Discover, Learn, and Play Ben Paterson's solo on "My Shining Hour" from his Blues for Oscar Album
Today I am joined by Josh Walsh of Jazz-Library.com to discover, learn, and play Ben Paterson's "My Shining Hour" from his album "Blues for Oscar" (a tribute to jazz legend Oscar Peterson.
You should download the transcription to have it in your hands as you listen to our analysis.
Downbeat Magazine describes Ben, as 'As soulful a pianist/organist as exists anywhere.”
Combining a joyful swing feel with an impeccable touch, Steinway Artist Ben Paterson has established himself as one of the most exciting pianists on the Jazz scene today, garnering international acclaim for his superb musicianship and engaging performances. Originally from Philadelphia, Ben studied classical and jazz music before moving to the great city of Chicago, absorbing the unique blend of Jazz and Blues that can only be found in the Windy City. Now based in New York, Ben is poised to bring his unique talents and style to a broader audience, performing regularly at top-notch venues around town and clubs and festivals worldwide.
Starting in 2005, Ben was honored to join the band of NEA Jazz Master Von Freeman, performing with him regularly until Von’s passing in August 2012. Other notable collaborations include work with Bobby Broom, Houston Person, Samara Joy, Johnny O’Neal, Red Holloway, Eldee young, Peter Bernstein, Jerry Weldon and Ed Cherry to name a few, with performances opening for groups like Steely Dan and B.B. King.
In 2018 Ben was named the First Place Winner of the Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Competition, with judges including Ellis and Branford Marsalis, Arturo O'Farrill, and Jonathan Batiste. In 2019 he performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center as part of their tribute to Oscar Peterson, playing alongside John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, and fellow pianists including Benny Green and Kenny Barron. Ben has released 7 CD's under his own name: Breathing Space (OA2 Records 2007) Blues For Oscar (Meetinghouse Records 2012), Essential Elements (MAXJAZZ 2013), For Once In My Life (Origin 2015), That Old Feeling (Cellar Live 2018), Live at Van Gelder's (Cellar Live 2018), and I'll Be Thanking Santa (Meetinghouse Records 2019) Visit www.benpaterson.com for more information.
Enjoy more music by Ben Paterson: https://www.benpaterson.com/music
Dr. Bob Lawrence 0:32
Josh Walsh my friend, here we go again. Can you believe it? You're back again. Man. You're my favorite Texas man.
Josh Walsh 0:42
Well, you know, it's I'm glad you brought that up because we've been kind of toying back and forth a little bit about getting you down here to enjoy some to enjoy some Texas brisket. And some I've heard I've heard legends about cowboy Bob's brisket. So Oh, dude, let me tell you, I would, I would be, I would be thrilled to fire up the big egg for you and put some ribs on and some briskets and sit around and talk jazz, like we're gonna do today. You're not gonna have to twist my arm very hard. I know.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:11
All right, man. Hey, I'm really excited because you and I have been talking about getting together periodically throughout the year and spotlighting different musicians, artists, and and a specific transcription recording. And, man, tell you you took the ball and ran with it because oh my goodness gracious. We have on on slate today, Ben Ben Patterson's my shining hour and epic transcription that you have completed and done. So I'm gonna let you just I'm going to just turn the microphone over to you for a second let's let's just talk about how you selected this tune this solo. And then we'll and then we'll go from there. So it's the mics all yours, my friend.
Josh Walsh 2:01
I'm an Oscar Peterson fan who isn't? Right. And I often when I study Oscar Peterson, I learned little things. But it's so overwhelming. For me at times. What stood out to me about this one is one how Oscar it sounds it is from an album in 2012. He called blues for Oscar. It sounds like Oscar in so many ways. But at the same time, my shining hour is not a harmonically complex tune, it's full, at least the way that he has arranged it. It's full of five of fives or two fives. It's two, five ones all the way through basically. Right. And so it's not lush life, right. It's got tons of like crazy harmonies and stuff in there, right? It's really approachable from a harmonic structure and everything interesting about it comes out of the way he creates the solo lines. And I just, I listened to it and I listened to it again. And I listen to it like three times in a row the first time I heard it. And I was just like, trying to figure out what I was hearing because it was so bluesy. So be Bobby so much like Oscar, that I just I had to sit down and figure out some of it. So I sat down to just kind of like, cherry pick a couple lines here and there about things that I liked. And then I heard that same motif repeated like in the next head. And I was like, Oh, I wonder how he did that. And next thing, you know, I have most of the transcription down except for a few key sections, which I'm still sure are not correct. And, and I was like, well, I should really like try and finish this. So that was that was the goal was just to kind of just kind of get through the end. I shall say I don't normally transcribe entire tunes like this. This was a very rare thing for me to do. I just I had learned, I was learning stuff from basically every phrase that he had, and I was just like, Okay, I'm just gonna do this one.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 3:39
While you pick well, you picked a good one, man. It's it's fantastic. So I thought you know, we had talked about you know, mind shining hour, as you have mentioned in our discussions it's really kind of associated with most people think of it you say my shining hour and they think Frank Sinatra
Josh Walsh 3:58
Yeah, it sounds like this
Dr. Bob Lawrence 4:15
I mean, it's great, but it's not what Ben's doing. No, it couldn't be it couldn't be more opposite, right of what Ben plays with the same thing. So so we're going to listen to Ben, we're going to listen to this. This solo this treatment of my Cheyenne our, but before we before we listened to it, we should let listeners know that they have access to the transcription so they can follow along with it right now. As as we play it, and kind of have it in front of them as we break it apart here today. Correct? Yeah, my mission is always to like inspire you to learn to play music, right? So the transcription is free. You can have it for free. I think you'll put it down in the description. There's a link you can just Yeah, Download both the lead sheet I made of Ben's version, which has his chords and his structure, as well as the note for note transcription. Right. Fabulous. So, yeah, those will be in the show notes.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 5:11
And you can also access that through your website as well. Correct? Yes.
Josh Walsh 5:17
Yeah. Yeah. So you go to jazz library.com/jazz piano skills. It's right there, but it's the same link we can put in the show notes. Yep. Right.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 5:24
Awesome. So all right, should we fire it up and take a listen to this? It's about what four minutes it's like four and a half minutes, four minutes, so well done. It's worth it. Yeah, absolutely. I'm gonna enjoy my cup of coffee as we listen to this. Let's do it.
Josh Walsh 5:40
I hope this comes through.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 10:28
That's crazy. You know, before we even talk about anything else can we just talk about the time, the feel, his articulation.
Josh Walsh 10:39
It blows my mind how much he sounds like Oscar Peterson now, I should mention. So this is both there's a video recording of this on his YouTube channel. So you should go to Ben Patterson's YouTube channel and watch him play it because so many of the interesting moments where you think it's just complete utter chaos. He's just like, chilled laid back like mix it looks so freakin easy. Yeah, the whole the whole thing he does, right? I mean, it's, it's just oh my gosh, it's unbelievable. And yes, I would I I agree with you. You got to check out the video and just watch him play it right. i You have to shut up so little lay of the land here. It almost sounds like a trio. Right? It's two people Sure. That it's this dude Jake van Sal on bass who we should not let go without without do credit here. Because my gosh. Yeah, right. What a rock. Just rock solid time and what a feel. And you're right. It does. It sounds like a trail. Yeah, it's like his lesson on drums. But it's just tapping his foot.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 11:39
I love it, man. Yeah, if you're not, hey, you know, if you're not tapping your foot during that, then you're, you have no pulse man, you'd like dead. I mean, that's unbelievable. I don't know how that swing so hard.
Josh Walsh 11:51
So you asked. So come in and talk about this. And I have to say, I love talking about this. But I'm a little bit overwhelmed as to what to talk about. Because there's so many things in here. Like one of the most interesting moments to me is the is just the form. So he alternates between the keyboard in the key of E flat, and we start E flat major. But every other time through, he switches you alternative to E flat and C major. And there's a really fun bluesy play off that he does landing on the E natural versus resolving it back to the key of E flat, it gives you that kind of third minor third bluesy rub, just by switching those keys. It's so It's so refreshing the switch. I love that too. That's one of the very first things I picked up on was like, wow, I just love the alternating keys.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 12:36
And you're right, there's so much to talk about in this solo. So where do you think it's a good place to start man?
Josh Walsh 12:45
Well, I guess I mean, one of the things that I picked up just as a general thing throughout the entire progression, maybe we should start there looking at trends throughout the whole song instead of specific moments, and is this comping. So he doesn't play like a Charleston comping, he doesn't play red, gray, or red, green, or red garland comping pattern, right. Both that clearly inspired by this, but he's almost like he's drumming between his hands. When his right hand, when his right hand breaks, his left hand comes in. And he's using that to drive the swing feel. Because actually, when you look at the solo, one of the things that I learned about myself from transcribing other solos was just how much I play on the beat versus playing off the beat. And these guys play off the beat a lot more, right? But he actually plays on the beat a lot in the solo. And what makes it swing is the way he plays it off the left hand. Yeah. And I think if you watch that video, it will help you pick up on what you're talking about. For sure. Right. That's, that's why everyone should go out and check out that video and check in and zone in on the left hand, right, we can easily get so attract, you know, locked into what's happening in the right hand when a jazz pianist is playing, especially when you're watching a video. But you bring up a very, very good point and that what what how they're supporting what they're doing in their right hand and the solo. They're copying the voicings and how they're using those voicings oftentimes get overlooked. So I would suggest for everybody to watch the video and watch the left hand, as much as As tempting it as is the lock in on the right hand. Watch the left hand. It's interesting to me, like the left and right hand almost never played together. Right? So if you were playing say a Charleston rhythm underneath it and soloing over top of it, there'd be a lot of moments where your hands overlapped, his hands almost never overlap. It's like right, left or left right there. They're playing off each other like that. Right. So the other thing that struck me Josh and going through I mean there's such
Dr. Bob Lawrence 14:37
you know, iconic vocabulary that he's using right? But his The use of which again comes from Oscar Peterson, right? All the half step approachments, the major the target notes right to your thirds and fifths and sevens and nines. The half step approach mints, the enclosures, I mean classic classic bebop classic jazz vocabulary, right?
Josh Walsh 15:01
Yeah, absolutely. So much chromaticism in here. Not chromaticism in harmonic chromaticism using chromatic lines to approach or enclose or surround or whatever. Right? Right, just take up time, frankly, a lot of times, you just want a flurry of notes in someplace, you just chromatic up and chromatic down. Right? So, you know, if some of the things I like to do in the transcription, and I've mentioned this, I think in previous podcast episodes, you know, I would encourage everybody to kind of go through here.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 15:33
I like to break apart, look at what musicians are doing on specific chords, right? Like, I'll take like, maybe the E flat Wait, well, how does he approach? How does he treat E flat major seven through this entire tuner? How does he approach the 25251 progression through this tune? And and I would actually lift those, extract those elements out of the, out of the transcription and examine those with regards to what are his entry points to the to that specific sound? What how does he resolve? How does he, what kind of motion does he tend to lean toward? Is it using scale motion, arpeggio motion a combination of the two, you know, those kinds of those kinds of characteristics, because what I'm trying to do is I'm trying to find stylistic elements that he's using that I'm drawn to. And then I want to lift those and actually create exercises for myself that incorporate that approach to plane so that I can begin developing muscle memory and oral memory, that that starts to sneak into my vocabulary. Is this something that you do as well? Oh, yeah. Yeah, totally stealing from them? Absolutely. Yeah. He has this riff. Actually, this is ones I took, let's see, he does this thing several times.
Josh Walsh 16:49
Yes, right. Right. Yeah. We're all he's doing there is he's he's, he's highlighting 5151 and approaching it from a chromatic above two chromatic notes on each note. And he does that I think there's three or four times in this arrangement where he does exactly that move to kind of change registers, right. And simple little things to like, you know, look at measure 71. And it's on a C major seven. And this is what I for, you know, all the listeners here at jazz piano skills. And you're trying to develop your jazz, articulation, your jazz field, some jazz vocabulary.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 17:24
Look at the simplicity of this on C major. Right. I love it. The fifth going up to the root. Of course, I'm starting on on on the second count there, right, second beat, right, with the little bebop with the little B flat to the B natural to the C. Right. How easy is that? Right, but the play that but the play that with the right, feel the right articulation? You know, that's something that I would encourage a beginning student, a beginning jazz improviser, I would encourage them to take that little motif right there. And practice that little motif over all your major seven chords.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 18:03
Just that and to be able to play that and I would say, when you play it, make it sound like Oscar Peterson can you articulate that and play that? Like you're hearing Ben Patterson play it? Or like you hear Oscar Peterson play it?
Josh Walsh 18:17
The other thing that's interesting about that measure I have I have a whole note about that measure actually, is the when he includes that B flat, which is the passing note in the bebop scale, like you were saying, right? It's Oh, but he's also going to the four right? So he's the context of this is he's going to a 251 to change back into the other key and right flat, right? So he knows he's going from C major seven to F seven, and that adding that set B flat and it only gives it a dominant feel that takes you to the four. Yeah, right. I wonder he now he probably wasn't thinking this in the moment while he was soloing over this, right? He had practiced this a million times beforehand. It just came out of him. But it's a little moment of brilliance. Yeah, well, and then the measured following that is a little moment of brilliance to write another simple classic, classic line over the two five, the F minor seven and a B flat seven. Same same type of deal. And look what's happening up on the seven for the B flat seven. You got the A flat and then the chromaticism again right to the a natural. Well, I mean, say it this way compare compare beat two and three of 71. Two beats three and four of 72. That's exactly right. They're the same thing.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 19:26
That's exactly right. That's exactly right. So that should tell you that hate you know, that's, that's a little classic. That's that's classic jazz vocabulary. I should actually start practicing that and getting it under my hands and in my ears. And I would be surprised it starts to sneak into my, my own play. Right. So this is, this is like, this is what I'm talking about finding these little gems, these little nuggets that are buried in the solo because like you mentioned earlier, you can get overwhelmed right. I mean, you take a look at this solo and you're like, you know, we're saying, where do we begin to talk about it? Can you imagine a beginning jazz students gonna like will begin to talk about it? Where do you even begin to try to understand how to utilize it to help myself develop as a jazz pianist?
Josh Walsh 20:12
There are some solos that you listen to the song and you go, wow, what the heck did I just hear? And then you go through and transcribe moments and you look at it, and you're like, What the heck am I seeing? But that's not the case with this one, right? Like this one. You listen to it, you're like, oh, my gosh, that was amazing. And you look at it in the micro moments, and you realize, oh, this is not that complicated. He's actually like using really simple ideas. And he's just using them in brilliant ways. Now, can we talk about since we just left off on 7172, we look at 73, because this is one of the most interesting parts of the whole thing for me, left, so we just changed keys into E flat, right. So he has this motif where he starts on the five of E flat, and the outcome, so it goes from B flat to E flat. Now he's resolving that, that E flat is going to a C seven chord. So he's playing his sharp nine over a C seven chord right there. So that's a very colorful note. And then he reverses the motif. In the next bar, he goes from the E flat back to the B flat and he resolves it to the one to the to the B flat on the B flat chord. And that to me, like, I never think of that stuff while I'm playing. It's so simple. It's like a mirror image. But I would have been afraid, I think to play that E flat over that C seven chord so prominently in the front of the head of that, I think, yeah, you're not alone, I think I think a lot of folks would be afraid to do that. And not only play the E flat, but hey, how about this, let's double that E flat.This is something this is very oscar-ish, right here. This was one of the things that you know, I learned back in music school from my, my band director as a trombone player. Did you notice as a professional trombone player at one point, he said, When you have a note that good, good, good, good job, switch into Piano Man. When you play a note, that is intention, you play it loudly, so that people know it's on purpose. So they know it's not a wrong note, right? And that's like what he's doing here. He's extending that E flat to make sure you know, like, Hey, this is the sound I want over that C seven chord, some serious bite. And I love it. Right, some nice tension, no doubt about it. It also helps that it goes by very quickly, of course. Right? You wouldn't do that in about probably
Dr. Bob Lawrence 22:15
yeah, let's talk. Let's talk about that for a second too, because I think that's important for beginning jazz players to kind of come to grips with, initially, conceptually, so that it spills over into their playing physically, that music, and I'm not even talking jazz, music, period, I don't care what genre you want to talk about is always the musician is always striking, or the musician or the composer is always striking a balance between tension and release, tension and resolution. And, once you understand that, then, like you said, I would have never thought of landing on that sharp, nine, and accenting that sharp nine over that C seven. But he's setting up that tension to release that tension. And once once we start understanding that music is this constant tension release tension resolution, that's going back and forth, then that starts to our plane starts to, for lack of a better expression loosen up, right, we start to loosen up and we start, we start to feel more comfortable bringing in the wrong notes, if you will, to create that tension, so we can resolve it. But you have to be very careful. Like you said, if you're in a ballad, be careful.
Josh Walsh 23:39
Yeah, I mean, I want to talk about that too. Because when you're when you're looking at, when you stop listening to the music, and you start looking at the transcription, you have to remember the context as to what you're hearing, right? Because it goes by so fast this bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump bump, that's one phrase that kind of like builds up and comes back down right away. If you were playing this as a ballot it like 80 beats per minute, those would be two phrases, and it wouldn't work. You would think like he's thinking of this as one idea, not two separate ideas. And so you can't, you can't look at like just to have the idea, you have to look at the whole well.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 24:12
And that's exactly right. And that's why you can't just look at a transcription, transcription, and then think that you're going to copy and paste that you're going to copy that either and just paste it into some other place some other tune, some other contexts, some other tempo, and think that is just going to work. Right? Right. So the way he's built this often doesn't work. So he built this motif of just I mean, it's five, it's going up a fourth and then coming down at fourth Super Simple notes. But look at what else he changes in the second half.
Josh Walsh 24:43
Right? He displaces the rhythm by half a beat. Yeah, right. So it's just it's just like more things like how do I pick this simple idea and make it more interesting?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 24:52
Yeah, right. Yeah. And, you know, that's, you bring up a really good point there that I want to kind of expand upon for a second, you know, I'm always telling students that you have to practice scales, your scales, your arpeggios, you have to practice them from different entry points. In other words, you cannot be route dependent, right? You can't play a C scale starting on C all the time. Are you kidding me? You're right. But this is how we're this is how we're typically taught to play scales. And play arpeggios. You know, if you're gonna play an F scale, you're gonna start on F, right? So I'm often I'm always talking about, you know, very your entry points, when you practice intentionally start practicing scales from the third to the ninth, or from the fifth to the 11th, or from the seventh to the 13th. Don't always just be playing from the root. Well, the same can be said. And it should be said, Don't become beat dependent. Either, where you're always starting a phrase on count one, or count two, or count three or count four, we want to we should be practicing starting a scale on the end of one, or starting a line on the end of two, or on the end of three or on the and before, that we don't want to become beat dependent, either.
Josh Walsh 27:00
Okay. You might disagree with me on this one. So this could be fun. I wouldn't, it appears to me in cases, that he doesn't even care about chord tones. At the end of his phrases, he cares greatly about ending his phrases in interesting places, interesting chord tones, color notes. But oftentimes his lines start in places I wouldn't think to start, like, on the on an F sharp and a D minor chord. Like he he starts lines in very strange places. And he either uses them either as like chromatic notes or enclosure notes, like we talked about before, but oftentimes, He's just worried about staying in the right key in the right tonality and not even worrying about whether the the notes I'm playing fit immediately under the courts. He always takes you home. Right.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 27:46
All right. So you want my thoughts on that. I want to see if you disagree, I think you do. I totally disagree with you.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 27:57
But I do I do, but I don't. But here's here's why I say that. I actually think because he's so locked in on the harmonic motion and chord tones, that the wrong notes, if you will, I call them wrong notes, because they're not wrong notes, right. I mean, there aren't any wrong notes. If you know how to play inside outside. There aren't any wrong notes. But the fact that he is so locked in on chord tones gives him the ability to actually start on those places that that you're talking about. To be able to start on an F sharp on an on a D minor, to be able to start on a non diatonic chord scale relationship. Note, the fact that he is so comfortable with inside, starting anything from the outside, he could start anywhere he wants inside outside, it makes no difference. But he sees all that in context. He sees all of that in context, to the harmonic structure, the sound that is supporting what he's doing. I think we're agreeing more than we thought at first. So yeah, that Yeah, that's right.
Josh Walsh 29:04
Yeah, I don't think these are wrong notes. To me write notes on the note, you intended to play a wrong note to the ones you didn't intend to play. Right? What no matter what it sounds like, if you meant to play it, and it came out great. It's right now. And so let's look at a real example. Look at Mr. 39. Okay.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 29:19
Dr. Bob Lawrence 29:31
What do you what do you see when you look at that line? I see an incredibly diatonic line. Right? Yeah. I see a half step. approachment to the third. Chromaticism from the from the ninth to the third. Yep. All right, and the chromaticism that's there is generally moving you up toward a core tone like in measure, I can measure 40 va flex VA, right.
Josh Walsh 4:04
was shining. Oh. And happy and bright.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 10:25
Josh Walsh 26:11
Yeah, absolutely. I 100% agree with you. I what I was pointing out here was that I thought it was interesting that he just echoed the motif back. He mirrored it back. Yeah, actually. But then he just placed that rhythm to make it in more interesting.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 26:22
Yeah. And I guess my point is, is that the reason he, you know, the reason he can do that is because he's comfortable doing that, because he's practiced that. Right? That that's something like, like, like you were mentioning, I don't think he consciously said, Okay, I'm going to now displace this motif. I'm going to start on the and on the end of one and right, this is a feel thing, this is an articulation thing. This is something where his hands and his ears have been here before, you know, and that's, and that's happens in practice.
Josh Walsh 26:56
Okay, so I have another observation.
Josh Walsh 29:25
Okay, so he's playing E flat major seven chord, and just look at look at what notes he's playing.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 29:54
But I don't see anything odd here in this measure.
Josh Walsh 29:58
I can tell you I've played a lot of songs. Using the key of E flat, I almost never start a line on C. And that's not that C isn't in the key. I think of that being like an E flat major six sounds more than E flat major seven sound. Maybe this is my own. My own right, you know, the more time the woodshed myself but
Dr. Bob Lawrence 30:15
yeah, yeah, I get I get Yeah, right it's kind of it's kind of an orthodoxy right it meaning that we do want to as we develop as we, as a beginning jazz pianist, I remember I, I would literally lock into, first of all, I would always hug the melody of a tune when I was improvising, because it was a security blanket. Because I didn't, I didn't have any vocabulary. So the only vocabulary I had was really the melody of the tune. And all like and my improvisation started with just kind of manipulating the rhythmic interpretation of that melody, and maybe doing some little crushed tones, little approach tones, which he does throughout this solo, by the way, all over. Yeah, right. And then when I started to branch off from feeling like I could scoot away from the melody a little bit more, I was, I was very core dependent. I mean, like, launching from the root, or from the third, or from the fifth, or the seventh of the chord, or the harmony. And then then from there, it started to become I started gravitating toward more this kind of stuff launching from, you know, the 13th, or the ninth, the upper extensions, starting with the upper extensions, as opposed to starting with the, with the primary chord tones. And then from there, and then from there, I started incorporating half step approaches to those chord tones, because I started to realize that the half step is the greatest source of tension in music, the half step, and that I figured out these jazz musicians are using that half step to their advantage to create this tension and release this resolution that I was just talking about earlier. So but I agree with you starting, most jazz students, when practicing are not starting lines on the 13th and are not starting on the and of one either,
Josh Walsh 32:06
actually, and the more than maybe I didn't pick the best example to point out. But this one, I bet that Ben was thinking he's starting the line on D on v2, and he just couldn't put the C in there like a ghost note, like a rhythmic placeholder to launch and
Dr. Bob Lawrence 32:21
I would concur with that. I absolutely think that that's, you know, he's, he's seen the seventh there. Yeah, right. He's seen the seventh. So which goes back to what I think we were just talking about, right, I do think he's very aware of, of the chord tones, the primary chord tones. And you know, what's kind of funny about that, Josh, I see the primary chord tones. Now, my, the way I see the primary chord tones, when I'm practicing, I see primary chord tones as the root third 579 1113. I don't even I don't even think of it as upper extensions anymore. I just think of it as root, third 579 1113 And I could start from any one I could start from any of those I practice starting from any one of those notes to create vocabulary.
Josh Walsh 33:06
So I want to play you a section here and I want you to explain what's happening. Since you're, where are you going? I promise you my cleaner. I'm looking at measures 61. Okay, 61 Okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna play a few bars good leading into it. Okay, ready?
Josh Walsh 33:31
Yeah. Alright, so what do you hear over that minor over that? Two, five, and then the two five, they're in line 61 and measure 61?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 33:52
What do I hear? Like in terms of,
Josh Walsh 33:57
that's a harmonic sound that I hear often that kind of it almost sounds like an altered dominant sound.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 34:03
Josh Walsh 34:06
Over that, two, five and B flat, but it's not altered, is it? Why does it sound altered to me?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 34:12
What I think because you're hearing I think because you're hearing like that C sharp against that B flat seven. You're you're hearing right so you're hearing that anytime anytime. I think you hear a sharp nine you hear altered, right? Or you're altered or you're hearing altered back over the F minor sound well, that
Josh Walsh 34:31
that's kind of let's kind of measure 62 which in my mind is just a chromatic line he's using to go down into that correct if he's got started right Right, right. So I guess so this is something you and I started to talk about last night actually on your on your masterclass is this idea of when you Barry Harris taught when you play a two five you only play five and this comes from this and I know that Ben is at least influenced by Barry he does the live streams on his YouTube channel where he sometimes talks about his influences and where it comes from you is in New York. I'm sure he went to a handful of workshops. Right? Right, right. But Barry has this idea that when you see a two five, you just play a five the whole time. And that that comes from his This is a probably a whole podcast in itself. But he would say a G seven chord is actually a D minor six chord with a G and the bass. That's how he thinks about it's called the sixth on the fifth. And so when I see this F minor seven to be flat, I see a two five or he's just playing B flat seven the whole time. I mean, that line to me that like the in measure 61, like B flat seven, or B flat Mixolydian.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 35:32
I totally agree. And I think that's absolutely right, what Barry Harris is talking about the two chord is absorbed by the five chord.
Josh Walsh 35:41
Because otherwise I don't think I would ever think to do this, the first note of that line, he has a harmonized with a D major with the D natural in it. I probably wouldn't have thought to play that if I wasn't thinking, you know,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 35:53
you know what's interesting about that, oftentimes, I've actually gotten to the point where I actually think the other way around, because because I see them as so much the same. Meaning that I often say that the the minor chord is the gateway, right is the gateway to the to five. So whenever you play over your mind or work or I literally have said this to students, whatever you played over your minor chord will work over your five chord. And the only reason I can say that is because I'm actually thinking of the minor chord as the five chord. Right, you know, you know what I'm saying? So that's, I get I get totally what you're saying. And I think that's exactly what's going on
Josh Walsh 36:28
here. I think the tension that I hear those is the base plan B minor, his left hand comp or am playing F minor, I'm sorry, and his left hand plane F minor, but his right hand playing B flat just gives you that such a cool bluesy tension that he then resolves down that.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 36:44
Well, and when you have the F minor with a B flat underneath it, I hear a lot of suspension. They're a suspended sound. Right? Yeah, absolutely. Which I which I love as well. So yeah, you say Barry Harris says minor six. The minor six is with the G underneath it is a dominant chord, right? I think well, if minor seven is the dominant sus chord.
Josh Walsh 37:07
Okay, yeah, basically the same idea. Same idea. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Very, very fascinates me. I've done a lot of this on my YouTube channel, by the way, because Barry never thought of anything above a seven. He everything was major sixes or minor sixes. Basically, he didn't think extensions, alterations at all. And to get to his level of playing. It's really interesting to see how somebody else looks at the but I
Dr. Bob Lawrence 37:26
bet I bet he thought two, four and six, which is 911 13.
Josh Walsh 37:32
Yeah, he thought about the six on the fifth concept. Again, this is probably a whole nother discussion as to how Yeah,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 37:38
right. But But But my point being is like, right, you know, 24699 1113 It's all right.
Josh Walsh 37:49
He played those notes, but he just thought about them. So if he saw C major seven, he would play a G major six chord in his right,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 37:55
right. Right. All right. Hey, I want you to take a look at measure. Measure. 100. Okay. Yeah. What do you see there? Man? Tell me what you see and measure 100? Measure? I'll tell you what, you see an incredibly simple line. Yeah,
Josh Walsh 38:13
very, very. I'm sorry. I was looking at one on one and measure 100 Yeah, very simple, almost just an arpeggio.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 38:19
It's ridiculous, right? It's ridiculous. And and, and I would encourage every listener, just go play that little line. Just play. Just play, measure one, practice, measure 100 over every dominant chord, just do that. And make it and make it swing and make it feel right.
Josh Walsh 38:37
It's so much simpler than then you would learn from most other books. My teacher at great author, Jeremy Susskind tells you you know, end the line on the three the seven to nine. He's starting on the five and ending on the one. Right? Yeah, it's like so simple. It's so
Dr. Bob Lawrence 38:50
simple. You know, I'm gonna I'm gonna tell you, I'm gonna tell you a little story that just happened to me that magnifies what I'm getting at with this measure here. Can't even believe I'm sharing this with everybody. So I recently got a trainer man, I'm trying to get fit. Trying to get you know, I'm getting old and when you get old, you start worrying about getting getting fit because he's actually see yourself getting old. You go look, I gotta I gotta pump the brakes here. Somehow I got to pump the brakes. So I'm working with this trainer and, and working on mobility strength conditioning stuff, right? And has been doing a lot of really, I guess really fundamental basic stuff. That's so important. And so this last week, as you know, I was out east and New York, New Jersey visiting my son. And so I took my I threw it in my suitcase, my resistance bands and and a few little exercise things I threw in the suitcase. And so now I'm out there visiting him this last week and I was doing full body workouts full body exercises in my hotel room with this little with this equipment. I literally Josh I literally picked up the phone. I text I texted my trainer and I said, thank you. That's all I said, Thank you. He texts back for what I said, for teaching me how to exercise an understanding exercise to the point that I could do a full body workout in my hotel room. And, and here's what's here's what's interesting what he says, he writes back and says, yes, it's amazing how much you can do with so little once you know what you're doing. And when he made that comment in the text, I immediately thought about music. It's amazing how much you can do with so little if you know what you're doing. Now look at measure 100. Again, it's so little Right? Right? This there's nothing earth shattering, nothing earth shattering about this at all. And, but yet, it's classic vocabulary that everybody should have under their belt. In fact, I would say that measure right there. If you practice that, and you play that with a good feel, in time, various tempos, you have done yourself a world of a world of favors, because it encapsulates your ability to actually play jazz.
Josh Walsh 41:17
And I guarantee it is like the more advanced and the more time you spend with material, the more you recognize how important the fundamentals are, like these fundamentals never get boring. Never look at what he does to get into that line, by the way. He starts on the one. And he just plays a chromatic scale up into it. That's fancy. It sounds super cool.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 41:40
Right? Here's another measure, check out measure. Here's measures, look at measure 106. I love this right? What's what's what's interesting about measure 106?
Josh Walsh 41:51
I mean, it's basically the same kind of idea, right? It's an A? Well, no, because it's got to see natural in it.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 41:59
Yeah, see natural, you got basically an A minor triad over an A dominant seven, right. And then a minor triad creates creates what an altered
Josh Walsh 42:10
sharp nine, again,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 42:11
that's sharp nine again. So here's something that I would do with with jazz students, I'd say hey, you know what, this is not a bad idea. Let's play a dominant play a minor, or the top of it, let's play C dominant play C minor over the top of Let's Play D down into play D minor, or the top of it, right, and go through all 12 dominant chords, understanding this dominant minor relationship creating a sharp nine sound.
Josh Walsh 42:36
So don't get done, if you look at that measure in itself. I agree, I'm not sure he's actually thinking that here though, because he starts the motif in 105, he's playing basically a kind of repeated arpeggio right? Where he's playing it on C seven. So he needs the C natural, then he goes to a seven, he keeps the C natural because it's, it's just an interesting rub. Then he goes to D seven plays the same thing where that C is the is the dominant seven, and then it goes to g7, where the C is the 11. Right? All right. So it's just an interesting common tone that he's thrown in that line. Also,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 43:08
we'll see and I agree, but what we do, this is why transcriptions are so important, because then you actually see that you can assess it and analyze it and put it into verbiage that makes sense. Oh, minor, triad, over dominant seven. Now I can actually take that idea. And practice it so that I no longer have to think of it as a minor dominant, you know, I don't think poly chords are just a way to get you at a sound, it gets you to a sound, introduce you to the sound once once the sound becomes ingrained in your ears and in your in your hands, then you're no longer thinking poly chords. I mean, I agree with you, I don't think he's thinking that at all, but for practice purposes, so that we can replicate it, and then move it to different different chords. I think that's important. And like you said that G seven, I find that fascinating to write that G seven, there's the 13, the 11, and the nine. So he the upper extensions, upper extensions with that triad, but he's not I know, he's not thinking that this is something that has been practiced and hasn't been ingrained in his, in his ears and under his hands.
Josh Walsh 44:14
It's 105 through 108 is just a turn around 1625 Right. And, and he's just playing diatonic notes in the key. So in one sense, it's really a simple idea to get your head around. But that repeated motif he's he's and he knows which color tones He's aiming for and how those play off each other as the chords underneath it change. It's just so interesting. This is bluesy thing all day long, right? blues players love to take the the B flat and or the E flat and we should probably say what Kieran if we're index playing a C blues, or playing an E flat, they know that that's the bluesy note and C major benefits to flat 13 and G they know that they can play those things off of each other. He's just the guy. He's just spent a ton of time playing turnarounds for 10 minutes a day for you know for how long
Dr. Bob Lawrence 45:00
Well, how much can listen? The turnaround there, you get so little accomplishing so much with so little right, the turnaround. Oh my gosh, should we not all be practicing turnarounds?
Josh Walsh 45:13
Yeah, you think he spent some time with rhythm changes? I mean, that's what he's playing.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 45:16
Oh my gosh. Absolutely. Right. Correct. All right. We can't
Josh Walsh 45:20
We can't end this without looking at some of the crazy stuff. We got to at least
Dr. Bob Lawrence 45:24
I was just going there. Man. I was just going there. So talk, talk to us about the crazy stuff.
Josh Walsh 45:30
All right, let's look at so this is at measure 137. And you can see my annotations there basically admit that I don't have any idea what's happening. It sounds very diatonic to
Dr. Bob Lawrence 45:38
me. By the way, I did get a kick out of your hand.
Josh Walsh 45:43
So my approach and I transcribe stuff as I start with the rhythm. We talked about this on the last episode, we did this together. Yeah, right. I write the rhythm down first. And I fill in the notes. Well, this is clearly I mean, it's just straight eighth note triplets. That was easy. So it was you know, what, six bars, eight bars, eight bars. I've just read eighth note triplets, basically. And it sounded very diatonic to me. So I actually cheated. I went to the video, just trying to figure out what he's doing. Because maybe we should play this section again. Actually, yeah, let's
Dr. Bob Lawrence 46:07
do it. Let's Yeah, let's do that.
Josh Walsh 46:29
So what part of what makes this sound so cool, he's doing two hands. But he's not doing the two hands a lot of stuff that Oscar is famous for. He's got a bass player walking, walking in his leg, and then he's walking a different baseline in his left hand so that like the bass and his left hand are competing with each other while he's doing this crazy diatonic thing on top of it. Yeah. Bass player would fire me. Yeah,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 46:54
I don't even know what to say, man. I don't even know what to say. It's one of those things that, you know, it just sounds great. I would have never thought of it. I would never do it. I don't know what I don't even know what the heck's going on there. But it sounds fantastic.
Josh Walsh 47:06
It's a four octave range, over eight bars, which is interesting. The notes are not that interesting. Frankly, what's interesting is just it's a chaotic moment.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 47:13
It's a chaotic moment, right? Yeah.
Josh Walsh 47:16
Now he does it again. If
Dr. Bob Lawrence 47:17
you biotic moment that ends that ends correctly.
Josh Walsh 47:20
Now if you keep going, I'm gonna keep playing where we left off but in about eight more bars. He goes total chaos again, but this time it's not diatonic. Right. And measure 153. Here we go.
Josh Walsh 47:49
Right, not diatonic this time. It's the same chaotic feeling. But now he's chromatic all over the place. And he brings it back home with those arpeggios at the end, which I just love. The
Dr. Bob Lawrence 47:59
Yeah, very interesting, right.
Josh Walsh 48:05
ends on the sharp five to bring you down to the
Dr. Bob Lawrence 48:07
Joshy. You should you should email. Ben Patterson say Just what the hell are you doing here?
Josh Walsh 48:14
Well, I tried this extra.
Josh Walsh 48:22
No, no, Ben has a live stream on his YouTube. He's very approachable by though he's such a kind of person. And so I do I sit on his live stream, and I do what's called a super chat. We throw 10 bucks in and you put a chat message in and you hope that he answers the question because you paid him for it. And my question was basically that like, Hey, I'm looking at my shining hour, this timestamp, this measure number? What the hell are you doing here? And you saw like, you saw his face as the comment came up and he just kind of how am I supposed to answer that and then just moved right on? He didn't answer it. It didn't even acknowledge it. I know he's not I will put money. No, I on my YouTube channel, I have a I have a transcription video version of this as well, where I have it's kind of like Mickey Mouse Club where I have the notation going underneath the recording. And I know he's seen it. I know he's seen it so he's aware that I'm that I'm up to some funny business trying to figure this out. But
Dr. Bob Lawrence 49:11
yeah, because there's a secret to the sauce here man, there's a secret to the sauce.
Josh Walsh 49:16
By the way, we're kind of I mean, there is a culture of jazz of like transcribing each other's stuff and talking about it so we're not stealing anything here but we should give a lot of credit to Ben he has on his website. He has an amazing recording also on his YouTube channel of isn't she lovely? Which you should look at it's equally amazing to this one. And he sells a course for like 25 bucks where he walks you through his solo from his own think it's totally worth the 25 bucks and we totally should go support him on that I learned so much from Yeah, it's like an hour long video you buy for 25 bucks and he plays it for you and shows you exactly know for note why he's doing what he's doing and how he's thinking about
Dr. Bob Lawrence 49:52
it. Wow, that's fantastic. Yeah,
Josh Walsh 49:55
but I cannot play the section. I just I every time I just fall in laugh when I try to Plan
Dr. Bob Lawrence 50:00
Yes, you know you're looking at you're spending time on that crazy stuff I'm spending time on measure 173 and going like, Man, I just I want to get this line down. And here's another here's another great example of what I would tell jazz piano skills listeners learning how to improvise. 173 is another measure, I would lock in, I would grab that measure, and I and I would literally would practice playing that line over my major seven chords.
Josh Walsh 50:27
And check out I agree with you. I am 11 I am certainly riveted by the fancy stuff. And it's fun to break down and dive into it. But you're right, like when I'm deconstructing this for things to practice myself. I'm doing the same thing. I'm looking at the simple lines. Yeah, yeah. I want to ask you about one more thing before you hang up on me. Yeah. Okay, so let's fast forward way to like measure 206206 So measure 207 Is this is this fun arpeggio down? Over a minor two, five. I hear the sound all the time. I hear this a lot in our Tatum. I hear this a lot. Let me play it.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 51:04
Okay, it's starting at 206 You're gonna Yeah, I'm gonna
Josh Walsh 51:07
start playing a measure two before that.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 51:09
Josh Walsh 51:17
hear the little Art Tatum is saying very much. So. Yeah, it's a repeated pattern, right? It's like that. B flat, a natural kind of thing repeated all the way down. But I have a note in here from weeks ago that says please ask Dr. Bob to explain what this means.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 51:40
What it is so the it's the triple
Josh Walsh 51:43
A mine and 207 and 208
Dr. Bob Lawrence 51:46
Yeah. And this has been played over two five minor two five. Our treatment Yeah, like a minor two five going to the C minor right.
Josh Walsh 51:59
It feels almost like one of those aren't Tatum pentatonic. He just like technical patterns that he just practiced so much. Yeah. But I hear this sound all the time. I hear this an Oscar all the time to this exact exact same.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 52:12
What he took it from Arteta. Yeah, I mean, that's, that's an Art Tatum line. And I would have to say, you know, I'm gonna practice that this afternoon, and then I'll have a good answer for you, hopefully. But yeah, I think it's. I mean, it's definitely,
Josh Walsh 52:31
it's interesting. It's altered, yeah, that it goes. It's an all plays off to be natural, and then resolves it down to the B flat in the end here.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 52:39
I just had simple glance at this. I think this would go back to what you were saying earlier. Right. I think he's, I think he's thinking that five over the top of all that. Right, I think I think it's just that's, that's a dominant lick, if you will.
Josh Walsh 52:54
It's a bluesy, dominant lick, because it's full of.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 52:58
Yeah, so I don't I don't like getting too wrapped up with the D half diminished. I'm thinking I'm looking at that. I'm looking at that entire line over the g7. Right, so it's definitely a bluesy altered sound there. You got, you got the you got the sharp, I mean, the B flat in there, you got a D flat in there, right? These are altered, altered dominant sounds over that G seven. So I mean, who doesn't love
Josh Walsh 53:21
those, just those like fast three or four octave? Arpeggio art? I just, they're so great. They're full of those colorful notes.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 53:28
I just love them. They're fantastic. They're fantastic. Yeah. Yeah. And and you'd hear Oscar do it. But he certainly I think he would tell you that he got it from, from our data, you know, and then then comes out of that, look at that, then you come right out of that to that C minor. And look at that little look at that little line right there. Of course, we're so simple. You're right. Look at that little that. Oh, my gosh, we should practice that line to write that little C, E flat f g. How
Josh Walsh 53:56
he's quoting the melody at this person coming back, right? Yeah,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 53:59
right. Right, right. But still, right, just taking just taking that little idea. That's a great little motif to practice as well. So I mean, we could sit here all day, right? And make these little, these little gems, these little gems out of this transcription. And that's what's so beautiful about studying any transcription, whether it's this one or a Bill Evans transcription, or, you know, Keith Jarrett, whoever, right, that there are these little nuggets that help you help you discover your reservoir of of creativity and ideas. Because any one of these ideas that were yanking out today, if you start practicing them, you start to realize you start putting your own bent on the exact same motif, and it starts to it starts to morph into your, your idea. It's tapped into you, right. So I always like to say transcriptions are about yanking out of you. What's in you. They're not about trying to shove into you what's not
Josh Walsh 55:02
some wisdom from Cowboy Bob.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 55:04
Thanks, man. I appreciate it. Man, we're gonna get you down here for some reason. All right, so what other parting words pearls of wisdom do you have for jazz piano skills listeners with regards to this transcription? Where do they where do they go? they've listened to this episode, now they have your transcription in their hands.
Josh Walsh 55:25
Now, I would say I would say study it, don't just try to play along with it. That's what a lot of people I see do with transcriptions as they pick them up. And they just want to play along and they don't really understand what they're playing. No, like, that's not what this is about. Pick two, three or four measures and figure it out, put it in other keys, put it in your other tunes. Play it on your gigs. That's that's where it comes to.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 55:43
Yeah, I agree. I think I think everyone should be approaching the transcript, any transcription with the idea that I'm about to discover more of me. I'm about to discover more of me. And Ben Patterson is going to help you do that. That's really how we should be approaching this. So Josh, I can't thank you enough, man. Congratulations to you. This is this is an epic transcription that you've put together. It's fabulous. I love that you've made it accessible to everybody out there that they can get their hands on this and download it, print it and study it like you said, it's it's it's a little it's a gem. It's a little pot of gold that I I absolutely encourage everybody to take the time to spend some time studying this. And, and also check out Josh's site, you got tons of resources there educational resources for folks to tap into as well Correct.
Josh Walsh 56:40
I would say if you want to follow me the best place to follow me as my YouTube channel, just go to YouTube and search for my name. Josh Walsh, hit the subscribe button. That's quick. That's become my full time career. It's kind of funny, you know, the jazz websites stuff is fun. But my whole mission right now is just how do we inspire kids and adults to bring some creativity back into their life. So many people, like become accountants or lawyers or whatever. And they live in the analytical world all the time, and they lose this creative side of them. And so this is my mission is to try and reinvigorate some of those things. It's not all jazz, by the way, like my video this week was on Stevie Wonder. Gotta hit people with the music that they enjoy. But I'm having a blast. And I would love to have it it's amazing community in the comment section of those videos. And I hope you guys will join in.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 57:21
Yeah, yeah, man. I just I just drove over here today listening to George Strait, man on the way to on the way to the office. I love it. It's fun. I guess if you live in Texas long enough, you can't help but but the checkout George. So anyway. All right, Josh. This was awesome. Man. This was so much fun. I appreciate it. And we'll have you back on here again very soon with a with another with another transcription that we can dive into and take a look at and and see what we can discover, learn and play.
Josh Walsh 57:50
Do you see how maybe next time we should do this in person with some brisket on the table?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 57:54
Oh my gosh. How fun would that be?
Josh Walsh 57:58
Send me the invite. I'll be there.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 58:00
Yeah, and a cold and a cold Shiner Bock on top of that, too. All right. All right, Josh, take care. Thank you, my friend for coming on and sharing your your insight, your wisdom and your gifts with us. Really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Josh Walsh 58:14
You got it.
Jazz Pianist, Educator, Entrepreneur
I'm Josh Walsh, a professional jazz pianist, teacher, and entrepreneur based in Cleveland, Ohio.
As a child, the jazz piano seed was planted when I found an early interest in boogie-woogie and blues piano. I spent many afternoons in the living room with sunglasses on pretending to be Ray Charles. A yearned for the stride left hand of Fats Waller and Art Tatum.
I assure you, it wasn't much fun to listen to 8-year-old Josh try to rock out like Dr. John, but the journey had begun.
I got more serious about my future at the piano when I went off to college, where I studied classical piano at the University of Toledo and Cleveland State University. Through those studies, I gained a more diverse appreciation for all forms of music.
College did wonders for my playing technique, where I improved fluency in scales, arpeggios, and became comfortable across all the keys and tonalities. The nerd in me really loved learning more about music theory, and I took every course the school would let me.
I studied privately with a number of remarkable piano teachers, most notably at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Margarita Shevchenko, the winner of multiple international piano competitions.
After college, I narrowed my piano study to focus on jazz, which has been my passion ever since. Over years of continued study, both independently and with great private teachers, I've broken down what I've learned into a personal notebook. That notebook has guided me in teaching students of my own for many years and informs most of what I write here on Jazz-Library.
In 2001 I founded The Refinery, an e-commerce consultancy. Being CEO of that company was my primary career until 2021 when I sold my share of the business to focus on Jazz-Library full time.
I hope this resource is helpful to you on your journey in your own playing.