“One note on the saxophone for weeks at a time”

dolphy outdoors 2Here’s a 1975 interview with Eric Dolphy’s parents, Eric Sr and Sadie Dolphy. The interviewer is Alan Saul and he explains the circumstances of his meeting with the Dolphys on his website. The video is a nice document of these warm and supportive parents, their perspective on their son’s personality, his generosity, his commitment to his church, and his optimism.

There are also a few words about practicing:

12:30 Alan Saul: Do you have any ideas what he would advise people, or what advice he could possibly help people on?

Mrs Dolphy: I think he’d tell them to practice, because that’s all he did (laughs). He would get up in the morning before he went to school, say about 4:30 or 5, and practice until it’s almost time to get his breakfast and leave for school. And he’d hurry home to start practicing again, until very late in the evening….

13:19 Alan Saul: Did he mostly just practice scales and exercises?

Mrs Dolphy: Yes, and tone quality. He’d blow one note all day long.

Mr Dolphy: I seen him blow one note on the saxophone for weeks at a time. And I’d be out in the yard working, and I’d go in and say, “There’s no more keys on the saxophone but that one note?” And he’d play and he’d put it on his tape recorder, and he’d listen to it and say, “Dad, it’s got to be right.” And I’d say, “It sounds right to me,” and he’d say, “It’s not right yet.”

Much more Dolphy info at Saul’s website.dolphy11

Scott Reeves/Jay Brandford Tentet at Sir D’s Lounge Monday 10/3 8-11pm

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Scott Reeves and I have a new project together, a tentet featuring our original compositions and arrangements. Come on out to Sir D’s Lounge in Brooklyn and enjoy our music performed by Dave Pietro, Lance Bryant, Jay Brandford (saxes); John Bailey, Andy Gravish (trumpets); Mark Patterson, Scott Reeves (trombones); Roberta Piket (piano), Rusty Holloway (bass); Andy Watson (drums).

Sir D’s Lounge is at 837 Union Street, Brooklyn, in the same location as the old Tea Lounge in Park Slope. The club is presenting large ensemble jazz every Monday 8-11pm

Pepper Adam’s baritone sax solo: “Each Time I Think of You”

Pepper Adams - bluenote days

Here’s a transcription of Pepper Adams‘ baritone sax solo on “Each Time I Think Of You” by Duke Pearson and Donald Byrd. It was recorded at Donald Byrd’s session in May of 1961 for the Blue Note album, “The Cat Walk.”  It’s a high energy, happy tune and Pepper sounds like he’s enjoying the changes. Note that he takes two choruses while the other soloists each take one.
There’s lots to enjoy here. Pepper’s improvised lines flow effortlessly through the shifting tonalities of the tune, and his time and rhythmic momentum are SO strong. There is continuity, connectedness, yet also space to breathe (a difficult balance on the baritone sax).
I hope you enjoy playing along with Pepper’s solo as much as I do. For a link to a recording of the full performance and a lead sheet for the tune, go here.

Pepper Adams Solo – Each Time I Think Of You

Charlie Parker solo transcription- Meandering

charlie parker 1 At his11/26/45 recording date for Savoy, his first session as a leader, Charlie Parker produced 3 of his best known and most influential solos, Now’s the Time, Billie’s Bounce, and Koko. These 3 recordings have challenged and  inspired generations of alto saxophonists, and to learn these solos is an essential part of learning Bird’s language. That particular day in the studio was also the source of many folk tales, thanks to Teddy Rieg’s casual paperwork, Bird’s loose concept of leadership, and the haphazard research that used to be acceptable in jazz criticism and scholarship. session infoThe actual story of that day is fascinating (see here for more details) and much more music was recorded besides the 3 most famous tracks.
Which brings us to Meandering. Several weeks ago a colleague – Marc Phanuef –  played me a fragment of a gorgeous Bird solo that sounded like it might be on the changes of “Embraceable You.” Marc says the mystery snippet was used in the background during the Charlie Parker section of Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary. Where was the rest of this great track? After a little research we were surprised to discover that the recording was “Meandering” from the 11/26/45 session that we thought we already knew very well. In order to fully appreciate this solo we needed to hear it outside of it’s usual context as a ‘lesser’ outtake next to the monumental Koko, Now’s the Time, and Billie’s Bounce. Clearly it’s a wonderful full chorus of Bird at his heartfelt best; an artistic achievement well worth studying.
Yes, the track is an out-take for good reasons. It’s apparently a loose rehearsal rather than a finished performance, and the changes that Dizzy is comping at the piano don’t always match the harmonies that Bird implies during his solo. (In the final turnaround in the last two measures of Birds’ chorus, Bird, Dizzy and bassist Curly Russell all go in different harmonic directions before landing together at the top of the next chorus.) And then there’s the brutal cut in the fourteenth measure of the piano solo – ouch!
Here’s a PDF of Bird’s Meandering solo written out for alto sax. (The chord symbols describe the changes Dizzy is comping and they don’t always match Bird’s harmony.)

Hope you enjoy listening to it and playing it as much I do!

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PDF  Charlie Parker – Meandering

Charlie Parker – Meandering on Youtube