Blues? It’s only three chords, so what’s the problem?

Check out Dan Higgins' biography on Gio Washington-Wright's Top Los Angeles Studio Musicians Tribute Site - picture courtesy of that site.We have all heard this remark, and, if you are a rhythm guitarist, it is a valid statement.

I would ask these people to listen to what can be achieved, by listening to the following 12 bar slow blues clip of Dan Higgins (…..yes, him again! ). To me it is a celebration of what can be done with the tenor – THIS is what I mean about the tenor in it’s natural element .

Just click here to hear twelve bars of pure perfection…

PS. Can anyone tell me how he achieves that rising effect on the first three beats of the third bar? I am assuming that it involves much flailing about on the high E side key.

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18 Responses to Blues? It’s only three chords, so what’s the problem?

  1. ukebert says:

    Sounds fantastic. The third bar sounds like bending the note with his lip.

  2. lewis says:

    Alan . Many thanks for setting it up.

    Ukebert…Yes, you are probably right. The sort of thing that a six year old could do….with twenty years of practice. 🙂

  3. ukebert says:

    Just so… there’s some lovely bending on jb’s “Crapsody in blue”

  4. alan says:

    Lewis, you picked one hell of a player to use as an example, Dan Higgins – click here for the man’s website – and if you click on the picture I’ve just added to the main post, it’ll take you to a tribute page, with loads of pictures and sound samples…

  5. lewis says:

    Alan…I didn’t really pick him. The track was on a Blues tuition CD that I have had for years. Having always admired that solo I took the trouble to see who played it.
    Totally inappropriate, I think, for a tuition solo….if you can do that then who needs tuition?

    Please tell me more about “Crapsody in Blue” Who is jb?.

  6. lewis says:

    Just worked out that third bar thing. It is simply rapid articulation of ascending notes….so easy to say!

  7. lewis says:

    Found the Crapsody in Blue, ukebert.
    Not quite the same thing really. JB1’s is a gliss which is not very difficult on the smaller saxophones.
    I was always jealous of my old alto pro friend Johnny Marshall’s ability to carry out a seamless D to D gliss on alto. When asked, he always says “it’s an alto thing; I cannot explain how it is done”. I thought that he was jealously guarding his secret.
    Now being a soprano owner, I find it quite easy on that instrument… demonstrating this to JM, he said ” fine…now tell me how you do it” He was right, it is impossible to explain. However, I have never tried it on alto.

  8. ukebert says:

    Hmm, in my book gliss is when on the clarinet you slide your hands over the keys, a bend is when you use your lip. I can bend around a 6th on clari.

    And jb is jazzbug1 🙂

  9. ukebert says:

    And I still think that it’s a tongued bend.

  10. lewis says:

    A gliss is as you explain…except for what you do with your mouth…that is the difficult thing to explain. Try it on a sop, an octave, from middle D to “palm key” D.

    Look on Pete Thomas’s site. Under “effects”, he demonstrates what he calls the Adderley trill….I think that this is closer to what Dan is doing.

  11. ukebert says:

    That was me twice Lewis 😉 And yeah, I’ve tried to explain but never got further than “You do, well, that”. I’m not really sure how I do it. And you may be right about the Adderly Trill, but it’s difficult to tell.

  12. lewis says:

    Of course it was you…I have to resort to blaming my age…and my eyesight. In reality it is pure carelessness. 🙂

  13. alan says:

    Just to chip in here, I also used to play Gershwins “Crapsody..” in my youth, and the way I glissed was to obviously slide the fingers, but as I passed thro’ each note the ‘lipping’ embouchure assisted the transition and smoothed things out. I could never really explain it. I guess we each develop slightly different techniques when left to our own devices – like when I now play a ‘new’ sax I involuntarily automatically try to lip notes – to hide intonation flaws which often aren’t there.

    That was a problem I had with the Yamaha wind synths, lip pressure could be switched to either control (lipping) pitch, or the amount/depth of vibrato – that was a bit too much for my grey cells ! But I do digress from Dan Higgins’ considerable achievements, which is quite unforgivable…

  14. lewis says:

    We all agree that it is almost impossible to explain the embouchure for a gliss. In reality, it does not matter what one calls that effect in the third bar…all I know is that it is exactly what was needed at the time….if only I could do it.

    I see now how I mistook your posting for one of Alan’s. You started with hmmmm……very Alanesque.

  15. alan says:

    Hmmm…? Far too few ‘m’s to be from me….. 🙂

  16. Mal-2 says:

    I was taught this "flailing about on high E" trick, though it’s not always high E that is used (sometimes it’s side C). Scoop into A2, then flail about on the side C. Scoop into Bb2 and do the same, and when you hit B2 you switch over to the high E. Repeat ad nauseum. This can also be done to lesser effect on F-F#-G using the side Bb.

  17. Lewis Pelham says:

    Thanks Mal….I will try that.

  18. Jake says:

    I could be wrong. But it sounds like a variation of the “Adderly Trill”.

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