The Live at the Lighthouse Omnibook!!

Kenny Brooks, one of my oldest friends and most significant musical co-conspirator, came through town today with Rat Dog, a Grateful Dead spin-off band. The band was playing a one night show in Portland on their way up the west coast. I met KB on the band's tour bus in the afternoon and we talked shop for a while. He showed me his latest mint Balanced Action tenor and I let him play my new Mark VI acquisition. The usual gear geek stuff. He told me that he was now playing a Japanese brand of saxophone reeds that uses Rigotti cane (we both agree that Rigotti cane is the best on the market right now). The name of these reeds escapes me at the moment but Kenny thinks they're even better than standard Rigotti reeds. He had a friend who speaks Japanese call and order him 100 reeds, totalling $270.

Kenny told me he had brought a present for me and we went up to his hotel room to get it. After rummaging around in his bags a while Kenny pulled out a bound book that looked like a small fake book. I was in shock as I leafed through the perfectly notated manuscript paper. It was the Live at the Lighthouse Omnibook. "You're kidding", I gasped. "Oh, yes", said KB with nodding his head with eyebrows raised. It was the entire Live at the Lighthouse album transcribed in beautiful clear computer notation. "This is insane", I whispered. Kenny explained how a Spanish bass player living in San Francisco had contacted him on his MySpace page and gave him a copy. The transcriptions were done a Petter Wettre, a Norwegian saxophonist and includes all the heads, changes, harmony parts and Dave Liebman and Steve Grossman's solos . There are ten tunes and the book is over 110 pages long. Anyone who is a serious Liebman or Grossman fan has by now shit their pants in excitement while reading this. Petter even has plans for a Play-a-long to go with the book and there is now a DVD available that features Petter playing some of the solos while the transcription scrolls by. This is an epic accomplishment.

Main Lighthouse Omnibook web page


Crack Spider

I try to keep everything on this blog at least tangentially related to music. This is very funny video and one could argue that it does have some relevance to music. Thank you Damien for this one.

Spiders On Drugs

Scientists at the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have turned their attention from the mysteries of the cosmos to a more esoteric area of research: what happens when you get a spider stoned. Their experiments have shown that common house spiders spin their webs in different ways according to the psychotropic drug they have been given. Nasa scientists believe the research demonstrates that web-spinning spiders can be used to test drugs because the more toxic the chemical, the more deformed was the web.

* Spiders on marijuana made a reasonable stab at spinning webs but appeared to lose concentration about half-way through.

* Those on Benzedrine - "speed" - spin their webs "with great gusto, but apparently without much planning leaving large holes", according to New Scientist magazine.

* Caffeine, one of the most common drugs consumed in soft drinks, tea and coffee, makes spiders incapable of spinning anything better than a few threads strung together at random.

* On chloral hydrat, an ingredient of sleeping pills, spiders "drop off before they even get started".


Rob Scheps forwarded me this from Jeff Pittson who knew Brecker from an NSA Buddhist temple in New York. This particular form of Buddhism that Brecker was involved in at the end of his life practices a very intense form of chanting, while concentrating on a Japanese scroll called a Gohonzon. Most of you have probably have heard of "Namyo-ho-renge-kyo". Many Jazz musicians have been proponents of this method of spiritual attainment, including Chick Corea, Harold Land, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter. The rhythmic emphasis of this chant seems to have a special call for musicians.

A little story; Mike told us, the last time he was able to come to a meeting. "I just wanted all of you to know that despite what's happened to me over the last 2 years, I fell happier now than I did before I started chanting. My life has been very chaotic and lately many mysterious things have been falling into place. I can definitely attribute this to my chanting." When he went to do the recording, he had been chanting for about 3-4 weeks and, of the recording session and being weak from bouts with chemo, he said "I can't believe I'm doing this! " and later he confided to me that he felt that he felt that he limped his way through the recording. We should all limp so well!! But later when I asked him, the last time I saw him, " Hey Mike, how the record going?" He replied" You know, I'm thrilled with this record and I'm never thrilled with a record." Actual proof from a man who was heard to say on at least one occasion ,"I have 11 Grammys (now 12) and I think my music sucks! Well, we all know differently, but we also know that Mike was hypercritical of his own playing and I think as he brought out his own Buddha-nature. He started to appreciate himself more and more and be more gentle with himself, and I also think that he definitely attained Buddhahood. He practiced with us exactly 6 months to the day...He received Gohonzon on August 14th and passed on Jan 13th. Pleases convey this to all the members that you know and non-members alike. Sam himself is chanting daily and says that when he does he feels his Dad's presence, as indeed we all do, and always will.


The Serious Jazz Practice Book- seriously

Chuck Sher has continually put out some of the best Jazz Fake Books and Jazz educational books on the market. I remember when he first started publishing. He would takes his fakes books to the high-school and college Jazz festivals and sit at his little table wearing headphones while practicing his electric bass. Now he's catching up to Jamey.

I just got the 'Serious Jazz Practice Book' by Barry Finnerty last week. I was kind of skeptical because I've ordered so many practice books that turned out to be quite lame. It turned out to be a really great book. Here are a few endorsements that I think described the book very well:

  • "The book I've been waiting for! Barry quite logically leads you through hundreds of wonderful studies with easy to understand text relating to how each study/pattern is set up and how it relates harmonically to chords and scales. This book will keep you busy for many years and is a compelling method with the overall goal of expanding your Jazz vocabulary. It is a great book!"
Randy Brecker

  • "This is an exhaustive, yet compact guide to the fundamental of scale vocabulary, written by an accomplished musician. The section on diminished scales is outstanding."
Dave Liebman

Barry has done a fantastic job of organizing this book. He starts simple diatonic exercises in chapter one, and moves on to pentatonic and arpeggio studies in chapters two and three. The last arpeggio patterns are cool sounding diminished and augmented arpeggios. In chapters four and five Barry introduces whole-tone and diminished patterns. There is a wealth of great ideas here. The closest book I can think of to this book is Slonimski's 'Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns'. In Slonimski's book you need to really dig to find usable patterns and then figure out how to apply them to changes yourself. In the 'Serious Jazz Practice Book' everything is laid out for you, it is very clear about how to apply the patterns to improvisation.
Here is an except from the diminished chapter:

  • "But the great thing about the diminished scale is that it contains so many other kinds of triads, including major, minor and certain quartal triads. And these can all be moved around melodically in minor thirds. In fact, ANY combination of notes made from the diminished scale will transpose cleanly in increments of minor thirds. OR Tritones. The modern Jazz soloist will make good use of this convenient fact. Remember: all diminished triads can be the 3rd, 5th and the 7th of B7, D7, F7, and Ab7. And those are the tonal centers to be aware of within this particular scale. You can see them very easily in our first diminished scale exercise:"
There is also a CD included with the book that illustrates how some of the patterns sound over chord changes. The thing about the patterns in this book is that they all sound great, without being cliche.

I think that this book will be a great addition to my personal practice routine and I would highly recommend it to any musician wishing to develop a modern Jazz vocabulary.

Here are some samples from the CD:
Sample Page: Page 1

The Serious Jazz Practice Book for All Instruments: Melodic Materials for the Modern Jazz Soloist (Book & CD)


Jack Reilly's Jazz blog- the Ornette Coleman debate

I've mentioned Jack Reilly's Jazz blog here before, but it's so good that I had to plug it again. He's got a great article on there right now called 'Shaping Jazz – an Ornette Coleman debate'.


Heavyweights weigh in about Brecker

Sammy sent me the question below about Brecker's harmonic concept. I thought it would be interesting to forward it to some of today's top saxophonists and get their answers. As more replies come in I'll update this post.

"Hey David, This one is not for the blog...yet. I am phrasing my question off the cuff, and it might be unintelligible if published verbatim...

Q: How do you go about analyzing Brecker lines? They are often quite disjunct, but always sound hip when you hear the recording. (Michael Brecker, may he rest in peace, was an incredible innovator.) I've yet to see a good analysis of one of his "in and out" type of solos. Some folks claim the style comes from Coltrane...but they never point to WHICH Coltrane solos were influential. (The only Coltrane I've found that even comes close is a small section of Night Has a 1000 Eyes, an interim portion between choruses. And I haven't seen that analyzed either.) I've heard that he uses the augmented scale, but can't seem to make an analysis using augmented scales. Await your thoughtful reply.. Sammy"
Bob Mover-

In response to that question re: Mike, I can respond by saying that probably the best sources to talk to concerning Michael's intervallic approach would be Dave Liebman, who was an influence on Mike in the years that we were sessioning a lot together in the late '60's and early
'70's. A
s for the augmented scale, a fellow named Gary Campbell, an excellent saxophonist who teaches at the University of Miami, turned us all on to possibilities of that scale around that time. Mike and I spent a lot of time jamming and listening and talking music together
during that period. I remember our listening to Sonny Rollins play "Four" on his RCA record
ing and the way he extended that augmented scale through a whole section of the tune, was something that knocked both Mike and I out, and we copped it off the record together. Another interesting thing concerning the "inside/outside" aspects of Michael's playing that I know had an influence on him was Paul Bley's solo on "All the things you are" on the "Sonny Meets Hawk" record, as well as Sonny's playing on that record which is definitely inside/outside. We went through Bley's solo many times listening and playing along trying to figure out what on earth he was doing. Then we would go to sessions together and try to apply these concepts. Later on when Mike was with Horace and I was with Mingus, we actually would get together two or three times a month and actually study from each other. We would each give each other an hour. Mike showed me how he was working on how to artfully use pentatonics and patterns around chord changes. I showed him some of my harmonic things, such as, some of the cyclic matrices I was working on. Mike was influenced by lots of music. At the end of his life, he was studying and trying to play Serbian and Balkan folk music. Years before, Mike had turned me on to practicing Irish/Scottish reels and transposing them into different keys. As Mike got busier, and sometimes I was busy too, we would practice on the telephone together. Mike and I also did this with several other people, especially, Tom Harrell.

Mike was a wonderful guy, warm, with a great s
ense of humor. A generous, thoughtful, meaningful friend and a brilliant musician. I wish that he'd had more time. - Bob

John Gross-
I do not h
ave an answer. I do not, with few exceptions, analyze anyone else's solo. However I feel compelled to say that M.B. was, in my opinion, one of the most important Tenor Sax players in the history of the instrument. Besides being passionate and emotional in his manner of playing he also had a huge musical intelligence which he used to it's fullest. He, along with all the other important Tenor players, was a student and fan of the music. God bless him and all the other Giants.

P.S. My personal list of the most important tenor players: Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Stan Getz
, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Albert Ayler and Mike Brecker. Of course there are countless more great players but I believe these particular player had the greatest influence.
Pat Tuc
I've only transcribed 2 or 3 Brecker Solos. But I do know one influence of his which is Steve Grossman. If you listen to a late 70's Hal Galper album called: "Speak with a Single Voice", there is a modal tune on there in D minor concert where Brecker was pretty much playing all of Grossman's Lines verbatum, but cleaner (Grossman solos to compare this to are on: Elvin Jones "Live at th
e Lighthouse", Grossman "Born at the Same Time" and all Stone Alliance albums). Even in later Brecker's solos after that you hear him playing Grossman stuff, Steve Grossman was definitely influenced by John Coltrane. David Liebman talks about the "Loft Days" where he lived in a Loft in Manhattan in the early 70's where he, Grossman, Bob Berg and Michael Brecker would have Jam Sessions and they would all try to play like Coltrane and as fast as they could. As far as the "in and out" playing that your reader asked about, when I transcribed Gossip off of Mike Stern's "Time and Place" Album; the solo starts off in C minor, but Michael is outlining the key of Db major for the first 14 bars, I think this works because of how sparse the bass part is. Then he goes through some Giant Step type changes bars 14 to 16. Then in bars 22 to 24 he goes right down the Augmented scale. Then towards the end of the solo (bars 33 to 41) he plays this diminished lick motive to build up to the end of the solo, which is influenced by many late Coltrane solos like "Transition" etc, so that may be a solo for your reader to check out. Later, Pat
Click on the small manuscript pages for a larger version ! _________________________________________________________________
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