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Sam Jones/Lady Bird and the iv-bVII turnaround

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by buckthorn, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. I've been working with the Tad Dameron tune "Lady Bird", and have been exploring how to approach the turnaround in measures 3 and 4. Of course there's nothing wrong with using Fm7 to B-flat 7. But I have a transcription (see link below) of Sam Jones playing this (with Horace Parlan), and haven't quite figured out what he is thinking here. In measure 3, for example, he never (at least in these choruses) plays the root (F). Instead, he plays A-flat, B-flat, D-flat, E-flat, sometimes C, plus an occasional chromatic passing note. It's almost as if he's thinking A-flat major to E-flat. It's hard to see how he could be thinking Fm7. And he seems to treat measure 4 more like D-major (using F-sharp rather than F) going to G, never hitting B-flat.

    I'm really curious as to what others make of Jones' approach to this turnaround (which I think some have referred to as the "backdoor ii-V"). What is he doing/thinking harmonically?

    A portion of this transcription is posted online.

    The recording is also available online.
  2. Seems like he plays Fm7 F7 B-flat 7 E-flat 7 in bar 3 and D7 G7 in bar 4.
    He makes the Fm7 B-flat 7 turnaround a bit quicker, going to the local I (E-flat but at least in one case with a minor seventh) and uses the E-flat 7 as a tritone subtitute for A7 to get A7 | D7 G7 | (Cmaj7).
  3. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    I think he's playing more of an Ab chord in bar 3 and then a II-V to C in bar 4.

    Probably not really useful in learning how to play the iv-bVII-I turnaround except to realize that people don't always play the same chords on tunes.
  4. Thanks Michael (and DoubleMIDI). I think you're right that he's just not playing the iv-bVII-I turnaround according to the changes as we understand them (or how they are commonly written). I guess that's just how he heard or felt it, regardless of how it was written. The disconnect between the written changes and line just had me a bit puzzled.

    I also agree that this line is not terribly useful for learning how to play that turnaround. I think that I'll stick to the changes as written for the time being. And it goes without saying that the turnaround in the final two measures of this tune is probably more interesting, fun, and challenging.

  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I haven't tried to listen to the soundfile to try to determine how far along they are in the tune they are when the transcription of the line takes place. But the music isn't what's happening on the page, the music is what is happening between the musicians who are playing together. The transcription of that line is happening in the context of the music, of the interaction of the musicians, NOT in the context of what's written on a piece of paper. And it's entirely this point that any of us who talk about "throwing away your Real Book" are getting at.

    My first two thoughts are that he's either following a sequence that somebody else set up (soloist or accompanist) or that somebody's treating that F-7 Bb7 more as a Bbsus4 to a Bb7b9.
  6. Thanks Ed. Point well-taken. BTW, I just happened to borrow your book from the library a couple of days ago and am getting a lot out of it.
  7. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    This bass transcription starts at the piano solo.

    I'm going to challenge measures 3 & 4 of this Gourlay* transcription.

    I am hearing the same notes, as Gourlay*, for measures 1 & 2.

    However, I am hearing the following notes for measures 3 & 4:

    | Ab, A, Bb, F | Eb A Ab B | C ~~~ Although some of the notes are somewhat out-of-tune

    Also, if you listen to what chords the piano plays in the beginning (the head), you will hear, from where, Sam Jones derives his note choice during the piano solo - it's NOT: | Fm7 | Bb7 |. Jones pedals Ab during measures 3 & 4 (head). You will also hear the piano playing a few Db's during these measures.

    As to whether this transcription is or is not accurate beyond the 5th measure, I didn't check it out.

    Just beware that this transcription may not be 100% accurate.


    * I have re-identified the transcriber per buckthorn's correction.
  8. Thanks Stick. Just to be accurate, the transcription is actually by Rob Gourlay (and is in his "Walking in the Footsteps of Sam Jones" book). Whatever Jones plays for measures 3 and 4, it's repeated once or twice in subsequent choruses -- as are several other measures. You might be right about the notes; playing what the transcription says doesn't quite feel right to me. I'll have to give the piece a few more listens -- in my spare time.
  9. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member


    The pianist is playing/voicing bar 3 as Abmaj7; bar 4 as Db7, ( though the bass often outlines the tritone substitution "G7(b9)", and even hints at Dmin7b5 prior to the G7b9 sometimes).
    Good for you for hearing the bassline avoiding the "F"min7 in bar 3, ( and no subsequent Bb7).
    Now you can write-up your own leadsheet for Lazy Bird, and explore Horace Parlan's arrangement. I would encourage you to write/sing/play your own basslines to this version, AND the Real Book version and check out the early version (1948) featuring Tadd Dameron, the composer, available on youtube.

    (For all the "oldtimers" here - dig the quote @1:27 - "Do Nuthin' Till You Hear From Me").
    Thanks for your time and interest.
  10. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Don't throw away your Real Book - just don't be afraid to "fact check" it, or any other "....Book" for that matter.
    Thanks for your time and interest.
  11. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Michael Glynn,
    Yes. Sorry, I didn't see your excellent analysis.
  12. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
  13. Thanks for that. Perhaps I shouldn't have even mentioned the transcription. I was really more interested in what's happening musically on the recording, with particular focus on the bass line. It's a pretty swingin' rendition.


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