See Steve's Hand-Written Solo Transcription
    When Rob Mounsey and I began the process of composing "Clafouti" we worked from a percussion loop which was in a 3/2 rhythm. Because of the broad feel within this notation, it leaves room for a player to interpret the pulse in several different ways. The lead sheet/mini-score to the piece is written out in 3/2, but, as I was really 'feeling' the pulse of the solo in six, I decided to write out the transcription in 6/4. One of the best ways to DO a transcription of anything is to first answer the question, "What are they soloing over?" What are the changes and what is the form?
    The solo format I chose for the guitar improvisation on "Clafouti" is derived from two different sections of the tune. The Dm7 comes from the basic vamp at [I3] and the two bars of G/D and of Bb/D(which for this transcription I'm going to call Gm7/D) came from letter [B] of the piece. Written in 6/4 the solo is played over an 8-bar repeated progression, but, it begins in an interesting fashion. On the 'full' version of "Clafouti" from the "YOU ARE HERE" CD, the guitar solo, performed on a Yamaha APX-10N nylon-string acoustic, follows [D](which only appears ONCE in the entire piece). That section is followed by 4 bars of our basic [I3] vamp, again on Dm7. But, instead of beginning the solo form with another 2 bars of Dm7, the solo begins mid-format on the G/D chord which means that the first time through we only have a 6-bar phrase. For discussion, I have labeled the four 'intro' bars to the solo as bars [a]-[d]. On the 'full' version of "Clafouti" the guitar solo is followed by [C] which also only appears ONCE in the piece. Perhaps this is something to think about when structuring a compostion you're working on?
     Since 1980, I have fundamentally worked in keyboardless formats and, in truth, the only breaks in this exploration have been the two CDs with Rob Mounsey. The first of those was "LOCAL COLOR"(Denon) in 1987. Among the reasons for choosing to work without a keyboard is that it affords me the freedom to explore the chordal possibilities of the guitar, something I love doing. So, in the framework of the improvisations on "YOU ARE HERE" one won't hear the chordal side of my playing too much. But, this improvisation begins with two little arpeggiated voicings in bars [a]-[d]. An 'open voicing' style which one can see explored more fully in my recent book "CONTEMPORARY CHORD KHANCEPTS"(Warner Bros. Publications).
     Even though "Clafouti" has a very Latin feel to it, the [A] melodies have a very blues based attitude about them and it is this attitude which is felt throughout the solo. In the history of jazz improvisation, all soloists have extracted and developed parts of the melody in their solos. The same is true here. At the end of each of the four phrases in the [A] melodies there are upbeats which are accented, and this becomes a running 'theme' in this solo. You can hear this in bars: 2, 13-14, 28-30, 37-38, and 45-46. This device, to my ears, helps 'glue' the solo together. Getting back to the blues based elements, these can be found in bars: 5-6, 10, 11-12, 18, 29-30, 31-32, and 36-37.
     The development of ideas is certainly something any good solo should have and examples of this fundamental principle can be found right at the beginning where the pick-up to the first two phases is three 8th-notes giving them a kind of call-and-response feel. There's a nice small idea which appears in bars 26-27. Bars 15-22 feature two phrases which are connected to one another as they both utilize bits of neighboring tone ideas with superimposed altered dominant 7th-type approaches. For me, without the appearance of such elements, an improvisation can be very one dimensional and, limited in the ways in which tension & release are created. One of the beauties of working with Rob is that he is such an incredible accompanist. One can hear how he's always listening and offers musical 'comments' when the space is there. His style of playing long-note pads underneath an improvisation is what affords me the chance to explore these kinds of lines. It is this same style which enabled me to briefly fall into the chordal passage which appears in bars 39-42. As I explain in more detail in my recent book, this kind of passage owes more to pianists like McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea than to any guitarist. In this passage, I again used an upper neighbor chordal approach to created a little harmonic tension. Although during almost every G/D bar you'll hear lots of f-naturals, further adding to the 'blues' feeling, the most you ever hear the sense of it being a dominant 7th is in bars 41-42. Although upon reflection you can hear it in bars 33-34 as well.
     One of my dear friends, and one of our greatest guitarists, Joe Beck once said something to me which was very sobering and has never been forgotten. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, "NO ONE ever plays something fast that they haven't played 1,000 times before!" So, with that comment in mind, take a look at the similarities in the triplet phrases in bars 26 and 33. Though in hindsight, parts of the phrases are quite similar but the first is played into the next chord change and the second time it appears, the end of the phrase is completely different. If you study the transcribed improvisations of any of your favorite players, and on ANY instrument, if you look at the double-time passages over similar chordal movements, you should see glaring similarities. Everyone does this! That aside, it's reason enough to always try to remind yourself to concentrate on hearing melodies when you improvise and developing those ideas!
    Here's hoping that you'll enjoy listening to "Clafouti" as an entire piece of music and that you've enjoyed the analysis I've tried to provide here.

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