Dig Jimmy Heath!

heath-frontJimmy Heath is another master with whom I hope to become more familiar.

Driving into a glorious autumn dawn on the way to church Sunday, I was listening to “Picture of Heath” and was particularly struck by the third chorus of Jimmy’s soprano solo on “All Members.”

I don’t usually go to the trouble of formally transcribing solos, since there are so many fine transcriptions available on-line.  But Jimmy’s third chorus really knocked me out, and i felt compelled to examine the strategy, structure, and logic of this amazing 12-bar chorus. 

Jimmy’s use of sequence here is brilliant.  His basic motif is simply a triad.  He alternates between arpeggios a whole step apart, repeating the pattern at the next inversion.

However, it is the stunning internal coherence of the melodic development, Jimmy’s flawless execution, and his relaxed swing that really knocked me out about this 14-second blues chorus.

In addition, since the three-note motif is played using swing eighth notes, the accents  continually shift from on-beat to off-beat in an intriguing juxtaposition.

Here is Jimmy’s original performance of this chorus (2:46-3:00):

Here is my transcription:


Here is a slowed-down version you can play along with:

heath-backThanks go to my student, Andy Geiger, for recommending this great album.

Please let me know if you agree that this is really special.  Thanks for listening, and keep swinging!

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