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Dr. John & Left Hand 10's


Joe P

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I'm lucky enough to be able to reach 10ths and, in some cases 11ths, easily. It's great for some things but it's an easy way to annoy your bassist.
Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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So what is that unit on top of the grand piano, to the left, in "Such a Night?" You can cop a decent look toward the end of the clip. Some sort of mixer? It looks like a CB radio!

 

P.S. Really enjoyed the playing, thanks for sharing!

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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I like the C 7-10 thing he's got going with the fifth! There are quite a few videos of Dr. John that use the same split screen.

 

That's one of his signature adaptations of a James Booker pattern. Hitting the C on the downbeat, the G on the "and," then the Bb and E together on beat 2, but sliding off the Bb down to the A (so the Bb becomes basically a grace note) before hitting the G again on the "and" of 2. You can get a lot of mileage out of that pattern, and it gives you a really fat, full sound.

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I like the C 7-10 thing he's got going with the fifth! There are quite a few videos of Dr. John that use the same split screen.

 

That's one of his signature adaptations of a James Booker pattern. Hitting the C on the downbeat, the G on the "and," then the Bb and E together on beat 2, but sliding off the Bb down to the A (so the Bb becomes basically a grace note) before hitting the G again on the "and" of 2. You can get a lot of mileage out of that pattern, and it gives you a really fat, full sound.

 

Thanks for a really good summation of that lick.

 

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Thanks for a really good summation of that lick.

 

No prob. Here are a couple more variations to try, going from C7 to F7. (Each note or note pair represents an eighth note. Sorry, it's late and I'm too lazy to bust out the notation software just now.)

 

||: C G Bb&E Bb&E C G Bb&E (up to) Eb&A

(low) F C Eb&A Eb&A F C Eb&A (down to) Bb&E :||

 

Same idea but with a little upward chromatic approach to the 3rd and 7th. (For convenience, the only different notes from the above example are in red):

 

||: C G A&Eb Bb&E C G Bb&E (up to) Eb&A

(low) F C D&Ab Eb&A F C Eb&A (down to) Bb&E :||

 

Try this one while, with the right hand, alternating between acknowledging the half-step shift, and just playing in a C blues tonality:

 

||: C G Bb&E Cb&F Db Ab Cb&F Bb&E :||

 

Note that in all cases, the tonal center shifts not on the downbeat, but on the eighth note before the downbeat, with the 3rd and 7th of the chord to come. This is a huge part of both Mac and Booker's sound, and propels the tune forward while still letting it feel way laid back (if you're playing it right, of course ;) ).

 

Also note that you don't actually have to be able to reach 10ths to play these (which, I suppose, technically makes this post off-topic, but I'll take my chances).

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Tears in my eyes, that's so good.

 

I'm always amazed at how little a good player's hands seem to move when they play.

 

I gaze into the crystal ball and see myself spending time studying these videos carefully, and considering the lessons too. Wondering if maybe it's a bit over my head, but I can definitely cop a few tricks from the youtube posted above. :D

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Definetly one of my fav artists and a true inspiration. I remember listening to Going to New Orleans(I think was album) and hearing the rolls that cat can cover. My thoughts were..This guy is bending notes on the flippin piano!! A true genious. If you get a chance, check out Dorthy. Its a tune he wrote for his mom. Wow!!!!
"A good mix is subjective to one's cilia." http://hitnmiss.yolasite.com
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I'm lucky enough to be able to reach 10ths and, in some cases 11ths, easily. It's great for some things but it's an easy way to annoy your bassist.

 

Yeah, I can reach the white-key 10ths easily, and with a bit of practice I can reach the white-black 10ths.

 

Recovering from the beat-down my bass man will give me after playing that way is the tough part. ;)

 

--Dave

 

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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Another great resource for studying his playing (if not necessarily for pure listening pleasure) is the album All By Hisself (Live At The Lonestar). It's a nice document of him playing and singing in good form, in a solo context. The only drawback: he's playing a CP-80, not a real piano. However, in some cases this actually makes it easier to pick out exactly what he's playing, so if that's your goal, consider it a blessing in disguise.
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Listen to Dr. John on Piano Jazz on NPR. About an hour of music and talk with Marian McPartland. Hear him share his stories, influences and playing.

 

That was an excellent programme, thanks for the link! Wow, I didn't realise Marian McPartland was still alive. Looked her up on Wiki and she was born in 1918! Also never knew she was English by birth. Cool lady.

 

As for Dr John, I wish I could play rolls with my right hand as effortlessly as he does. Had the pleasure of seeing him perform in a tiny jazz club in the mid 80s. I think that was during the rough patch that he went through, but his playing was totally together. What a hero!

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Marian is a living treasure and a wonderful musician. The great legends are getting up in years. Dr. John turns 70 this month. I'm so glad these cats are still with us. In a way they will always show us how it's done through youtube and the like.
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