Saturday, January 25, 2014

Morning Dance

If you are of a "certain age"  and grew up in the US,   then as a jazz fan you were very influenced by an innovative band named Spyro Gyra.  I actually don't know if they were/are popular outside of the US,  but I suspect that they are.   Spyro Gyra was formed in the mid-1970's in Buffalo, NY.  Against all odds and trends,  they were not only critically successful, but they also sold 10 million copies of 25 released albums! Not bad for  a jazz band.  

The band formed around the enormous talents of Jay Beckenstein and Jeremy Wall.   In my little hometown,  following Jeremy's success was a big deal, since he was from the same high school, and his Mom was our librarian  :-)  At one point I remember that as a young man he wrote a symphony for our symphonic band, which was a great honor.   I was in the percussion section then.   I don't remember if there were any good parts for drummers.

Now, strangely,  many decades later it turns out that he is a good friend of my wife's family,  and every once in a blue moon  we get the opportunity to hear him play in a very intimate setting.

Back to Spyro Gyra -             

One thing that they could surely do was catch you with a combined  melodic/rhythmic hook.  One of their most memorable songs for me is titled Morning Dance.   Written by Jay Beckenstein, the whole song is one big hook - and one that will never leave you once heard.   I had this song on my to-do list for a long time.  I tried in once and gave up after a short time.  I had been trying to play it at the originally recorded tempo,  which is something north of 200 bpm.  No way!

When I tried it this time,  beside reharmonizing some of the chords,  I slowed it down to 146, and changed the feel to more of a Samba/Bossa  than the original Samba/Funk.   I  love that Samba/Funk sound,  but it is just too unique to get right.   

I hope Morning Dance chases your winter blues away!!!  

Jeremy Wall

Jay Beckenstein

Geek Alert

Unfortunately, from a playing perspective,  this is one of my weaker efforts.  Particularly the solo and ending. I just ran out of time to be more fluid with better ideas on those parts.  Such is life.  Onward. 

The original song is in cut time.  Since I changed this to be 146bpm,  I'm no longer doing cut time,  so  notice that I have hand claps on 3,  not on 2 where they were in the original.

I'm using 4ths in one bar in the B section of the melody.  Hopefully this sounds OK.

You may notice that on the ending modulation,  in addition to bringing back the hand claps,  I brought in some tuba!  I love the way that Tuba Gooding Jr.  sounds on the Roots crew,  and I thought that this would be the perfect spot for those accents.

Tuba on the ending  - Roots crew

Tuba Gooding Jr.


If you want to see a patently absurd video of kids frolicking and dancing to my jazz cover of this tune,  check out this out on Youtube:

1 comment:

  1. Ken,
    This is soooooooooooooo refreshing!
    Such a good job.
    You've captured the mood of this marvelous tune so many years later.
    I applaud your willingness to explore music from various genres to adapt songs to your arranagements.
    Keep up the great work.