I’m in awe of Joe Pass and Johnny Smith’s dense chord melody styles, but recently I’ve been enjoying Bill Frisell’s arrangements. Always the master of taste, Frisell often chooses just one other note to harmonise a melody, like he’s composing a duet to play with himself. Using fewer notes rather than block chords gives a melody new life and space to breathe. I love Frisell's use of wide intervals - they can be particularly expressive.
Three of my favourite Bill Frisell chord melodies:
- Shenandoah - traditional
- Moon River - Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer
- Lotus Blossom - Billy Strayhorn
Kenny Wheeler’s tune W.W. lends itself to a less dense chord melody interpretation. The head is comprised of 2 lines which were originally played by Kenny and Michael Brecker on the album of the same name: Double, Double You. These parts provide ample harmonic information without adding more notes. I hope you enjoy my stripped back interpretation!
- Intro (Frisell inspired W.W. chord melody)
- W.W. (Kenny Wheeler)
- Freedom Jazz Dance (Eddie Harris)
- Vignette (Gary Peacock)
I stumbled across Van Neistat's series The Spirited Man this week. In one of his recent videos, Neistat talks about the Swedish cinematographer Sven Nykvist who won an Oscar in 1974. Nykvist's acceptance speech lasted for 15 seconds - it's the greatest Oscar speech of all time.
"Thank you very much. I feel very proud. I'm quite sure that this fine award will give the possibility for me to make much better work than I've done before. Thank you very much."
The reward for an artist is the ability to produce more work.