The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Dance of the Infidels’

Sippin’ at Bell’s

Posted by keithosaunders on September 4, 2018

Here is an unconventional blues from Miles Davis called Sippin’ at Bells.  It comes from his very first session as a leader in 1947 and the band featured Charlie Parker (on tenor!) John Lewis – piano, Nelson Boyd – bass, and Max Roach on drums.

The other tracks are the original Milestones, (Miles would write a second Milestones ten years later – a modal tune based on two chords) Little Willie Leaps (based on the chords of Bronislaw Kaper’s All Gods Children Got Rhythm), and Half Nelson.  All four of the tunes on this date ended up becoming jazz standards.  Jazz musicians throughout the world know them and continue to play them.

Sippin’ at Bells, a 12 bar blues,  is notable for it’s unique, substitute chord laden progression.  Miles begins the song with an F major 7 (instead of a dominant 7) and if that is not radical enough, he immediately diverts to the key of Eb in measure two, using Fm7-Bb7.  In the fifth measure, instead of using the usual IV dominant 7, Davis employs a IV major 7, a striking diversion from the norm.

In 1949 the pianist Bud Powell would record his original, Dance of the Infidels.  Its chord progression is almost identical to that of ‘Bells,’ although its melody is completely different.  Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

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Bud Powell’s Sure Thing

Posted by keithosaunders on June 6, 2016

Those that follow my blog know that the pianist, Bud Powell, is the jazz musician whom I feel the closest to .  I believe he has had a greater influence on jazz pianists than any other musician.  This includes Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk, and Herbie Hancock, all of whom are giants in their own right.

Not only was Bud a brilliant pianist but he was also a transcendent composer.  Many of his compositions combine classical, African, and Latin American influences which are filtered through his extremely personal and infectious harmonic and melodic sensibility.  Some, such as Celia, Dance of The Infidels, and Bouncing With Bud have become jazz standards –  repertory which musicians are expected to know.  Others, such as the forward looking Un Poco Loco, Glass Enclosure, and Sure Thing are less accessible vehicles for improvising, and thus with the passage of time have been overlooked.

This year’s resolution has been to transcribe and learn some Powell’s lesser known compositions and I am proud to say that at mid year I am right on schedule.  I began with Dusk at Sandi, and last week, after about a month’s work, I finished Sure Thing.  (Next up will be Glass Enclosure)

Here is a screen shot of the first page of six:

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Forgive my amateurish screen shot skills.  My patience ran out so I ended up taking it from my phone.

I am now offering jazz piano lessons via Skype.  In fact, since the main focus of lessons will be on improvising, I can teach any instrument.  The lessons are affordable, and being that I will not be leaving my apartment to teach, I charge less than my usual fee.

You may contact me via email or through my website.

OK enough with the commercial, we now return you to your regular scheduled curmudgeonly blogging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bud Powell: The greatest.

Posted by keithosaunders on February 24, 2016

I had an interesting conversation with a sax player at my gig last night.  He said that years ago he had gone to see Stan Getz and that between tunes Getz began talking about the great pianist, Bud Powell.  He asserted that a strong case could be made that Powell could be considered the most important jazz musician of all time.

Even I, who considers Powell my most important influence was slightly taken aback by this statement.  Charlie Parker looms as an enormous presence in jazz, and although we can’t equate the harmonic and rhythmic revolution that was bebop with one man, it is generally accepted that Bird, with his prodigious technique and dense harmonic lines was the prime catalyst.

The thing is that if you agree that Bud was every bit the harmonic equal of Bird, it becomes not so much a question of who played better, but who was the first to invent the language.  We may never know this but one thing Getz pointed out which I am in complete agreement on is that Bud wrote some of the most forward-thinking songs of all time.

Of course Bird wrote great songs as well, most of which we study and play to this day.  Yardbird Suite, Ornithology, Scrapple From the Apple are  the first three that come to mind but I could rattle off another two dozen if I had to.

While Bird’s songs defined and codified an era, Bud’s compositions looked towards the future.  Un Poco Loco was one of the first songs to combine Afro-Cuban rhythms with the new sound of bebop — its extended montuno solo section presaged modal music by a good ten years.  Dance of the Infidels is an altered 12 bar blues with a herky-jerky melody that somehow manages to appear fluid.  Check out its whole tone intro.  Bud wrote haunting ballads such as Dusk in Sandi, and his brilliant reworkings of standards such as Autumn in New York and Everything Happens to Me asserted an infectiously personal and passionate voice.

Bud Powell remains a giant among giants.

Dance of the Infidels

Dusk in Sandi

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