A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano
History and overview:
“Arise, Her Eyes” was composed in 1969 by bassist Steve Swallow. Swallow is a wonderful bassist who primarily plays the electric bass, even when playing straight-ahead jazz. A lot of his tunes are included in the Real Book because he was playing in Boston-based vibraphonist Gary Burton’s groups during the late 1960s – early 1970s, when the original Real Book was being compiled by students at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. At the time, tunes such as “Arise, Her Eyes” were considered very modern because they brought different harmonies into jazz, and sounded very fresh because they were also influenced by the pop music of the time.
Here are some recommended recordings/videos:
(for international readers who may not have access to these YouTube links, I’ve indicated the original album names wherever possible so you can listen to them on music streaming services, etc.)
Gary Burton and Chick Corea: Crystal Silence
Corea and Burton play with such ease that we forget what a hard tune this can be!
Gary Burton's Bootleg Series 1973a
"Arise, Her Eyes" starts at 4:07 on this recording, and features beautiful solo vibraphone playing by Burton
Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
If you’re used to playing more traditional jazz tunes, “Arise, Her Eyes” can present some interesting challenges. In fact, this is one reason why composers began writing this type of tune during the late 1960s/early 1070s. They wanted to break out of playing the same way as they’d been doing for so long!
The first thing you’ll notice about “Arise, Her Eyes,” is that the neither melody nor the chords move where you think they’re going to go. It’s unpredictable! But don’t let this discourage you. Keep playing it for a week or two and the tune’s logic will gradually reveal itself to you, as it did to me.
The chords are sequenced in a way that makes each one sound fresh. In this sense, the tune is about a process of continual discovery. Several chords will follow one another in colorful, non-functional ways, and then there will be an arrival point, where the energy and momentum picks up. Enjoy feeling your way through these places as you become more comfortable playing the tune. These chords will also encourage you to find new ways to improvise melodically, since none of your “usual” licks or patterns will work!
Yes, playing “Arise, Your Eyes” is a chance for you to keep your playing fresh and exciting, just as it was for Steve Swallow, Chick Corea and Gary Burton “back in the day.”
Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”
Further links and resources:
Arise, Her Eyes: Journey Through The Real Book #21
Each chord brings a fresh sound and a chance for discovery.
The Best Way To Use The Real Book
Expert Testimony: Steve Swallow
Steve Swallow tells the story of how his tunes were included in The Real Book
Pat Metheny’s album notes for the “New Crystal Silence” recording
This is what Metheny wrote for Corea and Burton’s later album, “New Crystal Silence.” We can gain a lot by reading one great jazz musician’s insights about his peers!
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