Smooth As The Wind – Tadd Dameron
This majestic Dameron composition deserves to be more widely known. It was a favorite of pianist Tommy Flanagan, and we have a melody transcription of a solo version he did for Billy Taylor's TV show.
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- Recording: Blue Mitchell - Smooth As The Wind
- Recorded on: March 29 & 30, 1961
- Label: Riverside (RLP 367)
- Concert Key: F
- Vocal Range: , to
- Style: Swing (medium)
- Trumpet - Blue Mitchell, Clark Terry, Bernie Glow, Burt Collins
- Trombone - Jimmy Cleveland, Urbie Green
- French Horn - Willie Ruff
- Piano - Tommy Flanagan
- Bass - Tommy Williams
- Drums - Philly Joe Jones
- Arranger - Tadd Dameron
- plus - string section led by Harry Lookofsky
This song is a 32-measure AABC form with a majestic melody in the classic later Dameron style. The second and fourth measures have a chord on each beat, in cycles of fourths. The bridge modulates to A♭ major and C major. In this arrangement as well as in Tommy Flanagan's version, there's an intro, an interlude before the solos, and a shout chorus/sendoff; the first two of these are included in the Tommy Flanagan melody transcription, and all will be included in the forthcoming Condensed Score of Tadd's arrangement for the Blue Mitchell session.
The changes of Smooth As The Wind are similar to another Dameron composition, Gnid, from the classic Tadd Dameron/John Coltrane quartet album. In particular, the bridge changes are nearly identical, though the melody is quite different.
Another great Dameron champion was on Blue's "Smooth As The Wind" session: Philly Joe Jones.
Note from Don Sickler: One of my big regrets is that I was unable to finish adapting Smooth As The Wind for Philly Joe's Dameronia instrumentation before Joe passed. I finally finished my adaptation for the Dameronia nonet instrumentation when Columbia University honored me as guest soloist for a 25th Anniversary Concert (2011), and I performed it again, as a tribute to Philly Joe, when we put Dameronia together again for his 90th birthday tribute at the Jazz Standard in NYC (2013).
Our Piano Melody Transcription shows the melodic interpretation and all voicings from the solo Tommy Flanagan broadcast version (see video above), for the intro, in head, and interlude. A forthcoming Piano Solo Transcription will include the out head and coda.
Tommy starts the intro with a single line, the melody. Left hand voicings come in in the fifth measure, and in the middle of the seventh measure there are two-handed voicings. The A section melody is mostly voiced, primarily in tenths and in four-note drop 2 voicings. As a stylistic quirk, Tommy rolls all two-handed D minor chords wherever they are in the melody, which is mostly where the melody note is the 9th or 11th, for a grandiose effect that perfectly complements the majesty of the song.
February 21, 1917 – March 8, 1965
A giant of the bebop era, Dameron had a wonderful melodic and harmonic imagination which he brought to compositions and arrangements for both small and big bands. Writing first for Harlan Leonard, Jimmy Lunceford, Count Basie and Billy Eckstine, in the late '40s Dameron started composing and arranging for Dizzy Gillespie's big band. He also recorded his own superb sextet for Blue Note Records in 1947 which featured trumpet great Fats Navarro. Read more...