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Long Fast Solos and Storytelling

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I was talking to someone at length yesterday about a live gig recording he sent me. It's a fast (290bpm!) minor blues of about 11 minutes. There's a solo intro on soprano, then a four-minute soprano solo, two minutes of piano solo, 3 1/2 minutes of drum solo and one minute out. At tempo, there are about 7 choruses per minute. The playing is superb, but I find myself getting bored after the first 20 choruses of the 12-bar blues changes. It's really hard to escape the rhythmic tyranny of the combination of fast tempo and short form (i.e., blues changes, no bridge). The create part becomes mostly the scales and harmonic material. Coltrane got really good at using rhythmic variation to get away with this, as in Chasing the Train (230bpm) or Mr. PC. (240bpm) In the end, we agreed that Coltrane's band understood and backed him and that helped put the craziness over. They told the story together. I've seen so many videos with people jamming and endless solos demonstrating amazing facility, yet not saying anything. Coltrane's playing is not to everyone's taste, so,

What are your favourite fast (220bpm or more) tunes that you think are telling a story, rather than playing a lot of fast note?
 

Wade Cornell

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Can't think of a track that fast at the moment, but just wanted to give a big cheer. Whenever I hear a musician promoting and recognizing that music can be more than just showing off one chops they deserve a cheer. It's wonderful to develop an incredible technique, but it's still just a tool for expressing creativity and not an end unto itself. Players need to grow beyond the technical and ego side of playing and instead "become one with music". When you loose your ego and put the music first it all just flows through you (very Buddhist).

There are so many ways to communicate creatively beyond just trying to impress. Having outstanding technical facility is good. Only using that one facet is unfortunately boring to most listeners. It's like watching the world's fastest typist: impressive for a few moments, but if they haven't written a story or anything worth remembering, then we switch off.

As randulo hints: the music can be made better by providing breaks, but it's best (IMHO) to avoid forms of music that are strictly about being a showcase for ego technical solos.
 

CliveMA

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I've seen so many videos with people jamming and endless solos demonstrating amazing facility, yet not saying anything.
+1
As soon as music wanders into egotistical solo I switch to other music. I have no interest in solos for the sake of solos. I find the habit of each musician having a turn at a solo tends to ruin the music. Each note and each solo should have a purpose that fits with the music. Self-indulgence is not entertaining for some of us.
 

rhysonsax

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My first nomination is Sonny Rollins on his tune "Strode Rode" at about 264bpm. Great invention, story telling and he keeps the ideas flowing.


And my second Rollins nomination is his solo on "Eternal Triangle" from the album he did with Dizzy and Sonny Stitt.


It's interesting to contrast what he does with Stitt's solo (straight after Rollins) which has tremendous facility too, but for me less creativity.


Rhys
 

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Michael Brecker with McCoy Tyner, Impressions (after miss jones).
McCoy's solo has a lot of rhythmic invention. On the piano, even if the right hand is playing long sequences of note, the left is plunging down adding complexity. Brecker's playing always tells a story. Not that easy in a two chord song, simpler even than the blues. I love listening to the questions he "asks" and answers on the sax. Listen to the pauses, they're as important as the notes. It can never be said enough, the beboppers said, "It's all rhythm."
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KuZ4XMc4AA&feature=youtu.be&t=302
 

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My first nomination is Sonny Rollins on his tune "Strode Rode" at about 264bpm. Great invention, story telling and he keeps the ideas flowing.
That's cheating, Rhys! :)
There is no such thing as an uninteresting Sonny Rollins solo. He's connected to that instrument and that storytelling every minute.

Stitt is a great player, but very much in the realm of the idiom. I suppose he was part of the creation of it, so I guess that's why. Brilliant playing, but no Rollins.
 
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Saying something and telling a story is not easy on fast tempo tunes.
I also love "Eterna triangle" and "Strode rode".
There are many examples that comes to my mind,
Charlie Parker on KoKo, Kim
Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane "Limehouse blues"
and many many tunes by the super specialists Clifford Brown and Max Roach.
 
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