Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Transcription: Ed Blackwell — Guinea

OK, this one is definitely a labor of love— that took way too long to finish and proof. But I've been living with this piece for a good twenty years, and performing it for much of that time, so... whatever. This is Guinea, by the group Old And New Dreams, if you don't know them, a band of former Ornette Coleman sidemen: Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, and Charlie Haden, with Ed Blackwell on drums. The tune is Guinea, an African-flavored tune in 6/4, by Don Cherry.

The 8th notes are swung for much of the piece, except for a passage where straight 8ths are indicated, where he's making a double time feel. He's using three high tom toms, indicated by black noteheads on the top space, the top line, and the space above the staff. You can also safely ignore most of the hihat part. Rather than trying to play it exactly, I would just use it to get an idea of how he's approaching the feel for the tune overall. Sometimes he suggests a waltz, with the hihat on 2-3/5-6; other times he plays a "4" feel, with the hihat on 2/4/6. Often, though, the hihat is just moving sympathetically with what he's playing with his hands. Rarely is the hihat worked out as part of the coordination— his major ideas are flowing out of the hands, and bass drum.

The lick with the 5s, in measure 63, is simpler than it looks; the second lick starts on the & of 2, and ends on the & of 3. I might use a RLLRRL sticking.

In playing this, I would try not to get bogged down in the few little peculiar things, which, if I've transcibed them correctly, are obviously the product of Blackwell's very special, very practiced thing; like the 16th notes at the beginning of measure 14. Things like that are just the tip of a very large iceberg of stuff that he had been practicing and playing for decades before this. Rather than taking it as a lick to be copied, look at is as a clue about the sorts of things that are in his technical background— what he's been practicing.

Get the pdf

ECM has blocked most of their music from YouTube, and I've been spending way too much time on the computer doing technical BS to have the patience to make my own bootleg video of it, so you'll just have to buy the album, if you don't already have it. It's really essential listening, as important as any other record in my collection.

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