Good recorded examples of using tritone subs to form chromatic movement?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Vince Waldon, Mar 5, 2017.

  1. Recently in Jazz Combo our instructor touched on using tritone substitutions over descending II-Vs, specifically the classic example over a Rhythm Changes bridge like Oleo, where something like:

    D7-G7-C7-F7 can become D7-Db7-C7-Cb7

    There was discussion about how this was a frequent soloing technique many jazz artists use that is also specifically useful for bass players, since the chromatic decent forms an interesting line a bit different than simply outlining the same II-V's the piano may be playing at the time.

    When I got home I started to look for some examples... either as solo ideas or as part of a bass player's handiwork... but wasn't able to track much down other than some smokin' fast Michael Brecker solos, where the tritone subs were over in a heartbeat and he was on to the next amazing idea. :)

    Hence my question: does anyone have any favorite recording examples of this concept... ideally slow enough for mere mortals to follow... either as part of a solo, or, ideally, as part of a bass line?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
    JmJ likes this.
  2. Michael Karn

    Michael Karn

    Apr 16, 2014
    Quickly off the top of my head, 2 examples are Coltrane's blues Locomotion from Blue Train, and Jimmy Heath's rhythm change variant CTA, of which there are several recordings. Both tunes are in Bb and use rhythm type bridges that use the tritone sub on the first bar, so they start on Ab7 (as opposed to D7) and descend from there
    Vince Waldon and Don Kasper like this.
  3. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Here is a version of J. Heath's tune C.T.A., containing a bass solo by L. Grenadier that lands him, (as well as the BM Trio), in the History Book of Jazz. (IMFO).


  4. Bud Powell's tune Celia has a good example of using tritone subs as a resolution during the A section. It is sort of a rhythm changesy tune.

    Well You Needn't, for me, is the perfect example of writing a composition based off of tritone subs and improvising over them.
    Vince Waldon likes this.
  5. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    On a related but not entirely responsive point, do you think this tune is in Bb or E?

  6. Here are my thoughts on this. It could be in either key, but I feel Bb is the better. The effect of the dissonance in Bb and angular nature of the melody is what makes the tune what it is and makes it so distinctive from other Blues heads. It can totally work in E, but it would wind up sounding like a normal Blues head.
    Sam Sherry likes this.
  7. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    It's Bb. (IMO).
    What would cause anyone to think or hear otherwise?
  8. Thanks, everyone, for all the thoughtful suggestions so far... I have my homework for the next week for sure.

    Darn it... another vid that won't play in Canada, for reasons known only to Warner Brothers. Ah well, I needed a good reason to add another Brad Mehldau Trio recording to my collection, I guess. :) :)
    Don Kasper likes this.
  9. cpaterso

    cpaterso Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2007
    I too am in Canada, and I too had to buy the Mehldau version. So that is good. Larry G is so good! Will check this version of CTA very soon!
  10. Money well spent! I just wish Warner Brothers would consider us jazz lovers in Canada every now and again... when they are giving out free samples of our favorite addiction on Youtube . :) :)
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
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