"Chelsea Bridge" Real Book changes are ...

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Bobby King, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Hey folks,

    I was practicing the melody of the great Billy Strayhorn song "Chelsea Bridge" with my bow and trying to relate it to the changes. So first I got out the Real Book and it describes the first four bars as:

    Eb7 | Db7 | Eb7 Db7| Bb7 |

    Ok, given the melody, I can get that those first changes would at least be 7b5 chords. But the root movement winding up on Bb7 still seemed bad to me. So --

    I found a recording of Ben Webster playing the song and the the bass is on Bb and Ab on those first changes. Ah!

    That would make it:

    Bb-maj7 | Ab-maj7| Bb-maj7 Ab-maj7| Bb7 |

    SO much better!

    Sometimes the changes in the real book are f*#ked. Or they're only intended for the pianist's right hand! :rolleyes:
  2. word of advice! Always try to learn a song by ear or transcription from an original recording...Especially a Duke Ellington tune where voicings are just as important as the actual harmony (think Isfahan). In the end, you'll just be a better musician all around, and you'll internalize everything much quicker. And if you can, try practing tunes in different keys...for example "In a Sentimental Mood" was played in Bbmin by Trane and Duke, which creates a much different Amaj color on the bridge which I prefer...plus the intro in terms of register...
  3. zeytoun


    Dec 19, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    When I was learning jazz chord patterns on the guitar recently, a lot of the modified/inverted chords suddenly clicked. Basically, inversions and substitution chords that require the least amount of movement up the neck, and/or the smallest changes in fret fingerings, are almost always the substitution chords found in actual recordings or more accurate transcriptions.

    A couple examples I found:

    Maj7 and b7-9 chords can be done with very similar structure to a 6th chord. When the chord movement is going up a fourth from a standard, or 6th, chord, to another major chord, that second chord often works really well as a maj7 chord (you only have to move one fret). When going from a maj7 up a 6th to another major chord, that second chords sounds really good as a b7-9 chord (another single fret movement).

    You don't really need a guitar to figure this out (although one helps). Basically, if you look up some real basic jazz chord patterns for guitar (I can send you a pdf if you like, just PM me), then pick a few jazz standards and map out some chord choices (using inversions, and substitution chords) on either a virtual or real guitar neck, you can quickly see that the ones that require the least fret and neck movement, are chords that are commonly played as the substitution chords (no coincidence there, I think...).

    Funny that Thomson mentions "In a Sentimental Mood" (my favorite jazz tune), because on guitar, the voicing can get wonderfully tight. Given simplified chords, you could pretty much guess all the modified/inverted chords perfectly just by trying to keep the voicing tight.
  4. For what it's worth, the New Real Book One (the Sher publication) scores it the same as Bobby King hears it on the Webster recording - Bbm(maj7) to Abm(maj7).
  5. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN


    Thanks! That's good to know. I guess those new "legit" Real Books are doing a better job.

    Really, how can they (in the old Real Book) even call it Eb7 when the melody lands on a big old A natural?

    Eb(9b5)/Bb would be more or less the same as Bb-maj7, but if you don't even give the correct bass, at least include the
    "9b5" part!

    My dad was an amateur musical hobbyist, and he'd try and play standards on the piano. But he wouldn't really get it that sometimes those chords in the Real Book had to be adapted depending on the melody, etc. So in this sort of situation he'd play an Eb7 chord with a regular Bb as the 5th in it, and then play that A natural in the melody :eek: and have this look on his face like, "What am I doing wrong?!":confused: As they say in the South, "Bless his heart".
  6. Understood. Check out Chelsea Bridge on Pepper Adams "The Master." George Mraz does a fabulous solo on the tune. The bass recording is quite "nasal" sounding but the ideas are great.

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