Applejackin' – Herbie Nichols
One of Herbie Nichols' most iconic compositions, this medium swinger showcases his quirky rhythmic feel and inventive harmonies. A two-handed Piano Melody Transcription is available showing how Herbie plays the in head on the master take.
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- Recording: Herbie Nichols - Complete Blue Note Recordings of Herbie Nichols
- Recorded on: August 7, 1955
- Label: Mosaic (MR5-118)
- Concert Key: F
- Vocal Range: , to
- Style: Swing (medium)
- Piano - Herbie Nichols
- Bass - Al McKibbon
- Drums - Max Roach
As with the melody, the most unusual harmonic passage is in the first four measures. Each of these measures begins with a diminished chord, which is resolved a half step up or down. These resolutions in the middle of the measure accentuate the melodic focus on the third beat. The opening A♭dim7 goes up to A minor, but the next three measures' diminished chords (G, C, and F) each resolve down to a dominant chord in first inversion, for example D7/F♯. It's a quirky way to get around the circle of fourths to the tonic F, not unlike the classic circle-of-fourths "rhythm changes" variant. The rest of the A section is static on F, going to F7 at the end except for the second A which ends on B♭/F. The bridge starts on F as well, with the subsequent D♭7(♯11) leading to some descending II-V7s; the last chord of the bridge is E♭7 instead of the expected C7, to link up with A♭dim7.
There is a typical Herbie Nichols intro: eight measures, based on the last four measures of the A section but developed in a different direction, followed by a four-measure drum solo break. The same intro is used as a coda, including the final drum break. In this intro, the last two measures feature tritone slash chords: D♭maj7/G and G♭maj7/C. The bass walks only the roots for the fifth through eighth measures of the intro. Dynamics are indicated in our lead sheets: the melody begins strongly and decrescendos through the descending sequence of the first four measures.
For information about the Piano Melody Transcription, click on the Piano Corner tab.
Herbie Nichols' original manuscripts show the alternate title of this song, Showboating. Herbie recorded three takes: one on August 1, 1955, and the other two (including the master take) on August 7th. Interestingly, Herbie plays the entire head out on the alternate take from August 7th, but varies the melody enough on the last chorus of the other two takes that is essentially a continuation of his solo until the last eight measures.
Bassist/cellist Buell Neidlinger recorded Applejackin' on his 1994 album of Nichols songs, "Blue Chopsticks."
January 3, 1919 – April 12, 1963
Two years ago (January 3, 2019) we were at the Van Gelder Recording Studio celebrating Herbie's 100th birthday with his family and pianists Frank Kimbrough and Glenn Zaleski. Both Frank and Glenn each recorded a previously unrecorded Herbie Nichols composition, on the same piano Herbie played for his Blue Note sessions. These were the initial recordings that started my new project, the Herbie Nichols Solo Piano Summit. Read more...