I remember vividly the times I got to see Mulgrew Miller perform live. If I was lucky I’d be sitting close to the piano, watching waves of concentration ripple over his face, feeling his deep appreciation of the present moment and the infectious joy of making music. This song is named after one of his bands, or maybe it’s the other way around.
This tune by pianist Darrell Grant isn’t exactly a blues, but it follows the same road map. The melody is two statements of a phrase, once over the tonic chord and again over a subdominant, followed by responding phrase that passes through the dominant back to the tonic. Extra material in the form of a nice intro and interlude makes for a well-rounded and interesting composition.
I love the bass playing of Reggie Workman. He is always listening attentively to his bandmates, matching their intensity and prodding them to new heights without stealing the spotlight. On this Freddie Hubbard blues, he gets a short walking feature out front to set up the tempo.
This suspended blues is by pianist Kenny Barron, as recorded by the Sphere quartet. I posted another blues by Charlie Rouse from this album back in October, and I’ll probably post a third by Buster Williams soon. I like the way the melody centers around an A natural, which adds some bluesy dissonance when it clashes with the suspended 4ths of the F and Eb chords.
This is one of the previously unheard John Coltrane compositions from last year’s much-touted release Both Directions at Once. It’s a treat to listen to any collaboration by this great band, even if it sounds more like a ‘first draft’ than a coherent and polished Trane album.
At first glance, the tune seems very similar to the Benny Golson blues we looked at the last two weeks; it’s a fast 12-bar blues in the key of Bb, and features a Gb7sus chord in the turnaround. This time, though, there is no predictable move to F7 in bar 10, so there’s no strong tonal resolution. The melody and harmony both avoid the D natural that would put us firmly in the key of Bb major, and the band continues this ambiguity right on into the solos, while Golson’s tune switches to a standard major blues for the band to solo over.
For this year’s “blues March” I think I’ll post blueses built on suspended chords, rather than major or minor.
“The Stroller”, from Benny Golson’s Groovin’ with Golson album, starts at a brisk 280 beats per minute, but by the time the band gets to the thick of the solo section it has well surpassed 300bpm. Paul Chambers gives an especially energetic performance, including 9 choruses of arco bass solo that I’ll show you next week.