If you’re not hip to the Brand New Heavies, stop reading this right now and go check them out, because they are amazing. They are typically classified as ‘Acid Jazz’, which basically means that they play funk and hip-hop inspired music with some jazz influence as well. I continue to hope that this genre will go more mainstream since there is so much good music there, but it’s also accessible to a broad market.
The more recent BNH work leans more heavily into the hip-hop genre and seems to be losing it’s instrumental roots. I assume this is due to label pressure and a desire to cross over, but it’s unfortunate because some of the early albums were amazing. Brother Sister is one of the best, and this track kicks it off.
I didn’t really know Ray Gaskins outside of this performance. I’ve been checking him out on YouTube lately. He’s got his own thing going on, both vocally and playing the sax. He seems to be pursuing a smooth jazz angle, and more power to him. He’s a great player, and I love this solo!
I only recorded the solo, but the PDF includes the entire track. I totally botched the altissimo section at the end – he’s so fluid over the break, and I don’t know how he gets between the G and Bb so smoothly!
Hello 2016! For the my first post of the year, I wanted to dig down deep into my Maceo collection again. This is a track that I believe was recorded in 1974 by ‘Maceo and the Macks’, but you may find it on various compilation CDs (as I did) under the JB’s, James Brown, or Maceo himself.
The solo itself is classic Maceo in many ways, but it also has an uncommon amount of high altissimo. I’m experimenting with different fingerings for the high G to find one that works best in these situations. The ‘short’ fingerings are not very stable for me, so I end up using the ‘long’ fingerings more often than not.
I’m also experimenting with alternate Bb fingerings. Again, the ‘long’ fingering works best for me, but is harder to use in fast passages, which makes me suspect that Maceo has a ‘short’ fingering that works well for him. The alternate ‘A’ fingerings work great for me, but I haven’t found the equivalent for Bb yet. Any suggestions?
The second to last transcription from the Time Out album. Although the melody goes through multiple time signatures, the solo is straight 4/4.
My video picks up with the last bit of the melody before the solo starts. The PDF has the whole song. Listening back, I seemed to be dragging a lot during the melody, but locked into the time better when the solo started. I love Paul Desmond’s playing, but his pitch is not as solid as I would have expected, especially in the upper register. I did my best to match up.
I continue to power through the “Time Out” album. For some reason I’m just now getting around to track 1. This is a cool tune with the melody primarily being in a fast 9/8 (2+2+2+3) and the solos being in a slow 4/4 swing.
My video starts with the first of Paul’s solo fills, continues through his solo, then cuts to the end where he does some more solo fills into the melody to end the track. The PDF charts out the whole track from beginning to end.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house…Paul Desmond!
This track really grooves, the back-beat is so strong! But it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that it was in 6/4. Two and Four were easy to find, but it was hard to find One for some reason. Every time I thought I had it, I felt like I was turning the beat around (which of course I was since I was counting in 4/4 at first). I should have known better since this album is all about odd time signatures.
But once I figured the time signature out, it was all downhill. It’s a one-chord song with a bluesy feel, and just beautiful playing. Nothing too difficult, but of course the time signature is a real challenge to play over since no one is used to playing six-beat phrases.
I decided to reach down into the archive for a ‘deep track’ this week. So deep, you may have trouble finding the recording! An Amazon link to the CD (but no MP3 download) is above. You may have to look under either Maceo, Pee Wee Ellis, Fred Wesley, the JB’s, JB Horns, etc. to find the CD. But it’s worth it! You may find it listed as “Pee Wee, Fred, and Maceo”.
Those post-James Brown recordings are super funky to me, and capture an important time period right before Maceo struck out on his own as the solo artist we know him to be today.
The transcription covers the entire track, but my video is only the alto solo.
More Paul Desmond from the Time Out album. I’d like to finish all the transcriptions on this album someday soon, they are all so beautiful!
My usual caveat with the chord changes on this chart – it’s especially complex, and chords are not my strong suit, so fair warning on the accuracy! I cobbled together what I could from a lead sheet and my ear, neither of which I trust a great deal…