Con-Fab – Fritz Pauer
An angular, unpredictable blues head with many rhythm section figures in the melody that really is an informal conversation among the musicians.
All selected items will be available for download after purchase.
- Recording: Art Farmer - From Vienna With Art
- Recorded on: September 7, 1970
- Label: MPS (15064)
- Concert Key: F
- Vocal Range: , to
- Style: Swing (medium up)
- Flugelhorn - Art Farmer
- Tenor Sax - Jimmy Heath
- Piano - Fritz Pauer
- Bass - Jimmy Woode
- Drums - Erich Bachtragl
Though the drums are playing throughout the head, the piano and bass only hold out chords on certain longer notes of the melody.
There is a four-measure "send-off" for the first solo, taking up the beginning of the first solo chorus; it takes the melodic phrase of the beginning of the melody and holds out the first note that, in the melody, has a piano and bass chord. As with the head, the solo form ends with a G♭7 instead of the expected F7. The Coda develops the first melodic phrase one more time, this time holding out a different chord, A7♭5, before a final rubato phrase based on the whole-tone scale.
There is one note in the melody that was played differently on the recording than in Fritz Pauer's original manuscript. The note on beat three of the seventh measure is D, but on the recording G was played there each time. This is indicated in the lead sheet.
The three Americans on this recording (Farmer, Jimmy Heath, and Jimmy Woode), along with trombonist Slide Hampton, had previously recorded together as guests with trombonist Erich Kleinschuster's quintet (with Pauer and drummer Erich Bachtragl) in Vienna. Kleinschuster also recorded Con-Fab with his own quintet on their self-titled album in 1972; Farmer plays on this album but not this song.
For more from the "Vienna With Art" album, check out Whole Tone Stomp.
Con-Fab's solo piano arrangement would work great in a piano trio setting, with the bassist also playing the melody with the piano or playing just the hits (see the Bass part and the Bass Corner notes for more information).
As the late great Jaco Pastorius proclaimed, "Crossing Strings is the hardest part about playing the bass." Con-Fab is a workout on both simultaneously playing an unconventional melody over a traditional format (the blues) as well as jumping across the strings vertically. Just within the first measure there five string crossings for a grand total of seven notes! There are not only crossings of one string, but also of two; this task is rarely asked of bassists, but those who can nail it in time will surely jump to the front of the class. Learning this skill will enhance right hand dexterity, for a light yet cleanly pronounced touch is essential as is accuracy. We have fun thinking of this piece as target practice for bassists' right hands!
However, the left hand is also highlighted here, as the team needs to be balanced for a successful endeavor to occur. One must not focus on horizontal shifts as is the norm, but on vertical crossings. Being able to traverse the neck in all directions is required for complete achievement of musical demands, as well as for an enjoyable playing experience for all levels. In addition, it has been stated that seeing diversity within unity is an essential skill of intellect and Con-Fab contributes well in that arena. Taking a form that has been utilized for literally thousands of songs in the past and doing something new to it is a tremendous way to show respect for what's already out there while simultaneously adding your own jewel to the jazz canon. Performers of young, middle and advanced ages will be able to use this song as a platform for alternative blues improvisations.
We recommended a few different options when playing this song. First, play the melody as written (the way it is written in the C bass clef lead sheet). Next, perform the tune in the same manner that bassist Jimmy Woode did on the original recording: accompanying, just playing the rhythm section hits. These hits are indicated under the staff, with chord symbols above the staff. However, it's vitally important to check out the third and final offering; accomplish both the melody and the hits at the same time! This means that instead of playing all of the melody notes, you substitute roots for melody notes when the rhythm section hits occur. This approach of incorporating melody and accompaniment at the same time appeases both performer and listener, for the audience doesn't miss either part while the player can enjoy the fact that they are in control of all aspects of the song!
Note: please feel free to slow down the tempo to get the string crossings together. This song can work well at a medium groove pace in addition to its somewhat higher listed tempo. Remember, when you're asked to play the melody, it's important for you to suggest a tempo that you know works for you.
October 14, 1943 – July 1, 2012
Born in Vienna, Austria, acclaimed European pianist and composer Fritz Pauer began his career in the early 1960s, making his first recording (at age 19) with the Hans Koller quartet in 1962. He moved to Berlin, Germany, 1964-68, and played at Dug's Night Club & Jazzgalery as accompanist for Herb Geller, Johnny Griffin, Don Byas, Booker Ervin, Dexter Gordon, Leo Wright, Carmell Jones, Pony Poindexter, Jimmy Woode and vocalist Annie Ross, recording with many of them. Read more...