1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Help me with Coltrane's Impressions

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Funkateer, Jan 21, 2004.

  1. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    2 chords, how tough can this be? Well, tougher than I thought it would be. I think my problems are all related:

    - Train wreck avoidance. With 24 bars of this AABA tune being Dm7, I find it easy to lose my place.

    - Dorian mode noodlerama. I am trying to target chordal tones, but is still sounds like aimless noodling sometimes.

    If I had a clearer idea of 8 bar shapes to apply to the Dm7 sections, I think both problems would be solved. Any ideas on how to structure the walking bass part, chord/scale substitutions (i.e. Can I play something besides Dorian?), etc.

    I'm trying to come up with 8 bar walking ideas that start in one register and end in another. I figure this is an obvious and clear way to articulate each A of the AABA. Too bad I s*ck at executing this strategy.
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I'm going to move this to General Instruction, where I think you'll get more answers.

    While you're on the way, let me ask you: how many solos over this tune have you transcribed? How many transcriptions have you studied? How many different versions of this tune have you listened to?
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Stupid-but-effective device to keep place: pedal the D or the D and fifth during the last four bars of the form.
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Modal mapping...not one of my strengths.

    The melody to "Impressions" is pretty straightforward...are you "OK" keeping 'count' of the bars during the head?
    If you're losing track during the solo(s)...attempt to hear the melody/head inside your head. Make sense? ;)

    Here's a basic idea to get you started-
    All Quarter notes during the "A" section
    D* = OPEN "D"
    A* = OPEN "A"

    Note the difference between the BOLD bars

    This begins on the "D"(5th fret/A-string) & moves up to "A"(7th fret/"D"-string) & then up to "E", "Eb", "D", "D#", "C", "B", "A" on the "G"-string(9th fret down to the 2nd fret).


    For the "B" section-
    Try breaking it up...maybe a Latin-ish figure

    Rhythm for "B" =
    /1&2&3&4&/1&2&3&4&/ etc

    Back to the "A" section for more Quarter Note swing...
  5. Definately a difficult song to make sound good. I like to play it with a fair bit of chromaticism and try to point out the raised 6 when possible. You should probably follow Pacman's advice and do some transcriptions too. When you get down to it, notewise, there's not a big difference in what goes on in a good sax solo and what goes on in a good bass line. Transcribing will give you little phrase ideas and voicings that will help your walking lines.
  6. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    you might want to look in to Miles Davis's "So What" from the album "Kind Of Blue."

    Coltranes "Impressions" is the same form+chords.
    "So What" is a bit slower and maybe a little easier to follow. Only the melody+tempo are the major differences.

    Wes Montgomery also recorded an outstanding live version of "Impressions" that is worth checking out.

    hope this helps
  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    So did Pat Martino(Consciousness album).
    This was the first time I had heard "Impressions"...Tyrone Brown on bass blew me away.
  8. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Thanks for all of the helpful information so far. Which Wes Montgomery album has the live version mentioned above. There seem to be several that have the tune on it. The Pat Martino disc is on backorder at Amazon.

    Any other versions with good bass parts? Hopefully at a less insane speed than Coltrane's version, and with the bass more easily heard in the mix. Both factors have deterred me from trying to transcribe it.
  9. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I believe the Montgomery album is titled "Full House."

    It has an incredible band. Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb and the amazing Paul Chambers.
  10. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I tend to play 4 bar phrases. It's a lot easier to count 4 bar phrases than 16 bars.
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Very good advice.
    Sometimes I forget the obvious.
  12. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Au contraire: Your first post, and especially the line with the E-Eb major seventh is an instructive example of how to put together a 4 bar phrase. Thanks again! Do you have an 8 bar example? Seems to me that thinking in 8 bar phrases is what I should be striving to achieve.
  13. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I tried that, and I couldn't do it. I got lost. I think my ear is just so used to hearing 4 bar phrases. And besides, what's an 8 bar phrase but 2 4 bar phrases.
  14. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I find this one tricky too.

    I can noodle away, of course, but I find it difficult to give it much direction, other than highlighting the change from D to Eb - which is bl~~dy obvious anyway.

    I also tend to play in 4 bar phrases too... hmm.

    One thing I do is use a line that repeats over two bars then maybe offset it by a beat and play it for a another two bars, etc etc - sounds ok to my ears... but still doesnt cover the fact that i dont know what i'm doing!

    advice here noted. thanks

    Can someone elabaorate on the term 'modal mapping'?
  15. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    From Eds Friedland's Expanding Walking Bass Lines...

    "Essentially, this is the process of examining a progression, determining the key center of the moment, choosing other modes from that key center & stringing them together in a semi-logical fashion to create a modal map of the tune".

    Friedland uses "So What" as an example.
    The 1st 16 bars of Dm7 are broken up as such(2 bar phrases?)

    Bars 1 & 2 = D Dorian acsending
    Bars 3 & 4 = E Phrygian descending

    Bars 5 & 6 = A Aeolian ascending
    Bars 7 & 8 = G Mixolydian descending

    Bars 9 & 10 = C Ionian ascending
    Bars 11 & 12 = B locrian descending

    Bars 13 & 14 = E Phrygian ascending
    bars 15 & 16 = F Lydian descending

    This example, to me, is the basics...there's no chromatics, the rhythm is all 1/4 notes, it's 8 notes climbing followed by 8 notes falling, yadda.
  16. The one suggestion I have is to listen to the song a lot. I had the same problem when I started playing So What and Impressions but now I can just feel when the Eb is coming. Another way to help cement the song in your head is to carefully count each 8 measures and really accent the root on the first beat of each phrase. Make sure also to do something to distinguish the first A section of the form the third.
    Several people have said that it is hard to make an interesting walking bass line to this song, but it actually opens up a great deal of possibilities. It enables the bass to become a melodic contributer without being perticuarly "out." In other words think of your walking line as a melody. Although you do not have a lot of freedom in terms of rythm the accents you put on each note and the way you phrase your lines will change the feel and weight of each note, and the quarter note pulse can be bent a good deal, leading to a form of rythmic variation.
  17. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Thanks Jim, I have that book, but havent yet, moved beyond "Building... ". I'm still playing through the blues every day using chord + scale tones and chromatic and dominant approach notes.

    So that's what modal mapping means.. I've kinda done that before when I got stuck for a bassline.
    I figured out how I could stay in one position for a bunch of changes, playing off the same pedal note in a bunch of scales over each chord in a progression.

    I'm going to take home those scale examples and try ot our tonight :)

    Incedentally, I've been playing along with the Aebersold version on the Maiden Voyage CD. It's much slower than the really old - and probably the original - version of Impressions I have by JC.. and the slowness makes the melody less pronounced in my opinion. I feel its easier to feel the melody at a faster tempo... JA obviously slowed it down to make it easier to play for beginners.

    I dont have trouble feeling the key change, just finding lines that flow nicely. I.e. I can play in an alomst rock style (but with swing) over those changes no problem.. just the walking that currently aludes me :)

    thanks again
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    "Maiden Voyage" is a great tune to practice those pedal tones!

    I've get to get serious back to getting busy...
  19. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I'd say.
    I sat in with these Jazzers; at one point, needless to say, I got totally lost(somewhere between the last "A" section & the 1st 2 "A" sections. That's a lotta "A")...I merely kept the line moving & trust me, I was a little more than 'out'. When "B" came around, I found home. Always fun when you're flying by the seat of your pants.
    IMO, it still worked.
  20. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    You mean, real, proper jazz cats!!! With big foreheads and funny trousers? ;)

    You're not a jazzer yourself then?