Posts Tagged ‘ jazz

Banjo transcription: Béla Fleck’s “Half Moon Bay”

This year, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones are reuniting for a tour with harmonica and keyboard virtuoso Howard Levy, a former band member for their first several albums in the early 90’s.  In honor of the gathering of so much talent, I’ve dug out and updated a transcription I did years ago of a gem from the Flecktones first (self-titled) album: “Half Moon Bay“.

Back in the early 90’s, the group featuring more striking jazz edge, both in sound and composition– Béla had set out to prove that the banjo was a legitimate instrument to use in modern jazz. Years later, when he had undeniably achieved this, the group evolved to take on the sounds of numerous different musical cultures, but on their debut record, many of the tunes fit into standard 32 bar forms with melodies that could occasionally be called be-bop (“Hurricane Camille”).

“Half Moon Bay” is one of those– an AABA form with simple be-bop harmony that one might find in a Charlie Parker tune.  However, the composition makes brilliant use of the capabilities of the banjo, both of its open strings and of the 3-finger picking style native to bluegrass music.  Fleck weaves together counterpoint reminiscent of J.S. Bach’s unaccompanied violin and cello works (some of which he would later reinterpret for banjo on his 2001 record Perpetual Motion).

I’ve included 2 charts for this transcription: the banjo part, in both notation and tablature, and a lead sheet, with notation of both the banjo part and Howard Levy’s harmonica part.  Levy plays diatonic, not chromatic harp, and yet he has managed to develop a technique in which he bends the harmonica reeds in order to seamlessly reach chromatic notes.  This incredible feat is something like playing a piano with only white keys, but “bending” the piano strings to reach the “black” notes. Listening to him improvise fluidly on “Half Moon Bay” and the rest of the album is mind boggling.

So here’s to the reuniting original lineup of The Flecktones– and the strides that they’ve all continued to make in music in the twenty years since the release of that album.

You can stream Half Moon Bay here, and download transcriptions at the link above.

Note: The download link below will take you to a check-out dialogue but will NOT ask for any credit card information– it’s entirely free!

Bela Fleck Banjo Tab "Half Moon Bay"

Bela Fleck Banjo Sheet Music "Half Moon Bay"

New Jazz: Mara Rosenbloom’s “School of Fish”

It’s fairly infrequent that my attention is captured by good jazz as of late, but fellow NYU alum Mara Rosenbloom’s new record School of Fish has been spinning steadily in my stereo this week.  Mara is an incredibly talented composer and pianist whose use of space has sometimes amazed me, sometimes confounded me.  On School of Fish, her modular tunes give her similarly talented band plenty of room to function as an elastic unit, stretching and contorting her melodies into shifting shapes and forms.

It inspired me to dig out an old video of my Subdiversity Band performing one of her tunes, “Departure”, with Mara at the keys from 2007:
After checking out that video make sure you give her record a listen– available at www.MaraRosenbloom.com— and check her out live.  Another worthwhile listen is her bassist Isaac Jaffe’s new record, Of Pandas and People

There are a couple other videos from the aforementioned Subdiversity Band concert on my youtube page; next post, I’ll share 2 covers from that show (by Joshua Redman and Meshell Ndegeocello) as well as corresponding transcriptions.

From the Road: New Bat-or video, Lenart Krečič tracks

Hey y’all,

As I post this, I’m speeding southbound down I-95 (or more likely stuck in traffic) with the Nicole Hart Band. After stops in Richmond, VA and Brunswick, GA, we’ll spend 2 weeks crisscrossing Florida, culminating with 2 performances at the Springing the Blues Festival in Jacksonville Beach. You can see our schedule on my page at myspace.com/jusfunk, so if we stop anywhere near you, come on out for a good hang! I’ll update this blog with photos and tales of debauchery– so, if you’re into that, go ahead and subscribe ;)

I’ve got a new video up with my long-time collaborator Bat-or Kalo. She’s been getting airplay with her upcoming CD Flesh & Bones over in Tel Aviv, but this video is a live performance of at Rockwood Music Hall in New York. Check it out and make sure you stop by her page to hear some tracks off her new record:

(P.S… her name means “Daughter of Light”, so you know she’s pretty badass ;)

Also, Slovenian saxophonist Lenart Krečič has posted 4 tracks I recorded with him to his profile: his compositions “That Night“, “Vitality” and “Left in Silence” as well as his arrangement of the Slovenian folk song “Zrejlo Je Žito”. Also on the tracks is alto player John Beaty, who played on my live offering Una Passeggiata, and Adam Jackson on the drums.

Check them out here: myspace.com/lkjazzmusic

Hasta la próxima… I’ve got some cool transcriptions in the works to share on future blogs. You can subscribe here at subdiversity.com along the right sidebar.

“Una Passeggiata” — Live Album Release

Check it:

I’m pleased to announce the release of Una Passeggiata, recorded live on May 13, 2008. Video of the entire performance is on YouTube, and tracks are available for download on myspace via snowcap: 12/27/10: Working on getting these tracks available for download once again!

Big thanks to Chris Zembower who did an excellent job recording and mixing the 6 tunes:

1. Pilgrimage (Shepik)
2. Green Dolphin St.
3. Óneira
4. Pikrós eínai o pónos mou (Tsitsanis)
5. The Flood (Shepik)
6. Pane e Dolci (“Una Passeggiata”) 

featuring: Brad Shepik (gtr), John Beaty (sax), James Clark (piano), Jordan Perlson (drums)

I am incredibly blessed and thankful to play with these musicians, as well as to everyone who came out to the performance. Also to Ari Feldman for transferring and editing the video and to Harold Goldner for filming.

Now I’m sinking myself deep into getting the Funky Butter album mixed and released for your listening/tasting pleasure.

-j

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Audio recorded and mixed in stereo by Chris Zembower (czembower[at]gmail[dot]com)
Edited by Ari Feldman (arifeldman3[at]gmail[dot]com)
Video recorded by Harold Goldner (hgoldner[at]krautharris[dot]com)

www.bradshepik.com
www.myspace.com/jordanperlson
www.myspace.com/beatymusic