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My head hurts (A+7b9b5)


WesG

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Bumped into this last night, preparing for a sub gig. I think it's a Stan Kenton chart, but don't quote me on it.

 

Anybody know what the arranger is going for, here? Last chord of the 1st ending. I'm just playing an A and an Eb right now, I think. Whatever I'm playing, it sounds fine. But I'm curious what others would do.

 

http://i67.tinypic.com/5n0lc3.jpg

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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This is a big band (well, Dectet) piano part. I'm just glad they gave me chord symbols. Some parts have so many notes on them, they look like a chicken footprints. From a whole henhouse.

 

There is a written unison solo later in the chart, I just ignore and comp for the scatting vocalist.

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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annoying to read quickly for sure! That's always been a bit of a III7(choose your own adventure) resolving to the VI as a tonic minor. I guess the A+7b9b5 seemed easier to write than A7b9b5b13. Plenty of charters would've given up and written A7alt... for me though, the most important one for voice leading to the Dm is the b9 on A7. b5 gives you another semitone resolution which is tasty and the b13 lets you keep the F natural as a common tone.
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Missed the bit of the post that actually asked what you'd play, apologies.

 

I'd stack fourths from an F in the right hand, F Bb Eb over G C# in the left. Having the b13 in that register probably gives the most A+ character, and the other colour tones stick out pretty well.

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I believe the arranger is going for A7 Alt sound. I say this because b5 #5 and b9 are extensions included in the A altered scale. I'd rule out some of the other common alternatives -- in particular diminished, harmonic minor, and whole tone -- because diminished doesn't include the #5, harmonic minor doesn't include the b5, and whole tone doesn't include b9.

 

Therefore, I would play an A7 Altered voicing. Something like (front low to high notes) LH: G A, RH: Bb C# Eb F is a voicing I like that I think would work nicely here. It's a dissonant sound but resolves so quickly that it should sound nice while also adhering to the notated chord symbol.

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As the others have said, it appears to my ear as a typical ii-V turnaround in Dm to return to the top of the head. If A7alt is essentially V dom with every possible alteration, the arranger here has simply been "kind" enough to specifically notate all of them explicitly for you. How gracious. Since I believe that measure's sustained melody note (in Dm) would be an A, you don't have to worry about altered extensions clashing with the melody with your voice leading back to the Dm (back to m1).

 

If for instance you chose to voice Dm with 9 as top voice (melody in m1 begins on 5), you might choose to voice A7alt as (bottom to top) LH: C# G RH: Bb C F

 

So that your m1 Dm voice as LH: C F RH: G C E (or similar).

 

Just my meager 0.02.

 

Tim

..
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Pick whichever of those extensions you want to play that sound good. The arranger is just letting you know that all these notes are being played by the horns. That information is important lest the arranger NOT give you all that info and then you decide you want to play one of those extensions unaltered and it clashes.

 

If an exact voicing is sought, it's on the arranger to write it out. When you see chords symbols this dense on big band (or dectet) charts, it means don't worry, this huge chord is not about you. It's about the horns. Just don't playing anything that clashes with them.

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When you see chords symbols this dense on big band (or dectet) charts, it means don't worry, this huge chord is not about you. It's about the horns. Just don't playing anything that clashes with them.

Terrific advice!

I'd add, When in doubt, play less.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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Great thread.... just stared the Russel Garcia book material and have been using arranging concepts on Autumn in NY and now Moonlight in Vermont...

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Yup. Thanks for that, Reezekeys.

 

I've just started subbing occasionally in a octet with arrangements. I hate it compared to the other straight ahead configs I normally do. I so very much hope they don't call me. But if they do, this will be helpful.

 

Tim

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I'd stay out of the way for the most part and comp very sparingly. Listening to the chart (?):

[video:youtube]

 

There's very little space to fill so I'd stay out of the way, comping very sparingly during the ensemble , until the solos startor if there is a vocal (as indicated on the chart).

 

Like Bobby said, I'd mostly just worry about not playing anything that clashes with the horns during the ensemble. Depending on what was going on I might just voice the chord in question as a simple A7+5+9 .

LH- A G RH C# F C

 

But again, I mostly use my ear in these type of situations. And most importantly - don't try and play every chord on the page. Again like Bobby said, they are there as a reference to what the horns are playing.

 

Kenton left little space for piano as opposed to someone like Basie or Duke, in most of his writing.

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Agreed. Unless the chart says BIG PIANO SOLO CHORD HERE, you can simplify to the extreme. I don't know the context of the arrangement, but, like Dave said, Kenton leaves little space for the piano.

 

Root, Third, Seventh and leave the rest of the space for the horns. It's moment in time that pretty much belongs to someone else.

 

Additional thought - my big band does a different arrangement of the song, and I use a Rhodes patch. All but guarantees I'm out of the way.

.

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"A+7b9b5" was a really dumb way to notate that chord. If people are gonna get that specific about extensions, they need to be consistent and logical in how they label them. The logical way to do it is, root note first (A), then major or minor if needed (not needed here), then 7 (or 6, 9, 13, etc.), then whatever the altered extensions are. This guy is using "+" as shorthand for #5, and putting it before the 7, then putting the rest of the altered extensions after the 7. In notation geek circles, the technical name for that kind of approach is "a friggin' mess." A much better way no notate it would have been A7b9b5#5. (Or A7b5#5b9. Some people prefer to put the 5s first, some the 9s. Either way is all right as long as you're consistent about it, which, as you can see in the very next bar, this person wasn't either.)

 

I'm guessing it started because A+7 is one character shorter than A7#5, which leads some people to erroneously think it's better and easier to read.

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It's just an Eb9--a tritone sub for the V, stepping down to the i.

 

Repeating multiple others--play your favorite dom-9 open-voicing for Eb, let the bass player cover the A, and all is good in the kingdom.

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"A+7b9b5" was a really dumb way to notate that chord.

[...]

A much better way no notate it would have been A7b9b5#5. (Or A7b5#5b9. Some people prefer to put the 5s first, some the 9s. Either way is all right as long as you're consistent about it, which, as you can see in the very next bar, this person wasn't either.)

[...]

I'm guessing it started because A+7 is one character shorter than A7#5, which leads some people to erroneously think it's better and easier to read.

Speaking for myself A+7 is easier to read. "Better"? Who knows. But I've never seen a chord notated with both a b5 and #5 that seems weird to me, and would take me longer to process if I was sight-reading this chart.

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OK, you're going from a V7 to a Im6. Try this: V to I in the LH, with approach notes in the RH.

 

So LH plays A-G shell voicing for the V7 going to D-F shell voicing for the I. And in the RH Bb-C#-F for the V7 going to B-D-F for the I.

 

Or: LH plays A-G shell voicing for the V7 going to D-F shell voicing for the Im. And in the RH Eb-Gb-Bb for the V7 going to D-F-A for the Im.

 

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Thanks for the feedback and insights, all! I played that through with the band twice last night; gig is on Sep 2. Whatever I play, my ear tells me that the Eb needs to be on top, or near it. I'm going to work through the suggestions in here because I'm fascinated by the different ways different players "see" the same chart. I'm thankful also for the novel voicing suggestions and harmonic analysis.

 

Incidentally, this particular chart has a LOT of those +b9b5 chords. I've just started reading them as altered chords, which are slow for me (new), I find I mostly wind up playing four random notes in the chord which happen to be close to the chord I just played.

 

Some great advice in this thread! I have been playing big band piano for a couple of years now, and still have a ton to learn. I'm glad this forum is around, it's been difficult educating myself elsewhere. I HAVE learned to simplify, but ironically, I have been reading better lately and so haven't been simplifying quite as much. Haha!

 

This band is doing almost all Stan Kenton stuff, which as some have pointed out, doesn't leave a lot of room for piano. I find I need to be a bit fuller in places than the recordings I've heard, as I'm playing with a dectet instead of a full big band. I couldn't hear the recording Dave posted, I'm in the wrong country, but I found this one --

 

 

The chart I'm playing is very much related to that recording, but there are no flutes (?? is that what I'm hearing filling out the chord top??) in this group...and it goes into a vocal instead of horn solos. But the opening is the same.

 

This is going to be an interesting gig. I'm on top of the comping but I totally butchered Sweet Georgia Brown (Basie/Nestico) last night. I got the bass player and drummer to lay down 32 bars for me, will take some personal time and "Aebersold" it.

 

Incidentally, if there are any intermediate jazz pianists reading this wondering if they can do big band work - the answer is yes, and you should. It's fun, it pays, and you learn.

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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Al Quinn says,

 

Therefore, I would play an A7 Altered voicing. Something like (front low to high notes) LH: G A, RH: Bb C# Eb F is a voicing I like that I think would work nicely here.

 

Which reminds of something I read in the Levine book last year. I need to remember to think of a chord as a root and a scale (and the bass player can be counted on to pick up the root). I need to remember to internalize this, and perhaps, learn to think of altered scales as something other than modified major chords.

 

Wes

 

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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Wes, I should probably mention that I usually leave the root out of my voicings when playing with a bass player. The reason the root is in the voicing that I suggested is because in this voicing it creates a nice dissonance being a minor second below the Bb and a major second above the G. The A helps give this voicing a cluster type of sound.
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Thanks, Al. Out of curiosity - you meant the G and A right next to each other, right? Or can you bang out a 9th accurately?

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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Wes, I should probably mention that I usually leave the root out of my voicings when playing with a bass player. The reason the root is in the voicing that I suggested is because in this voicing it creates a nice dissonance being a minor second below the Bb and a major second above the G. The A helps give this voicing a cluster type of sound.

 

That also depends on the instrument that is being played and how it is played. If the note you are playing doesn't has a strong fundamental (IE Clavinet timbres) then the root can co-exist with the bass player. Playing staccato avoids clashes with other instruments too. All in taste...

 

Not all voicings work across different tempered scale percussion instruments. As an example, some piano voicings can be more effective on piano while some Rhodes voicings are more effective on Rhodes.

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Yes G right next to A.

 

I should have stated it more clearly:

LH: G just below middle C, A just below middle C

RH: Bb just below middle C; and C#, Eb, and F just above middle C

So it's just a minor seventh from the the lowest note (G) to the highest note (F)

 

I should learn how to post this on the staff like Reezekeys did.

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All great answers & many different ways to look at it too. My own, certainly not the authoritative answer, way of playing it would be (non-harmonically spelled)C#- F - G - C. I'd leave out the b5 note in this version because it would make the chord sound too clustered. Or if you're using both hands, take the G out of the right hand & play it with the left hand below middle C, probably still w/o the b5..
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