• Milestone for Rahsaan Roland Kirk's The Inflated Tear

    Don Sickler:  I'd been waiting for the 50th anniversary of the first recording of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's The Inflated Tear (October 19, 1967) for a few months. Fortunately, a phone conversation with Rahsaan's son Rory on October 17 reminded me about it just in time, and our team went into action. In addition to speaking with producer and long-time Kirk associate Todd Barkan about his thoughts on Rahsaan and on this composition, I wanted to see if I could clarify whether this concert footage was actually the very first public performance of The Inflated Tear. I knew pianist Rahn Burton thought that it was the first performance. But there was still some doubt, so the anniversary day provided me with a great reason to call Rahsaan's bassist Steve Novosel to get his recollection. I hadn't seen or talked to Steve in quite a few years, so I was happy to make the call. I got lucky and immediately got him on the phone, giving me a golden opportunity to ask one of my absolute favorite questions: "Steve, I want you think very carefully: tell me what you were doing exactly 50 years ago today." Of course, dead silence on the other end of the phone. After Steve recovered enough to say, "I have absolutely no idea," I was able to enlighten him. "That was 50 years ago today?" It all flashed back, and we had a nice conversation about that gig. I asked him if that was the "very first" performance. He said he was sure they played it first on their previous concert, which was in Warsaw, Poland. It was the usual way with Rahsaan. Out of the blue, he just started playing it. None of the rest of the band had heard it before! Steve said that the Warsaw gig was vivid in his memory because it completely blew the audience away. At the end of The Inflated Tear, they all stood and sang their national anthem. Steve said, "I could never forget that!"

    It's a privilege to be able to bring this vital and significant music to musicians playing today.

  • Kenny Dorham blast: from early bebop to hard bop!

    At the beginning of this last summer, the marvelous pianist Bill Charlap started getting on my case. Bill has been a good friend since his high school days, when he was a member of the Young Sounds jazz program I directed for Local 802 of the American Federation Of Musicians. Bill is now the Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University. After the last school year was over, he started calling me, wanting as much Kenny Dorham music as I could give him. For the upcoming fall semester, he wanted the students at the school to be exposed to as much Kenny Dorham and Joe Henderson as possible.

    I told Bill that now, with, I'm able to delve deeper in an organized way into K.D.'s compositions than I ever could before. Look at how Kenny developed his masterpiece Lotus Blossom, for example. There are six recordings tracing his progress. The seventh recording is our own K.D. Challenge project recording, with complete Minus You audio tracks available. Horn Salute, Monaco and Brown's Town are three new additions to the K.D. Challenge project.

    Please also check out our other great Kenny Dorham additions: Stage West, Karioka, Blue Ching, Blues For Jackie, Jung Fu, Dead End and Echo Of Spring. Details on all are below.

    There are still more great K.D. compositions to come, and believe me, Charlap will be on my case until they're available for everyone to play. As Michael Cuscuna wrote, "How does one perceive a man whose creative talents span big bands, the very origins of bebop, the founding of funk and hard bop and participation in the experimentation of Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane and Andrew Hill?" The answer is!

    Use the links above or read on for details on each new title.

    Blue Ching K.D. wrote this stop-time blues head for Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, as a showcase for their trademark dynamic range. Second parts and rhythm section parts are available for this quintet arrangement.

    Blues For Jackie This blues head from an obscure Jackie McLean session is classic K.D., with tasty stop-time figures and chord substitutions.

    Brown's Town A stop-time medium swinger originally recorded by Kenny Dorham with sax icon Joe Henderson. Our  K.D. Challenge version has Minus You tracks for all instruments.

    Dead End This early Kenny Dorham composition shows his bebop roots. He played it with Charlie Parker in the '40s but it wasn't recorded until Red Rodney's version in 1979. Check out the Historical Notes to learn why.

    Echo Of Spring A relatively early Kenny Dorham composition in a melodic bebop-ish bag. It's also known as K.D.'s Cab Ride but Echo Of Spring is Kenny's title. From Kenny's Afro-Cuban album, the bridge has a Latin groove. The Concert Condensed Score shows the bridge counter melody.

    Horn Salute A very intriguing Kenny Dorham composition, with lots of question-and-answer activity and interplay between the melody and rhythm section, plus a unique soloist challenge: K.D. continues his composition through the first 14 measures of each soloist, integrating a super-slick written rhythmic bass line with stop and go figures for the rest of the rhythm section. Our K.D. Challenge version has separate Minus You audio tracks for each instrumentalist.

    Jung Fu Related to Lotus Blossom, this song takes the same thematic material in a more modal direction. It comes from Kenny's last recording as a leader, but was released only recently. The Condensed Score editions show melody, harmony and rhythm section activity.

    Karioka A hard-driving medium-up composition that K.D. never recorded, Karioka comes from an early Freddie Hubbard album. A full set of parts are available for this quintet arrangement.

    Lotus Blossom An important Kenny Dorham work that he revisited quite a few times, performing and recording it in many different settings and arrangements. This may be overwhelming, but we feel it's necessary to show you seven different recordings (two were recorded under the title Asiatic Raes). These different treatments show Kenny's inexhaustible inventiveness. We suggest that you first click on each record jacket and listen to each audio clip. You'll hear why we've had to hit you with all of them at once! Condensed scores are available for five versions, while melody and rhythm section editions (and audio!) are available for our Minus You K.D. Challenge version to help you get inside this masterpiece. Check out the Minus You tab!

    Monaco The magic of this composition is fully realized in Kenny's multi-tempo arrangement. Kenny's original melody treatment (recorded live at the Cafe Bohemia) for both the master and alternate takes has been transcribed, for B-flat and C instruments. Everyone can explore this dramatic Latin/swing arrangement themselves through the Minus You tracks in our K.D. Challenge editions.

    Stage West A tour de force on the uptempo blues, with a head four choruses long and a send-off for the solos. All parts of the quintet arrangement are available.

  • Blue Spring Shuffle: The K.D. Challenge

    "The K.D. Challenge" is our hint that Kenny Dorham compositions are not only challenging, they're intriguing, great-and-fun-to-play masterworks. They are some of the most unique and important small group compositions in jazz. We've added the swinging, relaxed Blue Spring Shuffle this week.

    One of the things that sets Kenny Dorham apart from other composers is his emphasis on the specific roles of the individual rhythm section players. The often-distinctive role of each rhythm section player is part of the composition, not just part of an arrangement. The independent instrumental parts combine in an interplay that is more than the sum of the parts. To help each individual player, because everyone has to know what's happening,  we've made each rhythm section part double-staved, showing a smaller staff with the melody above each part. You'll find it's very helpful to see the melody in relation to your own part. Often we'll also indicate other rhythm section cues so you can really see how everything fits together.

    Try our Minus You audio tracks (click on the Minus You tab for each title): every rhythm section player can have his/her own audio track,  minus their instrument, to practice with. You can master your role while also accompanying recorded soloists. Melody players will have a great rhythm section behind them for the melody and also for soloing.

    Many fans have said, "K.D. is the cat!" Jerry the Jazz Musician wrote: "His music remains more than basically satisfying to his listeners. It smokes!"

  • Lucky Thompson tribute composer Adam Brenner debuts with his compositional tribute to the great saxophonist/composer Lucky Thompson, titled Lucky Thompson. Adam details his meeting with Lucky, in a park in Savannah, Georgia, in the historical notes, and the motivation behind the song.

  • Freddie Redd "And Time Marches On"

    A delightful, infectious and bluesy march from the star of The Connection. Freddie's own 1991 recording is featured, along with a recent treatment by our team. Our Minus You tracks and parts let you be part of the action.

  • Five new!

    Five new compositions, all with C treble clef, C bass clef, B-flat and E-flat lead sheet versions, plus more.

    Waltz for Marilyn is a beautiful ballad written by the late Don Friedman, originally recorded on Don's 2007 album of the same name. Available recordings include a piano/bass duo with bassist Daryl Johns playing with Don at the Van Gelder Studio, captured on video. Plus Don's Solo Piano Arrangement, played by Kenny Drew, Jr. and also recorded by Rudy Van Gelder.

    In honor of his June 16 birthday, two Lucky Thompson titles entitled Dancing Sunbeam and Mister Man. These tunes were originally recorded by Lucky and legendary bassist Oscar Pettiford and both serve as strong bass features, rich with bebop vocabulary. Check out Lucky's transcribed Tenor Sax solo on Dancing Sunbeam (in B-flat and C editions). Our own quartet made a new recording of both songs so Minus You audio tracks are also available for each instrument (Minus Melody, Minus Piano, Minus Bass, Minus Drums). Just click on the Don Sickler Quartet album cover, pick a song, then click on the Minus You tab. Summer intern Jack Aylor demonstrates the Minus Melody track (and Minus Bass, since both Thompson titles feature the bass playing the melody) in a Dancing Sunbeam video filmed at the studio.

    Lastly, two tunes from the album The Things We Need by saxophonist Jon Gordon are being released: Stapleton (a grooving bluesy track with great, stepwise changes to blow over) and Minor Dues (a swinging minor blues).

  • Griffin's When We Were One and Rolling On with Elmo Hope

    Captivate your audience with saxophonist Johnny Griffin's incredible ballad, When We Were One. Two versions, both recorded by Johnny, along with his Solo Piano Arrangement. Then scramble to get your breath as you play along with the Minus You tracks of Elmo Hope's Roll On (Minus You tracks for all instruments!). Hear exclusive audio of NY saxophonist Bobby Porcelli recorded by Rudy at Van Gelder's Studio, along with the Seattle-based New Stories trio.

  • Celebrating Tadd Dameron's 100th!

    We were able to put up two new Tadd Dameron compositions on the day of his 100th birthday (February 21, 2017), and now we've finished the editions and the notes for five new Tadd Dameron instrumentals and three vocals. As you'll hear, Dameron's composing is always identifiable as Tadd and always delightful. Check these out, and we know you'll enjoy playing them.

    Smooth As The Wind - A Blue Time - I Remember Love

    Never Been In Love Minus You track available - I'm Never Happy Anymore

    Wonderful lyrics have been added to three of these instrumentals by either Georgie Fame or Irving Reid, and we hope singers will check them out.

    There's No More Blue Time (vocal, lyric by Georgie Fame)

    Never Been In Love (vocal, lyric by Irving Reid) Minus You track available

    I'm Never Happy Anymore (vocal, lyric by Irving Reid)

    Hear a sample of our Minus You tracks on our YouTube channel.

  • Seven new charts plus Minus You audio for each one.

    We're ending the 2016 year with more classic music from KENNY DORHAM, who is not just the composer of the jazz standard Blue Bossa, but also a man whose music made innovative, often magical use of all of his rhythm section players: check out Escapade and Night Watch

    GIGI GRYCE: Another composer of jazz standards such as Minority, his music set Paris on fire during the 1950s and 1960s. We're bringing you further explorations of Gigi's classic Nica's Tempo along with Stupendous-Lee.

    Also three more from FREDDIE REDD: Sometimes so underground he's hard to find, his composing voice is easy to identify and his music lifts everyone's spirits. The Jolly Minor - Midnight Blue - There I Found You


    Minus You charts and audio let you rehearse whenever you want!

  • New Dorham, Gryce, Redd and Hope lead sheets and audio tracks

    Five great new titles plus further explorations of four songs through new editions and recordings. Plus, all nine now have Minus You audio tracks, providing fun and valuable learning opportunities for all instrumentalists.

    Take a little time to explore our Minus You editions and tracks. Our tracks give every member of the group an individual audio track minus their instrument: you can be an essential member of the group playing along with professional artists in your own practice room. Minus Melody, Minus Piano, Minus Bass, Minus Drums, and often a track with just Bass & Drums, so Piano/Vibes/Guitar can play the melody, or a soloist can work, a la Sonny Rollins, without harmonic accompaniment. Click on FEATURES, click the Minus You heading, then click on FOR INSTRUMENTALISTS.

    KENNY DORHAM: One of the magical things that sets Kenny Dorham apart from other composers is his emphasis on specific roles for each rhythm section player. His independent instrumental parts mandate delicate interplay between all ensemble members, hence our project title The K.D. Challenge. We've made each rhythm section part double-staved, showing a smaller melody staff above each line, and we've also indicated other rhythm section cues to make it clear how everything fits together.

    BACK ROAD by Kenny Dorham: With its bluesy melody and rhythm section stop-time, this song is quintessential K.D. Second parts from the Joe Henderson/Kenny Dorham "Our Thing" album are available, plus our K.D. Challenge version has Minus You tracks for all instruments.

    PEDRO'S TIME by Kenny Dorham: A classic Dorham song with a 12-measure form that's not quite a blues. Our K.D. Challenge version has Minus You tracks for all instruments; second parts like saxophonist Joe Henderson played with Kenny on the classic "Our Thing" album are available.

    FREDDIE REDD: A pianist/composer who got early recognition from the his role in "The Connection" play and movie, Freddie is a master of hard bop. Our Freddie Redd Project recordings, with Minus You audio tracks, brings his music into a new zone.

    1:00 A.M. STANDARD TIME by Freddie Redd:  Starting the melody with an even-8th line which becomes its own important motivic element, this song essentially has a classic hard-bop sound, with stop-time figures in the head and a constantly evolving melody and chord progression. Our exclusive version has Minus You tracks for all instruments as well as second parts

    BLUE HOUR by Freddie Redd: A harmonic workout in the unique Freddie Redd style. Recorded twice by Freddie in a trio format, our exclusive Freddie Redd Project quintet recording is available with Minus You tracks for all instruments, plus second parts, bass part & condensed score.

    FAREWELL TO SWEDEN by Freddie Redd: A tribute to his 1956 trip to Sweden is a laid-back, bittersweet medium swinger. In addition to the original trio recording, a new quintet version is available with Minus You tracks.

    GIGI GRYCE: Gigi Gryce was a fine altoist in the 1950s, but it was his writing skills, both composing and arranging that were considered most notable. We have Minus You versions of some of his best songs.

    MINORITY by Gigi Gryce: Gigi's standard is represented by three different recordings. Art Blakey's in 1954, Gigi's own in 1960, and our version recorded in 1999, featuring Gigi's pianist Richard Wyands and alto/tenor soloists Bobby Porcelli and Ralph Moore. Minus You audio and more!

    SALUTE TO BIRDLAND by Gigi Gryce is written on I'll Remember April changes. Our new Gigi Gryce Project version is available with Minus You audio tracks for all instruments. Perfect for an audition tape.

    SOCIAL CALL by Gigi Gryce has been covered by many artists. Check out the four versions we have posted: Art Farmer/Gigi Gryce, Art Blakey and a nonet, Donald Byrd/Gigi Gryce, and our own version with Minus You tracks from The Gigi Gryce Project recording.

    ELMO HOPE and MINOR BERTHA: Our first Rhythm Section Workshop edition. It's definitely a real workout for rhythm section players, demanding everyone's full attention at all times. Listen to Elmo's original recording and you'll see it was also a workout for his rhythm section. Try it on your own with our Minus You tracks or challenge your own group.

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