I believe there is value in learning to sing a solo. Pick a solo you like, listen to it enough so you can sing it with out ever picking up your instrument. When you have it in your head, pick up your instrument and try to play the solo. This enforces the connection from your head to your hands. This is what Jazz is all about. This connection is why improvisation is art! Once in a while, when I listen to recordings of myself playing, I will hear a little Barney Kessel creep in. I attribute this to my year long study of his playing on this recording. Those ill feelings that made me rip out the tape deck have now been replaced with nostalgia, warmth and familiarity. I can still sing all the solos.
The Raw Material
Head Arrangement of Satin Doll:
Barney Kessel Chord Solo on Satin Doll
Solo starts around 4:17
Note on the chord solo
I really don’t have much to say about this. Barney uses fairly standard chords and double stops. The amazing thing is how he puts it all together. Reminds me of a big band shout chorus. Lots of anticipation and delayed resolutions here. Anticipation is when you play the next measure’s chord just before you reach that measure. Delay is the opposite, you stay on the current chord into the new measure and somewhere in the measure, you change. (Kind of a lame explanation, but I think you get the drift.)
Bars 7-8: A descending diminished chord. This is classic Barney Kessel. The written chord is GMajor7. I think this entire descending diminished line is outlining a E7(b9), which is resolved into the Amin7 of bar 9.
I put together a background track you can play along with. Once you have learned the head and solo, try to play 8 bars of your own solo, then 8 bars of Barney’s solo. Try 4 bars then 4 bars. This is a great way to get some of his vocabulary into your own playing. NOTE: the MP3 starts with 8 bars of intro.
Essential Barney Kessel Recordings
- Poll Winners
- Poll Winners Ride Again
- Poll Winners Three
- Kessel Plays Standards
- Let’s Cook
- Sarah + 2
- Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders
- Julie Is Her Name Vol 1 & 2