Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’ll Never Smile Again

In 1962, Bill Evans recorded seven albums with five different rhythm sections.  He had spent most of the prior two years playing exclusively with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, but when LaFaro died in the summer of ’61, Bill took a break from working for the rest of that year.  When he returned to the studio, he was matched with a variety of players and formats, but his most frequent collaborator at that time was guitarist Jim Hall.

Interplay finds Hall and Evans joined by Percy Heath, Philly Joe Jones and Freddie Hubbard, at that time known best for his fiery playing in Art Blakey’s band.  Freddie is unusually subdued here, maybe because he’s playing older material with older musicians, but everyone puts in swinging performances.

I'll Never Smile Again (BEvans arr)I’ll Never Smile Again (BEvans arr)



Black Narcissus

Sometimes it only takes a subtle change to breathe new life into something old and familiar.  Dayna Stephens treats Joe Henderson’s “Black Narcissus” very gently; he doesn’t change the melody or the form, he just adds a few more colors to the song’s harmonic palette, almost like he’s holding the original up to the light and turning it.

Black Narcissus (DStephens arr)Black Narcissus (DStephens arr)


As a side note, this song was released on Criss Cross album #1345.  Just down the line on Criss Cross #1349, violinist Zach Brock plays the song in 5/4 with the original chord changes.


Speaking of Tony Williams, here’s an interesting arrangement from his Story of Neptune album.  Ahmad Jamal’s rendition of Poinciana is so well-constructed and iconic that many great musicians have been reluctant to put their fingerprints on it.

Poinciana (TWilliams arr)Poinciana (TWilliams arr)

More about this song coming soon on the Bass Resources page…

Proto Cosmos

Fans of Tony Williams’ electric bands are probably familiar with this tune by pianist Alan Pasqua.  I’ve covered the song with different bands over the years, but no one seems to have the same sheet music for a seemingly simple tune.

One of the problems is the bass seems to play a dissonant F and C natural while the melody outlines F#m.  At first I wondered if Tony Newton’s bass was a little out of tune, but the problem doesn’t persist during the solo sections, and to make things worse, I think he plays F and C# at the end.  In any case, I wrote a bass chart (as I hear it) for reference.

Proto CosmosProto Cosmos

Proto Cosmos bass

When Will the Blues Leave

It used to be said about March that it comes “in like a lion and out like a lamb”.  But more often than not this time of year finds us stuck with more blustery cold weather, and March seems to be a lion through and through.  Today, as we wait for the winter blues to leave, I’m featuring a long blues solo by one of the so-called “young lions” of jazz.

On Kenny Kirkland’s eponymous 1991 album, the pianist pays tribute to some of the great musicians who influenced his style, including Ornette Coleman.  Like some of Ornette’s best sidemen, Kenny lays out for much of the sax solo, letting the alto player meander through blues riffs in many different keys, unencumbered by any harmonic “suggestion” from the piano.

But who is that alto player?  The liner notes say his name is Roderick Ward, but it’s telling that such a talented player only appears on one album.  Astute listeners may suspect that Mr. Ward is none other than Branford Marsalis, already mentioned in the liner notes as playing tenor and soprano saxes.  Why his “alto alter ego” gets an album credit is anyone’s guess, but Roderick Ward can be proud of his tiny body of work.

When Will the Blues Leave (RWard solo) concertWhen Will the Blues Leave (RWard solo) concert

When Will the Blues Leave (RWard solo) – Alto Sax

I’m Not Supposed to Be Blue Blues

Here’s a song I first heard on Anita O’Day and Cal Tjader’s Time for Two album.  Teddi King recorded the song as well, and this lead sheet is a mashup of the two versions.  The phrasing of the melody here is closer to Anita’s version, but she stretches the bridge out to sixteen bars.  The form isn’t a twelve-bar blues, but the A sections follow the same harmonic path (first to the four chord, then a turnaround back to one).

I'm Not Supposed to Be Blue BluesI’m Not Supposed to Be Blue Blues