I made and shared this video on YouTube a week ago, but I wanted to have it here, too.
The tune is Horace Silver's "Peace", a beautiful and unconventional ballad written in 1959 and released on Blowin' the Blues Away. Most classic jazz ballads fall into two types of forms: the AABA "song" form (some examples include Johnny Green's "Body and Soul" and Billy Strayhorn's "In a Sentimental Mood"), or the ABAC variant (some examples include Gross/Lawrence's "Tenderly" and Warren/Gordon's "There will Never be Another You"), both typically 32 bars long. Unlike most music in the Western tradition, which is almost exclusively made up of four- or eight-bar phrases, Silver's tune uses two four-bar phrases and a two-bar phrase/tag. As with any ballad originally composed with lyrics, understanding the lyrics is a great aid to understanding the phrasing. I have included Silver's lyrics below the video on this page.
The harmony of "Peace" is stunning. Flowing back and forth from minor to major, with ii-Vs and common tones making abrupt key changes palatable, "Peace" manages to cram a ton of beautiful content into one of the shortest ballads around, both subverting the listener's expectations and delivering beautiful resolutions colored by harmony derived from the melodic minor scale.
For another beautiful ballad in 10 bars with a magnificent harmonic journey, check out John Coltrane's "Central Park West", recorded in 1960 and released on Coltrane's Sound in 1964. And, if we're talking about unconventional-yet-beautiful ballads written by saxophonists, we have to include a work from one of the greatest albums from one of the greatest jazz composers/musicians of all time: "Infant Eyes," recorded in 1964 and released on Wayne Shorter's seminal album, Speak No Evil, in 1966. Check it out if you haven't.
There's a place that I know
Where the sycamores grow
And daffodils have their fun
Where the cares of the day
Seem to slowly fade away
In the glow of the evening sun
Peace, when the day is done
If I go there real late;
Let my mind meditate
On everything to be done
If I search deep inside;
Let my conscience be my guide
Then the answers are sure to come
Don't have to worry none
When you find peace of mind
Leave your worries behind
Don't say that it can't be done
With a new point of view
Life's true meaning comes to you
And the freedom you seek is won
Peace is for everyone
Peace is for everyone
Peace is for everyone
It has been a while since I posted, thanks to the @#??!!@! coronavirus pandemic sucking away all of my time and motivation to be creative...
But I had to decide to get on with my life. I hope people are responsible, I hope our global and national leadership can get things together and get us to the other side of this, but I can't just sit and wait. We had a great socially distanced jam last week, and it just served to remind me how important playing music is to me. So, on to this project!
One of my new prized possessions is the NuRAD wind controller from Berglund Instruments. It is a modern (and evolving constantly, thanks to creator Johan!) evolution of the Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI) invented by Nyle Steiner and later licensed by Akai. Akai's instruments are great, but the market is not not large enough for Akai to invest much into developing the instrument, so Johan and a handful of other musicians and designers tackled the project (originally to revive the Electronic Valved Instrument, or EVI, as there was no option on the market for brass players since Akai discontinued production many years ago).
I won't go into great detail on the NuRAD here (probably another post and video in near future), so here is the run down on the recording I made this morning:
Sitting on the deck of this cabin, I am looking at an incredible view of the Tennessee River Gorge, known as the "Grand Canyon of Tennessee." While drinking a cup of coffee early yesterday morning waiting on my family to wake up, I decided to break out the mini synth rig I brought with me. I also sampled some birdsong using the Koala Sampler app on my iPhone. I wrote a short sequence in the key of F Major on the SE-02, and played around with the sound design and effects a little.
This morning I started the recording and improvised with the sequence. I am controlling my Behringer Neutron with the NuRAD, and using the really cool harmonizer function in the beta firmware I got from Johan recently - and, as an example of how the NuRAD project is a living, evolving thing, I got another email from Johan with beta firmware with improvements on the harmonizer just this morning while I was uploading this video!
More detailed note on the sequence can be found in the description of the video linked below.
I hope you enjoy the video - I surely enjoyed creating it.
I play saxophone.*