Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Transcription: Max comping

That's the theme of the week now: jazz comping. Here's Max Roach playing on the horn solos on A Little Sweet, from his record The Many Sides of Max. Each solo is 24 bars long, and the soloists are George Coleman, Booker Little, and Julian Priester. The transcription begins at 0:36, tempo is about 230. 

There's an element of sounding composed with Max— everything sounds like a deliberate statement. I noticed when transcribing Freedom Suite by Sonny Rollins that he often repeats whole phrases. It's very unusual— all drummers repeat stuff, with Max there's something non-organic about it. Like measures 19-20 and 31-32— there's no reason to for that specific sequence of things to repeat. I don't know how he arrived at that. It could be unconscious, or totally deliberate. 

The cymbal rhythm is mostly consistent, and he plays the bass drum all the way through, pretty loudly. There are some accents on it, probably more than I've indicated— I feel like I'm hearing him leaning on beat 4 often. I really didn't pay attention to the hihat— it's not loud on the recording. Maybe he dropped it out occasionally and I missed it, it's not consequential. 

There are a number of phrases that are worth practicing on their own— probably any two or four measures. A few that stood out are bars 11-12, 43-44, 49-52, 65-66, and 71-72. 

Also bars 1-4, or 2-3, or 3-4. He's doing a New Orleans kind of thing between the snare drum and bass drum, that I associate with Billy Higgins later on.

And bars 21-28, or 21-23, or 25-28, eliminating the SD on 1 of bar 25. 

Also noting that some of his longer ideas, where he's phrasing in 3/4 within the 4/4 of the tune, he begins them at the end of one soloist, through the beginning of the next soloist. That happens in measures 21-28— the double bar in the middle of that passage is where the soloists change. Also in bars 44-52. To me that's very unusual. 

Finally, analyzing it from the perspective of that comping formula we learned about the other day: you're not going to see anything like that— &s of 1/3 on the body of the phrase / & of 4 at the end of a phrase. What we see is that they will alternate: & of 3 will be followed by an & of 2, and vice versa. See measures 17-18, 33-34, 53-54. More often his ideas will be phrased in 3/4 time outright— see several of the suggested phrase above. 

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