Hello everyone, this week I’m gonna start the first series of articles of this blog. It is called “Jazz Recordings Analysis”, and all of its articles are based on Philippe Baudoin’s book called “Jazz – Mode D’Emploi”. Every article in this series will feature one analysis of a jazz recording, each following a different concept cited in Baudoin’s work.
The idea of making a record analysis came from my own struggle to understand jazz repertoire in a deeper way than just listening to a tune a couple of times, reading its melody and chords in a ‘real book’ and playing it around with no good reference. But how can I make that happen without sacrificing my sacred practice or work daily hours? Apparently Baudoin’s book is there to help me and whoever has the same problems. I guess this also applies to a big crowd out there who doesn’t know where to start when facing the endless materials in the path to know and understand jazz repertoire.
Anyway, this is for those who ‘love’, ‘just like’, ‘would like to know better’, ‘is interested in’, ‘why not’: JAZZ
So let’s begin!
Unfolding of Tunes
Jazz tunes can be either vocal or instrumental and they must have at least one chorus (or refrain). So here’s what you might find on your way:
– a verse: usually containing less bars than the chorus (8 or 16), they are generally executed in vocal versions. Although a bit forgotten by the instrumental repertoire, they are sometimes quite rich in both melodic and harmonic perspective. It is not rare to listen to a performer to sing it ad libitum (tempo free), but it is very likely that it will serve as an introduction to the song. You can usually separate it from the main chorus by the entrance of the rhythm section (drums, bass and piano). Here are some examples of songs with a verse for you to listen:
List of jazz tunes with verse
– a main chorus or refrain: the main part of the song, that holds its main melody. It is also the part which jazzmen will improvise over, usually after the first exposition.
Analysis: Ella and Louie
This is a classic. A great start for those who have never listened to a whole jazz album, and a great reference for those more experienced.
Before pressing play, it’s cool to check out some basic info:
Ella and Louie was released in 1956, the first of three that Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong would record together at Verve Records. The killer band playing on this:
Everyone involved in this album is a jazz legend, so don’t waste time not looking up what each one has done in their careers. We are about to listen a fantastic group, folks.
So, while listening to this record, today we’re just gonna focus on trying to figure out if there’s a verse and identify the chorus. Yep, easy as that! The most important thing is that you take the time to really listen to the whole record. It doesn’t need to be all at once. Sometimes it can be a very hard challenge to stay focused for a complete hour. If you catch yourself distracted, thinking about something else, there’s no need to feel guilty, just bring your concentration back to the music, no need to rewind any song. The only thing I suggest you now is that, after one song is over, write down on a piece of paper if there’s a verse and when the chorus starts (what are the first words of the chorus?). After listening to the whole album, check my notes below and see if you got it right.
Here’s the spoiler:
- Can’t We Be Friends? (Paul James / Kay Swift) – No verse, 3 chorus (Ella – Louie – Trumpet/Ella and Louie)
- Isn’t This a Lovely Day? (Irving Berlin) – 1 Verse (Ella), 3 chorus (Ella – Louie – Trumpet/Ella and Louie)
- Moonlight In Vermont (John Blackburn / Karl Suessdorf) – No verse, 2 chorus (Ella – Trumpet/Ella and Louie)
- They Can’t Take That Away From Me (George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin) – No verse, 3 chorus (Ella – Louie – Trumpet/Ella and Louie)
- Under a Blanket of Blue (Jerry Livingston / Al J. Neiburg / Marty Symes) – No verse, 3 chorus (Louie – Ella – Trumpet/Ella and Louie)
- Tenderly (Walter Gross / Jack Lawrence) – No verse, 3 chorus and 1/2 (Trumpet – Ella – Louie – 1/2 Trumpet)
- A Foggy Day (George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin) – 1 verse (Louie), 3 chorus (Louie – Ella – Trumpet/Ella and Louie)
- Stars Fell on Alabama (Mitchell Parish / Frank Perkins) – No verse, 1 chorus and 1/2 (Ella – 1/2 Louie)
- Cheek to Cheek (Irving Berlin) – No verse, 2 chorus and 1/2 (Louie – Ella – 1/2 Louie and Ella)
- The Nearness of You (Hoagy Carmichael / Ned Washington) – No verse, 3 chorus (Ella – Louie – Trumpet/Ella)
- April in Paris (Vernon Duke / E. Y. “Yip” Harburg) – No verse, 3 chorus and 1/2 (Ella – Louie – Trumpet – 1/2 Ella)
Next week we’re gonna talk about the chorus form, and appreciate another jazz classic.
Please let me know what did you think about this listening experience and my post by leaving a comment below. I’ll gladly answer back as soon as possible. I’ll be eagerly waiting for your comments, questions and suggestions. Also, if you’re dying to have more info and can’t wait a week for the next post, check out my Contact page for some extra options.
See you next week!