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Bass Transcription: Oscar Pettiford - "Bohemia After Dark"

May 8, 2016

This week’s transcription features two great players: Oscar Pettiford and Paul Chambers, both recorded right around 1954-1955.

 

Each plays their own version of Bohemia After Dark, slightly different than the other.

 

I learned the hard way that it's good to clarify which version you're doing with your bandmates before launching into the song at Cucina Gemelli last Saturday night.

 

The other popular version appears on the album “Bohemia After Dark” by Kenny Clarke (often listed under Cannonball Adderley’s name), which has Paul Chambers on bass.

 

Note that on the Chambers’ version, Horace Silvers (piano) outlines a Bb chord on the bridge; the bass line implies, perhaps, a Bb6.  This contrasts with the C7 on the Pettiford version.

 

Not to sound too much like a parent, but I enjoy each bass line equally but differently.  Pettiford remains closer to the harmony, utilizing roots often, and sticking mostly with two-bar phrases.  In this chorus, he creates tension (and release) by changes in range.  

 

Chambers, characteristically, plays linear lines, exploring the range of the bass.  In addition to creating tension with range, he toys with the harmony – as seen in measure 44 with B and E naturals!  These “neighbor tones” and chromatic approach notes continue through the bridge.  I don’t feel any need to judge either of the two lines; I simply try to observe, learn, and enjoy them. 

 

The sources of the transcription are Pettiford’s “Nonet and Octet” album and Adderley’s “Bohemia After Dark” album.  Happy playing!

 

 

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