Here’s a funky tune from Djavan’s album Alumbramento. This may be the only pop song I know that never fully resolves the harmony. Every time it comes around to the G chord, the bass plays an F. Can you think of another song like that?
Last year on the site I used the month of March to focus on the blues in some of its different forms. I think this year I’ll be even more specific and feature the work of a single artist: Brazilian singer Djavan. He’s been putting out quality albums for over 40 years, and I hope he continues long into the future. His work reminds me in some ways of Stevie Wonder’s… a mix of funky pop songs and heartfelt ballads, featuring some interesting harmonic choices and always fronted by strong, mature vocals.
Let’s start near the beginning. This song is on his self-titled sophomore album from 1978. Its simple melody and danceable groove always put me in a good mood.
The other day I came across a breezy, swinging album called Gerry Mulligan Meets Johnny Hodges. I’m a big fan of both saxophonists, and it’s nice to hear them together. I think their lilting, melodic style is underappreciated by modern musicians and listeners who prefer a more “in your face” mode of playing, but it expresses a deep musicianship that I really admire. This is the first track, written by Gerry for Johnny, whose nickname was “Rabbit”.
Hi everyone, I didn’t mean to go two months without posting, but I’ve been dealing with the rule of entropy recently. After having a busy few weeks mostly away from home, I dealt with a broken piano, a vacation, a computer crash, and now my Finale program doesn’t work with my new OS, so I’m back to transcribing with pen and paper. I even had to buy a new printer just to scan this lead sheet. I have no plans to stop posting though, so stay tuned.
Strange Feeling is a pretty Billy Strayhorn song. I’ve heard two versions of the song, one by Strayhorn himself and one by the Ellington orchestra. This lead sheet is based on the solo piano version, which is played rubato so I’ve only approximated the the rhythms.
Kenny Kirkland is perhaps known as much for his work with Sting’s touring bands as he is for his exquisite playing on records by the Marsalis brothers and other “Young Lions” of the 1980s jazz scene. Sadly, he only recorded one album as a leader before his untimely death. It has a great blend of jazz, latin, and funk influences. I’ve been listening to it all week and can’t recommend it enough. Here’s one of Kenny’s originals.
From the Aaron Goldberg albums Unfolding and Worlds.
Here’s an interesting song. Its form is AABA, but the harmonic rhythm makes the sections blend into each other in a way that obscures that form on first listen. Although the song is basically in C major, it never comfortably resolves to that key for more than one bar. The second A section even takes an extra four bars to pass through Ab major on the way to the bridge in C minor/Eb major. I first heard it on a Bob Brookmeyer record dedicated to the music of Alec Wilder.