Clifford Brown on "Wee-Dot"

In my last post about Freddie Hubbard's solo on "Birdlike," I mentioned that he was only 23 years old at the time of the recording; coincidentally, after having just transcribed Clifford Brown's solo on another classic blues head, "Wee-Dot," from "Live at Birdland, Vol. 2," I realized that Clifford Brown was also only 23 years old at the time of this live recording.


When I was in high school, I once asked my private teacher, the great pianist and composer Laurie Altman, about the attributes that great jazz solos possessed. He write down a couple on a sheet of paper, but told me that he'd bring in a recording to show me how these elements operate in practice; the next week, he brought in "Live at Birdland, Vol. 2" and played Clifford's solo for me. This solo has it all: melodic lines, strong voice-leading, inspired motific development, rhythmic interest, harmonic interest, and great time. 


Take a listen (and a look!). The transcription's in Bb:

Clifford begins the second chorus with a beautiful chromatically-ascending voice-leading line (it's since become a cliché, but it still sounds great!). Bars 17-19 recall Dizzy, but the articulation is all Clifford's.
Bars 42-6: Great use of a rhythmic motif to provide variety in a solo filled with so many long, flowing bebop lines. Bar 71: A not-out-of-place but somewhat unexpected harmonic choice (like an Absus arpeggio moving down to G7 in the next measure). Bars 82-87: Not being afraid to use pure repetition to provide variety and draw the listener in — just one note!
Horace Silver plays tri-tones on beat 1 for measures 97-101, and Clifford plays some of his strongest, most in-the-pocket bebop over that background comping — the interplay is astounding. Finally, in his last chorus, Clifford plays what could otherwise be an √©tude exercise (1-2-3-4-5 ascending and descending, ascending in half steps), but it works not only because of voice-leading, but also because the progression leads naturally to D7, the V/ii, resolving to Gm7 - C7 the next measure. 


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