Thursday, October 31, 2013

recent listing: october contrafacts

Lately I've been listening to a few contrafacts (tunes written on the chords of other tunes).  For the most part I have been looking for pre-bop contrafacts. Drop me a line if you know any good ones.

First up was checking out some tunes based on changes from "Tiger Rag" (which shares plenty in common with "Won't you come home Bill Bailey") - Duke Ellington was a fan - "Daybreak Express," "Hot & Bothered," "Braggin' In Brass" & "The Slippery Horn" come out of "Tiger Rag."
A couple of others "Tiger Rag" based tunes I've come across include Louis Armstrong's "Hotter Than Hot" and Sidney Bechet playing "I'll Take That New Orleans Music" (Wilbur DeParis).

There are plenty based on "I Got Rhythm".... "The Jeep Is Jumpin" (Hodges/Ellington) "Apple Honey" (Woody Herman) "Seven Come Eleven" (Charlie Christian) "Shag" (Sidney Bechet) "Chant Of The Groove" (Coleman Hawkins).

Coleman Hawkins wrote a few contrafacts - "Bean Soup" (Tea For Two) "Bay-U-Bah" (Sweet Georgia Brown) "Bean At The Met" (How High The Moon) and I listened to his takes of a couple by Thelonious Monk too - "Rifftide" (aka Hackensack (Lady Be Good) & "Stuffy" (aka Stuffy Turkey (Stompin' At The Savoy).

Another based on Stompin' is "Byas A Drinkby Don Byas. He'ss a player I haven't listened to that much. I remember giving his famous duo with Slam Steward on I Got Rhythm quite a few listens, but that was some time ago.

A few different versions of "Moten Swing" (You're Driving Me Crazy) have been on, including Jay McShann (featuring Bird), Gene Ammons, Eddie Durham and Sonny Stitt.

The Count Basie band on "Dickies Dream" (I Found A New Baby - which seems to share a bit in common with "I Hope Gabriel Likes My Music" though I haven't sat down and tried working it out.)

Charles Minugs' band playing "Take The A Train" and "Exactly Like You" at the same time. This is from the album "Mingus Revisited" (aka Pre-Bird - Mingus wrote the pieces before he had heard bop) I hadn't heard this album in ages - I'll have to find time to have a listen to the rest of the album.

I didn't really listen to many of the bop melodies. One I did check out was Charlie Parker's "She Rote." For this the melody is over of pedal tone and the blowing in on the changes from "When I Grow Too Old To Dream" - I've been listening to Nat Cole's version with Stuff Smith and another by Roy Eldridge.

Aside from contrafacts I have also been listening to artists improvising on standard forms without stating the melody (and renaming the tune in the process). Again, I've pretty much been sticking to pre-bop stuff. If you know of any others - from any era - please let me know (I have the Tristano work pretty well covered).

A couple of favourites to start of with - Roy Eldridge & Chu Berry on "Sittin' In" (Tiger Rag) and "Forty-six West-52" (Sweet Georgia Brown)

Not as well known as his 1939 version Coleman Hawkins' "Rainbow Mist" (Body & Soul) from 1944 is worth checking out. Another one from Hawkins in the mid-40s is "Hawk Variations." I'm not totally sure on this one yet - it sounds as if Monk's "Round Midnight" makes and appearance in the 2nd half but I'm not sure of the 1st half yet..... suggestions? This is an excellent (and surprisingly not very well known) solo saxophone performance. Apparently this was recorded as a promo for Selmer saxophones.

Couldn't pass up a couple from Lester Young too - "Lester Swings" (Exactly Like You) and "Lester Blows Again" (Honeysuckle Rose).

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