Paul Motian

Paul Motian died today.

Thanks for your taste and incredible feel, not to mention some inspired performances all the way up until your death.

We should all be as lucky to make music of that quality until we pass. Here's hoping we are.

Thanks, Paul.

John McLaughlin: 1 Nite Stand Solo Transcription

My first encounter with John McLaughlin was when I was probably about 12 years old. My brother who was responsible for all my early exposure to decent music, had brought home McLaughlin's Birds of Fire record and put it on. I can still distinctly remember the feeling of having no idea what the hell it was I was hearing, but I sure as hell liked it.

There was a tremendous amount of freedom in his playing that I had never heard before. Up until that point my exposure to music was the standard groups that are now referred to as "Classic Rock" who I still love, but I had never heard anyone play like this before on what I thought of as my instrument.

The guy was just blowing, and that was was the revelation.

I've followed John since then and as I got to be a better musician I started to understand just how good he really is. And not just in the obvious, virtuosic way, but for the incredibly clear way he expresses his ideas.

1 Nite Stand
When Que Alegria came out it became my favorite record for probably 2-3 years. I constantly came back to it and reveled in it. This was the John McLaughlin record I had been waiting for forever. It had everything that I had been attracted to about his playing and recordings on one disc: an amazing acoustic guitar sound (sometimes mixed with a guitar synthesizer), an unbelievable rhythm section, great songs and incredible blowing. For me, John's rhythmic expression is nearly unmatched by any well-known guitar player, I'm sure having to do with his immersion in Indian music. You really hear it on this record in every tune.

Below is a YouTube video of the solo excerpted from the song which will help you when learning or following along with the transcription and a link to a .pdf of the transcription.

"1 Nite Stand" is a bit of an odd bird on this record. It's essentially a funky 16-bar blues with a tacked on 2/4 bar making it 17 bars. That extra 2/4 bar will keep you on your toes if you want to play this one with your band.

What was great to see while transcribing this is how freely he moves in and out of playing very clear harmonic ideas based on the underlying chord changes and then playing free chromatic phrases. His command of the instrument and where he wants to go is fantastic.

One of the best examples of this is starts at bar 23 and continues through measure 30. The way he gets into playing over that B7 chord and follows the line through into the next E7 chord is nothing short of brilliant. Not to mention the technical demands of playing the line.

Link to the transcription:
> 1 Nite Stand pdf

If you're interested in a transposed version of this for horn, let me know, I'd be happy to provide it. I hope all of you get as much out of this as I did.

Road Games: How to Keep it Together When You're on Tour

In the past few months I've been all over the US playing with some great musicians and I've learned a tremendous amount—not only about music but how to make the most of life on the road.

Since I've had the last week and a half to get my thoughts together, I figured I might as well write something about where I've been and what I've learned.

Pro Tips
One of the biggest problems being on the road is erratic schedules. What that means is your eating gets really screwed up as well as your sleeping. In order to keep from gaining 150 pounds or just generally feeling like crap, eat as many vegetables as you can, when you can because catering and food options can be pretty grim.

Same goes for water. Drink it, lots of it. Bring it with you for long van rides and flights. Keep a bottle handy in your bag and pound it before you go through airport security and they make you throw it away.

Keep some nuts and Cliff Bars around for when there's just nothing to eat or you don't want to pay $9 for a slice of crappy pizza.

Before you leave home, download TV shows to your iPod that you don't have time to watch when you're home. I started watching season 1 of Family Guy on an airplane somewhere over the Great Lakes. I think that show has a future.

Speaking of your iPod or iPhone, make sure you don't forget your chargers and all that music you've never gotten around to listening to at home.

Internet service is sometimes free at hotels, sometimes not.

Find out about, and drink the local beer. You can get Budweiser anywhere, try something new.

Play with the local musicians. Find out where the jam sessions are and go. You'll quickly find out there are great players everywhere, and sometimes in the places you least expect.

Bring stuff to practice and the magazines that have been piling up on your coffee table.

Good headphones for your iPod are key to being able to hear what you're listening to and for letting the chatty guy sitting next to you on the plane that you're busy.

Bring your sense of humor. I was lucky to be touring with some really great people but if you're stuck for 10 days in the middle of nowhere with people you don't like, it's going to get old really fast. Remember why you're there—somebody likes your playing. That's a good thing. Focus on that, put your head down and get through it. 

Be nice to the sound guy/girl, stagehand, tech, pretty much everyone. You might be coming through there again next year and people have memories. Chances are, these people are doing what they're doing cause they love music too. You're in it together.

Enjoy the fact that you're getting paid to play music around the country. Even when I was hitting somewhere that someone else might call nowhere, I met cool people and saw at least one amazing thing when I was there. Not to get corny, but this is a great country. Enjoy the travel while you're out there.

And to everyone I met in the following places over the past few months, it was a pleasure. Calgary AB, Regina SK, Charleston SC, Palm Desert CA, Queens NY, Savanna GA, Washington DC, Palm Beach FL, Kalispel MT, Solvang CA, Fayetteville AR, Huntingdon TN, Cleveland MS, Syracuse NY, Minneapolis MN, El Cajon CA, Farmington PA, Salt Lake City UT, Fort Collins CO, Westport CT, New Orleans LA, Gretna LA, Easton PA, Williamsport PA, Troy NY.

If any of you have additional tips I'd love to hear them. It looks like I'll be out quite a bit in the coming year and there's always room for improvement.