Today’s intro comes from the classic album Ella and Louis (1956). The rhythm section on the album is Oscar Peterson’s quartet from that era with Ray Brown on bass, Herb Ellis on guitar, and Buddy Rich on drums.
When I think of Oscar, I often think of his astonishing technique or his bluesy vocabulary. This intro showcases another of his strengths: deep swinging lyricism.
I love that you can hear his foot tapping out the quarter note as he plays. The quiet quarter note pulse set against Peterson’s triplet syncopation makes this a textbook example of a medium-slow swing feel.
Continuing the series on Intros & Endings, here is an easy ending that can be applied to many different tunes.
The melody for All of Me ends halfway through a four-measure phrase. When this happens, it works well to play an ending that finishes the rhythmic phrase, in this case two more measures.
Here is the two-measure ending that can be heard on Billie Holiday’s studio version of All of Me recorded for Columbia:
Using The Sound
Thinking in the key of F, notice the chromatic descent from the fifth of the chord and the chromatic enclosure of the third that eventually lead back to the root. In addition, the final tonic F6 chord is preceded by the same chord a half-step up, adding to the sense of finality when we finally hear the last chord.
This is a good ending to try in all keys because it is essentially a major triad with chromatic embellishments. The half-step shift at the end is also a common sound to be familiar with.
Consider using this ending when playing in a classic swing style at a medium tempo, especially when the melody of a tune ends part way through a four-bar phrase.
We’re starting a new series here at TheJazzLanguage.com: Intros & Endings. Up until now, the majority of the posts have been solo transcriptions that represent the language of jazz improvisation.
Another important characteristic of the jazz language is the way tunes are arranged. Listening for how artists begin and end their arrangements gives you a sense for how their musical vocabulary relates to the broader jazz idiom.
To begin the series, here is the ending Oscar Peterson’s Trio plays on Night Train from the album of the same name.
You may recognize this as the “Count Basie Ending” featured on classic Basie band tunes like Splanky and Broadway.
For Oscar Peterson’s version, the sound is created by the combination of Ray Brown’s bass in the low end and Peterson’s two-note voicings in the upper range of the piano.
This sound is a great contrast to the “typical” Basie ending that is played solely by the piano and represents the complementary relationship between the bass and piano in this trio.
Using The sound
To apply this in your own arrangements, pay attention to the relationships between the notes played and the key of the tune.
In this case, the tune night train is in the key of G major, and you’ll notice that the bass in playing G in three different octaves.
The essence of the piano part is the top line that starts on C (a fourth above G) and moves up by half steps to C#, then D. Combined with the bass part, this has the effect of providing tension-resolution to the home key of G.
The lower note of the piano part, an E, fills out the harmony. Combined with the upper note, it implies the chords C major, C# diminished, and G major 6, respectively.