I transcribed this from an old Coleman Hawkins record featuring Oscar Pettiford on bass. I sometimes show it to students of mine because it’s a nice example of how to compose an effective walking bassline. Oscar uses a few simple ideas to give motion and color to the harmony, and his timing is impeccable. The bass solo shows off Oscar’s dexterity and motivic development, as well as presaging the solo style of the next generation of greats like Paul Chambers. Soon I’ll add a new page to this site that digs deeper into some instructive playing by important bassists, so stay tuned for that.
Here’s a transcription of Oscar Peterson’s bluesy solo on the classic “On Green Dolphin Street”, from the album Very Tall, featuring Milt Jackson, Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen. I play the tune often at jam sessions, but this version also holds a special significance for me…
It was a snowy December evening many years ago, when I was still in my teens. I had just acquired a turntable and was excited to start my vinyl collection, so I stopped into a record shop to peruse the stacks. As soon as I walked through the door I heard the mellifluous sound of Milt Jackson’s vibraphone filling the air. I was so transfixed, it was hard to concentrate on the titles of the records I was flipping through. I ended up listening to the entire record while standing at the counter, and bought it as soon as the needle came to rest. To this day I think fondly of Very Tall every time I’m walking on a cold snowy night.
The solo starts at 3:45 of the song for those listening along.