Sunday, October 25, 2009

Someone should have Warne-ed me!!!

The Warne Marsh project I've been working on is at the same time incredibly rewarding and incredibly frustrating.

I've transcribed some stuff from later in is life and an now working on stuff from the 50s. His harmonic vocabulary is very steeped in common practice/BeBop ideas so it is relatively easy to absorb his melodic and harmonic choices. What I am struggling with is both his rhythmic language and his approach to the saxophone in general. The rhythmic piece comes from, I am sure, his study with and of Tristano's approach. He plays lines that at first hearing do not seem so complex but once you begin to deconstruct the line, none of the expect rhythmic resolutions are present. Lines that typically resolve on the beat are displaced by several beats. That coupled with a sound conception that is very impressionistic and effervescent make it quite difficult to isolate the specifics for his vocabulary. His sound is one of the aspects I haven't quite decided about yet. The transparency of his sound gives the effect of his lines rising and out of and falling back into a misty field of subtone and air. I get the feeling that Wayne Shorter was influenced by Warne at some point. If anyone has data on this, I'd love to hear it. However, there are aspects of his sound that do not appeal to me also. To my ears, there is a nasal, almost "stuffy-head" color to his mid-register and his upper register can be an adventure in intonation.

The challenge and point of transcription projects like this is to put aside any subjective feelings about the artist under study, absorb the artist's conception and approach, and THEN decide what works for you and mine that gold.

These challenges are very good for me right now.

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