Friday, April 28, 2023

Solo transcription: Billy Higgins - Dear John

More soloing from Billy Higgins, on Dear John, on Freddie Hubbard's record Bolivia. The tune has the same chord changes as John Coltrane's Giant Steps, which is a 16 bar form, but the drum solo here is basically open— it's 55 bars long, with a cued ending, broadly phrased in 8+7+16+16+8 bars. Shifting that one bar one way or the other, depending on how you hear it. 

A lot to learn about musical development with him. Sometimes he follows a measure to measure bop type of phrasing, like in the first 8 bars; other times he'll sit on an idea for a while, like most of the middle of this solo, first with the repeated accents on the cymbal, then with the Latin style thing. The last 8 bars is setting up the horns to come in with the head out. 

Like the last Billy Higgins solo we looked at, this is mostly about the hands— the bass drum is used mainly for accents. As always, his articulation is very legato. I've given a few stickings, you can assume the same types of things are happening throughout. Figure it out and mark it up yourself. There are some interesting things happening with flams and ruffs in the second line.

Between measures 32-44 he plays a six-beat motif that is easy to see when you write it out with three bars per line, not so easy to follow just listening to somebody solo. I don't if it's a regular thing of his, or if he just vibed it, or what. 

Get the pdf

The solo begins at 5:13 in the track, but the video below is of the entire album, so you'll have to find it— the piano and bass play through the top of the form in the first few measures of the transcription. 

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