Dec 16, 2015

That Lick from "Four," "If You Could See Me Now," and "Groovin' High"

The phrase below appears in all three of these songs: Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now," Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High" and Eddie Vinson's "Four." I've often wondered which tune came first. Here's how it occurs in "If You Could See Me Now":

I've been reading "Dameronia," Paul Combs' interesting and well-researched bio of Tadd Dameron. Dizzy and Tadd were good friends, and discussed music a lot in the early 1940s. Either one of them might have worked out this lick, but Dizzy recorded it first in February 1945, as part of the trumpet cadenza (arranged rather than improvised, I'd guess) at the end of "Groovin' High." "If You Could See Me Now" was first recorded by Sarah Vaughan in 1946, with a beautiful arrangement by Dameron. "Four," written by Eddie Vinson, was first recorded by Miles Davis in 1954.

There is a stylistically similar lick in Dameron's "Good Bait," weaving through the chords of a turnaround at the end of each 8-bar section. "Good Bait" was written possibly as early as 1939, according to this Dameron bio (see Chapter 10).

Here are the tunes in question. Be sure to listen to "If You Could See Me Now" - you'll see why this tune became a jazz classic. As an aside, note the altered melody that Sarah sings in the last A section. It parallels a melodic phrase in the introduction; maybe Dameron intended the last A to go that way.

In "Groovin' High," the lick occurs at 2:32:

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