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(December 2016) Blues Key of the Month: Concert B [Major or Minor]

rhysonsax

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We've already used up most of the well known keys for blues, but let's carry on working our way through all of the keys.

The next key(s) for the Cafe Saxophone blues recordings series is concert B. So for Bb saxes that is C# / Db and Eb saxes will play in Ab / G#.

Because there has been quite a bit of confusion about key signatures, especially for the minor keys, I am going to try to help.

Bb saxes: C# major has seven sharps (Db major has five flats) and C# minor has four sharps
Eb saxes: Ab major has four flats and G# minor has five sharps

The guidelines for these threads are that each person who wants to take part chooses their own backing track in whatever style they like, provided that it's in the right key and can be classed as "blues". Then they record their sax playing and link to it from here.

There are lots of good backing tracks on YouTube.

It's up to you whether you want to play a blues with a "head" (tune) or just improvisation.

I couldn't find any well known blues tunes in concert B major or minor, but maybe you can suggest some. The only ones I came up with are:
  • Bmin: Five Spot After Dark (Benny Golson)
  • Bmin: Hide and Seek
  • Bmaj: H+H (Pat Metheney ?)
  • Bmaj: Blues in H (Modern Jazz Quartet)
But if you find this month's keys just too intimidating, then please go back to any of the previous months and let us hear your recordings in those more sax-friendly keys.

Rhys
 
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Veggie Dave

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Okay, this should be a real challenge! :D
 
spike

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Here's an example that I was recently hired / conscripted to solo on: (Sorry - it's rock blues but that's what I do)
Cast an ear at "The Thrill is Gone" from the Nimmo Brothers, the track doesn't have a sax solo - but - it's in B minor (C#m on tenor) with an interesting little G to F# change on the last 4 bars. You do need to hit the guitarist round the back of his head with a baseball bat to make it stick.

P.S. The BB King version is in C but the Nimmos seem to do it in B for some reason.

Sorry Dave, it's me that stoopid, I goofed with the link:

 
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mrpeebee

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Ah, we finally come to the easy keys ;)!

:headscratch:
 
Veggie Dave

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@spike is there a link missing or am I completely stupid?
 
Nick Wyver

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If you play with guitarists a lot it's quite a common key. Like everything else, it's not that hard if you've done it often enough.
 
thomsax

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I think BB King played some songs in concert B (Riding with the King ...). But it's hard for the rocksax player to find blues songs that are written and performed in concert B. For most rocksax players C# major and C# minor (E major) has four sharps and Ab major has four flats and G# minor ( B major) has five sharps are pretty common. Minor or major you must listen and play it differnt. But it''s the same fingerings. I don't think it's so tricky.
 
rhysonsax

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Very slow month so far - is it the key signature or just the season not to be blue ?

I have recorded a couple of versions of Benny Golson's B minor blues "Five Spot After Dark", both on tenor. He composed and played it on tenor and the melody fits well on the instrument, if only you can get your fingers around it.

The first version is very short and in a sort of funky style using a backing track from ABRSM that was actually recorded in Bb minor (an easier key) but I shifted it in Audacity before recording the tenor part (not afterwards, honestly).

Five Spot After Dark Bmin - Rhys tenor V01.wav - Box

The second version uses quite along backing track from Hal Leonard in the proper key and with a tempo that is quite challenging for me ! Lots of choruses too.

Five Spot After Dark - Rhys tenor V02.wav - Box

Let's have some more blues in B before Christmas.

Rhys
 
Eoe

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I want to do something but I am so busy with my originals and a demo of covers for the internet and my club profile it has to fall into something I am already recording.
 
Veggie Dave

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I've found a backing track I quite like so I'll hopefully be having a go, too. This month has been stupidly busy up now but I'm sure I can find a little time for a play. :)
 
mrpeebee

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Very slow month so far - is it the key signature or just the season not to be blue ?

My only reasons is always NO playing/recording time! It's a crazy month with travel, but I hope to use the studio of my friend somewhere next Wednesday (21th) and do some Blues in B's if nothing interferes with that.
 
mrpeebee

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My only reasons is always NO playing/recording time! It's a crazy month with travel, but I hope to use the studio of my friend somewhere next Wednesday (21th) and do some Blues in B's if nothing interferes with that.

Did finally have time to record some takes with three different free YouTube backings yesterday evening during my monthly short recording session.

Here is the first one done with a fast swing/shuffle backing.

- ' Blues in B' - fast (FL no USA 10* - Rico Royal 2) shuffle:
SoundClick

What a difficult key (for me), I guess you can hear the struggle!

Will post the other two attempts later this month.
 
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mrpeebee

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Here is the next take, played on a metal Phil Tone Mosaic 9 mouthpiece with the well known free and excellent YouTube shuffle Blues backing by Cliff Smith. I did use the same Rico Royal 2 reed as for the above take on the Florida no USA 10* mouthpiece, but this reed was way too soft for the Mosaic 9 mouthpiece. Also had some issues during the recording with the mouthpiece patch that didn't stick to the mouthpiece anymore, but here is the take anyhow!

- 'Blues in B' - medium (Mosaic 9 - Rico Royal 2) shuffle:
http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13502764
 
rhysonsax

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I like them both @mrpeebee - you always have a good feel for the 12 bar form, even if the key (or the mouthpiece patch) aren't comfortable.

It's really good that you are helping keep these threads going, as the keys get further away from familiar saxophone territory. Maybe I should organise a prize for the person who has most consistently supported the whole idea.

Have a great Christmas and keep playing those blues.

Rhys

PS I am interested to hear what you think of the Mosaic mouthpiece and how it compares to all your Otto Links.
 
mrpeebee

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Thanks Rhys :).

Nice idea of the price, but we unfortunately don't have many steady attenders besides you, me, Veggie Dave and Francisco (hope I didn't forget anybody).

I want to thank you for these series of Blues threads, I for sure learned a lot from playing in all those for me unfamiliar keys. And hope to do so from future threads too. It would be a good idea to close the series with a Blues with another key per solo chorus (I think Getz, Gene Ammons and Johnny Griffin did record examples of that). Key is of course that we can find a backing supporting that!

About the Phil Tone Mosaic mouthpiece: I like it a lot, but for me it can't compete with my Florida Links (and some others). The Mosaic is more spread, less loud and less reed friendly then my main Florida. Most important factors for me are the loudness and the reed friendliness (the Link's even perform well on very old reeds).

Here is an old compare sound clip with both the Florida 10* (left, solo at 5:23) and Mosaic 9 (right, solo at 1:50) recorded on the same reed:
SoundClick

A great Christmas to you and all other readers/attenders of these threads too :).
 
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mrpeebee

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Here is my last submission (for this year!). Used a nice medium slow shuffle Blues in B backing (marked Red House) and two of my Otto Link mouthpieces.

My 1950's Florida no USA 10* is on the left channel (solo starts at 0:44), followed by a modern STM NY 9* (refaced and Floridized by Mojo and EJZ before I got it) on the right channel (solo starts at 2:06). The theme is played by both and at 3:29 starts a 4x4 bars exchange (Florida starts). Had some issues playing way too flat with the used reed (an old Rico Royal 2), probably because of a spit at the tip that I only detected after the recording session! The reed was still not too bad for the Florida 10*, but way too soft for the NY 9*.

- Blues in B' - slow (Florida no USA 10* - STM NY 9* - Rico Royal 2) shuffle Red House:
SoundClick

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all :)
 
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rhysonsax

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I'm glad to hear some more blues recordings as the end of the month (and 2016) approaches.

@mrpeebee keeping up your consistently high standard and finding some good backing tracks to play with. I can hear the influence of your tenor heroes coming through - but did they ever record in this key ?

@Francisco I enjoyed that recording, including the vocal bits towards the end - is that you ? Once again I think you were getting more and more comfortable as you got into the recording and I really enjoyed it.

Any more for 2016 ?

Rhys
 
Jeanette

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I haven't listened to many of these but it's great to see the blues threads so well supported.

Big thankyou to @rhysonsax for keeping these threads going :)

Jx
 

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