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Fee Fi Fo Fum - Wayne Shorter

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Uploaded on Jan 13, 2008

Visit my website at www.lot2learn.com for midi files, backing tracks and solo transcriptions.

If I could step into a musical time machine, I would probably set the dial on December 24, 1964.

That's when Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Elvin Jones and Freddie Hubbard went into the studio and recorded the album "Speak No Evil" which contains the song I play in this video, "Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum". This quintet, and the music they produced, is among my all time favorites.

So how to improvise on a tune like this? Well, the bridge is easy so let's start there. It's sort of like the second half of a Bb blues - Eb7 going to Bb7. So the Bb blues scale with grace notes and embellishments works very well. Then there are a couple of II-V's (Bb-7 to Eb7 and A-7 to D7) so chord tones and the like are in order. The rest of the tune I try to think of in terms of a blues but with substitutions. It's fairly complex but there are elements of blues in Bb and Eb and then a measure of G blues with some chromatic steps and assorted changes in between. This type of stuff never comes easy. I find the best way is to listen to the original recording a zillion times until I can sing back every (almost) note of each players solo. This gets the tune so ingrained into me that I don't have to think - just feel the tune and play.

The other aspect of this tune that makes it so great is the tempo. This laid back swing is just ripe for all kinds of rhythmic shenanigans during the solo. The last note of the melody hits on beat 4 of bar 22 which is just one more enjoyable twist in this unusual song. Playing at this tempo, I find it is the phrasing, almost more than the actual notes, which makes the solo interesting.

I've placed the "midi keys" on top of my own playing for enhanced visualization.

If you are interested in this and other Aebersold backing tracks, they are available at http://www.jazzbooks.com.

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