Do you have a musical fantasy?
I started thinking about this a few months ago when I read how someone donated $250,000 to a charity for the opportunity to play drums with the rock group The Who. For one song!!!!!
As much as I personally would like to play with The Who, it’ll probably never happen. And going further, none of us will ever get to play with someone like Miles Davis ever again, at least not in person.
Luckily, we can play with Miles via his recordings, and even in our own minds.
I indulged in this type of enjoyable fantasy this week when I sat down to play the Rodgers and Hart song “I Could Write A Book” as part of our Journey Through The Real Book, Even though Rodgers and Hart composed the song for the 1940 Broadway musical Pal Joey, it took the 1956 Miles Davis recording on his album Relaxin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet to make is a bona fide jazz standard.
The 1950s Miles Davis Quintet’s “sound” is really the basis of what we think of as “mainstream jazz,” and much of this has to do with the rhythm section of Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. (Extra credit if you know or take this as an opportunity to learn why Mr. Jones took the nickname “Philly.” Yes, he was from Philadelphia, but why did he use that nickname professionally?”)
Here’s the Miles Davis version of “I Could Write A Book”:
When I sat down to play the tune this past week, I did something I rarely do. Rather than use the full piano to create a solo piano arrangement, I pretended that Paul Chambers and “Philly” Joe Jones were laying down a swinging bass and drums groove and that I was the pianist in the group.
This is great way to play solo jazz piano on occasion and it’s definitely a lot of fun!
Here’s what I came up with, and I hope it inspires you to play this great tune yourself.
Ron Drotos: I Could Write A Book
Enjoy the journey and “let the music flow!”
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