[Dixielandjazz] Riffs and Phrases

Craig Johnson civanj at adelphia.net
Wed Mar 17 15:48:25 PST 2004

Again -- everyone is right, but I'd like to pick up on
"Kash's" statement in agreement. I have some of the "Armstrong riffs"
in a book I acquired back in the days when I had hair, and it
was darker colored than its current, meager remnants..

I've always hated readong them out of context, and frankly
would never have gotten them right from the "reading" except
by listening for them on Louis' records. Their advantage is that
once you understand them by hearing them, the written versions
can be transposed as an exercise to get the essential elements
in different keys so they fall out automatically. Of more assistance,
but with some of the same caveats are to read complete
transcriptions ( of which there is an old book of Armstrongs solos
with piano accompaniment. and recently Peter Ecllund did a more recent
one for Louis and one for Bix. It's a hell of a lot more meaningful
(and frankly, more interesting) to play listening to the two musicians
and using those written transcriptions when you can't quite translate
from your ears to your fingers.  - than it is to take the "riffs"
out of context. -- besides, it shows how they were used, if you will,
which is the real point.

Then. just like the "Watters arrangements" -- once you know them, throw
"hide the paper" and play your own version based on what you remember
 -- use them again only when you've forgotten parts of the tune.

(At least that's what feels right to me -- "YOUR mileage may vary.")

Craig Johnson
Cornet - Fore River Jazz Band -- Maine

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