Iain Cameron's Diary
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2005-01-31 - 1:29 a.m.
I have got to side 4 of the Herbie Hancock Blue Note collection which includes two versions of Maiden Voyage - a big jazz hit - quite rightly as it is such a beautiful piece. Somewhere on the net is a transcription of the George Coleman tenor saxophone solo - which might be a useful thing to study.
MV is related to So What in that it is a 32 bar song around a vamp and the middle 8 takes the vamp up a semitone. The vamp involves two 4th / 11th style chords but in MV there is a very sparse and subtle syncopated pattern. Each A section is 4 bars in the tonic and then 4 bars a minor third up Writing this out I can see there is an issue about how you get it to turnaround and indeed what happens at the end of the bridge.
You can play the core harmony by sticking a finger across a normally tuned gtr - and get the progression by moving up 3 frets etc. The hard bit is getting the timing of the 4 chords.
If you find the solo - then youíll see thereís a very good commentary to go with it - which discusses the two HH versions of the song on Blue Note. The other one is with Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone and is much icier.
At around this time, HH also recorded Little One - which is on the first studio album the 2nd great Miles 5tet recorded - the album is called ESP. In the making of ESP, Little One and Eighty One were recorded the same day - Jan 31 1965 - 40 years ago today.
Eighty-One gets special treatment from Ian Carr in his pioneering study of MD because he thinks it is the first point at which Miles starts to embrace rock rhythms. The piece is actually by Ron Carter (Detroit strikes again) and is a sort of blues with a lot of very subtle features. The IV chord is the second bar is a minor on the first time round. The second time round the only line event in the second four bars is a stab around beat 8 - and the third (closing) phrase of the blue is a classic blues phrase with very long notes. This is an amazingly subtle piece - itís a kind of abstract minmalism of the blues.
I would like to track the lead sheet of Little One down. When I heard it on the HH Blue Note collection it really packed a punch. I used to think this happened because I had played these records endlessly in my teens. IESP was the second ever album that I bought - the one after The Monster by Jimmy Smith. I bought ESP because I liked Kind of Blue and Green Dolphin St and the Melody Maker said that it was a brilliant record - they were quite right. Now that I am aware that KoB stays in the jazz record charts for ever and that the Jimmy Smith big band tracks are permanent club favorites, I can see that this is not just nostalgia.
Of these three tunes - Little One, Maiden Voyage and Eighty One - the first gets much less attention in general discussion. MV is a classic and 81 gets played a bit - I think I may even have tried it. Someone ought to write a book about the compositions on ESP - itís the album where the 2nd great 5tet starts to show that its great not just because of the soloing and ensemble work but also because there are maybe 5 incredible composers involved. One of these is the producer Teo Macero - who helps complete Eighty One by reusing the beginning as the end.
The Tristano DVD is a sound investment - a film of a solo concert. There is a link with the MD 5tet in that both really take Ďstandardsí apart - push them so that the structure has almost disappeared - and both use bi-tonality. The DVD concert is 1965 too.
Tristano has a kind of inner cool - is this heroin fuelled I wonder? It made me think of David Tudor who apparently was very hip when Cage first met him in the 40s. Then through Boulez Cage got into Artaud an passed this onto Tudor. A DVD of Tudor in his Artuad phase would be a nice thing.
I have been reading a bit from the Rosenthal book. She studied with Artaud and then was part of the Cage circle before moving to Santa Monica.
Mark once mentioned how good the Eee-Jay system is. I have to agree. I am doing hip-hop.
Also sound and vision.