End Note on Perkins

It’s time to put a wrap on the discussion about whether Bill Perkins knew the chord structures of pieces on which he improvised. You may recall that vibraharpist Charlie Shoemake, who played with Perkins, wasn’t convinced either way. Critic Larry Kart thought that Perk probably did know the chords but felt free to depart from harmonic guidelines that he thoroughy understood. Unless someone out there has a new take on this matter, Shoemake gets the last word.

Larry Kart could be right if he’s evaluating from Bill’s late recordings (which I don’t own). My observations came from standing next to him on the bandstand (here in Cambria and elsewhere). When I hear someone play an A natural half note on an F minor 7 chord, I figure that he either doesn’t know anything about chord changes or doesn’t care where they fall, a la Wayne Shorter.

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