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Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Piano Voicings II

Here's an excerpt of a transcription I made as a wee lad which is a good example of how one of the greats used these kinds of left hand voicings. The pianist is Herbie Hancock and this solo is taken from a great Bob Brookmeyer album entitled "Bob Brokkmeyer and Friends"  recorded in 1963.  The album features mostly standards arranged by Brookmeyer and some really great playing from Stan Getz. Herbie is also a monstrous (and pretty young) sideman.  The following is the first 16 bars of Herbie's 2nd chorus from the standard "Who Cares".

The music pretty much speaks for itself especially if you listen to the rhythmic effect of using these voicings. The role of the left hand is to really achieve a swinging feel underneath the right hand improvisation. In a way if the left hand is swinging and the harmonic rhythm is together with the bass line (notice how Ron Carter easily adjusts his basslines to accompany Herbie's sudden harmonic deviations from the original changes...honestly sometimes it seems like these guys shared one brain!) then the left hand almost becomes indistinguishable from the rhythm section. Notice how the overall effect is that the two hands sound very independent from one another.  This excerpt is probably one of the best examples of Herbie's approach to playing on standards from early on in his career. In it you can hear the distinctive influence of Red Garland and Wynton Kelly and yet he sounds unquestionably like himself. (This is a high resolution scan so download it to your computer and print it to see my chicken scrawl better. Now you know why I need to use Sibelius!)

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