"Hip" playing on rhythm changes?

(17 posts)
  1. For a while now I've been interested in playing rhythm changes (Oleo, Dexterity, 100's of other tunes are of this form). John Scofield's innovations from way back - "Flat Out," "What They Did" (on the "What We Do" album), "Grace Under Pressure" to his unbelievable handling of "Wee" on EnRoute -- first grabbed my attention.

    Recently I've heard "Dexterity" played by Kurt Rosenwinkel (YouTube), and Adam Rogers (from his "Sight" album). Sandemose, others -- any interest in rhythm changes out there on the forum? What are some of your own favorite recordings? What are some of your ideas to play some hip lines over this form? Have you listened to Kurt or Adam Rodgers on Dexterity, and if so - any thoughts? What do you find challenging about them (for me -- tempos mainly! Quarter note = 184 is probably the slowest tempo I've heard in 2 dozen recordings).

    Some other favorite recordings of rhythm changes: "Swing, Spring" - Joe Henderson, John Scofield et al (from "So Near, So Far"); Jay Carlson (a really good NYC guitar player heard out there on the Internet!) playing rhythm changes, Michael Brecker and Mike Stern ("Suspone"), Herb Harris, Eric Alexander (playing bird's "Swedish Schnapps") and of course, the classic recordings of Trane, Miles, Sonny Rollins and others (Oleo, etc.) ...

  2. jazznan

    check out Keith Jarrett's "Oleo" from the Live at the Bluenote recordings. The tempo is fast and his solo isn't...

  3. Sandemose

    Good call on Keith Jarrett jazznan. That solo is great. KJ must be one of my all time favorites ever.

    I like Michael Breckers solo on Oleo from -83.

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    I dig this guy, dont know who he is, but I remember I dug his solo when I heard it some years ago.

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    I by the way suck hard on rhythm changes.

    Best, Sandemose

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  4. Pascau

    Check out Brad Mehldau playing "Anthropology" on the album When I Fall In Love (Mehldau Rossy Trio). Really cool approach, and awesome accompaniment by the drums and bass.

    Also Miles Davis playing Oleo off of Bag's Groove. Not fast, but still, sounds great. Again, really cool accompaniment.

    @ Sandemose: That guitar player you posted sounds great. Sounds really gypsy to me.

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  5. Quintricacy

    What I like about rhythm changes is the harmonic possibilities. It's pretty much 16 bars of Bb and then a cycle of dominants. So you can tritone sub all over the place especially on the bridge. One nice thing is to use the tritone substitute of every second dominant on the bridge so you get a nice decending chromatic thing, D7-Db7-C7-B7. It sounds great if someone is comping the original chords.

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  6. a cool sub on the first 4 bars of the A section: F#7-B7-E7-A7-D7-G7-C7-F7 you could tritone sub to get chromatic desending dominants.

  7. Matt

    are those subs in C?

  8. you want hip? you got it:

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  9. jazznan

    Here's one cool explanation of rhythm changes, the start of "free jazz" (thanks to EI of TBP from this post: http://dothemath.typepad.com/dtm/this-is-our-mystic.html):

    "On two of the rhythm changes tunes on Something Else, “Chippie” and “Alpha,” the bridge is improvised, without a written melody. This was common practice already: famous examples include Sonny Rollins's “Oleo” and Dizzy Gillespie's “Wee.” I asked Ornette about this, and he said that the bridge of rhythm changes was how he first knew how to leave the home key. A light bulb went on my head, and I thought, “Bridge of rhythm changes = start of free jazz.” This makes a lot of sense, and explains why there are so many improvised bridges in his early music.

    We can hear this embryonic free jazz in Ornette's first solo on “Angel Voice.” He mostly plays in the tonic key on the beginning and ending A sections and leaves that key (and normal bridge changes) behind for the whole bridge."

    You can almost hear the language of jazz react in shock and bewilderment: “What was THAT? Actually, that felt pretty good!

  10. sortell

    @twjazz Where did you find Kurt playing "Dexterity"? I can't seem to find it on youtube. I am interested in hearing that.

  11. Kurt Rosenwinkel playing Dexterity is here:

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    Amazing substitutions as usual. (A triad over F7 at 0:47, like I would think of that. :))

    Thanks for the great responses -- cycling around the circle of fourths (smith), Oleo on Bag's Groove (hey, Pascau!) -- to me this is "the" classic recording of Oleo. What a great album, too.

    The KJ recording is interesting; he recorded Oleo with the Standards Trio earlier and played it more conventionally. The recording you refer to is pretty hard to listen to for me, but no doubt worth digging into, so much about rhythm and not melody (at least the first few minutes. :))

    Tritone subs -- absolutely, Scofield seems to like playing B7 (often an arpeggiated thing) over the F7 on the bridge for example.

    Bb over the A sections - absolutely, I think someone said Bird used to favor a Bb blues scale on the last A (AABA). Mike Stern of course uses the blues scale well in "Suspone."

    Jaznan, your post about Ornette Coleman and the bridge on rhythm changes is really interesting.

    Sandemose, you are brutally honest. I sucked pretty bad for a long time on RCs, and still am far from really "mastering" them, but have improved a lot I think. I just frikking won't give up on rhythm changes. I plan to do a little video with just a metronome pretty soon.

    One thing that would seem obvious to a person of average intelligence (yet somehow eluded me) is that you have to work both on understanding the harmonic possibilities AND playing your ideas to tempo (pretty fast, usually). The latter can trip you up unless you have really practiced playing fast often, or focused on it with RC's (maybe by focusing just on the A section, and separately on the bridge, which IMO is a little easier to play, esp. if you know your bebop scales.

    Other than the slow "Bb Rhythm Changes" on one of the Abersolds (not the "fast" one), I haven't come across recordings of rhythm changes at less than about quarter note = 184 (eg metronome on 92, think 2 and 4). Playing "hip" lines - good ideas -- and playing fast, that's definitely a challenge for me. BTW, the Adam Rogers version of Dexterity is a perfect example of fast/hip. :)

    Thanks for the response, I'll check out many of the references above asap.

  12. silverwater

    I also consider myself to be one who sucks at rhythm changes. I avoided really working on them for years, more or less intimidated by the number of chords and the speed at which they go by, and also annoyed by the fact there are quite a few different versions of what the EXACT chords on the A sec are, like if the 5th chord is the I or the vi, or if the 5th bar starts with the I or v, or if the second chord in the 6th bar moves to iv, or possibly bVII. This just didn't jive with my OCD analytical mind (like I know many of you fellow guitarists have too). But having moved to NYC recently, I find lots of guys are into playing rhythm changes, so there's really no way around it now.

    Here's some of my limited knowledge of playing on rhythm changes:

    - Having heard lots of guys play them now, it seems that with a hip bass player playing some cool chromatic/angular lines at those tempos, the EXACT changes really are not that important, and it's all about the direction of the lines to build tension to a point of release, as opposed to outlining the specific changes that are going by.

    - Just playing in Bb can be fine over the A sec as well, although you probably don't want to do this over every chorus because it can sound stale, depending on the player of course. The A secs are a good time to do shit like playing motives in 3/4, 5/4, or 7/4 over the 4/4

    - Treating a quick ii-V like it's just the V definitely helps.

    - For the B section some have mentioned some cool substitutions already. You could play 2 bars each of A dor, Ab dor, G dor, F# dor which has a nice descending sound, I haven't listened to twjazz's example of Kurt playing Dexterity yet but that could be one way that some comes up with playing an A triad over an F chord.

    - Also for the B section, I like to play the corresponding symmetrical diminished scale over each of those chords; Eb w/h, D w/h, C# w/h, to F# w/h (or Cdim, Bdim, C#dim, to Cdim as I prefer to think). Again this gives one a nice downward trajectory in the lines to resolve on the Bb. I like to play chords from the diminished scale too, something like:



    Check out the "Joe Pass Guitar Style" book too.

  13. Matt

    on tim miller's rhythm changes - there's a transcription of a solo/head of a cd of his on his website- http://www.timmillermusic.com/Notes.htm

  14. Sandemose, funny you should post that second video -- that guy's name is Andy Roe I think, and I found the same video a year or two back, and liked it also. That cat can definitely play really well.

    What's fascinating is he plays Oleo with like country swing sensibilities or something. I think he had another video, playing over Wes Montgomery's "Four On Six", also excellent playing, also from a "country-jazz" vibe. Wonderful playing.

  15. jorgemg1984

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  16. jorgemg1984

    "Shaw Nuff" is also a great rhythm changes tune - check Bud Powell version ("Bud Plays Bird" is a must to learn bebop"), Keith Jarrett (on "Yesterdais" album) and Paul Motian EBBP (with Joshua Redman).

    The Mehldau trio version of "Anthropology" mentioned above is probably the best thing I ever heard on a Rhythm Changes ever

  17. geetarted

    For RC bases tunes it's important to go back to when these changes where first added to jazz vocabulary. The posts that inform on this ^ above are right on the money. Bebop. I love Allan Holdsworth and Scott Henderson as much as Kurt Rosenwinkel and Adam Rogers...(( Who I just saw at the REX IN TORONTO 4 days ago KILLING it with drummer Nate Smith and Fima Ephron. He just ripped the guitar apart...I love these guys enough to get wildly off topic.))) One has to go back and swim in the masters to go forward with a solid foundation.. Going back to Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, or maybe Charlie Christian and Django R or Wes.. up a few years to the great Tal Farlow. Those are just a few piano and git examples.. all instruments from that time period... Simple lessons for the changes are all in the early bebop players. This is common sense, I know, just there is so much good music out there it's nice to revisit the masters and reset my ears every once in a while.


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