Lead Sheet of "Disciples Blues"

Title: Disciples Blues
Artist: The Modern Jazz Disciples
Album: The Modern Jazz Disciples

"Disciple Blues" Lead Sheet in C (PDF)
"Disciple Blues" Lead Sheet in Bb (PDF)
"Disciple Blues" Lead Sheet in Eb (PDF)
"Disciple Blues" Lead Sheet in Bass Clef (PDF)
Listen to "Disciples Blues"

I heard "Disciple Blues" on the local Portland jazz radio station KMHD, and it struck me in how great it sounded without any of the ornate arrangements or often excess virtuosity that certain records contain. Straight forward and sounded easy, like they weren't breaking a sweat at all; just players enjoying themselves. In particular, the Normaphone solo was excellent, and I'm looking forward to transcribing this track's as well as some of the rest of the record's Normaphone solos later. Yes, the Normaphone.

It's obvious you want to know what a Normaphone is, so click that video to your left or check out this guys documentation of his restoration here: http://marge.home.xs4all.nl/jazzophoneen.htm.

"Disciples Blues" is that excellent kind of sleazy blues: nobody is trying to caricaturize the sloppy feel, it doesn't feel like there's any pretense in their playing, just five guys caught on tape, and that feeling is consistent throughout the album. When I'm improvising, I find myself trying to be something or do something in particular rather than simply being there and doing what I do, and this recording really captures the essence of that sound and feeling I hope to have as an improviser, hence the inspiration to make this lead sheet. I will be taking the time to walk along to this record and transcribe some more so I can hopefully take the feel and attitude from this excellent recording.

Thanks for reading, and I encourage you to use this chart for whatever means you can think of. It's a great two-voice blues head that can replace the (oh so many) stale blues heads in your real book, and it looks like it would lie fairly well for novice players, (at least it does on bass).

Read more about The Modern Jazz Disciples Here
Buy "Modern Jazz Disciples" Here

"Disciple Blues" Lead Sheet in C (PDF)
"Disciple Blues" Lead Sheet in Bb (PDF)
"Disciple Blues" Lead Sheet in Eb (PDF)
"Disciple Blues" Lead Sheet in Bass Clef (PDF)
Listen to "Disciples Blues"

Trancription of Guitar in "Oye Mi Tres Montuno"

Title: Oye Mi Tres Montuno
Artist: Israel “Cachao” Lopez
Album: “Cuban Jam Sessions in Miniature: Descargas”

Guitarist: Unknown

Listen to “Oye Mi Tres Montuno”
Selections of Guitar in “Oye Mi Tres Montuno” (PDF)

I recently realized that I have a huge gap in musical knowledge when it comes to any music with a clave or a tumbao. I have a rudimentary “jazz” knowledge of the music, which consists of every bleached-out arrangement I've done in big bands and small groups, but haven't taken the time to study the roots at all until I found this CD. It was widely hailed by every person I could find who knew about this album, so I thought I should start my research with this (not to mention Israel “Cachao” Lopez is a pretty killing bassist, and I'll be doing more transcriptions of his stuff in the coming months). That doesn't actually need to be in parentheses, check him out starting at 0:30, and most notably at 4:50: Cachao Demonstrates Cuban Rhythms.

Since I bought the record, I've listened to it on repeat a few times and just reveled in how incredibly tight these musicians are. What I noticed most was their rhythm; they can't be beat in their ability to fit exactly where they want whenever they want and make it feel like it's perfect. I guess that's the consequence of playing in a group that is over half percussionists.

This transcription is much of the guitar part from one of my favorite tracks off the album, “Oye Mi Tres Montuno”. What struck me most was both that they used an octaved string instrument that sounds like a 12-string guitar (but I think is a trės, [thanks, John!]), which is just a rad timbre I forget about, but also the way they used rhythm in their soloing. My grasp of executing complex harmony during improvisation is weak in comparison to my rhythm, so I thought examining and analyzing their use of rhythm would be a cool way to expand further my rhythmic vocabulary. I will warn you, this track is incredible, and the musical interplay is infectious.

Intro, Groove, and Solo 1: I thought these examples show pretty well how different elements of the band interact, and in this particular case, I've put these examples up against the rhythm of Cachao's bass line. Notice how well the Intro and the Groove fits in to the bass' rhythm?

Intro

Now take a look at how Solo 1 interacts with it; it's almost completely against it, falling in line with it only really by accident, but the interplay is what makes it compelling to me (not to mention the D7(b9) arpeggios which feels similarly awesome):

As a dude who was steeped in the backbeat tradition of American music, the use of clave within this music is still a bit beyond my comprehension. In contrast to the bass drum/bass line lock-up that is used almost everywhere, "the Cubans standardized their myriad rhythms...by relating nearly all of them to the clave pattern...[and i]t’s commonly understood that the actual clave pattern does not need to be played in order for the music to be 'in clave'," (David Peñalosa, The Clave Matrix; Afro-Cuban Rhythm: Its Principles and African Origins.) These two lines show a brief example of these ideas.

Note: The rest of the excerpts can be found here in the PDF.

Solo 2, 3, and 6: These all show what I absolutely loved about this solo the first time I heard it. Check out the use of rhythmic ostinatos in these excerpts:

Solo 4: In stark contrast to these dense rhythmic games they play, the space the guitarist employs here is super tasteful:

Solo 5: This is another example of awesome rhythmic ostinatos, but in much higher concentration, hopping from one to another mid-phrase without skipping a beat (pun intended):

Solo 7: I transcribed this one as an example of soloing within the established groove. As somebody who has played his fair share of funk music, I learned through enormous amounts of trial and error that the best bass solos in a funk group are where you just keep the groove and vary what you are already playing:

In closing, this whole album is nuts. If you are a fan of deep pockets, there isn't a weak point on this CD. Israel “Cachao” Lopez just passed away in 2008, but his recordings are completely timeless, and I highly recommend checking out more of his music in the links below. Thanks for reading!

Israel “Cachao” Lopez
Wikipedia // Facebook // Amazon

Listen to “Oye Mi Tres Montuno”
Selections of Guitar in “Oye Mi Tres Montuno” (PDF)

Lead Sheet of Ornette Coleman's "Sleep Talking"

Title: Sleep Talking
Artist: Ornette Coleman
Album: Sound Grammar

"Sleep Talking" Lead Sheet (PDF)
Listen to "Sleep Talking"

This track has been following me around the last few days; when I go to sleep, when I wake up, during meals. I never know why these things happen, but I'm glad they do. I was first turned onto Ornette's newest record “Sound Grammar” by my roommate about a week ago after discovering his “The Shape of Jazz To Come” CD, and I have listened to it a lot since that first time. There is a lot for me to love about it: two bass players, one playing with a bow, almost taking the horn's role; crazy free improvisatory pieces; and mostly almost-out-of-control playing.

One track particularly struck me and that is “Sleep Talking”, which he overtly references the beginning of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. (Last Monday, I was able to catch a workshop with Jamie Baum, jazz composer and flutist, at Portland State University, where she talked about how she used Rite of Spring as a genesis for many of her own compositions, and seeing all of this culminate in less than a week's time is fairly serendipitous, especially to such a nerd as myself.) There were a few reasons I transcribed this piece:

  • I'm all about sampling and recycling music for a new purpose, so this is not only a great track, but also an interesting study in using other music (in this case, Rite of Spring) in new compositions.

  • The notation of a free composition has always been a challenge for me, making what's written evoke what should be played, so I decided to see what kind of system I could use to make a lead sheet for the piece.

  • There were parts of the melody that I wanted to explore, and simple as they were, yielded some distilled harmonic and melodic ideas that I have heard and liked but was not able to pinpoint before.

  • It has been stuck in my head for days and I feel compelled still to listen again and again. That's what music is all about, right?

I transcribed this pretty quickly, and I think this is largely due to my going over it in my head quite a bit before ever even thinking about transcription. The hardest part was notating it.

I wanted to allude to the music without making anything totally set in stone. For clarity's sake, I also really didn't want to use more than one symbol per note, which is why I didn't end up using a more obvious staccato or legato marking. What I settled on was the quarter rest symbol, meaning space, and two different stemless noteheads: filled and open meaning short and long, respectively. There is also harmonic content that is almost necessary that I was on the fence about giving; allowing the musician to move through the tune without many rules was more important to me than being true to the recording. I put none in, since if you listen to it, you can hear it yourself, or if you don't want to, you can find your own way.

Thanks for reading, and I'd love any feedback on the notation or the music! If you liked this, do check out the rest of the album, and the also incredible "The Shape of Jazz To Come".

Ornette Coleman
Homepage // Wikipedia // Amazon // "Sound Grammar" on Amazon

"Sleep Talking" Lead Sheet (PDF)
Listen to "Sleep Talking"