ALONE WITH DUKE
My latest CD is different from all my other CDs. Being a solo trumpet Cd I've tried ever combination of open and muted horns to vary the sound. For you trumpet geeks I'll explain what horns, mutes etc I used on each tune and some of my thoughts on the approach I took.
1. Take the A train- I recorded the melody first in cup mute without a click track this included the intro and fade. The tune goes from C concert to Eb concert for two choruses which was hard for me to remember how many chorures when I soloed over the track in harmon mute. I wanted this to be as if two bebop players were playing a duet (Clifford Brownish style).
2. I Got It Bad- the inspiration comes from a Bill Evans transcription. He used 6 or 7 voices so I had to rewrite it for 4 harmons. There was some great counterpoint I tried to reproduce but the trumpet doesn't go low enough but it worked out pretty well. I played each phrase separately to create the out of time feel as Bill did on his solo. I only did the first two minutes as the solo really gets almost impossible for the trumpet to reproduce.
3. In a Sentimental Mood- this took about a year of practice and planning. This idea came from Joe Henderson's solo horn on Lush Life. I wanted to try to be as athletic as a tenor player- leaping from high to low, out lining the chords (albeit in a simpler way), and solo over the changes. I play a lot of whole tone ideas, leap from double Bb to low F#, and play the melody in three different octaves. I also added some Coltrane changes on the bridge when I improvised. I play a pedal E on the melody on the way out and I used 23 for the fingering instead of 12. There is a "rip" at the end but if you listen closely you'll hear it is really stacked 4ths from low F# to G (F#,B,E,A,D,G) outlining G Major9 then I leap to a low C# (#11). Played on my Chicago Monette.
4. Cottontail- the walking "bass" line was recorded first on a Bach 37 with a harmon mute in. I used my Monette BL6F with a flugel cup and even then it was hard to get all the notes to speak. I wrote the bass lines within an octave range from low F# to F# playing one chorus at a time and then pasted them together. Tempo was 300 I'm pretty sure. Then I soloed over it in harmon and cup and choose cup for the contrast. Tried a little Clark Terry influence.
5. Sophisticated Lady- used my Bobby Shew flugel and tried to have a Woody Shaw approach on some of the fills. The melody is so strong I tried to not change it very much on the bridge. I tried for the iconic Bobby Shew flugel sound- which is like trying to beat God at golf....
6. Blue Pepper- this was hard to do with only a 4 channel hand held recorder- since there are nine parts. Started with 3 harmons and using a double harmonic minor scale (Arabic scale) F,F#,A,Bb,Db,E,F. I added a lead pipe solo as a bird call sound then into a repeated phrase for a percussion sound. The Cat Anderson style solo was played on my old MLP LA Benge 3x bell.
7. Take the "A" Train (abstract) - this solo flugel track about after my lessons with Dave Liebman and Tim Hagans. A free intervalic approach was used. Intervals found in the original melody were reversed, inverted, and duplicated in other keys to make a dark version.
8. If You Were in My Place- solo harmon. I used a Copper Jo Ral bubble mute. I played this on my Bach 37 as my Chicago Monette valves made a lot of noise. Even the Bach valve noises are heard because I slap the valves down and the mute quiets the horn (on most recordings drums cover this up). As for the playing style- this is a slight nod to Chet Baker and the other lyrical players- with quotes of the melody throughout.
9. Prelude to a Kiss- is a four flugel arrangement using rootless voicing and parallel major 7 voicing on the bridge (1,3,Maj7). This has almost a trombone section sound to it. I also heard this tune as a lead horn chart- a la Doc Severinsen. I recorded a separate version up an octave and the mics overloaded so that version wasn't used but the bridge just sings with his style of slurring and vibrato. (I'd love to hear him play it).
10. East St. Louis Toodle-oo. Plunger a la Bubber Miley. After getting a few punger pointers from Clark Terry years ago in a master class, I still needed to hone my skills to get the sound right. This is not a 1930's version as the swing is more contemporary.
11. C Jam Blues / Happy Go Lucky Local- I play this in F as there are three other tunes in C and one in C minor. I used Happy Go Lucky Local as a "background" for the soloing on Harmon Mute. This was recorded at 360 and I recorded the flugel first. I just made up the flugel background and maybe should have edited some of it out but it is exciting straight ahead bebop. Played some Tom Harrell ideas on this one.
12. Blues of the Vagabond. A tribute to the great Bill Chase. In High School I loved Bill Chase and the beginning of "Open up Wide" was an iconic sound from the 70's. When I think of a trumpet player playing alone and making it sound interesting or chordal this is one sound that comes to mind. Blues of the Vagabond seemed to be the perfect Ellington tune for this style. We didn't use as much distortion or high eq but it still has the same feel as "Open up Wide". I used my Bach 37 with a BL6 (14B4) but wished I had a Schilke Horn. I put a lot of rips, falls, bends and shakes etc.
13. African Flower- I used cup mute, straight mute, harmon and flugel (for the bass line). I tried to use this tune as a contrast to the rest of the tunes here with as many "colors" as I could get with 4 voices. I used a Straight mute with strong trills to get some what the sound Mingus got with his bow.
14. Mood Indigo- one of the most iconic solo trumpet sounds has to be the Godfather Theme. My trumpet teach in High School, Jeff Conrad, played it for me and I think I remember that as much as the original. The sound stuck in my head as eerie, distant and pure at the same time. I used my Chicago Monette with my BL6D (14C4) for that. Second line was with a cup mute and I again used ideas from my lesson with Dave Liebman and Tim Hagans.
15. Single Petal of a Rose. This was written for the Queen by Duke and has a regal sound to it. I lowered it to the lowest key I could for 4 flugels. Left each note sustained to create the open 5ths and 4ths (Maj 9 sound) and then added tight clusters for contrast. This is the closest to a classical version I could come up with. I put it last to relax the listener after the wild ride this cd takes one through.
Try to have one setting for low and high notes. Don't reset (lower or raise the mouthpiece on your lips) for each note. There are Caruso exercises that will help with this. This makes leaping from high to low and the other way around much easier and keeps your sound more even through all registers.