In 1976-77 at Berklee College of Music, I took a class learning to sight-sing melodies where we were taught to conduct 4/4, 3/4 or 2/4 meter while simultaneously singing the solfège syllable (do, re, mi) and the duration of each note. From this practice I acquired skill in writing music notation that has deepened my appreciation and understanding of what I was hearing in recordings.
C O N T E N T S
|Song Title||Pianist/Composer||Album (CD) Title||Year|
|Freedie Freeloader||Wynton Kelly solo||Kind of Blue||1959|
|Dirge Blues||Mary Lou Williams||My Mama Pinned a Rose on Me||1977|
|Dirge Blues||Mary Lou Williams||
Mary Lou Williams Presents
(Black Christ of the Andes)
|No Title Blues||Mary Lou Williams||My Mama Pinned a Rose on Me||1977|
|J.B.’s Waltz||Mary Lou Williams||My Mama Pinned a Rose on Me||1977|
|Blues For Peter||Mary Lou Williams||My Mama Pinned a Rose on Me||1977|
|Baby Man||Mary Lou Williams||Free Spirits||1975|
|‘Round Midnight||Thelonious Monk||Thelonious Monk - The Composer||1968|
|Special #1||Meade Lux Lewis||n/a||n/a|
|Six and Four||Oliver Nelson||
Oliver Nelson with Eric Dolphy
|Syl-o-gism||Mary Lou Williams||Zoning||1974|
|Relaxin’||Willie "The Lion" Smith||Lucky & The Lion: Harlem Piano||1958|
|Pannonica||Thelonious Monk||Thelonious Alone in San Francisco||1959|
|Prelude No. 4 Var||John Lewis||The Bridge Game, Vol II||1985|
|Prelude No. 5 Var||John Lewis||The Bridge Game, Vol II||1985|
|Fugue No. 10 Var||John Lewis||The Bridge Game, Vol III||1988|
|Rosa Mae||Mary Lou Williams||Mary Lou Williams, Zoning||1974|
|Easy Blues||Mary Lou Williams||The First Lady of Piano||1955|
|Tin Tin Deo||Oscar Peterson||Action||1964|
|Hesitation Boogie||Mary Lou Williams||Victor 40-4043||1946|
|Prelude No. 16 Var||John Lewis||The Bridge Game, Vol II||1985|
|In Front + Lalene||Keith Jarrett||Facing You||1971|
|The Quarrel, Vivace||Sergei Prokofiev||...Sonatas + “Cinderella” Pieces...||1971|
Columbia’s recording policy at that time was to run two tape machines simultaneously, a master and a safety. At the March 2 sessions, the master machine was running slow, so that when the tapes were played back at the correct speed, the music was slightly faster — sharper — than the April 6 session. Over the years, many musicians have noticed that the first side of Kind of Blue — “So What,” “Freddie Freeloader,” and “Blue in Green” — is about a quarter-tone sharp, and wondered what Miles could have had in mind. According to Teo Macero, the speed change was not intentional, and it is corrected here for the first time, using the safety tapes. (Amy Herot, liner note to Kind of Blue, MasterSound Edition, Columbia CK 64403, 1992)
As the pitch was between B flat and B on the Columbia LP I worked from in 1977, I guessed the key was B. For this score, image files are included for both pages of the original key of B transcription as well as PDF of the correct score in B flat.Key of B:
I wrote the original transcription of Rosa Mae in New Haven, Connecticut in 1978 and sent a copy of it to Mary Lou in a letter I wrote after seeing her in the Garden Room Restaurant of Abraham & Strauss (a department store) in New York City in early 1979.
In 2010 I began to convert the original by-hand transcription into the print-ready copy included here. During this process, I discovered some differences with the notation I wrote out in 1978 and what I hear in the recording in the present time. In my experience, transcribing is always only an approximation to the original recording. My desire has always been to learn to play a version of the recording that is as close to the original as possible.
In making these transcriptions available on the net, I am engaged in a process of sending a message to the future. In my early twenties, there were no music transcriptions like this that were available to study and learn from. At that time I remember wishing there were. Mary Lou wanted young people to be exposed to riches of the unique American art form known as jazz, or, as Duke Ellington explained, “we stopped using the word in 1943, and we much prefer to call it the American Idiom, or the Music of Freedom of Expression.” In making these transcriptions available, it is my hope to assist in transmitting the messages of love and healing (Mary Lou’s words) to future generations to study and learn from.
Genius is inexplicable, but Art Tatum, when asked, usually cited Fats Waller as his main inspiration. “Fats, man. That’s where I come from. And quite a place to come from,” he once told an interviewer. Waller, in turn idolized Tatum. Once, when Tatum entered a club where Fats was performing, he stopped the music and announced “Ladies and gentleman, I play piano, but God is in the house tonight!” Tatum was a sort of deity to his fellow musicians—not just to pianists, but players of any instrument. No practitioner of the music called jazz had (or has) such perfect technical command, in the traditional sense, as did Art Tatum. But it wasn’t just his astonishing facility that inspired awe in his colleagues. It was his phenomenal harmonic sense, his equally uncanny rhythmic gift, and his boundless imagination. Technique was merely the vehicle through which he expressed himself. What others could imagine, Tatum could execute, and what he could imagine went beyond the wildest dreams of mere musical mortals.Oscar Peterson carried on the tradition established by Art Tatum with equally unmatched imagination and technical prowess.
One of the difficulties about jazz is that it’s very hard to notate it, but Duke Ellington could and so could Mary. Very few other people have been able to put on paper the feeling of jazz. There are always technical problems, and the rhythm is the most serious: you have to have such a tricky system of dots after notes in order to get the slight changes between values of ordinary eighth, quarter and sixteenth notes. She had discovered, because of her particular genius, a way to articulate on paper a jazz pattern—how to accent a measure. And that’s why her best stuff is among the best in jazz. (p. 99)
A detailed description of the evolution of this transcription is presented at the beginning of John Lewis: The Bridge Game, Vol. 2, 1984/85.
As with all these transcriptions, a lot is left to be desired to accurately notate the feel of the song. Nevertheless, putting together a copy of some form is immensely rewarding to promulgate the creative expression of these giants of the piano.
I struck gold in 1976 stumbling onto Facing You and the 1968 vinyl two-fer of Oscar Peterson’s In A Mellow Mood. There’s an interesting review of Facing You in ALL Music. While I do not have anywhere near the chops to play either of these compositions, along with floating down a river of jaw-dropping musical ideas listening to each tune, reading the scores while listening is also delightfully expanding.Two instances of In Front:
Vladimir Ovchinikov’s interpretations of Sergei Prokofiev in this 1994 time buoy renew the musings of the eternal through one soul’s journey of discovery into the infinite form and meaning of our universal language.
The unbounded energy and fire unleashed in these works is jaw-dropping Oo-La-LA. Amongst rising and falling tempos, heart-expanding sound paintings and transitions, ebullient playfulness, prancing dervish somersaults, exquisite highwire command of mass with gravity, driving freight-train momentum, and nonpareil exhilaration, the aural landscapes rendered manifests creativity of limitless scope.
For my illumination, I am transported by following along in the scores whilst drinking in the impossible-to-me musical heights and depths reached through soul-bodies such as is expressed by Vladimir Ovchinikov.