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Softly as in a Morning Sunrise...

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Tom Lane, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Started focusing my attention on this tune today. I see it's been recorded a lot... Coltrane, Chet Baker, etc, a show tune that took on more significance as more sophisticated musicians embraced it. I've played it a half dozen times or so and always got through it but always felt that there was much more I could bring. Here's a basic chart: softly.

    The bridge is roughly the bridge, but the first 16 bars are essentially just a C Minor tonic and listening to a few of the seminal recordings, that's what I heard: 16 bars of C Minor. Some of the bassists plant that C every eight beats but others are like, C Minor is as C Minor does.
    It looks as though the tune has legs - Latin, swing, fast, slow, all are game; I can even see a case for a modal version of the tune. I could easily imagine peddling a G through the A section.
    So, here's my question, to those of you who feel comfortable with the tune, what's your favorite bass line(s) and how do you like to interpret the harmony and do you have more than one?
  2. nogbert


    Jul 18, 2010

    gotta post this one. great bass solo (Wilbur Ware)
    Michael Case, lurk, Winoman and 4 others like this.
  3. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    Yep, the Rollins / Wilbur Ware is the iconic version for me (actually there are two takes available if you get the double CD version).
    lurk likes this.

  4. I believe on one of those Coltrane at the Vanguard recordings (maybe one of the takes they didn't originally use, but got released a few years ago), they do pedal G over the A sections midway through either McCoy's or Coltrane's solo! It's been a while since I've listened to that record, but I distinctly remember mimicking that idea on many gigs during college. To me it always added energy and tension.

    I would also add a vote for the Sonny Rollins recording. I think it's Wilbur Ware on bass? His solo is so simple yet it says so much. And of course, Sonny Rollins is so inventive
    Winoman and Tom Lane like this.
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Winoman, oren, Tom Lane and 1 other person like this.
  6. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Former Mannes College Theory Faculty Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Ridgewood, NJ
    Funny, to me, to hear that feel since the lyric starts "Softly" and that's a pretty un-soft take on the tune.

    My vote, for what it's worth, goes for slower. But, hey, my vote isn't worth much. :)

  7. notabene


    Sep 20, 2010
    SF Bay area
    Winoman, salcott and Tom Lane like this.
  8. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    A variation: I've heard Jerry Bergonzi play Softly with the last A section down a half step.

    Maybe he just got tired of all that "C".
    Tom Lane and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  9. Neon Scribe

    Neon Scribe Supporting Member

    1972 Ron Carter

    1961 Ron Carter
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  10. Neon Scribe

    Neon Scribe Supporting Member

    The original sheet music is marked "Tango tempo", so the Latin rhythm goes all the way back. This song has had incredible staying power for a tune from "Broadway's last hit operetta" in 1928. "Lover, Come Back to Me", another standard that was covered a lot in the 1950's but has faded since, came from the same show.

    The New Moon - Wikipedia
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  11. Neon Scribe

    Neon Scribe Supporting Member

    My personal experience is a pretty cornball Latin version in A minor with a singer, including a dramatic stop before the bridge.
    cpaterso and oliebrice like this.
  13. In the jazz quartet I play in, the piano player has his own arrangement, but this aspect will work in any arrangement I think - try descending chromatically in half notes on the main theme. It works.
    Tom Lane likes this.
  14. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Guitarist Sylvain Luc is a....a....how you say b** m*********** in French?
    Tom Lane likes this.
  15. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I tend to outline the minor 2 5 pretty literally during the head but open up to a free C minor walk on the solos for some contrast.

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