Daily Licking 019: 1st Chorus Of Coltrane's Mr. P.C To Blow Your Mind

UPDATE - you can follow this entire series on this page:

We have probably all played it. It is the defacto minor jazz blues, written by John Coltrane for one of the most famous bass players ever, Paul Chambers. It is on Mr. Trane's most famous album, "Giant Steps" and we are gonna look at his crazy solo, a chorus at a time.

Coltrane's solo on Mr. P.C might actually work on bass. This was before he went completely into another star child dimension of karmic existence and he was still playing in a way some of us humans might actually be able to emulate. Maybe.

I am going to try to go through his entire solo, all 16 choruses of it, and transcribe it all. I think it is doable. I have listened to it over and over and there is only one or two places that he gets really crazy and it might not be playable on bass, but over all, it just might be playable on bass with some minor tweaks. I think.

Also, since this is a blues and there are only 4 chords in the whole tune, it makes for really easy analysis and investigation into what he was playing. Even in only this first chorus, there is a dump truck full of goodies. I see posts from guys all the time saying "how do I know what to play when I solo?", well, look at these licks and dissect what he is doing and your cup will be overflowing with ridiculoso. Let us examine some things from The Master, shall we?

Uh, those notes are not in the chord, John.

I have said before that here we are in 2011 and at this point in the game you can playing anything (meaning note-wise) over anything (meaning chord wise). BUT, you do need to know what you are doing, and you have to play it with some moxie, some verve, some gusto primo ridiculoso.

Well, keep in mind that Coltrane recorded this song fifty years ago. Five-Zero years ago. And he was playing some notes way back then that some say you are not supposed to play even today. So this stuff has been going on longer than I have been alive. Some people say you are not supposed to play notes like that. Oh really?

Major 7 on Minor 7

That is supposed to be a BIG no-no, right. Meaning, playing a B natural on a C minor which should have a big ol, flatted B-flat thats flat on the tail end of it.

Well, in the first chorus of this tune, Mr. Coltrane there does it twice, playing the major 7 on two different minor chords. The first time is in the pick up to the first measure of the solo, he plays a B natural over a Cmin and then he does it again in the first measure, just in case you thought he was fooling. No way. The man was serious. He's like the Honey Badger of Jazz, he don't care!

Oh you thought he was funnin'? Oh really? How about another major 7 on the F min, yea how about a big E natural right in the pie hole, huh?

Now you can call these passing tones, chromatic neighbor tones, whatever you want, but there they are, the natural 7 being played on a minor chord. They also let him set up chord tones on downbeats as well. Sneaky.

Minor Third on Dominant

How about the opposite? Yup, he plays a minor 3rd (also known as a sharp 9) on the G7 chord. A G7 has a B natural but he plays a Bb. Oh, and a Db (flat 5) as well. So he is altering all kinds of stuff. He don't care! And it sounds great.


But overall the thing that is most impressive to me is the shape of the lines. Obviously, we are talking about probably one the most prolific and inventive improvisor in the history of blowing into things and making noises, so duh, but they really are concrete solid lines, just indestructible and strong. Awesome.

There are two versions posted below, a slow one, at 90bpm, and then one at the tempo on the recording, which is about 260ish bpm. Oh yea, I didn't mention that did I, um, it's really really fast, by the way. They take it  really fast.

Stay tuned for future choruses of Trane's solo, as well as the bass line from Mr. P.C. himself, also chock full of awesome.

Good luck.

You can hear the whole tune on the YouTube clip below the solos. The first chorus is only from about 21 seconds to about 35 seconds, and I cued it up right there.

(Update - the second chorus is here - http://bassoridiculoso.blogspot.com/2011/02/daily-licking-020-chorus-2-of-john.html )

Slow Version

bass lick 4/4 tempo 90 | Cmin r2 g8 a b d | Cmin7 c b c eb d db d f | eb d eb g f4 g8 eb~ | eb4 r4 r2 | r8 c+8~ c4~ c4~ c8 bb8 | Fmin ab eb e g f g ab bb | g f eb c d2~ | Cmin7 d4~ d8 c8 d4 a4 | r2 r8 gb8 ab bb | Ab7 c eb gb ab bb4~ bb8 bb8 | G7 g8 a8 [bb8 db8 eb8] g8 a8 bb4~ | Cmin7 bb8 ab8 bb8 ab8 g eb8 r4 | Cmin7 r4 r8 bb8~ bb4~ r8 bb |

Inhumanly Fast Version
bass lick 4/4 tempo 260 | CMin7 r2 g8 a b d | Cmin7 c b c eb d db d f | eb d eb g f4 g8 eb~ | eb4 r4 r2 | r8 c+8~ c4~ c4~ c8 bb8 | Fmin ab eb e g f g ab bb | g f eb c d2~ | Cmin7 d4~ d8 c8 d4 a4 | r2 r8 gb8 ab bb | Ab7 c eb gb ab bb4~ bb8 bb8 | G7 g8 a8 [bb8 db8 eb8] g8 a8 bb4~ | Cmin7 bb8 ab8 bb8 ab8 g eb8 r4 | Cmin7 r4 r8 bb8~ bb4~ r8 bb |


Mike said...

Hey! just starting to work this out. Those runs up on the Ab and G should be in the same register, shouldn't they ? Or am I shrooming?

Mike said...

Continued: I have looked at the first half, then read your analysis to see if I missed anything out. Enjoyed what you wrote, you have a great "voice" when you write. Might be worth noting for other players that using the maj7 on a b7 chord is like using the Bebop dominant scale, albeit here on a minor chord.

Personally I love the sound of a maj7 on a b7 chord and it now sounds so nice to me I can't really hear it being "out" !

Bassist Ridiculoso said...

No you are not shrooming, at least not as far as those notes go.

I took some, editorial license on that one, and really what should probably happen is the Ab should be up where the G is, but I didnt want ledger lines all over the place.

Pretty much everything is probably going to sound better (and be actually playable at a faster tempo) up in the higher register.

I have pretty much moved everything up an octave to play it. But, experiment, I like the two octave jump on that one, personally.

Anonymous said...

Love your analysis, but the first chorus is definitely not a major7 over a minor7, it's just a melodic minor scale.

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