• Warne Marsh on "It Could Happen to You"

    1. Warne Marsh on "It Could Happen to You"


    This solo comes from a collection of duo performances given by Marsh and bassist Red Mitchell. (Note that Mitchell tunes his bass in 5ths, which makes for a surprising sound at first listen.) These recordings contain many remarkable moments, including a version of "Lady Be Good" in which Marsh begins by playing Lester Young's 1936 solo on the same tune.  The music speaks for itself, but here are a few reasons this solo stands out to me:

    I love the way Marsh is able to create intensity through rhythmic manipulation.  This is a characteristic trait of the Tristano - school players that shines in this performance.  In mm. 15-18 (end of the first A) he plays a 3 beat shape that creates a strong hemiola, building tension that resolves logically to match the melody and harmony of the piece.  An intense musical moment, played with a beautiful sound at a soft volume!

    Another example of this type of development begins in measure 41, where Marsh stays in 4 but seems to displace the time, starting each instance of this shape on beat 3.  In measure 50 he again superimposes a new time feel by playing briefly in 6/4.  Each of these sections adds to the story being told in a clear and meaningful way.

    Marsh also plays the blues in this solo, at the start of his improvisation and at the end of the first chorus, where he again implies a new meter by playing in 3/8.  This is the moment of his solo that stands out the most to me!

    One of the things I truly value in Warne Marsh's playing (as well as Lee Konitz's) is his willingness to stumble in order to play something meaningful.  The purity of these two choruses, however, seems totally free from struggle.  


  • Coltrane at 87

    John Coltrane would have been 87 last Monday, which is quite a thing to think about.  Anyone who plays the saxophone today has been influenced in some way by Coltrane.  The first album of his that I really heard was "Lush Life" from 1957, and I'm still blown away by it.  Everything he plays on these recordings has such a strong emphasis on melody (check out how he plays the melody throughout his solo on Like Someone in Love!)

    Here's a transcription I did a while ago of his solo on "I Hear a Rhapsody," with Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Tootie Heath.  Too many great moments to highlight them all, but one of my favorites is the rhythm section fill right at the end of the 2nd chorus.  Enjoy!