Thursday, June 24, 2021

Transcription: Al Harewood - All Blues

I've been looking into Al Harewood quite a bit lately. He's one of those drummers who's on a lot of stuff, but is still easy to overlook. He's on a lot of Blue Note records in the 60s. I wouldn't call him a modern player, exactly; more of a hard bop guy with a strong R&B edge. Here he is playing with George Benson— this is Benson's solo on All Blues, from his live album Witchcraft. The transcription begins at 1:51.   

All Blues is conventionally written in 6/8, but the drummer plays it as a jazz waltz, so that's how I've written it, in 3/4. Two bars of 3/4 here = one bar of the 6/8, to create a 24 bar blues form— if you're reconciling it with a lead sheet, for some reason. There's no reason for a drummer to ever look at a chart when playing All Blues, incidentally. 



Harewood's foundation here is very simple; there's not a lot of variety to his basic groove. What he does do is make a lot of featured, fill-like comping ideas outlining the form of the tune. He plays them loud, with a lot of variety, pretty regularly at every phrase ending. It's normally not a way we think to play— it would be easy to sound bad doing this.  

You could say his dynamics are dramatic and very local, too— he uses lots of crescendos, and a lot of subito ps. He gets louder from chorus to chorus, but within that there will be a lot of dynamic changes. He doesn't stay loud after a crescendo. I've marked his dynamic changes in moderate detail on the first page. 

In terms of the kind of physical coordination at work, there is a good amount of layering happening— harmonic coordination, if you will— multiple limbs playing at the same time, in rather complex combinations. See measures 5, 28, 32, and then in the last couple of pages especially. 

Some of the rhythms written as triplets get a little distorted— if you see a tenuto mark over one note of a triplet, that indicates that note is a little longer than its normal rhythmic value, and the note after it falls a little late. Almost a 1e-a 16th note rhythm. That happens in measure 136, for example.  

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