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LESSONS Style Council

Surfing the
Changes with Jazz’s
Most Exhilarating Soloing Style
BY JOSH WORKMAN
B E B O P G U I TA R H A S C O M E A L O N G WAY I N T H E L A S T 6 0 Y E A R S O R S O .

It began with a handful of often self-taught guitarists struggling to adapt the fast,
flowing lines of musicians such as saxophonist Charlie Parker, trumpeter Dizzy
Gillespie, and pianist Bud Powell. It has grown into a worldwide scene where guitarists use the bebop phraseology as a means of expression in jazz or any other
style of music. Since jazz is often called “America’s classical music,” then perhaps you could compare jazz guitarists learning bebop sax solos to classical
guitarists adapting the Kreutzer violin etudes to their instrument. By attempting
to play melodies not originally conceived on our instrument, we get away from
familiar patterns, open our ears, and stretch the limits of our technique.

S W I N G TO B O P
The young bebop pioneers drew upon the material of great big band swing-era
soloists—such as tenor saxophonists Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young—and
added more complex harmony and phrasing to the mix. WWII profoundly affected
the music scene by taking out entire big bands with the draft and introducing
higher entertainment taxes that forced clubs to cut back drastically. The resulting return to the small group format allowed underage musicians who remained
stateside to stretch out their solos and try more complicated ideas on the bandstand. Soon New York’s many after-hours clubs became a Mecca for young musicians
to hone their craft, including Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem. In fact, there are
some amazing recordings of legendary Benny Goodman guitarist Charlie Christ-

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J A N U A R Y 2 0 0 8 G U I TA R P L AY E R

All Stars.Style Council LESSONS NYC 1949. Charlie Parker on sax. Lennie Tristano on piano P H OTO : H E R M A N L E O N A R D / R E D F E R N S G U I T A R P L AY E R J A N U A R Y 2 0 0 8 125 .

after the two met at a jam session in Oklahoma. It is widely speculated that if Christian hadn’t died the following year— just short of his 23rd birthday—he would have gone on to become a major player in the bebop movement. (Though an original bebopper.” Not only did Kessel find his own voice in jazz. E. 2 is based on the first eight measures of a Kessel original entitled “Minor Mood. DeArango played with saxophonist Ben Webster from 1945 to 1947 while recording on his own for the Haven and EmArcy labels.) For a glimpse into DeArango’s early playing check out Ex. Check out Kessel’s classic bebop move in bar 5 when. C. ian jamming there with ’bop legends such as Dizzy Gillespie and pianist Thelonious Monk in 1941. “What was I going to play? All I knew was his stuff. Barney Kessel was burning it up in Los Angeles. 1 # B #dim7 B #7 G7 C7 F7 & & & & & #& & & & & & #& & #& & & ## $ # & & & & (&) & & #& ) & ( &) # ' ( !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! " ! 3 3 % = 102 B 7 Swing feel 9 6 9 6 T A B (7) 6 9 6 8 9 6 9 6 (7) 6 9 6 8 6 9 8 7 6 8 6 7 Ex. Here DeArango approaches the tune in a bluesy manner. G) from low to high over Fm. allows you to elongate your lines while staying within a small melodic range. and even the Monkees. a record that featured Kessel with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne. I knew I had to find myself. The young Clevelander hit New York’s exploding 52nd Street in 1944 and was quickly recognized for his ability to play blistering single-note lines with great finesse. based on the first four measures of Parker’s “Anthropology.” which DeArango recorded with Gillespie in 1946. This multi-faceted technique. PAS S I N G T H E TO R C H Few guitarists in the early days of bebop could keep up with the horn players as well as Bill DeArango could.” which can be found on the 1957 trio album The Poll Winners. it was Christian who encouraged Kessel to move west in 1942. he appeared on hundreds of pop albums over the years. Interestingly. dubbed “pivoting” by master bebop pianist and clinician Barry Harris (see sidebar). not worrying too much about the chord changes. he was later so heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis’ electric work that by the mid 1970s he was Christian. & & & & & & & & *& & # ( ( % !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! " ! 5 3 T A B 126 9 10 9 8 10 10 J A N U A R Y 2 0 0 8 G U I TA R P L AY E R 10 10 7 3 8 10 8 7 8 7 10 10 P H OTO : © K & K U L F K R U G E R O H G / R E D F E R N S . 2 C7 # 9 & & & & & & & & & & *& * * * & & #& & & ) & & & ### $ *& #& ) & & + + ( + *& + + + !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! " ! 3 % Cm = 90 1 Swing feel T A B 8 8 8 8 8 10 11 9 11 10 Fm 8 8 11 10 9 8 10 9 8 8 11 11 9 10 Cm ## & & ) & & & & ' + &. Sarah Vaughan. including those by Billie Holliday. When later asked about that fateful meeting. 1. even recording with Parker himself. Kessel recalled thinking.LESSONS Style Council plugging a Les Paul into a wah pedal. BARNEY KESSEL Right around the same time DeArango was hitting 52nd Street. There were two guys [at the jam session] playing like Charlie Ex. he plays the Ab then drops down to the lower octave and plays the last three ascending notes. but throwing in some tasty chromatic notes in measure 4 that give it a distinctly bebop flavor. instead of playing a superimposed Abmaj7#5 chord (Ab. Ex.

LESSONS Style Council Tal Farlow 1970s Notice his use of the aforementioned pivot in the first two beats of measure 3. J O E PAS S TA L FA R L O W Though he began performing and recording as a teen in the late ’40s.. where he resumed his original profession of sign painting. According to his wife. then jumping down to F and ascending through the chord. Notice how in Ex. inventive chord voicings. 4 Pass is able to play a continuous line over the first four measures of Charlie Parker’s blues. and exploration of wider intervals—all facilitated by his large hands. For example he might start off a passage with walking bass and chords then slip into such a finely crafted single-note passage that nobody would notice the bottom had just dropped out. Farlow was so hard on himself that he couldn’t take the pressure of a regular performance schedule outside of his comfortable surroundings. Pass could weave melodic lines and chords together in such a way that the listener might momentarily forget that they were listening to a solo guitar performance. starting on a Db. North Carolina’s Tal Farlow didn’t take up the guitar until age 21.4 & & #& & ) & #& & &) & # & # & & # & ' ) &. Amazingly. Ex. He was a master of solo guitar and a consummate accompanist. F.#& &) & &# & & # & & & & (* + + & & & #& !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! " 4 &. while still remaining cohesive and melodic. He became known for his speedy yet delicate lines. an unfortunate brush with drug use and jail time kept Joe Pass from reaching his full potential until 1961. Ex. good solo guitar playing meant giving the illusion of more going on than there really was. Ab.! & = 156 G6 Swing feel 3 even eighths 7 6 5 3 T A B 5 7 4 7 7 5 7 5 4 3 6 6 3 6 5 4 6 4 3 4 6 6 4 3 5 3 4 8 6 7 4 5 7 Ex. New Jersey. Here he spells out Dbmaj7 (Db. After a brief stint with reedman Artie Shaw’s Gramercy Five in 1953. Notice how easily he could whip out a sixteenth-note run like the one in measure 4 and still resolve beautifully from the key of Ab back to G. but was out gigging within a year. and by 1949 (age 27) had landed a primo spot in vibraphonist Red Norvo’s band. Farlow began recording with his own group. 3 B #m7 E #7 B #m7 E #7 G6 & & # & ) & #&) & & *& .&. It was during his four-year tenure with Norvo that the jazz world truly recognized Farlow’s brilliance. teaming up with vocal great Ella Fitzgerald for a series of duet recordings on Pablo Records in the 1970s. Tal Farlow settled in Seabright. He continued playing local gigs and only occasionally ventured out to record or play larger concerts sporadically until his death in 1998 at age 77. C) over Bbm7. when he made his famous Sounds of Synanon recording while in recovery at the Synanon Center in California. “Relaxin’ After a six-year run of successful recordings from 1953 to 1959. 3 (played over the changes to the classic Out of Nowhere) shows just how many twists and turns Farlow could take the listener through in his solo. 4 F7 Gm7 C7 # & & & & & #C7 & & & & & & & & & & # /) & & & 4 & & #& & # & & & & & # *& + ' !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "4 & & 3 ! & = 158 T A B 128 C7 10 7 10 10 9 8 8 10 J A N U A R Y 2 0 0 8 G U I TA R P L AY E R 10 8 10 8 1110 8 10 8 11 8 10 10 8 9 10 7 8 7 10 10 7 8 P H OTO : © DAV I D R E D F E R N / R E D F E R N S . To him.

6. vocalist Mark Murphy. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! " C7 9 5 T A B & & 8 11 12 11 9 9 at Camarillo. Stern started out playing rock. and Motown. Miles could relate to Sly Stone and the funk feel. & ) & & & ) & & ) & ( & & #& ) & & & & & & ( & & & & !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! " ! Swing feel D7 1 T A B 12 10 # 12 11 9 12 11 9 12 9 12 8 10 7 10 7 8 9 8 9 7 9 10 7 10 F7 # 9 B# ) & #& #& & & #& ) & & #& & & & & & & & ) & #& & #& # )& ' # & #& #& ! &. The first guys I studied seriously were Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall. blues. . 5 = 160 F6 F dim7 Swing feel 8 5 5 T A B 8 6 5 7 7 5 7 5 8 5 6 5 8 7 7 6 7 5 4 5 7 7 6 5 7 8 Ex. but quickly discovered that studying the intricacies of ’bop would only enhance whatever other music he might call his own. the sound. E. One need look no fur- 130 J A N U A R Y 2 0 0 8 G U I TA R P L AY E R 8 11 8 9 10 7 8 7 10 10 8 7 6 ther than jazz/rock guitarist Mike Stern for examples of how bebop can coexist with other styles in perfect harmony. providing music for his movie Million Dollar Baby. save for one G note in measure 1. Then I got way into Joe Pass.*& & !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! " ! % Ex. It’s like learning any other language: You speak it. turning up. & & # & & & & ) & & & # & & ) & *& # $ & . the first tune I transcribed was a blues by Joe Pass on a record called Intercontinental—real straight-ahead bebop playing. as evidenced in Ex. the more I loved it. no matter what style it was.LESSONS Style Council . B). but it was really Sonny Rollins and Sonny Stitt who did it for me. and Ben Webster. Measures 3 and P H OTO : © F E R N A N D O AC E V E S / R E T N A LT D . He liked that there was some bebop in my playing. I didn’t just let go of all my previous influences and switch to a big. but the more I got into it. he can also stay pretty close to home. Latin. I played a solidbody guitar and kept the string bending. “It was a real challenge. 5.” from his 1986 release There Are Times.” TO O L E G I T TO Q U I T Mike Stern’s lines can get a lot more angular than more “traditional” players but. He always went for the attitude. He recorded his first solo album Coast to Coast in 1978 at age 22 and has collaborated with the likes of saxophonists Joe Henderson and Richie Cole. 6 % = 156 G7 ## $ ) & & & . Forman navigates the changes over a brisk reading of the classic tune “Strike up the Band. and even the great Clint Eastwood. Gm7 & *& & & & & & & & & & & & . B E B O P A N D B E YO N D Just as all popular music has undergone some pretty radical changes throughout the decades. so has bebop. “When I got into jazz. In measures 1 and 2 he essentially plays a D major pentatonic figure (D. fat guitar. hip hop. Coleman Hawkins. Today you can find it fused with rock. A. “Bebop didn’t seem like something I could even do at first—learning all the chords to some of those tunes. After spending some time on guitar players. but wanted me to have that rock sound and energy. F#. In fact. and finally develop fluency in it. blues.” By mixing blues riffs with bebop patterns like the one in measure 4.” said Stern before a recent recording session in Los Angeles. In Ex. and even classical music. “When I started playing with Miles he wanted to hear rock. I went back and listened to sax players like Bird. and tuning out is West Coast guitarist Bruce Forman. DISCIPLE OF BEBOP Among the few pure bebop guitarists (by today’s standards) who came of age in an era when everyone else was plugging in. make a lot of mistakes. 6 6 7 6 9 8 and the vibe you get from playing blues or rock. Pass stretches the phrase several beats more than one might normally expect. Nothing beats actually transcribing the music yourself and letting it get inside your soul.

if you really want to learn pure bebop from a master and can make your way to New York City. g 132 J A N U A R Y 2 0 0 8 G U I TA R P L AY E R Barry Harris 1990 New York SCHOOL OF BOP Back in the old days there were a lot more opportunities to learn bebop on the job or at jam sessions. P H OTO : © A N D R E W L E P L E Y / R E D F E E R N S . For more info go to barryharris. but it’s always a thrill to attend the New York workshops. and is done strictly by ear. since you never know who might show up to pay their respects to the master and learn something new. Though these may be new sounds to some readers. so bring your recorder and transcribe everything! The price is kept low and nobody is turned away for lack of funds.com. exploring the symmetrical dominant/diminished (halfstep/whole-step) scales that go with C7b9 (bars 5 and 6) and F7b9 (bar 7) before playing an F altered dominant idea in measure 8. and you can order DVDs. His teaching method makes sense. you owe it to yourself to stop by one of pianist Barry Harris’ workshops for all instruments. Luckily there are a bunch of schools these days that teach jazz in some form or another. which have been held on Tuesday nights since the 1960s.LESSONS Style Council 4 are also fairly inside. Luckily Harris does hold clinics outside of Manhattan. However. they’d definitely pass as legit ’bop lines. In the last half he gets a little more adventuresome. is easy to follow. if they were sounded on a horn in a smoky Harlem nightspot back in the middle of last century. and then finally resolving to Bb.