Last week I explained how we’re going to start playing featured tunes that are rarely heard in the context of our jam. We duly played Coltrane’s “Cousin Mary” and Paul Desmond’s “Bossa Antigua” at the last jam, with more or less satisfactory results. So for the next jam on August 5, I’m challenging myself to kick things up a notch by picking one of the two featured tunes to memorize. My goal is to get on stage and actually listen to the other musicians while I play, rather than following the changes on my phone or chart. Doing so will allow me to pay attention to things other than the harmony, like being more attentive to the time feel and not being surprised when it’s my turn to take a solo. That gives me two and a half weeks to memorize one tune. If you’re like me and have trouble memorizing tunes, I invite you to join me and give it a shot. If we blow it, we can always ask the house band how they commit music to memory.
For the August 5 jam, then, the first candidate for memorization is “Joyce’s Samba,” a tune that I associate with Cannonball Adderly. In my experience the title is a misnomer because it’s identified in Real Book Vol. 2 as a bossa, and Cannonball played it as such on a 1962 record called Cannonball’s Bossa Nova. The harmony seems simple enough, and since we’re doing it as our “easier” number of the week, I suggest we do it at the slower bossa tempo as well.
The second candidate you might attempt to memorize is Dizzy Gillespie’s bop classic, “Woodyn’ You.” This one is the more difficult of the featured tunes in part because it’s harmony consists of a lot of minor ii-V’s (min7b5 – dom7#9). Here you’re in Locrian mode and altered scale territory, a region unfamiliar to the likes of me. And this tune is more difficult because it’s usually done at a brisk clip.
So we can look forward to the following for the August 5 jam:
- we’ll stretch out our hands, ears, and minds with a couple of rarely played tunes;
- we’ll get a chance to work on minor ii-V7’s;
- and we’ll get some practice memorizing a song.
We have 19 days before the next jam. If I notice some growth in any of the three areas above over that time, I’ll be satisfied. I invite you to take up the challenge to memorize one of these tunes.
The house band will be a virtuosic quartet made up of: Ken Hoffman (ts), Dave Stoler (pno), Ben Ferris (bs), and Keith Lienert (dr).
Let’s get cracking with the memorizing. See you on August 5!