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Tag Archives: jazz

playing across changes

Johnny sent me a YT clip featuring Denny Dias playing a guitar solo across an early version of a Steely Dan recording. It was great, listening to him roll across the chord changes, just barely keeping up. And it was the ‘just barely’ that made the whole thing so enjoyable.

I’m not a jazz player, and though I love jazz music, it’s not for me, playing-wise. It’s all a bit  ‘chamber music’ and self-referential.

Give me Neil Young’s shambolic opening to Oh Susannah any day of the week – it takes the drummer twenty seconds to find the right groove, and the rest of the band don’t make it to the party until almost a minute in. And it’s magic.

The only time I’ve ever ‘played across changes’ in a jazz style was when I did a wedding gig with Ralph and he had the band playing standards. When it came to my solos he’d sit next to me whispering ‘Ab, Bm, D#’ or whatever and I just clicked into whichever scale he told me.

Got to admit, it was great fun.

Cold Fire

I play saxophone, not at all well, but I enjoy playing. I play in bands, busk, jam. Before I played sax, I played guitar. And always I’ve enjoy listening to musicians: John Coltrane, Neil Young, Roland Kirk; musicians who just play themselves.

But my favourite musicians are pianists Mike Nock and Bill Evans. I gave up playing guitar because I couldn’t play guitar like like Bill Evans played piano, and I tried, I really did.

If I could name one song, one chorus, even one bar of music, as my favourite moment in music it’d be the opening chords to Love for Sale by the Miles Davis Quintet, played by Bill Evans.

Startling.

The economy and fire in his playing is just breathtaking

Miles Davis said the Kind of Blue sessions were the best Bill Evans ever played, and I think he was right.