Happy-Go-Lucky-ism

4.4.11

The second track on Hearsay is “Happy-Go-Lucky-ism”. This one has the swing era harmonic strategy of diminished to major, which I suppose was the inspiration for the title, that carefree, joyful gait (even if this tune sounds nothing like that). I’m sure the arrangement was inspired by the way Duke Ellington would compose an imitation of a New Orleans polyphony, with a seemingly chaotic counterpoint, as well as the sort of writing that people like Andrew Hill and Grachan Moncur were doing on their Bluenote records of the sixties. This is a fun tune, but from what I remember rather difficult to improvise on (for me anyway). The 3 beat – 5 beat rhythm in the first section is a bit awkward and the turn-around has some meter shifts too. One of the things I began learning with these pieces is not to be clever. Wherever possible try to simplify and clarify your ideas as much as possible to get the best performances out of the musicians and the most direct statement to your audience. Not that the performances here are in any way lacking. I especially love the way Jason begins his solo with a dusky, low-end retort to John’s bass line, what follows demonstrates why he is so acclaimed today.

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