<![CDATA[bobbysternjazz.com - Blog: B Natural]]>Sun, 22 May 2016 14:46:31 -0400Weebly<![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:
                                                          (player opens in new tab/ window)

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?!

                                                                       Download PDF
                                                                          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"!

  Download PDF
   (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
<![CDATA[Slide, Glide & ACE a Ride on the Wild Side With This Penta Flat-6 Two Five]]>Wed, 21 Oct 2015 16:16:25 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/slide-glide-ace-a-ride-on-the-wild-side-with-this-penta-flat-6-two-fiveSlide, Glide & ACE a Ride (on the Wild Side)
With This Penta Flat-6 Two Five

In automotive terms, a flat-6 is a six cylinder, horizontally opposed engine used by Porsche, among others.

Since automotives is not really my thing, the flat-6 (b6) referred to here is none other than an old "5 cylinder" friend
and Melodic Minor derivative, the Pentatonic b6.

As explained in several previous posts on the topic, The Penta b6 can be thought of either as a Maj. Pentatonic with a flatted 6th degree from the root (ie. C Pentatonic b6 = C-D-E-G-Ab), or; as being built from the 5th-6th-7th-9th-b3rd scale degrees of F Melodic Minor, in this case.

It can also be built simply from scale steps 1-2-3-5-b6 of the Harmonic Major Scale, but it's the Melodic Minor derivation that we'll be dealing with here.

This exercise is the latest of several posts which deal with the Pentatonic b6 as applied over a 4 bar, minor ii-V7-i cadence, using the "ACE" three Melodic Minor "scale / key" approach.

"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 the next to last line (#11) of the 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, getting back to line #11, the three Pentatonic b6s used for the ii-V7-i 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)

The "ACE" acronym, referring to the applicable Melodic Minor scale / keys, is cool because it spells an identifiable word, at least in this particular key.

However in all cases, the letters used spell out the notes of a minor triad a perfect 4th above the tonic minor (i) key. (eg. A-C-E for the roots of the scale /keys and E-G-B - the actual letters of the tonic (home key) minor triad - for the roots of the applicable Penta b6

As a further exercise, label each measure of the downloadable PDF with its appropriate Melodic Minor scale as well as its Pentatonic b6.

The first measure of each line is actually missing a single scale tone from being a true Penta b6. Can you find the missing note in each case?

Is there an appreciable difference in sonority, with and without?

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Treble Clef          Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[A Plus in Your Scale Arsenal - Augmented Scale ii-V7-I]]>Tue, 15 Sep 2015 13:44:38 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/september-15th-2015A Plus in Your Scale Arsenal: Augmented Scale ii-V7-I
This is the latest post in the Augmented Scale category, this time with an exercise that negotiates a common ii-V7-I with a single augmented scale, which is:

A six note scale (hexatonic), formed by:

2 augmented triads a minor third apart (C-E-G# & Eb-G-B = C-Eb-E-G-Ab-B)

2 augmented triads a half step apart (C-E-G# & Db-F-A =

A Major triad and a minor triad a Maj 3rd below (C-E-G & Ab-B-Eb = C-Eb-E-G-Ab-B)

A minor triad and a Major triad a Maj 3rd above (C-Eb-G & E-G#-B = C-Eb-E-G-Ab-B)

3 min 2nds a Maj 3rd apart (C-Db, E-F, G#-A)

3 min 3rds a Maj 3rd apart (C-Eb, E-G, Ab-B)

There are also Perfect 4ths and 5ths, as well as Maj & min 6ths, plus Maj 7ths included.

Check 'em out.

This exercise came about as an altered, Augmented scale version of the typical 1-2-3-5 or 1-2-3-4 type major scale "digital" scale patterns, made up here exclusively of scale tones from a single Augmented scale, over a ii-V7-I chord sequence.

One of the more interesting (and challenging) aspects of using the Augmented scale in this manner is the fact that the Augmented scale has no tritone (eg, F - B), which makes its tendencies toward normal resolution (as in Major or minor scale harmony) somewhat ambiguous.

But hey, ambiguous is good in this case; as in "inside-outside" and vice versa.

The Breakdown:

The whole first line uses the Bb (D, F#) Augmented Scale (Bb-C#-D-F-Gb-A) over
C-7b5 / F7 / Bb / Bb /

Line #1, Measure #1 - C7b5 (Parts of the chord in parenthesis):
D (9) - F (11) - Gb (b5) - Bb (b7)   A (6) - Bb (b7) - D (9) - F (11).

Pretty consonant (inside), actually.

Line #1, Measure #2 - F7sus:

C# (#5) - D (13) - F# (b9) - Bb (11) - A (3) - Gb (b9) - Db (b13) - F (root).

As mentioned previously, the Augmented scale is devoid of tritones, but melodically, in this case, it still pulls toward a resolution to Bb; with the root and 3rd of the V chord being present. The Bb in the scale also supports this.

Line #1, Measures #3 & 4 - Bb Maj7

A straight up Bb Maj7 with a C# (#9 or b3) and Gb (b13 or #5)
thrown in for flavor.

As the Augmented scale divides the octave into 3 equal parts
, the result is 4 different Augmented scales. The exercise is transposed by ascending half steps into all 12 positions (keys), the basic scale repeating every 5th line (ie. line #1 & line #5 are from the same Augmented scale).

If you have a sequencer (Band in a Box, iReal), try practicing first with just the bass notes or bass line, then add shell voicings (3rds and 7ths).

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Treble Clef            Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[NOT Peanut But Uhhh... - Thelonious Monk's "Skippy"]]>Thu, 27 Aug 2015 21:01:57 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/blog-b-natural/not-peanut-but-uhhh-thelonious-monks-skippyNOT Peanut But Uhhh...
Thelonious Monk's "Skippy"

"Skippy", which was originally recorded by Thelonious Monk for Blue Note on May 30th, 1952, might be considered (no, is!) one of his most challenging compositions.

The melody alone, which is uncharacteristically dense by Monk standards, is a workout in and of itself.

Harmonically, the descending cycle of 5ths and chromatic tritone subs
require considerable "'shedding" in order to confidently negotiate improvised lines through the changes.

In this post, we'll just concentrate on the head, with the rest to follow.

"Skippy" is 32 bars long
with what appears to be an A1-B-A2-C song form. The tune is Monk's reharmonization and abstraction
of Vincent Youmans' well known standard, "Tea for Two", which due to the melodic consistency between the sections, comes off more like an A1-A2-A3-B form.

I think the term, "abstraction" is very appropriate here, as Monk definitely created his own very special blend of "Tea". Because of the exclusive and constant movement of dominant 7th chords, both in 4ths as well as chromatically (tritone subs), there's never much of a harmonic resting place, as the line and harmonic motion just keep on skipping along.

The original "Tea", being in the key of Ab, moves temporarily to C for the second eight bars, then back again to Ab.

With all the cyclic motion in "Skippy", which starts on a D7 chord (the bV7 of Ab), the perceived key center of the melodic line still seems to be Ab, as in the original; especially for the first, third and last 8 bar sections.

The key center or the second 8 (measures #9-16) of "Skippy", however, is somewhat more ambiguous.

As in "Tea for Two",
the start of the second 8 bar section of "Skippy" modulates up a Maj. 3rd
, (starting on an F#7 in measure 9, again a bV7 chord, this time of the key of C). It seems as if Monk just used this as a starting point, because any subsequent harmonic or melodic reference to the key of C in this section, to my eyes and ears at least, is anecdotal at best.

Instead, Monk employs three 2 bar descending chromatic mini-cycles, each moving up a whole step from the previous one (Gb7-F7-E7-Eb7,  Ab7-G7-F#7-F7, Bb7-A7-Ab7-G7 before cycling neatly and logically back to D7 (bV7 of Ab again)
via F#7-B7-E7-A7 in measures #15 & 16.

Measures #17-22 are a facsimile of #1 through 6, with #23 & 24 setting up the mad dash to the finish line in bars #25-32, including the doubled chromatic eighth notes, with descending dominant 7th chords on every beat.


I compiled a downloadable lead sheet from several transcriptions which were already available. The minor discrepancies between
them seemed to stem from whether the transcriber used Monk's piano version of the head at the beginning of the original 1952 recording, or the ensemble horn version at the end of it, which has several small notational and rhythmic differences. See if you can hear them in the linked vid below.

For the most part, I tended to favor the former, since Monk, of course, wrote it; but used bits of the latter as well.

Most interesting (and challenging) to me is the phrase in bars #9-10. All of the notes in that 2 bar phrase belong to an
A# half tone / whole tone diminished scale and which is transposed up a whole step in measures #~11-12 (C ht / wt dim scale). Don't forget, this is 1952 and the diminished scale was not yet a common part of the music's still growing vocabulary. The phrase still sounds as hip now as it might have sounded strange then.

Likewise, bars #13-14, which employ descending chromatic trichords
in perfect 4ths; also not common at the time.

A note to tenor players:
"Skippy" was obviously not written with the tenor saxophone in mind and therefore, some range adjustments are necessary. In the Bb lead sheet below, I didn't make any range adjustments, which as a consequence, necessitate interval jumps to high G, G# & A; challenging but by no means impossible; something that I'm striving for. Use whatever range is comfortable for you.

Please excuse any C flats, F flats, B sharps & E sharps. I know that several of them got away on some of the parts.

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Bb       Concert       Eb
Skippy on the Tube
Monk's original from 1952

Steve Lacy (not 'Trane) on soprano from 1957 (w/ Elvin Jones & Mal Waldron).
Anthony Braxton on Alto
Ravi Coltrane's group, live from 2012
B. Stern