My biography of Paul Desmond includes Desmond solos that Bill Mays, Bud Shank, Brent Jensen, Gary Foster and Paul Cohen transcribed for the book. They analyze or comment on the solos and John Handy analyzes Cohen’s transcription of “Take Five.” In the text I suggest that playing the recordings and following along with Desmond would help readers appreciate his creative process in improvising. Even if their music-reading skills were slight or nonexistent, a general impression of the flow of notes could be enlightening.
A few readers let me know that they tried, but the transcriptions were Greek to them. Many more who accepted the challenge reported that they enjoyed the exercise and learned from it. In the unlikely event that Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond ever becomes an e-book, maybe digital technology will have advanced enough that we can find a way to marry the recordings with the transcriptions.
How might that work? Let’s watch and listen to a video of the Los Angeles trombonist Bob McChesney. He is noted for his playing in film, television and recording studios with everyone from Kenny G to Ray Charles, and for his jazz solos with Bill Holman, Woody Herman, Frank Capp and Jack Sheldon, among dozens of others. McChesney is a splendid soloist and a fearsome technician. Here, he harmonizes and overdubs four trombone parts in his arrangement of Cole Porter’s “I Love You.” Kevin Axt and Dick Weller, the only other musicians involved, accompany him on bass and drums. The transcription unfolds in synchronization with the music. Whether you can read the notes or are merely going with the flow, keep your eyes on the screen because this goes by fast. It’s easier if you watch in the full screen mode.
Have a nice weekend.
Ned Corman says
Your McChesney link is a hoot. Rob’s a great player and came to Rochester for one of our Trombone Circuses. I was reminded of another clip, one you may not know, of Michael Davis, another Trombone Circus guest, in fact, the first.
Michael has been Rolling Stones trombonist for a decade-plus.
Yeah, “fearsome” indeed, Doug! Do you know more about this track? Has he composed it all, or is the lead voice improvised? It’s at least nice that all this is coming from him.
Certain trumpeters take a solo from xyz, and then harmonize it in the same way, which sounds terrible. No, I won’t mention any names.
Another one I personally know took a solo of Chet Baker, ripped it apart into four-bar phrases, and played fours with the already dead man who couldn’t say “No! I don’t wanna jam with you, loser!”
He even “composed” a new blues, joined together with some catchy lines of the same track, and named it “Chattin’ With Chet”. The worst is: He gets royalties every time they’d play it on the radio.
And Chet? He gets the usual nothing.
Bob McChesney says
Thanks for posting the video. Please tell Brew that I wrote the whole thing. I composed the top line first, conceived to sound as a solo, but with all four trombones in the back of my mind. Then did the voicings and then the tracking.
Thanks for the Info, Bob Chesney. Brilliantly done!
Bob McChesney says
I put up a little video of me demonstrating the first trombone part to “I Love You” live. Thanks.