The art of Lawrence Williams

The last few years of Lawrence Williams' life were fraught with health problems and financial setbacks, but he never let himself get discouraged or depressed by them. Even when he lost his leg and couldn't play the drums anymore he treated it as a minor setback (if that). His reaction was to just compose more music and to start working with pastels. I've never met anyone with as much inner strength as Lawrence possessed. He was always highly grateful for everything that he experienced, even things that most people would consider tragedies. To Lawrence, these life struggles were simply opportunities to take stock of his life and to learn to grow as a person. He always had another grand musical project planned, and though these sounded like grandiose fantasies at the time, more often than naught he actually pulled them off.

I hope you appreciate the Lawrence Williams charts that I've been posting here. You won't find this music anywhere else. It's really amazing stuff.

Here is a video clip of an interview I did with Lawrence in 2002.

Here's an album of Lawrence's beautiful pastels that I posted on Flikr.


Alphabet Soup EAST- Hip-Hop/Jazz

Alphabet Soup is a Hip-hop/jazz band that was formed in the early 90's in Oakland by some of my close friends in the Bay Area. The first Soup gigs were in a basement speakeasy called something like Captain's Corner. This place served only beer and Jagermeister and was in an awful part of town, so bad in fact that when bands played we had to hire security to escort patrons to and from their cars. There were always voluminous clouds of weed smoke hanging in the air of this nautical themed converted basement. Several other popular 'Nu-Jazz' (I hate that term) and Funk got their start at this illegal club. I played there regularly, with the quintet that I co-led with tenor saxophonist Kenny Brooks for years, until one of the patrons got shot outside the club. At that point we started looking for safer venues. It was sure fun while it lasted though.

Alphabet Soup became a major force in the Groove Jazz scene that was exploding in San Francisco in the 90's. People were calling this music Hip-Bop (Hip-Hop/Be-Bop), which eventually became Nu-Jazz (STUPID!). There were usually rappers and/or turntable-ists, funky drums grooves and modern sounding Jazz melodies and blowing. Charlie Hunter's trio was starting to become wildly popular around then. Kenny Brooks and I played in Hunter's Quintet D'Gengis, which was just four horns and Charlie. Pianist Dred Scott (who also plays drums), Charlie, Kenny Brooks and I would go out on Telegraph ave near UC Berkeley and busk on the street. We were always playing great sessions at Dred's Oakland loft with players like Joshua Redman, Eric Crystal, Click Dark, Wilber Krebs, Scott Amandola, Liberty Ellman, Dave McNabb. It was kind of a thriving little East Bay loft scene.

It was an exiting time because all of a sudden Jazz musicians discovered that if they just added some Hip-Hop grooves to their music they could actually play in popular clubs for lots of young people, what a shocker that was. Of course Miles discovered this back in the 60's, but it was a pretty big shift in the San Francisco club scene at the time. Young people are fickle about their musical tastes and soon enough the Swing dancing fad overtook many clubs. Alphabet Soup stayed together through the years, going through several different MCs, drummers and bassists. Kenny Brooks and Dred Scott kept the band working regularly through everything. When Charlie Hunter became a national act he took Kenny out on the road with him and I subbed for him for a while. Dred eventually moved to NYC and Jeff Chimenti (now with Rat Dog) took his chair while Dred was back east, though Dred would often make it back to SF for gigs.

Recently Kenny moved to NYC (he actually has cribs on both coasts) and it was only a matter of time before the Soup had their first NYC gig. Rapper CB made the trip out for the show and former West Coasters Jesse Murphy and Diego Voglino joined the band on bass and drums. Murph (who I grew up in Santa Cruz with) is one of my all-time favorite bass players. Last time I saw him play he was on Letterman playing with the Brazilian Girls. He came out wearing nothing but tight swim trunks, a bowler hat and electrical tape on his nipples!

In all the years that Soup has been together I'm sure that they have only rehearsed a handful of times, IF THAT! I wonder if they even rehearsed for this recent gig? After all, the loose weed-fueled vibe of the Soup is what made the band so special. This gig sounds great and Kenny B is absolutely KILLING it.

First set of Alphabet Soup East

Alphabet Soup's MySpace page
Kenny Brooks' home page
Dred Scott's home Page


I just discovered a very cool site called SoundCloud that allows you to transfer, share and sell music. The basic free membership allows you to upload up to five tracks per month. There are no limits on file size and you get a nice looking page with all your tracks on it. SoundCloud allows you to easily share your audio files on Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious, or by email.

They also give you a widget, which I just added to this blog, that allows other people to send you music files. All in all pretty damn cool. It would be perfect for anyone in music production who moves a lot of big files and doesn't want the hassle of an dealing with an FTP program.

My Casa Valdez SoundCloud playlist

SoundCloud: The Tour from SoundCloud on Vimeo.

Die Chris Potter, die! All the Things solo transcription PDF

A few months ago I posted a clip of Chris Potter playing an insane solo version of All the Things. Saxophonist Ben Doherty has gone and tackled the unbelievable feat of transcribing the entire solo! No kidding, this thing is 19 pages of pure ridiculousness.

Ben, have a little too much free time on your hands buddy?!

All kidding aside, this solo is an amazing example of Potter's mastery of the instrument, and also an example of Ben's extreme tenacity (it took him many months to finish).

If you find this transcription helpful please click this link and donate something to repay Ben for the months that he spent on this solo. Thanks,

Audio of Chris Potter playing All the Things You Are

Potter's All the Things You Are PDF


Transcription's Pool: Free Solo Transcriptions!

Pere Soto turned me on to a nice site that offers free downloads of solo transciptions. There are 94 saxophone transcriptions, 147 guitar transcriptions, and a handful of transcriptions for other instruments.

Transcription's Pool

Charlie Mariano's obituary- written by his daughters

Charlie Mariano

Born Carmine Ugo Mariano on November 12, 1923 in Boston MA died June 16, 2009 in Cologne Germany at the Mildred Scheel Hospiz. Charlie’s music career spans from 1940 when at the age of 17 his sister Colina gave him his first saxophone to 2009 when at the age of 85 he was still performing and recording music. Charlie served three years in the Army Air Corps during World War II where he met his first wife Glenna Gregory. Following his service in the military he became a student at Schillinger House (now Berklee College of Music) graduating in 1951. He became a well known alto saxophonist during his time with the Stan Kenton Orchestra and Shelly Manne through his West Coast era. In 1958 with wife and four daughters in tow Charlie returned to Boston to teach at Berklee where he immersed himself in the Boston jazz scene. Along with Herb Pomeroy and Ray Santisi he founded the Jazz Workshop which became a popular jazz club featuring many jazz greats. During this period he met and married Toshiko Akiyoshi and formed the Toshiko Mariano Quartet. Afterwards he also performed with Charles Mingus and appeared on the Black Saint and The Sinner Lady and Mingus Mingus Mingus albums. At this time his fifth daughter was born. From 1965 to 1971 he raised two of his daughters as a single father while teaching at Berklee. During that time he moved to Newburyport and formed a rock fusion band called Osmosis with local pianist Charlie Bechler. Prior to moving to Europe his sixth daughter was born with his partner Charlotte Bulathsinghala. While in Europe he played and recorded in many diverse musical genres including jazz rock fusion, South Indian music and contemporary European jazz. Charlie is considered one of the pioneers of world music.

He is remembered by his family as being a fun and loving dad who enjoyed eating lobster, ice cream and playing cards and scrabble by the beach. He also was a very deep and spiritual man who taught his children important life lessons.

He leaves behind his wife Dorothee Zippel Mariano, sister Connie Rosato, and daughters Sherry Mariano and her partner Joe Giarrrusso, Cynthia Mariano and her husband Bruce Blanchard, Melanie and her husband Albert Lamar, Celeste Mariano-Perrigo and her husband Peter and their brother Paris Mariano and his wife Lisa. Daughter Monday Michiru Sipiaguine and her husband Alex, and daughter Zana Mariano. Grandchildren Hillary Griffin, Gemma, Gwendolyn, Lila Fay and Albert Carmine Lamar and Nikita Sipiaguine; Great grandchildren Emily and Rachel Griffin. Nieces Lois Stevens and husband Gary, Pattie Mclay and husband Ken and many cousins and other relatives in Italy and the USA.

Charlie was predeceased by his parents Giovanni and Maria (DiGironimo) Mariano from Fallo, Abruzzo Italy and his oldest sister Colina (Mariano) Pauletti.

Charlie was cremated in Cologne Germany and his ashes were shipped to the family where they will be buried in the family plot in Boston. A memorial service is being planned by the family to celebrate his life but the date has not been set so please stay tuned…

In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations be made to the Charlie Mariano Scholarship fund at Berklee College of Music.


Thingin'- Lee Konitz

Here's Konitz's Thingin' by request. The alto part has the intro/ending written, but the concert part doesn't.

Long Yellow Road- two horn arrangement

Here's another tune from the Toshiko/Mariano album that Pere Soto arranged for me. Toshiko composed this one.

Long Yellow Road- alto/trumpet/rhythm charts
Long Yellow Road mp3

Lawrence Williams charts for three horns

Here are two arrangements that I commissioned Dan Gaynor to do for my three horn group. They were composed by my close friend and mentor Lawrence Williams, who passed away a few years ago. Lawrence was a master drummer and world class Jazz composer. Both of these tunes are very challenging, but incredibly hip. The instrumentation is trumpet/alto/ tenor (or bone). Jeri Allen recorded number 3 on her CD The Nurturer.

No one writes like Lawrence Williams.

Number 3

Number 6
Number 6 mp3


LT- by Lee Konitz

Konitz's Skylark reharm

Here's a cool Lee Konitz reharm of Skylark that Dan Gaynor transcribed.

An audio clip from our gig at the Tugboat last weekend: Skylark mp3


Two horn arrangement of Konitz's Round & Round & Round

Here's another Dan Gaynor arrangement of one of my favorite Konitz tunes called Round and Round and Round. It's arranged for alto and tenor and it's a blast to play once you get the hang of it.

Dan Gaynor is an excellent arranger/transcriber and he's available for hire if anyone needs anything transcribed or arranged. He's quite reasonable and lightning fast. He's working on a bunch of three horn arrangements for me at the moment and I highly recommend him. You can reach him at: dan@dangaynor.com

Toshiko's Elegy- complete two horn arrangement!!!!

One of my favorite albums of all time is Toshiko/Mariano Quartet. I listened to this album countless times when I was younger. The tunes are all great and Charlie is just burning. I asked Pere Soto to arrange a few of the tunes from the album for some gigs we had earlier in the year at the PDX Jazz Festival. Pere added a trumpet harmony part and charted out very clear rhythm section parts.

Charlie Mariano Fake book

In honor of the recent passing of Charlie Mariano, one of the greatest alto players that ever lived, I'm posting an out of print Mariano fake book that was published in the 60's by Berklee press. I posted this book a while back, but thought it would be appropriate to post it again. There are some killing tunes in this book that I've been playing on my gigs lately.

Lee Konitz's Kary's Trance- alto/tenor/concert charts

Here's a transcription of Konitz's Kary's Trance done by Dan Gaynor . There's some very nice two part counterpoint in the bridge. Kary's Trance MP3

(click the graphics for larger printable versions)




Saxophonist Charlie Mariano dies

Charlie Mariano, saxophonist, musical sojourner

By Joan Anderman
Boston Globe Staff / June 17, 2009

Charlie Mariano, the Boston-born saxophonist who gained world renown as a performer with his former wife, Toshiko Akiyoshi; Stan Kenton; and Charles Mingus, among many others, died yesterday at Mildred Scheel Hospiz in Cologne, Germany, his longtime home. Mr. Mariano, who had battled cancer for years, was 85.

“He was the dean of Boston jazz musicians,’’ says jazz impresario George Wein, a Boston native who resides in New York and was a colleague and friend of Mr. Mariano’s since the 1940s. “Charlie was a wanderer, and he left his mark wherever he went.’’

Born Carmine Ugo Mariano in 1923, he was weaned on his father’s beloved Italian operas and the big bands he heard on the radio: Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, whose saxophonist Lester Young became Mr. Mariano’s first musical hero. He would not get his own saxophone until his 18th birthday, but in short order, the ambitious young musician was playing nightly at Izzy Ort’s bar and dance hall in what was then known as Boston’s combat zone, for $19 a week.

Mr. Mariano was drafted in 1943, but never saw combat. He was tapped to play in one of the several small music ensembles that entertained at officers’ clubs. Near the end of the war, Mr. Mariano, who was stationed on an air base north of Los Angeles, heard Charlie Parker play live for the first time, during Parker’s first West Coast gig, at Billy Berg’s jazz club in Hollywood.

“He completely turned my head,’’ Mr. Mariano said of Parker in “Tears of Sound,’’ a 1993 biography of Mr. Mariano published in Germany. Taken with the sax great’s inventive harmonics, newfangled rhythmic figures, and breakneck tempos, “I chased Bird’s sound, his way of phrasing. I listened to his solos on recordings for hours, wrote them down, and played it.’’

As it was for many alto saxophonists, Mr. Mariano found his muse and musical foundation in Parker’s ground-breaking sound. After leaving the Army in 1945, he drifted to Chicago, then Albuquerque, picking up work where he could, and finally wound up back in Boston. When the big-band era began winding down and many local clubs were closed, the largely self-taught Mr. Mariano enrolled in music school for the first time, at the Schillinger House of Music, which would later be renamed Berklee College of Music.

Mr. Mariano started to develop his own sound under the tutelage of Joe Viola, and he became a fixture on Boston’s vibrant jazz scene, collaborating with Nat Pierce, Jaki Byard, and fellow students Herb Pomeroy and Quincy Jones. In 1950, Mr. Mariano released his first recording as a bandleader, and several years later founded the Jazz Workshop, a hands-on school that emphasized experience over instruction and later evolved into a popular nightclub At the end of 1953, the financially strapped Mr. Mariano received a life-changing call from Stan Kenton, who tapped the saxophonist for his big band. After a couple of years on the road, Mr. Mariano settled in Southern California, where he joined drummer Shelly Manne’s band and worked as a session player.

But he soon grew disenchanted with the hours spent behind the wheel of a car and the relentlessly “cool’’ jazz scene in L.A., and in 1958 Mr. Mariano accepted a teaching position at Berklee. He only lasted two terms before moving back west, accompanied by the young piano phenom Toshiko Akiyoshi.

The pair married in 1959 and over the course of several years bounced from New York, where they formed the Toshiko Mariano Quartet and Mr. Mariano performed and recorded with Mingus, to Tokyo, back to New York, and then to Boston, where Mr. Mariano returned to teaching in the mid-1960s.

“I had him for an ensemble, and every week he would stop the band and pick on somebody,’’ said Mr. Mariano’s former student, saxophonist Arnie Krakowsky of Boston. “Four, five, six weeks go by, and he didn’t stop me, and I thought I must be doing better than I think. Then one day, he stopped the band and pointed at me and said: ‘You. When you go home this weekend, I want you to tell your mother and father that you want to be a doctor or a lawyer.’ That was his way of telling me I needed to practice. When we saw Charlie walking the halls at Berklee, we would walk the other way. We were petrified of him. He was that good.’’

Mr. Mariano also became known for his work on the nadaswaram, a South Indian woodwind instrument he discovered on an extended trip to Kuala Lumpur.

After divorcing Ms. Akiyoshi in 1967, Mr. Mariano wandered the globe for years, commuting between the United States (he had yet another go teaching at Berklee) and Europe (where he eventually settled).

Following the formation of Osmosis, his early jazz fusion group, Mr. Mariano devoted his last several decades to exploring musical amalgams inspired by other cultures, as well as by pop and rock. He was diagnosed in 1995 with advanced prostate cancer and given a year to live by his doctors, but with the help of alternative therapies and conventional treatment he lived another 14.

“His music was the music of a traveler,’’ says Eric Jackson, longtime host of the WGBH show “Jazz with Eric in the Evening.’’ “Just look at the places Charlie called home in the course of his life. He was on a lifelong musical journey.’’

Ted Brown's Feather Bed

Ted Brown is a fantastic tenor player and a student of Lennie Tristano who got far less recognition than even Warne Marsh. He's still alive a well and still playing in NYC. Here is a two horn transcription of his tune Feather Bed, which was written over the changes of You'd be so Nice to Come Home to. Thanks to Dan Gaynor for this one.
(click the graphics for a larger printable copies)


Lee Konitz's Friendlee

Here's a rarely played Konitz tune that Dan Gaynor transcribed. The melody is tricky, although it looks quite easy at first glance. Click on the charts above for larger printable versions.


Lee Konitz/Lennie Tristano Project @ the Tugboat

This Saturday my Lee Konitz/Lennie Tristano Project will be playing at the Tugboat Brewing Co. This group hasn't performed since the Cave closed and Dan Gaynor moved to NYC, but since Dan was back in town for a visit we decided to dust off all of our insanely difficult Konitz and Tristano (and a few Warne Marsh) charts for another show.

The band features myself on alto, Tim Wilcox on tenor, Dan Gaynor on piano, Alan Jones on drums, and Andrew Jones (who moved to town just a few months ago from Phoenix) on bass.

The music that Lennie Tristano and his students Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh wrote and played was some of the most unique, progressive, and interesting music in the history of Jazz. This groundbreaking music has never gotten the widespread recognition that it deserves. The main reason more Jazz musicians don't play these great compositions today is because they're just so difficult. Every time we perform this material I have to practice everything all over again!

Here's a tune called Dixie's Dilemma written by Warne Marsh (transcriber by Dan Gaynor) over the changes of All the Things You Are. The story is that Warne got involved in a sticky situation with an underage girl named Dixie. This chart is for two altos and was transcribed from the Lee Konitz Quintet record with Bob Mover, who was in his early twenties at the time.

(click on the graphics below for larger printable charts)
Dixie's Dilemma mp3 (From Warne Marsh's Intuiton album)


Chuck Israel's Jazz Arranging Online- FREE!

Chuck Israel has a bunch of great of interactive Jazz arranging lessons online. You can listen to audio clips of all the examples. The clips are all recorded using the Garritan Jazz/Big Band sample library. This is a great resource by written one of the top Jazz educators in the country.

Chuck Israel's Jazz Arranging Online

Jazz Blog rankings

I just got an email from a company called Invesq Consulting, a web research and consulting company.

"Hi David,

Maybe you're interested to know that you're ranked
at #14 on the Jazz blogs top 25 in blogRank.


This list tracks close to 20,000 blogs and evaluates them based on 16
different factors. The algorithm we use is far superior to any other,
IMHO. It just took us over 8 months to develop this. I would love to
hear your feedback.


Here are some of the stats:
  • Rank by the number of pages per visit: #1 Casa Valdez Studios
  • Rank by the number of Stumbleupon reviews: #1 Casa Valdez Studios
  • Rank by RSS membership: #2 Casa Valdez Studios
  • Rank by the total Delicious bookmarks: #5 Casa Valdez Studios
  • Rank by Alexa site rank: #9 Casa Valdez Studios
  • Rank by the number of pages posted on the blog: #10 Casa Valdez Studios
  • Rank by the number of pages indexed by Google: #16 Casa Valdez Studios
  • Rank by the number of incoming links: #11 Casa Valdez Studios (with 5,505 links)
  • Rank by the number of links to pages ratio: #15 Casa Valdez Studios
  • Rank by Google page rank: #11 Casa Valdez Studios
  • Rank by Technorati blog rank: #22 Casa Valdez Studios

Some of these statistics were kind of shocking to me, like being the number one Jazz blog by the number of pages read per visit AND the number of RSS subscribers. In your face Official Wynton Marsalis Web Site! :-)

Thanks to all of my loyal readers. I promise to start writing more as soon as I close my house sale and new house purchase. This is the most stressful and highly involved thing that I've ever done in my entire life. Yesterday I had soil sample guys in my back yard boring through my patio to take soil samples for a DEQ certificate, duct vac guys cleaning the heating system, roofers giving estimates for roof repairs, and a sewer scope guy doing an electronic sewer locate. Meanwhile I'm on the phone trying to get bids for repairs on our new place and with the city about our party sewer (which sounds a like it's a lot more fun than it actually is). We close both houses in roughly a month, which barely gives me enough time to move before I have to leave to teach at the summer Jazz workshop in Prague.

So keep me bookmarked, I will get back in the flow soon!