Jun 7, 2012

"Poor Butterfly" and "What Makes a Good Chart?" - Part 2

This is Part 2. If you'd like to read Part 1 first, click here.

Before continuing, a word about melody. Most of the printed charts cited here show the same basic melody that was presented in the original sheet music. It's understood that performers will supply their own interpretations. No one will play it as written. In trying to come up with a good chart, we are really talking about the chords. Also, we are not concerned with the introductory "verse."

So, to resume, here are some more print and recorded sources that I checked out.

Ralph Patt’s “Vanilla Changes” (ralphpatt.com)

This site has interesting “vanilla” versions of the changes to many standards. This chart is simple enough, but has a few unique spots. It differs from my own "Poor Butterfly Basic" chart (shown in Part 1) as follows:
m 5 and m 21: | Db7 |
mm 9-10: | Bb7 Eb7 | Eb7 |
mm 11-12: | C7 Fm | Fm |
m 25: | Db | (not great, I think)
mm 27-28 | Ab F7 | F7 |
Note how the chords change on beat 3 in mm 9-19, 11-12, and 27-28. Interesting, but not in keeping with most other versions of this tune. I think this chart, though simple, goes in the direction of an “arrangement,” rather than a truly “vanilla” version.

Dick Hyman, “Dick Hyman's Professional Chord Changes and Substitutions for 100 Tunes Every Musician Should Know” (1986)

Dick Hyman is a legendary pianist, and his opinions come with some authority. This chart seems quite piano-oriented, and moves further into “arrangement” territory. It’s pretty thick with chords. A few notable features:
mm 0 and 16: pickups harmonized on each note: Eb7 E7 F7, or alternatively, Db9 C7 B7#11
mm 1-2:  |  Bbm F+   |  Bbm7   Eb7b9   |
mm 5-6:  |  C7#5 Db7  | C7#5 | , or alternatively,  |  G7(b9,#5)  G7b9  |  C7(b9,#5)  C7#5  |
mm 7-8:  |  Cm7  |  F7  |
mm 11-12:  | Edim  Fm  |  Fm   |
mm 26-27:  | Bb  F+   |  Bbm7  Bbm7/Eb  Eb7b9 |
There are some good ideas here, but it’s definitely not a “vanilla” chart. Here's a link to the book.

I would differentiate between a chart for general use and an “arrangement.” A chart for general use, as I see it, should be easy to memorize, and should be compatible with as many other (possibly more detailed) charts as possible. It should be open enough to give improvisers some latitude. An “arrangement,” on the other hand, is fine-tuned in a personal direction, with more detail.

I prefer fakebooks with more general, “vanilla” charts. But the more detailed ones often have some useful ideas.

Following are some of the recorded performances that I checked out:

Cannonball Adderley, from the album “Cannonball Takes Charge” (1959)

This recording seems to use the changes shown below:

There are three transcriptions of Cannonball’s solo available, from Brian Pendelton ("15 Alto Solos," 1991), Hunt Butler ("Cannonball Adderley: 20 Solos", 1990) and “Doc” Stewart (see his website). They are all very good, with a few minor judgment-call discrepancies on rhythms and chords. This chart shows what I hear in the recording, taking into account the piano and the sax solo line (Wynton Kelly is on piano). Some observations:
mm 1-2 and 17-18: Sometimes treated as | Bbm Bbm#7 | Bbm7 Eb7 | (e.g., sax solo 2nd chorus, mm 1-2, and piano on out head), usually as just          | Bbm7 | Eb7 |. 
mm 3 and 19: Abdim/G is a nice touch. 
m 11: Sometimes | Abmaj7 C7 | 
m 5-6 and 21-22: This is treated as a generic dominant, with the players using whatever extensions seem right at the moment. The transcriptions differ on this.

Jim Hall/Paul Desmond, from “Glad to be Unhappy” (1964)

This chart qualifies as an "arrangement." Here's the tune on Youtube. A great transcription of a great Jim Hall solo is on Steve Kahn’s website. Compared to PBB (see Part 1, my previous post), some features are:
mm 3-4:   | Abmaj7 Db7 | Cm7 F7 |
mm 5-6:   | Abm7 Db7 | Gm7 C7 |
mm 9-10:   | Bb7 | Bbm7 Eb7 |
mm 31-32:   | Abmaj7 Db7 | Cm7 F7 |

Benny Goodman (1940)

A model basic version, almost exactly following the PBB chart. Bar 11 is | Abma7 C7 |. Here is the cut.

Oscar Peterson/Count Basie, from “Yessir, that’s My Baby” (1976)

Again, pretty basic. You can listen to it here. This version is in the key of F rather than the usual Ab. Differences from PBB:
mm 3 and 19:  Fdim, as in the Cannonball version, but only on the head.
m 9:  Gm7 for the solos
m 11:  Em7b5 A7, but just in one solo chorus. 
(These chords function in F. Go up a m3 to compare to the other versions.)

Sonny Rollins, “Vol. 2” (1957)

Here's the cut. Once again, a basic interpretation. Horace Silver is the pianist. Some features:
mm 1-2 and 16-17: | Bbm Bbm#7 | Bbm7 Eb7 | - This is a normal enough way to play a II V. See the Cannonball version. Silver uses it through most, but not all, of the tune.

mm 3-4 and 18-19: | Abmaj7 Bbm7 | Cm7 Bbm7 | - A normal way to play 2 measures of Abmaj7. Silver varies the rhythm.

mm 22-23:  | Cm Cm#7 | Cm7 F7 | - One way to play Cm7 F7 (see above).

After all this...

If I were putting together a fakebook, I would stick with the “PBB” lead sheet, with m 11 changed to | Abmaj7 C7 | and m 32 changed to | Cm7 F7 |. For an “arrangement” I might add in the diminished chord in bar 3 - not much more. This tune needs to keep some of its old-fashioned charm.

If you are looking more a bit more cleverness, you might try some ideas from the Dick Hyman chart and/or the Paul Desmond/Jim Hall version.

Tom’s Comments

Finally, here are some thoughts about lead sheets from my friend Tom Simpson:
I think the pedagogic goal should be to get a good basic chart/roadmap of the tune that will serve players well for the moment, but also for the future. In some ways, the chart should be a kind of norm for how most jazz players think of the tune. The danger of this is, of course, that one might end up with a very bland arrangement. This is where decisions can be made "on the spot" to juice up the arrangement for performance purposes. This may be done either by "penciling it in", or it may be done on-the-fly by experienced players.

The established approach to the tune may be quite different from the original sheet music (or not). Different fakebooks and recordings of the tune may also reveal different harmonizations. This is where some analysis and judgement is required to extract the "best changes" for the tune. Usually, differences can be seen as more or less equivalent solutions to the same harmonic problem. Occasionally, differences may be so great that they cannot be seen as the same harmony. In this case, you simply have to choose, and yet be aware that there is another way to do it.

"Vanilla" charts should reflect established jazz practice, but should not attempt to specify chord alteration in too much detail; i.e., in most cases leave off alteration beyond 6th or 7th degree of the chord. The notation should leave room for creative use of established jazz practice. After all, the "vanilla" chart should be a model of the tune, not an arrangement per se.


Unknown said...

I like a vanilla chart for leads, but if you have an Ab whole note in the melody, and the chord is C7, as in bar 5, you should write it as C7#5. If the melody were a 6/13, I'd leave it as a C7, but this is an altered chord tone and held for he entire bar, and should be written on the chart.

Peter Spitzer said...

Sure, agreed. The "Poor Butterfly Basic" chart shows this (it's in Part 1 of this post; a link to Part 1 is at beginning of this page). That chart is a "common denominator" chart reflecting the Aebersold and Hal Leonard Real Book versions. I'm not actually advocating any of the versions I looked at as being definitive, but I agree with you on this point.

Pat Richman said...

These two posts are a really great guide/illustration to what goes in to creating a good lead sheet chart. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. You mention that for this example, Poor Butterfly, the charts you are analyzing do not reproduce the verse, and of course, broadly speaking, that's true of fakebook charts. However, a reader new to jazz might not realize that there are some standards with very famous, still played/sung verses. Night and Day, Tea for Two, and Someone to Watch Over Me are three examples. There are also fakebooks like the Sher Co. "Standards Real Book" that go out of their way to find and publish verses as part of jazz lead sheets, breaking from common practice. Verses can contain some adventurous melodic writing that would given players some worthwhile material to work into a performance. And anyone doing a gig with a vocalist would understand why having the verse as an option would be valuable. In the world of notation software and iPads on the music stand, notating the verse in the master version of your chart might be worth the effort, as space in a physical book is no longer as big an issue, and you can easily create an edited-down version of chart with the verse left out if you know your group will not being using it.