Louis Armstrong on "Basin Street Blues" + Lester Young on "All of Me"

Per the requirements of the Master of Music program in jazz performance at The New England Conservatory, I'm required to take three "Jazz Studies" courses to graduate. This semester, I've elected to take 66% of them: a course on "Jazz Styles" (note the problematic nature of each word, as well as when taken together) and a course on Bird and Bud. For the aforementioned J—— S—— course, a weekly component of the class consists of transcribing and playing along with transcriptions, which I'm happy to do, as you might have guessed.

The first solo I transcribed was Louis Armstrong's majestic pass through "Basin Street Blues," recorded in 1928 as part of the Hot Fives series of recordings. The next solo was a late Lester Young solo from Pres and Teddy (1956): "All of Me." Having transcribed more early Lester than late Lester, I thought I'd check out the other end of his career, which is often characterized as being less valuable musically. I'd disagree; the first album of Lester's that I ever owned was Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio (1952), and I have to say that I've never forgotten how shocked I was when I heard him make playing sharp sound so great.

Here are the transcriptions:


And if you're looking for a laugh, the other half of weekly assignments for the course is a recording of yourself over the original recording: Me + Pops, Me + Pres.

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A belated, exceptionally well-deserved congratulations to Mr. Steve Coleman, who was recognized late last week with a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. For those in New York, his residency at The Stone continues through the 28th.

And for those who, like me two years ago, only knew Steve Coleman as a name in relation to Ornette, check out the wealth of online resources regarding Steve's musical and cosmic ideas. M-Base Ways has videos, tutorials, recorded interviews, and a forum to discuss topics like Tonal Polarity and obscure Bird solos. 

There's been some written on Steve, although there really should be an entire book (more probably a tome) and, at the very least, a bunch of doctoral dissertations. A few pieces I've read recently on Coleman:

Two blog posts by Larry Blumenfeld: 2014, 2013

And one more thing: I played my first gig at Wally's last Saturday with the drummer Willy Rodriguez—that is, the weekly 7-9 p.m. jam session. Very few musicians showed up; in fact, there was only one horn player! But I shouldn't be complaining—perhaps it's better than if the opposite had happened. I've been updating the "Upcoming" page recently, and I'm looking forward to performing with my old saxophone teacher, Felipe Salles, at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, on Friday evening. We'll be playing the music from his latest CD, Ugandan Suite, inspired by his field research into traditional Ugandan music.