Charlie Parker Plays Great on the Six String Bass…
A couple of tunes that always come up when discussing important songs in the bass cannon are “Donna Lee” and “Giant Steps.”
I do understand their importance but what do you do after you get those tunes under your belt? There is so much more to uncover and discover and that is what today’s column is about.
A number of years ago I put a band together for a regular bi-weekly jam in NY. The band was, to say the least, incredible! The Rolling Stones Horns, the guitarist, and drummer from John Entwistle’s solo project the singer from Buster Poindexter’s Band, etc. A lot of folks sat in including Bruce Willis, Carol King and even Bootsy Collins showed up. I needed to put together a serious setlist!
We always started our shows with an instrumental and I wanted this one to be a little less known so I picked Charlie Parker’s “Chi Chi.”
Chi Chi is a jazz blues in Ab. He recorded this track back in 1953 at his last significant recording session before passing away in 1955. This same recording session also yielded classic recordings of Confirmation and Now’s the Time.
When I started going through the Charlie Parker Omnibook I was thrilled that “Chi Chi” lays beautifully on the Six String Bass.
So for this lesson, I have written out the transcription twice. The first one has a few theory tidbits that I found most interesting written into the transcription. The second is just the music for you to play along with.
When possible, before I dig into a new tune, I try to listen to it a few times to get the feel, phrasing, etc. I am enclosing the tune from YouTube for you to give a listen:
So looking at the first transcription; the pickup bar utilizes just the first finger and builds on ascending 4ths.
The first beat of bar (2) I play with the open C string and it is the beginning of an Ab arpeggio starting on the 10th (3rd degree).
Bar 3 starts with the b3 on Bb and on the “and of 2” the melody plays an E?interestingly enough as it anticipates* an Eb7 chord.
In bar 4 starting on the 3rd beat, we have the root, 5, 6 & b7 complementing the Ab7 chord.
I love the Bb in bar 6. As a dotted half note, it brings the melody to a short pause.
In bar 7 we have another anticipation* heading into bar 8 with the G, which is the 5 of the C-7 chord.
*An anticipation occurs when a chord note arrives before the chord is played
The 2nd half of bar 8 arpeggiates a C- starting on the 5.
The melody in bar 9 begins with the 5 of C as does bar 10 wit Db, the fifth of Bb-7.
Bar 11 again uses an anticipation into bar 12. That G is the 3rd of the Eb7 as well as the 5th of the C-7. And here is something else The Eb7 (Eb, G, Bb, Db) is similar to the C-7 (C, Eb, G, Bb) Technically, the Db can be thought of as a b9 of the C-7 and the C can be thought of as a b13 of the Eb7.
A lot to take in!
This is a great tune to play. I would suggest taking it slowly at first. Perhaps a couple of bars at a time. When you get that under your belt, move on.
In my follow up to this column, I will show you a simple but effective walking bass line where I will reharmonize a few of the chords.
Stay tuned stay healthy and stay safe!