[JPL] Joshua Redman

Phillip Greenlief pgsaxo at pacbell.net
Tue May 1 14:38:21 EDT 2007

-----Original Message-----
On Behalf Of Jae Sinnett
Subject: [JPL] Joshua Redman

>From a musicians perspective playing with the chord-less trio presents
and interesting set of musical possibilities......good, bad or
indifferent. Saxophone and bass are inherently melodic
instruments.....mainly single note line capability.......but bass
players can create two and three note "chords" and doing so more
frequently. That said and because of this limited ability to create the
chord the pressure of "hearing" the chord becomes almost necessary. One
could ask if it really is but with a sax, bass and drums
lineup.....particularly when you're playing standard II V material....I
think it is. If not the song is incomplete IMO. This is were the
harmonic knowledge of the melodic players has to come through and it
does one each track.  
Joshua Redman aside - I'd like to comment on this discussion in terms of
the harmonic approach that is being referred to here.

I would say that the saxophone - drums - bass thing allows absolute
freedom for the players. There's no need to hear the chord, in my
opinion. Chords get in the way, they limit possibilities. If a bassist
is implying G7 (because it's part of the chord progression) and I feel
like playing an Eb7 shape against it, I can do that without sounding
"wrong" - (or bi-tonal, which isn't so bad, after all - it's quite nice
- Bartok and many others did it in the early 20th century - it's not
like it's a "new" thing).
This leads me to a discussion I've had with students. Let's look at the
notes of the G7 chord (G - B - D - F) and the notes of the Eb7 chord (Eb
- G - Bb - Db). You have one common tone and two tones that are a
half-step away. The other tone (Eb) is a whole-step away from F (the 7th
of G7). 
It becomes really easy to see how you can imply Eb7 against G7. By
adding some chromatic shapes to your line - they're almost the same
chord, aren't they? So by eliminating the chord player, you can do all
kinds of things (this is how Trane developed his sheets of sound thing,
which came out of his re-negotiation of the circle of 5ths).  He was
able, with rapid-fire note flurries, to both state the G7 and the Eb7
(as an example) in a single measure of music. His ability to see
pentatonic shapes that had lots of "cross-references" (common tones) led
him to be able stack all these chord tones on top of a single chord.

Ornette (since we were just talking about him) used a totally different
approach. He said forget the chord and stay focused on the melody. In
this way, he was eventually able to develop his harmelodic approach (but
it took a large ensemble like Prime Time to develop it). With
Harmelodics, you can have a double trio all playing in different keys at
the same time. There's no emphasis on harmony dictating the direction of
the music - rather, the musicians work in their own harmonic area
through the proliferation of melodic lines (with diverse tonal centers)
and the "harmony" is created by the layering of those diverse lines. So
melody dictates harmony, not the other way around.

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