What does it mean by the "composer" of an instrumental (eg. Weather Report) tune?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by kiwlm, May 17, 2004.

  1. There's this question that I wanted to ask for quite sometime.

    Just say Jaco composed the tune Teen Town, what does it mean? Does he just compose the bass parts? the melody? or the whole arrangement?

    I know that in songs with vocals, the composer normally refers to the main melody that is sung out, and the other members of the band usually take part in arranging the parts. Say the drummers will sort of compose the drum parts, the bass and guitarist and keys do their own parts.
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think Smash is right for the Rock world - but I think that in Jazz it is generally more "formalised" and that if somebody composes an original tune and expects the band to play it - then the general rule is that they have to provide written parts that include at minimum - the melody line and a chord chart.

    Whar is called a "lead sheet".

    OK - rules are there to be broken, you can get Jazz tunes composed spontaneously by the whole band or collaborations etc. - but 90% of the time, what will happen is that the composer will give you an A4 sheet of music that has the main melody with chord symbols, some indication of feel/temp and maybe things like repeats, written parts .

    As bass player you are expected to make up a bass line although you might be given a sample or complte line and soloists will solo over those chords.

    So - if I look in any Real Book/Fake Book , I can see any number of tunes arranged like this including several Jaco and Weather Report ones - I would expect they started out as hadwritten scruffier versions and if you go to Jazz gigs regularly, you will see the band leader handing out things like this for original tunes that he or she wants included in the set.

    So here's a quote from the annotated discography of Weather Report :

    "Havona - One of Jaco's finest statements as a member of Weather Report. Yet curiously, there isn't much written about it in the Weather Report literature. According to an article in the January 2002 issue of Bass Player magazine, Jaco originally conceived "Havona" well before joining Weather Report. The article includes a reproduction of Jaco's hand-written circa-1973 lead sheet. In the article bassist Mark Egan recalls receiving a ten-bar "Havona" exercise from Jaco while a student of Jaco's at the University of Miami in 1972. "
  3. Say, in Havona or Teen Town, the bass plays some of the main melody, but some of the sax/keys parts can be considered as "melody" also... right?

    Just like the A Remark You Make, Jaco did a touching melody on that tune, was that line composed by Jaco?
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The main melody for Havona is played by Soprano Sax on the WR record, although I have other versions - Jaco plays the last solo on bass, and there is the written tag which is played by piano and bass which comes in the melody and between solo choruses.

    Teen Town is a tune where bass plays the melody - but it's not really a typical Jazz tune - more of a bass feature. So - something like Havona could be played by any small Jazz ensemble, based on the lead sheet - but Teen Town is more like a bass solo really....?

    No - Joe Zawinul has said in interviews that he wrote the tune with Jaco's singing, fretless bass "sound" in mind, but there's no doubt he wrote and arranged the whole thing himself.