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Discussion Starter #1
I'm playing the lead tenor book in a local jazz big band so I play a lot of solos, which is fine with me. There is one tune that is driving me nuts and I'm looking for some advice. This is a Maynard Ferguson chart so the style is higher, faster, louder. I can make the changes and tempo ok, but just can't find anything worthwhile to play and just wind up running scales against the changes. I've put the changes in iReal Pro and BIAB and shedded them, but haven't come up with a way to put together any musical/logical sequences of phrases or themes. The end result is I hate when this tune is called and have to blow my brains out for 36 bars.

Any ideas on how I can fix this? Don't say give it to the other tenor player, she nearly ran out of the room when I suggested she stand up and play the melody on a ballad.
 

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TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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Go back to square one and start over: the tune must have some kind of melody or recurring riffs; pick up what you can and go with it, using your knowledge of the chords to 'mess around' with it. Nothing like a one-measure trill on an altissimo note to set the stage for a hot, up-tempo solo. Every soloist needs a bag of tricks to fall back on.
 

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It's a simple answer, but get comfortable with it at a slow tempo then increase it while still playing musically. You also need to train yourself to hear FAST. You say you can make the changes fine at tempo- if so, why do you think there's an issue with you playing this particular tune? Also maybe record you playing it with the band to give us a better idea of how to help you. If you slowed it down to like 180, would you feel like you're getting through it better?
 

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I find when the mental well is dry. Listenng and just playing along with recorded versions gives me some ideas. Full transcription might be too much but is always helpful as well.
 

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Here's an example on "Give It One" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGtYbWkhRUA

The whole melody from the very beginning is a chain of riffs; each of which can be written separately , they can be learned and transposed into all keys. The next stage is the transformation of riffs in a variety of ways:

- play from the last note to the first;
- play only those notes that fall on the beats;
-play a riff fragment (submotive) and transpose it up and down on the steps of chord scale;
-change riff intervals;
-change the rhythm of the riff;
-change the melodic curve;
-repeat the riff, each time removing another note;

And generally treat the riff as if it were a children's cube.

View attachment 192057
 

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Discussion Starter #7
LOL! I thought there was a good chance someone would get it from my description, and jazzman1945 you nailed it. Give It One is the tune, and if you listen to the dozen or so recordings on YouTube, the solos are pretty much like that one, wiggle your fingers and blow. Thanks for the ideas, I'll try breaking it down into phrases and see what I can do.
 
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