Paul Bley on "All The Things You Are"

This is one of those really, really famous solos. 

So, for the uninitiated, a few testimonials to let you know what you're in for:
“When I heard Paul Bley’s piano solo, a whole new universe of harmonic possibilities opened up from me. All these decades later, I still of it as one of the greatest solos in jazz history.  
Even a non-musician can sense something amazing is happening. On one level what he’s doing is very complex, but it’s also completely accessible, very open. Bley simply allows each musical idea to go to its natural conclusion — and in the end, something very personal becomes very universal" 
Mr. Metheny calls the solo "the shot heard 'round the world," in terms of its aftereffects in subsequent jazz, especially through Keith Jarrett. He describes Mr. Bley's solo as having an "inevitability." 
"His relationship to time," Mr. Metheny said, "is the best sort of pushing and pulling; wrestling with it and at the same time, phrase by phrase, making these interesting connections between bass and drums, making it seem like it's a little bit on top, and then now it's a little bit behind." (He held an index finger straight up, and moved it slightly to the right and left, like a bubble in a carpenter's level, or an electronic tuning meter.) "But there's also this X factor," he continued. "It's the sense of each thing leading very naturally to the next thing. He's letting each idea go to its own natural conclusion. He's reconciling that with a form, of course, that we all know very well. And he's following the harmony, but he's not. It just feels like, 'Why didn't anybody else do that before?' "
Pat Metheny again, speaking to Ben Ratliff for the Times 
"Within the thirty-two-bar structure, he really frees up the tonality. We laugh out loud sometimes, he plays some things that sound so surprising. He's very free within that. It's when he goes out of the key and goes elsewhere that he becomes really creative; when he plays very consonantly, very tonally, it's less interesting to me. On "Sweet and Lovely" or "All The Things You Are" Paul is all over the place, playing in a million different keys, so it's pretty spontaneous" (187)
—Lee Konitz, Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improviser's Art, by Andy Hamilton
"The three choruses that Bley plays here (sandwiched between a more traditional yet beautifully lyrical solo by Coleman Hawkins and a perhaps slightly self-conscious solo by Sonny Rollins) showed the limitation of those theoretical conceptions, and represented a radically different approach to improvisation, one not about right or wrong. It was a paradigm-shifting moment for me, one which caused me to reevaluate my musical priorities"
—Aaron Parks, "The Dozens: Aaron Parks Selects 12 Essential Paul Bley Tracks," ed. Ted Panken

There are already many transcriptions of this solo online, but since I'd put it into Sibelius at the behest of Ralph Alessi, I thought I'd share mine for whatever little it's worth. While learning these choruses one by one, I was fascinated by how certain tendencies and behaviors happened at the same parts of the tune: the first A is always pantonal, working with melodies that elide and depart from the ongoing tune's tonality; the second A tends to be where glimpses of bebop flash momentarily before returning to Bley's pantonal melodies; the bridge are a showcase for his futuristically folksy runs; and the last section of the chorus tends to be a place for strong rhythmic repetition and variation, riff-like figures. Subconscious formal distribution? Who knows.

Anyway, here's the solo (purchase Sonny Meets Hawk! here):

All The Things You Are Paul Bley Solo Page 1

All The Things You Are Paul Bley Solo Page 2

All The Things You Are Paul Bley Solo Page 3

All The Things You Are Paul Bley Solo Page 4


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Some time back, I transcribed Sonny's solo on "Just Friends" off the same record. Jazz history weenie factoid: according to Wikipedia, "AATYA" was recorded three days before "Just Friends," with Bob Cranshaw on bass instead of Henry Grimes. 

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After a Google Hangout-related technology debacle, I listened to some favorite tracks offered up by guitarist Miles Okazaki; he also offered up some invaluable, deeply-studied commentary. His (power) quartet, with Donny McCaslin, Dan Weiss, Francois Moutin, appears at The Jazz Gallery this Friday, February 27th, 2015—one night, two sets only. Don't miss it.

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ed. November 13, 2019: Turns out this blog post was cited in a scholarly article on transcribing jazz solos, specifically one Sonny Rollins's solo.


  1. Nice work, thanks for making this available!

  2. Just heard this solo for the 2nd time ever today and decided to Google it on a whim, glad I did!

    1. It was certainly an entry point for me into Bley's discography. Glad you're into it.


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