Maceo to the rescue again! This week has been crazy – traveling cross-country with a bad head cold all week, busy at work, and gigs this weekend. I was able to scrape together one hour to practice this week, so here is the result, a transcription from my archives that I spent a few minutes working up…
Margie is a Ray Charles song that Maceo performed on the Roots and Grooves set, which is basically a Ray Charles tribute show recorded with a live big band. Maceo sang on many of the tunes, like this one, so we only hear him play over the solo.
It’s a tasty solo – not too hard to get the basic mechanics right once you sit and listen to the rhythms, but there’s a lot of nuance to pick out if you can devote the time. I maybe hit 50% of it, but it was the best I could muster this week. Hopefully I can shake this cold and get back in to the swing of things shortly.
It’s 4th down, 15 yards to go, far outside of field goal range – time to punt! It’s been a crazy busy week for me between work and gigs. I had planned on serving up another Marc Russo solo this week. I found another old transcription in one of my high school notebooks and cleaned it up. It was missing a page so I re-transcribed half of it. I planned on practicing and recording it today. Then I had a three-hour chops-busting gig last night, with another one tonight.
I looked through the Marc Russo solo and realized that it went up to a double altissimo G, so I decided to save my lip for the gig tonight and pull something easier out of the archives.
So – back to Maceo! A slow 16-bar blues. It pops up to a high Ab briefly, but other than that it’s pretty easy to play once you figure out all of the ornaments and grace notes. Just take it slow.
I may return to the Marc Russo solo next week, we’ll see how my chops are feeling!
Since Prince passed away three months ago, I’ve posted nothing but transcriptions from his catalog. As enjoyable and therapeutic as this has been for me, I think it’s time to move on. So this will be my last Prince “tribute” transcription…for a while anyway. I’ll start changing it up.
But what a track to end on! This one takes some explanation. This track was recorded by Prince with Sheryl Crow on Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic. Maceo took these exact backing tracks and replaced the lead lines with his own playing. Presumably, he did this with Prince’s close collaboration. Maceo is credited as performing on the original track, but he doesn’t play a solo. This track is one long Maceo solo!
I can’t think of any other examples of artists collaborating this way, but who wouldn’t do this given the chance?? I think it’s a great idea for a mash-up/re-mix. The possibilities are endless.
The track itself is hidden – it’s not listed on the liner notes for Maceo’s album. You have to skip past seventeen seconds of silence at the end of the “Homeboy” track to the 6:05 mark when “Baby Knows” starts. I wonder if this is due to some copyright issue, or the fact that Prince and Maceo are on different record labels?
The track itself is super fun to play, and pretty easy both to play and transcribe. There are a ton of falls notated, but they are barely even lip falls. Maceo plays these very subtly, just letting the breath support fall away to give the fall effect.
This is the only saxophone solo on the 3121 album. It’s a medium tempo latin-funk feel. Maceo plays an eight bar solo in the middle of the track, and then a longer sixteen bar solo towards the end. I added the time indexes to each solo and split them across two pages for ease of reading.
These are very typical Maceo solos, although he uses altissimo more here than he usually does. It’s also a little unusual to see him jumping up and down so quickly, but he pulls it off nicely. This is something that has gotten a lot easier for me on the Conn 6M compared to my Mark VI. The altissimo notes just pop out, even some of the tougher notes over the break like G.
The Musicology tour was the only time I saw Prince live. It was easily among the best musical performances I have ever seen (and likely ever will see). Maceo and Candy were both with him that night. He also did an amazing mini-set in the middle of the show where he just cranked through a medley of his hits on solo guitar. Unbelievable!
I went to the show with a bunch of my bandmates from Doctorfunk. We all got copies of the Musicology CD with our tickets. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I understand now that by bundling the CD with the ticket sales, Prince was able to game the system into making the album top the charts. Genius!
Dear Mr. Man isn’t my favorite track on the album, that honor goes to the title track. But this has a great Maceo solo in it. Unfortunately it’s the only one on the whole album. It’s short (only eight bars), but fits in the pocket over the slow, funky groove.
I know I’ve been posting a bunch of short solos lately, but I’ll make it up to you next week 🙂
Prince. Maceo. One Night Alone – Live (continued)…
Everlasting now gives the whole band a chance to open up and solo, if only for eight bars at time. The track starts out with a funky “p-funk” feel to it, but then transitions into a quasi-latin jazz groove for the solos.
Candy Dulfer takes the first sax solo (I’ll probably post that one next), with guitar, piano, and bone solos as well. Maceo is in the middle and only gets eight bars, even though some of the soloists (like Candy) come back for another round later.
This track reminds me of Branford Marsalis quote from the movie/documentary “Bring on the Night”. I can’t find the exact quote, but he’s comparing playing in a jazz setting to playing with Sting. In jazz you have the luxury of building a solo over several choruses. But in pop music, you have to burn from the first bar.
That couldn’t be more true here! It’s a pretty up tempo track, so it really flies by, clocking in at about fifteen seconds total.
You’ll notice in the third bar how there’s a Bb that feels kind of out of context. Listening closely to the track slowed down, I’m pretty sure Maceo plays it, but it sounds cracked, like it was an overtone. I’m guessing that it was not intentional – like he started to go in one direction and then changed his mind.
I always struggle with how to transcribe and practice stuff like that. What I’ve settled on is to notate things as accurately as I can (so the note is there), but I don’t go out of my way to learn the ‘mistake’ when I practice. In this case I practiced the line both ways. It’s kind of all or nothing though, either the note is fully there as part of the line (which I don’t think is what Maceo intended), or it’s a ghosted note, which is ultimately how I ended up playing it in the video.
Listening back to my recording of this take, I realize that I need to keep the air supporting through the whole line better. At the end of the solo it feels like half of the lines are ghosted. There’s something to this whole recording yourself practicing thing – people should do it more!
More Prince, more Maceo. I’m still working my way through the three-CD set “One Night Alone Live”.
This is another classic Maceo solo over a heavy jazz/funk groove. The bass player starts out walking in 4 and then slips into a funky groove. The horn lines from this song remind me of Charles Mingus for some reason. Heavy jazz inspiration. I love the versatility in this box set!
The solo is nice and short, and not too difficult to play. He does get up to high G twice, but otherwise it’s pretty straightforward for an intermediate player to learn if you start slow and work up the tempo.
Since we lost Prince, I haven’t listened to anything else. It’s been very bittersweet to re-discover corners of his vast catalog that I had forgotten about!
This week has been all about the three-CD set “One Night Alone”. It features both Maceo Parker and Candy Dulfer prominently, so expect a bunch of solos from this set over the next month.
The thing I love about this set is how it shows Prince’s versatility. You don’t hear any synth-pop dance tracks. If you dropped the needle in random places, you’d might think it was a live P-Funk show. In fact, George Clinton makes an appearance on this track – re-uniting with his old sideman Maceo.
The solo is meat and potatoes Maceo – super funky and in the pocket over a slow, heavy groove. I’d love to find a video of this concert!
I don’t think I’ve posted anything from the Mo’ Roots album. I look at this as a transitional album for Maceo, where he was really starting to establish himself as a solo artist. More importantly, it’s pretty much a straight ahead jazz album. I feel as though he was trying to expand people’s thinking about what kind of music he was capable of.
This is a very straight forward tune – a hard-swinging version of the classic Lionel Hampton big band song from the forties. Maceo himself was still a toddler when this song was popular, but he does a great rendition here.
It’s been too long since I’ve posted any Maceo, so let’s get back to it! This is a great track – the thing that I like about it is how much of a ‘latin’ feel the melody would have if you just changed up the rhythm section a bit.
The solo is not very technical, but it is trickier to play than it sounds. There are a lot of really intricate rhythms, so I recommend listening to it a lot before playing it and maybe even learning to sing it first.
The PDF has the roadmap for the whole track, including the solo trading at the end. The video fades out the long vocal stretches so you don’t have to watch me dance :p