Sunday, March 1, 2015

All Blues

What can you say about All Blues?  This is one of the most recognized jazz numbers of all time.   It has probably influenced many a  musician to pick up his instrument for the first time.   It is also a somewhat controversial tune.   It is included on Mile's seminal Kind of Blue Album with  several modal jazz numbers such as Freddie Freeloader and So What.   This album was the centerpiece of Miles' modal phase of musical exploration.  So the question became,  was All Blues to be played as  a modal number in the manner of the others or is it to be treated more as a blues?  I've seen some pretty heated online discussions about this one.   I'm not going to pretend that I know the answer,  or if there really is one that matters.

I'll just tell you about my approach to playing All Blues for this blog post.  I wanted to use the very open spacing of the chords in the song to try out a concept known as "backdoor ii-V's". This is where you can play an alternate harmony that is down a major 3rd or up a minor 3rd from where the actual chords are.   I believe there are some other variations of this too.   All Blues is written such that most of the chords are just V dominant 7th chords.   I started by changing that so that they we are using the ii-V,  rather than just the V chords.    Then,  when I was soloing,   I would move my harmony either up a m3 or down a maj3  with both my left hand chords  and the linear solo.   The bass player was still playing over the regular ii-V's.

This yielded a kind of interesting sound,  and when I switched back to playing the regular harmony  it sounded like there were extra little resolutions happening.   It is something that I think I'll defintely keep experimenting with!

If you notice a couple of cheating quotes in the playing,  they are intentional  :-)  The beginning of my solo is a quote from one of the sax solos in the original All Blues.   Also the ending is my poor-man's theft from the ending done by a wonderful solo treatment of this song by a pianist named Larry McDonough.  McDonough himself is obviously doing a quote,  and I am doing a quote of his quote. How much lack of imagination can you ask for!

Miles Davis  Kind of Blue

Larry McDonough

1 comment:

  1. Ken,
    Keep up the excellent work.
    Surprise to hear trumpet solo.
    As usual, your final mix works so well.
    Glad you shared your work on this piece with me.
    It's so great to hear the final version as it comes to life.
    Keep going with your terrific musical growth.