"BOCK TO BOCK"(Buddy
It's truly a special event when we present transcriptions of two different solos over the same tune. Such is the case for Wes Montgomery's solos over brother Buddy Montgomery's composition, "Bock to Bock." The title is an obvious nod to longtime Pacific Jazz producer, Richard Bock. Originally recorded on Wes' "FINGERPICKIN'"(Pacific Jazz) during December, 1957 with Buddy appearing on vibes; and then later, recorded a 2nd time during January, 1961, on a Montgomery Brothers recording titled, "GROOVE YARD"(Riverside) where this time Buddy is featured on piano. However, the 2nd solo is from an alternate take and appears on the CD titled, "THE ALTERNATIVE WES MONTGOMERY"(Riverside). The truth is that, during my earliest studies of Wes' recorded work, I never really paid much attention to this tune, nor his solos. I was only reminded of the tune when a student of mine was attempting to transcribe it for a project. In order to help him out, I had to listen to the tune again, and all of a sudden, I became interested in both solos. And of course, lunatic that I am, I ended-up transcribing both of them and the similarities and differences now make for a fascinating study.
"Bock to Bock," the tune, leads one to believe that they are about to hear a minor blues in Db with a feeling and attitude reminiscent of Peggy Lee's huge hit of "Fever." Unfortunately, my little theory about that is off by at least one year as "Fever" was not released until 1958! The form however, is the standard 32-bar A-A-B-A. Each [A] section is marked by the descending bass line during the 1st 4 bars, and then a clever bluesy turnaround in bars 5-8 each time. The lead sheet you will view was derived from the Riverside version. During the [I] sections,
the Intro, over the descending bass line, Buddy offers some sparse fills on piano.
The [A] melodies, which present the flavor of a minor blues, are all stated in single note lines by Wes and Buddy's piano with octave and chordal punctuations. The 'bridge,' [B] is stated in octaves with chordal punctuations building towards a single-note line in bars 6-7. One nice touch in each [A] section is the little passage played in 3rds during bars 6-7.
The solo changes stay very close to the changes presented during the 'head.' However, because the 1st four bars could always be loosely interpreted as Dbm7, bassist Monk Montgomery applies many variations during the course of the Pacific Jazz performance which features solos by: vibes(Buddy); tenor sax(#1: Wayman Atkinson); trumpet(Freddie Hubbard); tenor sax(#2: Alonzo Johnson); guitar(Wes), and finally, piano(Joe Bradley). I have sketched out one example of how he seemed to approach these changes during the 1st four bars, but if you purchase the recording you can learn a great deal by studying what the bass is doing! The [B] solo changes are also like the head, but a typically clever Montgomery ii-V sequence in bars 7-8 leads us back to Dbm again.
It was then really interesting for me to hear the Pacific Jazz solo of Wes' on "Bock to Bock" for several reasons. Here, I like his tone very much even though it sounds to me as if they used a direct signal from his guitar, because his 'touch' sounds so present. And, I miss the warmth created by the usual tube amps of that period. Perhaps this was done because of all the potential leakage into the live microphones for the drums, vibes, piano, and the horn section? It's hard to say from this perspective, but it's an educated guess. Of greater musical interest is the fact that Wes employs a particular kind of chromaticism to his lines which, in all honesty, seemed to disappear from his playing as the years progressed. It really struck me because I don't recall hearing or seeing lines such as these. Specifically, I am speaking of in Chorus , [A2] bars 2-4; and during Chorus , [A3] bars 1-4.
Of course, all the elements of the blues are present: Chorus : all of [A]; [A2] bars 5-8; [A3] bars 1; and 6-8. Chorus : [A] bars 6-7; [A2] bars 5-8; [A3] bars 1; and 5-8 again.
For all of Wes' jazz fans, there's plenty to enjoy during this solo as well. During both [B] sections in Chorus 1 or 2 there are great lines over the ii-V to Gbmaj in bars 1-4. During [B] of the first chorus, in the 2nd bar, he employs a favorite device of his, during these years, by outlining a Bb triad over the Db7(alt.) chord to give him the 13b9 sound. And, there are moments of interest as he negotiates the non-resolving sequence of ii-Vs in bars 5-8 each time: Bbm7-Eb7; Em7-A7; Ebm7-Ab7(alt.). Then, if you keep a close eye on how he treats bars 4 and 7 each time an [A] goes by, you will find little gems there too because he constantly shifts his means of resolution back to Dbm. I tried to indicate some of his varied alternative approaches with chords suggested by his lines.
The Riverside "alternative" take version was recorded some 3+ yrs. later, and it is my sense that this 1st take became an "alternate" because of some flaws in the statements of the melody, certainly not because of the solo! Of interest is the fact that on the 'take,' the 3rd take, Wes' solo is 3 choruses long and is the only solo. On the 'alternate' take, his solo is one chorus and Buddy has a piano solo. I haven't really listened that closely to determine if any editing was done.
This particular solo, at least at the beginning, has a more thematic approach as Wes uses crisp little groupings of two 16th notes during the 1st four bars of [A]. You especially notice this on the downbeats of bars 1 and 2. But the entire phrase is steeped in the language of the blues. [A2] simply continues this approach with more bluesy lines, which also allude to the Db minor pentatonic scale(Db, Fb, Gb, Ab, Cb). You can clearly see in this in bars 1-2.
When Wes hits [B], all bets are off, and he comes out of the gate flying in double-time!! You should hear/see a similarity in the opening phrase of this solo and the earlier Pacific Jazz solo. Notice the pick-up which begins on a Bb and goes up to a Db and comes down chromatically from C to Cb before hitting the consonant note of Bb. He does something very similar to this in the older solo. He also, again, plays the Bb triad over the Db7(alt.) chord in bar 2. And, he even does a similar little 'turn' on the Ebm7-Ab7(alt.) change in bar 8. One great little harmonic touch occurs in bar 4, the last two beats, where he approaches the Bbm7-Eb7 change from 1/2-step above as you can clearly see notes which outline B Dorian(B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A) or Bm7.
Where [A3] is concerned, I have to admit that this passage was almost enough to make me want to quit this particular adventure in transcription. Personally, I hate it when the phrasing gets into areas of 'bluesiness' and the rhythmic content becomes totally blurred. But, I gave it my best effort, and what you now see is the best I could come up with. Again, my 'rule of thumb' is to try and write what I thought the player was 'trying' to do, and not exactly what it turned out to be. This entire last 8 bar section is rooted in the blues, and you can see/hear lots of Wes' usage of the blue-note G-natural(the b5 of Db) here. However, all things considered, for this being only a one-chorus solo, it's really tremendous, and offers some 'classic' Wes for all of us to enjoy!!!
I keep hoping that I'll be able to extricate myself from the 'transcribing business,' but every so often a particular challenge comes along, usually via a student, and I feel the need to answer the call. So now, we at KHAN'S KORNER are happy to share these labors with all of you. Enjoy these solos with our continued best wishes. But, PLEASE don't write and ask me to transcribe something!!! I just don't do that!!! And, for what it's worth, don't forget to turn your clocks back on October 26th. You know, "fall back in Fall!"