Monday, July 20, 2015

This Masquerade

I'm continuing on this little theme of choosing numbers that were made famous as guitar numbers.  For my last post,  I covered Cavatina which was made famous as a classical guitar number.   For this entry,  I've created an arrangement of This Masquerade.

"This Masquerade" is a song written by Leon Russell. The song appeared on the B-side of the single for Russell's 1972 hit "Tight Rope" and on his Carney album. The song has also been recorded by many other artists including Helen Reddy, The Carpenters, Shirley Bassey and Willie Nelson.  

But it is most well known as the top-ten pop and R&B hit by the great jazz guitarist/vocalist George Benson.   Benson recorded this in 1976 for his Breezin' album.   He also won a well-deserved Grammy for Record of the year  with this song. 

Earlier in the summer,  my piano teacher Ed and I played this as a four-hands piano number  for his adult piano recital.  We've started a little tradition of picking an unexpected up-tempo number  to arrange as a duet to end the recital with.  We usually have a minuscule time budget,  so we'll settle on an arrangement  and try to run through it once or twice before the recital.   This year  I came to him  with This Masquerade  because I thought we could have some fun with it.    The arrangement we decided on was Latin,  going into a fast swing,  then back to Latin.  It was fun!

For my blog arrangement,  I went in a somewhat different direction.  Unfortunately,  since this is most often covered as a guitar number or as a vocal,  there are not many good examples of jazz piano covers to listen to.  I found versions by Bobby Durham, Johnny Varro, Patrick Peronne, and Arnie Abrams that were somewhat helpful. I'm playing this as a Latin bossa throughout,  but with some of the following features:  

-  fast bossa.  I'm playing this at 138bpm,  
 - bass solo.  I have a bass solo in the first A section of the 2nd improv verse
 - I have extra congas and a synth layer during my improv solo  to add some sound differentiation between the verses 
 - alternate the ii-V harmonies a minor third down,  then back while playing over the same Eb scale during the vamp parts seems to give a nice Latin sound.
 -  extended out the measures between verses (from 2 to 4)  to give more room at this speed 138BPM  for transitions between parts.    

George Benson

Leon Russell

1 comment:

  1. Ken,
    Excellent work as usual. The drum kit is colorful, congas provide a terrific addition, the grove is strong and the arrangement recalls George Benson's wonderful live album.
    Your playing exhibits such a command of the musical language as well as the keyboard. Love the bass solo too:)
    Congratulations once again on another marvelous rendition.