Pip Eastop, Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Bea’s Flat

Valentin’s visit has made quite a difference. This morning I made an assault on Chet Baker’s amazing solo from “Bea’s Flat”. I spent an hour or so looping sections of it at half-speed and trying to capture every not and every nuance. It’s coming along quite well, I think – I’ve learned about 75% of it (at half speed). Another hour on it and I should have it, and then I can start speeding it up.
After that bit of work I opened up a blues file in the same key, C, in my computer and was delighted to find I could fit bits of the solo from Bea’s Flat quite nicely here and there. This ties in very immediately with something I read last night in Paul Berliner’s book. Here it is:

Rhythmic ingredients can also constitute the fundamental idea for original figures. Walter Bishop Jr. says that after absorbing Bud Powell’s phrasing he “began to thnk like Bud” so he could abandon Powell’s precise lines and create his own “in the same idiom, playing with the same kind of feeling and intensity”. Arthur Rhames views the process as analogous to emulating personal styles of speech. Because all artists speak with “their own natural rhythm and sequential order.” it is possible to “emulate a person whose speaking you like, using his same effect – how he comes into a sentence or the way he constructs his things” – but without saying the “exact same thing”. That is how Rhames learned from John Coltrane.

“Without directly copying his melodic line, I tried to get the feeling of the line, the phrasing, which allowed me to understand how Trane was talking when he played. What I wanted was the form, the basket that he was using, but the contents I wanted to fill myself. I knew that I had something to say, and I wanted to deal with that. So what I copied was the way John constructed his phrases and their rhythmical base, the stems without the notes, and I put my own noes and harmony – the things I thought about – on top of it.”

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