)If we play this arpeggio over an E bass note, we get the sound and function of an E-7b5, the ii chord in the key of D minor.

The rule to remember here is: All Melodic Mi
nor roots and modes are interchangeable with each other.

In measure #1, you're simply playing the sound of G Melodic Minor over E.

The exact same treatment applies for measure #2.

The arpeggio, in this case Eb7#11 13, moves up a minor 3rd from measure #1, while the bass note moves up a perfect fourth or down a perfect fifth to A, forming an A7alt (V7 chord).

The notes of this arpeggio create an Eb Lydian Dominant scale


which is the 4th mode of Bb Melodic Minor.
We are, therefore, hearing the sound of Bb Melodic Minor over A (aka: A altered, A altered dominant or A half tone / whole tone).

A common device, effective when used sparingly, is to play a Melodic Minor phrase on the ii chord, and repeat that phrase exactly on the V chord, transposed up a minor 3rd.

This is what's been done here fin the first 2 bars.

Measure #3 (i chord) is made up of an A Pentatonic b6, (A-B-C#-E-F, derived from scale steps 5-6-7-2-b3 of D Melodic Minor)
. Mucho info on Penta b6 is available on these blog pages, as well as in the available books.

Measure #4 continues the D minor, tonic i chord resolution.

Why was the 7#11 13 arpeggio chosen for this exercise?

Because............It sounds good; and `as the Duke of Ellington once proclaimed: "If it sounds good, it is good!"

Diggeth I do, your Dukeness!
   Download PDF
Treble Clef                     Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Like A New Pair of Blues Shoes - More X-Centric Gonzatonic b2s]]>Thu, 29 May 2014 09:21:15 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/05/like-a-new-pair-of-blues-shoes-more-x-centric-gonzatonic-b2s.htmlPicture
Hey everybody, I'm back!

Did ya miss me?!

I know, I know!

I've been doing some shopping, and I picked up this badass pair of kicks which I'll be sportin' whilst I shed these "Slick Licks That Stick!"

(OK, so they're not really my shoes!)

This X-Centric Gonzatonic b2 exercise download, based on Shape #5 from tenor master Jerry Bergonzi's great book, Vol. 2 - Pentatonics (Advance Music), is the inverted form of an exercise contained in an earlier post, and the explanations can be found there.

Keep 'em spit shined & polished and they'll carry you far!

    Download PDF
Treble Clef                                 Bass Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge" - The Last Eight]]>Thu, 01 May 2014 19:17:01 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/05/joe-hendersons-inner-urge-the-last-eight.htmlJoe Henderson's "Inner Urge" - The Last Eight
PictureSmokin' Joseph
I've been wanting to post something on the subject of Joe Henderson for a while now.

Joe Henderson, as quiet as it's been kept, is not only one of the greatest tenor saxophonists of the musical genre we know and love as "Jazz", but one of it's most prolific composers, as well as one of it's truly unique and creative improvisational voices.

One of the reasons, possibly, that Henderson has not gotten the widespread recognition as one of the all time greats of the music, even now, 13 years after his death, is that his his style, and especially his sound, is hard to imitate. Because his improvisations contain a relative scarcity of "signature licks" (although there are a few, which have changed over his 35 year recorded career), his style is difficult to quantify.

The elements of Henderson's playing that make him my personal favorite, for just plain listening
enjoyment are:

1) His dark, bitter-sweet chocolate (another favorite) tone, possibly due in part to the Selmer D mouthpiece (I believe) he used, which had a small tip opening.

long time friend and mentor, trombonist/ pianist/ composer/ arranger Joe Gallardo (interview forthcoming)
, told me, that Henderson played right up on the microphone and was actually difficult to hear just a few feet away. This statement comes from Gallardo's experience as a fellow sideman on trumpeter Luis Gasca's "The Little Giant" sessions from 1968.

This would make sense, since the "harder" or "louder
" one attempts to play a saxophone, the more upper partials (overtones) are created, thereby creating a "brighter" more "strident" tone. Henderson, a veteran of scores of recordings by that time, was certainly aware of this basic accoustic phenomenon, and worked the mic accordingly.

2) His harmonic approach.
While it is beyond the scope of this post to delve completely into the vast waters of this subject, the downloadable pdf below contains exercises based on the last eight bars of Henderson's well known classic "Inner Urge", from his 1964 Blue Note album of the same name. These are not transcriptions of Joe's solo, rather some recent scibblings of my own, done as an aid to better internalize the uncommon chord progression of the tune's final eight measures.

The root movement of this section of the tune is symmetrical and goes (in tenor key):
F# - Eb - E - Db - D - B - C - A, each chord lasting one bar apiece.

In other words; down a minor 3rd - up a half step - down a minor 3rd
- up a half step - down a minor 3rd - up a half step - down a minor 3rd.

This root movement could be viewed as 4 sets of
minor thirds, descending in whole steps every 2 bars.

This descending minor third root movement was utilized in parts of several Joe Henderson originals of the period, namely "Isotope" (last 2 measures, diminished cycle) and "Tetragon" (second 4 bars, 2 complete diminished cycles, a P5th apart) come to mind. Both of these tunes are highly original blues, which is another thing I love about Joe Henderson, he was a great and original blues interpreter.

Getting back to the "Urge", the chord qualities are, except for the C7 #11 in the next to last bar, all Maj7#11s, which lend themselves to a number of pentatonic scale possibilities each. The #11, lydian quality is an optional choice. Choices for the first measure could include:

F# Maj penta (F#-G#-A#-C#-D#), G# Maj penta (G#-A#-C-D#-F), C# Maj penta (C#-D#-F-G#-A#).

The C7#11 chord in the seventh bar is pure genius, as it breaks up the flavor of the preceding changes, while keeping the symmetrical integrity of the root movement intact
. A D penta b6 (D-E-F#-A-Bb), derived from G melodic minor, is the flavor ingredient here.

The exercise examples here are not Joe's licks or taken from his solos and they are not necessarily meant for "plug & play", rather; as a study of possible connections over this eight bar progression.

Here's a link to a home recording from a few years ago of "Inner Urge" (from which the below exercises are also not derived) which I did with an Aebersold play-a-long form Vol. 108 (great to practice with), where I'm attempting my best Joe impersonation. It's almost impossible not to use some of his nuances, as 1) the rhythm section, which is kicking ass and which includes John Patitucci on bass, is doing a great job of "copping the feel" of the original; and 2) I've been listening to and absorbing the original recording for about 40 years.

Call it a "toot your own horn" moment.

A question arises; Did Joe play the way he did because of his composing style, or did he compose to accommodate his playing style? I would say, "both".

3) as to why I love Joe Henderson's playing can be summed up as his "intellectual, funky earthiness". Like 'Trane and Monk, he was a musical scientist with a deep "blues sensibility", a mark of his generation, and one that seems to be, sadly, disappearing from the music.

One more thing that has always struck me about Joe's playing, especially during his earlier Blue Note period, is his quickness of mind, which led to a seemingly endless stream of fresh ideas, rhythmic and melodic, devoid of cliches, even his own. If improvisation is spontaneous composition, then Joe Henderson was definitely among the most spontaneous.

So, I think it's about time Joe Henderson get his props as one of the all-time great contributors
to improvised music.

Now folks, I leave you with this jewel, which I discovered late last night, while scanning the net for pics of Joe Henderson for this post.

It's a 117 page doctoral dissertation by Arthur Lynn White entitled:

Joe Henderson: An Analysis of Harmony in Selected Compositions and Improvisations. (2008)

This is a MUST READ
by anyone interested in the man, in particular, or the music in general. It includes a section of biographical info as well as a full chapter analysis of "Inner Urge", section by section.

This is the most informative piece
of writing I've seen on Joe Henderson, who still remains too much of a "mystery man" relative to his accomplishments.

  Download PDF
Bb                      Eb
 Concert                           Bass Clef
The Original. The Classic.
LIVE Recording from 1966 Horace Silver 5tet feat. Joe Henderson & a young Woody Shaw
on Joe's tune, "Mo' Joe".

Joe's solo is off the @#$%^ chain (Woody's, too)!
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Curacaoan of Reknown - A Conversation with Guitarist / Bassist Roy Louis, Pt. 1]]>Tue, 22 Apr 2014 18:45:11 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/04/curacaoan-of-reknown-a-conversation-with-guitarist-bassist-roy-louis-pt-1.html- Curacaoan of Reknown -
A Conversation with Guitarist / Bassist Roy Louis
- Part 1-

Guitarist / bassist (or bassist / guitarist) Roy Louis has been a close friend and
musical colleague for almost 40 years.

As I discovered, it's not easy interviewing your long time friends, as the conversation can can very easily get sidetracked into many different cracks and crevices of shared experience.

"Man, do you remember.......?" became the common theme, only to realize, half an hour later,
that we'd gone way off on a tangent.

*     *     *    *     *     *

Roy Louis is a native of the island of Curacao (pronounced KEWR-ə-sow)
formerly of the Netherlands Antilles, which has a unique place historically and culturally in
the overall picture of the Caribbean and Latin America. Aside from it's predominately European and African cultural influences dating back to colonial times, the average Curacaoan is usually well versed in Dutch, Spanish, English, as well as the island's native Creole language, Papiamentu.

This unique and diversified Caribbean culture began molding Roy Louis, the artist, at a very young age. Beginning his musical career semi-professionally at age 6, and being completely self taught on electric bass and then guitar, Roy, is without a doubt, the most purely
"intuitive" musician I have known.

Here's Part One of my conversation with "my boy", Roy!

BSJ: For the enlightenment of those who think that Curacao might lie somewhere off the left coast of China, could you hip us as to where it’s located geographically?

RL: OK. It’s in the Caribbean, north of Venezuela, to be exact. It’s an island that is a former colony of the Netherlands. Before that, it was run, at one time or another, by the Portuguese, Spanish, French and English, eventually ending up in the hands of the Dutch.

That’s where I was born and grew up, until about my 15th year.

PictureJan Akermann & Brainbox
BSJ: What were some of your early musical influences?

Actually, around 10 years of age, I started thinking about knowing more about music. I had a sister, who at that time, was traveling and studying in Holland. On her vacations, she would bring back a collection of records that at the time, were pretty popular in Europe, but not popular in the sense of pop music; more like creative musicians checking out what else they could do other than the commercial stuff that everybody was doing.

BSJ: ....and who was that?

RL: One of them was a great guitarist from Holland named Jan Akermann.

BSJ: He was the guitarist from the group “Focus”, right?

RL: Later. At that time he was playing with a band called “Brainbox”. That’s the first guitarist I heard that was doing something other than the usual stuff. He was way ahead of his time.

Of course, there were other bands that were trying to do other kinds of creative music from which I was inspired, but when I heard Jan Akermann, I thought, “that’s the guy I want to sound like!” because I had never heard anything like that.

BSJ: Listening to them now in retrospect, they sound atypically late 60’s, a stylistic mix of highly amped blues, folk & rock.

PictureRobert Johnson
RL: Yeah. Actually, at the time, I thought “blues” came from England. See, the only records we could get were coming out of Europe. I only found out later, actually it was through you….

BSJ: Who, Me?

RL: Yeah, I remember you told me one time, “Hey, hey! Wait a second! That style of guitar and vocal blues came from the States, from black people from the deep south, and is a copy of guys like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and so on.” That’s how I found out. You remember?

You said, “No, you got to go back and check out the roots.” Now, I was pretty insulted (laughter). I thought I knew everything about blues, man! OK, I mean, all those English cats like Clapton, Jeff Beck and so on, including some great guitarists from the U.S. But from the States, you didn’t hear much until ’69 with Woodstock.

When Woodstock hit, it woke up a lot of people in the Caribbean and South America to the fact of where this music really came from and was kind of the beginning of having my eyes and ears open to possibilities other than the top 40 that everyone was into, even though the music, at that time, was still somewhat commercial.

It also made me realize that if I wanted to play like that, and play music like that, I couldn’t stay in Curacao because there was nobody as an example in the Caribbean or in South America. I was very aware that I would eventually have to leave the island; but where to go? The only thing I knew about the States at that time was written on a can of soup “Made in USA”. (laughter)

BSJ: Up to that point, what kind of music had you been into?

RL: I was into many things, but I would say probably 90% R’n’B, ‘cause that’s what people used to hear.

BSJ: You mean like Motown?

RL: Of course. Motown, Stax, all those groups, you name it. That’s what I was playing at the time.

BSJ: I think the "label" for it then then was “Soul Music”.

Let me shift gears for a moment and ask you how much of an influence your father, trumpet player and band leader, Edgar Supriano, was on you, musically at that point.

RL: My father had no direct influence on what I was listening to then. He was into Cuban music, which at the time, wasn’t popular with the younger generation.

What we were listening to and playing, came out of Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Trini Lopez…..simple shit! Songs with three chords that you learned easily. Once I could play those three chords, it was already time to play in a band!

Picture6 yr. old Roy (top), 10 yr. old Elmer (bottom)

You had a band with your older brother Elmer, who played guitar, right? 

RL: Yes. Elmer played guitar and sang, plus occasionally, for the more latin rock sounding things, he would use the congas. I was playing bass and sang lead.

BSJ: Were you playing any guitar at all?

RL: Not in the band, but I was always playing guitar at home, checking things out, just for myself.

BSJ: When did you decide to leave the island and where did you go?

PictureGuillermo Marchena in flight
RL: By 15 years old I was pretty sure I was leaving, eventually. We met (drummer / vocalist) Guillermo Marchena, who had been living in Holland for several years already, when he came back to Curacao on vacation. Someone had told him about our band and that he should check us out. Guillermo was some years older than us and had already been recording and touring in Europe since 1964 or ’65.

So, through Guillermo, Elmer and I wound up in Holland in late 1972. When we got there, Guillermo informed us that the band we were supposed to be joining didn’t exist anymore. We needed to basically start a whole new band, and since we couldn’t find a good guitarist, I switched from bass to guitar.

Through a contact I had, we eventually hooked up with two musicians from Aruba (a sister island in the Netherlands Antilles); a bass player named Dooley and a piano player named Willie. Willie was the first musician I knew who had any real knowledge of jazz. He couldn’t read or write music, just like me at the time, but he could play!

I would tell him, “I really like this music and this style. What do I have to do? What do I have to study in order to play it?” because up to that point I was only playing blues and rock.

He said, “All you've got to do is listen. Just listen.” That’s all he could tell me, since he didn’t know any theory or anything. So he made me a collection of tapes, which included a lot of stuff from the CTI label; a bunch of George Benson and three or four albums by Freddie Hubbard. So my first steps into the world of jazz were from those CTI albums. I was listening and listening and trying to copy, you know. So, I learned something from playing with this guy.

Unfortunately, the band broke up, and through a variety of circumstances, both fortunate and unfortunate, I wound up in Munich, Germany, together with Guillermo and my brother Elmer.

Originally, we had no place to stay and ended up sleeping behind a department store, hoping that it would be only for a night. Well, one night became two. Then it became a week, then two weeks.

Meanwhile, Guillermo, who was the only one of us who could speak any German, or even passable English at the time, had met some gypsy guys playing on the street. He told them about us and about our situation. They told Guillermo that they knew a local violinist, half gypsy, half German, who might be able to help us out.

The guy, whose name was Hannes Beckmann, had a band called “Sinto” which was playing the local clubs in and around Munich; kind of Latin & Brazilian and some original tunes mixed with gypsy violin.

His guitar player was about to leave, or had already left so he needed somebody. It was very lucky that he walked in at that point. The only thing was: I didn’t have a guitar.

So he gave me what was really just the frame of a guitar; all messed up. On top of that, it was cut for a left handed player. Guillermo said, “It’s on you, man. You’ve only got one shot”.

So I played my ass off left handed on this guitar and got us the gig!

BSJ: At least you didn’t have to play it with your toes! (Laughter)

RL: So little by little I started working with guys like (Swiss drummer) Charly Antolini, and (American alto saxophonist) Frank St. Peter, you know, real jazz players. I was not a real jazz player, but I could find my way, somehow. Frank said, “You are a very talented musician, I need to show you a few things. You ought to talk to (American trumpeter) Lee Harper, since he plays guitar, too.”

I said, “Yes, I really want to learn.”

Then I met the well known trumpeter Dusko Goykovich, who saw me playing on a good night with “Sinto”, and he told me, “Listen, I’m about to form a big band, and you’re one of the first people I’m asking”.

I felt like telling him, “no”, since I didn’t think I could read that music and was kind of scared. But I went to the rehearsals and luckily, I started understanding the chord symbols, which was mostly what the guitar parts were made up of, anyway. So, I was good enough, and he kept me in the band.

I felt like, man, I’m in the band with all these older guys who can really play and whom I can learn so much from. I felt like the hand of God put me there, ‘cause there was no better way for an aspiring musician to acquire knowledge than being with such great musicians as these.

So I was playing pretty steadily with several of these bands. As I’m sure you remember, there were quite a few places to play in Munich. I started to gradually break into the recording scene. So I was able to get by pretty good. I think most musicians at that time were pretty satisfied with their situations. Things were much different, overall, than they are now.

Anyway, that exposure led shortly to Elmer and I, and finally Guillermo, becoming members of “Passport” which recorded for WEA and had an international following. The group was led by German saxophonist Klaus Doldinger.

Man, all of a sudden we went from being on the street to playing these big festivals and being in the middle of all these guys like Thad Jones, Keith Jarrett, you name it! Man, I said, “Wow, this is something!”. Then came the recordings. There were companies begging me to endorse their instruments.

Things were going great, but as I was a little naïve still, at that point, it was like, I was trying to change Doldinger's music. It was because I could hear things. Even early on, I had a good knowledge of harmony. Maybe I couldn’t tell you what it was, but I could show you.

So I was trying to change Klaus’ music and nobody had ever told him shit like that, man!

I remember the keyboardist Christian Schultze telling me, “I admire you because you always come with a musical solution to any problem” but that nobody ever changes Klaus’ music.

And to Klaus’ credit, he always listened. He let me be myself and play the way I played. The only thing he told me was to work on my dynamics. Here and there I would add certain chords and he never objected, but he never actually took my suggestions and made any major changes or anything. He would say, “Roy, I think it’s fine like it is.” (Laughs)

I think the other guys admired me for having the balls to speak my mind, but I didn’t think it was a question of that. I was just a kid and kind of naïve. I didn’t know what it could mean to question the boss’s music. It didn’t occur to me then, that, you know, you had to take care of your gig. Klaus also schooled me on, and I didn’t really appreciate it until years later, what it meant to think in terms of the music “business”, in order to stay in the game. Another person might have fired me, but he was very cool about it and I still respect him for that

PictureRoy Louis & the author, 4th & 5th from left
The thing was, I was looking up to the innovators from the States; like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Weather Report, you know. I felt things had to be played a certain way. I felt that they (Passport) still sounded a little too European, although they were trying hard, and I was vocal about it.

So when you and I met, that was the beginning of the dream of being able to do our own music. When we started playing together, I said, “Wow, this is the way I hear saxophone.”

BSJ: Even though I was pretty raw at the time, I guess I had a certain energy and spirit, as well as a recording contract with Phonogram, which led to the formation of “Head, Heart & Hands”.

When I heard you and Elmer for the first time in a small club in Munich, I said, “These are the cats”. I remember Elmer playing this very “out” conga solo. I thought, this is the shit, the kind of abstract New York vibe that I had been missing since I’d been in Europe and wanted to recreate somehow.

RL: Well, you were a big addition to the scene. It’s difficult to put into words, but I always wondered why musicians played, or didn’t play, a certain way.

Previous to that, I had begun a friendship with Raul Burnet (late Antillean percussion guru, who lived in Amsterdam), who told me, “Roy, you come to Europe and we’re going to do something. You are a very special guy. There are some things you still need to learn, but you KNOW how to play; how to make this music sound. There are very few musicians like that in Europe” Raul was the first person to tell me that.

BSJ: So you knew Raul before the "Head, Heart & Hands" session?

RL: Since '68 I knew Raul already. He used to come to Curacao from Holland with a band called “Reality”, which he was part of.

BSJ: You knew him then before you went to Holland.

RL: Yeah, way before.
It was through him that I became more aware of that…..and also the spirit of blues, and blues rockers from England. Y’know, like Led Zeppelin. Man, those guys meant business when they played. They were kinda limited musically, but what they played came straight from the heart.

Like, all those European white cats, they sounded like black people, man! And then I understood, ahhh, ok, these guys are actually copies of American black music. But now, shame on the American music industry for not shedding light on the creators of the music (until much later).

BSJ: True! I didn’t know about any of those original guys until I heard the Rolling Stones and, following my curiosity, discovered Muddy Waters, Little Walter, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson, without whom there would never have been any; “British blues”. I’d heard Chuck Berry on the radio, but that was it. I thought he was a white dude.

RL: Well, let me add to that. It's kind of the same thing, when you talk about latin music. It disturbs me when people speak badly about Carlos Santana. When Santana came about in the late ‘60s playing that style, even though my father played Cuban music; I mean it was right in my back yard and I heard and saw my father play it on many an occasion; I still had to go via Santana to find out about Cuban music.

BSJ: That’s a great point, because I wanted to backtrack and ask you a bit more about your relationship to Latin music, in general, as you were growing up.

RL: Well, you would hear it all day long, on the radio, everywhere. But I was into (US) American music. Growing up at that time as teenagers, we considered Cuban music to be really square and corny. We wanted to be hip and contemporary and we looked to the States for that. It was the late ‘60s, a lot of changes were happening, you know.

BSJ: Did you get American TV in Curacao at the time?

RL: No. We only had one channel, the local Curacao channel. It came on at 5pm and went off at 11. We could also get two channels from Venezuela. The picture was very snowy, but we had to live with what we had.

PictureMiriam Makeba & Renny Ottolina
But Venezuela, was very influential. At that time, they were way ahead of anything else that we could get hold of in the Caribbean. For example they had Stevie Wonder performing on “Show de Renny” hosted by Renny Ottolina, who was a very popular Venezuelan TV and radio personality.

I’d say that Renny Ottolina was extremely important in my early musical development. It was through his show from Venezuela that I was exposed to people like Herb Alpert, Miriam Makeba, Tom Jones, Stevie Wonder; all those acts from around the world.

He had a weekly music show?

RL: Not weekly; daily! From 12 noon - 2pm, with interviews and music, all live! All the acts would come and stay for 2 or 3 weeks and perform live on the show every day. So, I would see Stevie Wonder for 3 weeks, man. Every day!

BSJ: That’s amazing! You didn’t even see that in the States.

PictureHermanito Narvaez - present day
RL: So that’s how I got so much into American music.

You know as a kid, you don’t want to be like your father. It’s like, Cuban music was for the old people. Of course, we wanted to be identified with our own generation. In order to be hip, you had to be into the styles, music and fashion, that were
coming, mostly, from the States.

I was also exposed by listening to a radio DJ by the name of Hermanito Narvaez, who had a program already in the late ‘60s, that he originally co-hosted with a woman named Aydita Ayoubi. She was actually the first one on the island to present something different, musically. Then Hermanito, being the co-host and a young guy, probably in his late teens at the time, started to push for more American music, groups like Steppenwolf, Led Zeppelin, groups like that which were hip at the time. Eventually he took over the show and when he did, you heard all the American hip stuff.

BSJ: You mentioned that before all that, it was mainly Cuban music that was being played on the radio. Can you specify?

RL: All kinds of Cuban music, but not the folklore. Basically, everything that was being recorded on Seeco Records at that time. Let’s say, Sonora Matancera, featuring everybody.

I remember when I was about three or four years old, my mother threw out a record player along with a pile of 78 rpm shellac records that my grandmother had collected over the years. I guess they were collecting dust and were taking up too much space in our small house. I couldn’t understand this, and was very sad about it, so I went to the dumpster and pulled out the record player and the records; the ones that weren’t already broken. I cleaned them and put them on the turntable, which had no electricity but still had a needle, and turned it by hand, using a cardboard box as a kind of resonator.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but those old 78s included Celia Cruz with Sonora Matancera, Carlos Argentino, Rafael Cortijo featuring Ismael Rivera, and many others, you name it. Then, a few years ago, I saw some old pictures of my father with all those people. Then I remembered that some of them had actually come home with my father, or we’d go see them perform. Man, I saw all these people, without realizing who I was looking at.

This was important to me without realizing it at the time. As I mentioned previously, by the time I was in my early teens and playing in bands and listening to the stuff coming from, or by way of, the States, the older Latin style of my father’s era was considered square and corny by my generation. It wasn’t until I heard Santana a few years later that I was drawn back into my roots; legitimized, so to speak, with a new perspective, awareness and appreciation, of what was always in the air around me.

Coming Soon!
There's a whole lot more! Stay tuned for Part 2.

B. Stern