Monday, March 28, 2011

Wes Montgomery: Days of Wine and Roses Transcription and Tab

I'm pretty sure Wes Montgomery was the first jazz guitarist I ever heard, off a tape my brother had of The Wes Montgomery Trio. I remember not liking the sound of the organ and not understanding the guitar playing—few 10-year-olds are hip and I was no exception.

Cut to today and I'm still listening to and dissecting Wes' playing and hoping that just a little rubs off on me.

If you're reading this, you probably are already aware of how great Wes is, how clear his melodic ideas are, how his command of chord soloing is still astonishing and how unbelievably hard he swings. And man, he made it look so easy.

Days of Wine and Roses
Below is a transcription with tabs of Wes' solo on "Days of Wine and Roses" off of Boss Guitar. Wes changed up the harmony of the song a bit from what most musicians are used to from the Real Book. The head is worth a transcriptions of it's own as it's done in a chord solo format and it's just beautiful what he does with it but that's for another time.

I also included an analysis of what's happening in his lines, the scales, ideas and arpeggios he employs over the harmony. Like any analysis, it's reverse engineering. You're getting some insight into the way Wes is thinking and approaching certain harmonic situations, but there are sometimes alternate interpretations.

The solo is here:

There's just not a note out of place in this solo.

Some Notes
It's amazing how much music he wrings out of a relatively straight ahead use of scales and arpeggios. His thematic ideas are stated very clearly throughout—notice how he treats the D7alt chord in measures 5-6 and 21-22, repeating the same chromatic approach idea. There is also an echo of another line used over Eb7 at measure 9 that he repeats in measures 25-26.

In addition to pretty standard scale/key based improvising, Wes makes ample use of both chord tone soloing in this tune as well as superimposing harmonic ideas over the base harmony like in measures 7-8 where the harmony is G-7 and Wes superimposes a D-7 arpeggio idea creating a G-11 sound.

Links to the music:


Dig into this one, it will be worth your time to learn some of this if not all of it. I'll have a video up soon where I'll extract some of these approaches and demonstrate ways for you to get it into your playing, but until then, the analysis should give you an idea of how to use some of these ideas.

3 comments:

  1. Man thanks for this...There is so much to do with just the chord tones! Also, thanks for that Lester Young transcription too. Really dig this stuff, and it's been a big help. Thanks again.

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  2. Sean, that Nica's Dream video was another life-changing musical event.
    F-ing SWEET.

    Thanks for this post.

    -Paul

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