Oct 21, 2018

The "Honeysuckle Rose" II V lick - Charlie Parker, K-Ximbinho, and Mauricio Einhorn

One of the staple bop solo clichés is the "Honeysuckle Rose" II V lick. Bop-era jazz players utilized it quite a bit, and it is still part of the jazz improviser's language.

Here's the lick as it originally appeared in Fats Waller's 1929 song "Honeysuckle Rose" (key sig. is one flat):

Use of the lick in soloing is associated with Charlie Parker, but I really can't say when American jazz players first started using "Honeysuckle Rose" as an improv element. If any reader can point out a recorded 1930s instance in a solo by a jazz artist, please let me know in the comments section below.

One interesting early use is in the head to Tadd Dameron's "Lady Bird." According to one source, this tune was written around 1939. At that time Dameron would still have been living in Cleveland, Parker was not well-known, and bop had not yet taken shape as a distinct style. (See this post for more about this tune.)

Here's the "Honeysuckle Rose" phrase in "Lady Bird" as it appears in the Hal Leonard Real Book (bars 3-4). The last note was originally F, not E.

Another well-known use of the lick is in "Donna Lee," written by either Miles Davis or Charlie Parker in 1947 (see this post regarding authorship) (key sig. is 4 flats)

By Parker's own account, "Honeysuckle Rose" was the first complete tune that he ever learned, as a teenager. He used the lick throughout his career.

Parker got extra mileage out of the "Honeysuckle Rose" lick by varying its notes and rhythmic placement. A few examples from the Charlie Parker Omnibook are below:

Marmaduke head (Omnibook, p. 68)

Scrapple from the Apple solo (Omnibook p.17)

Blues for Alice solo (Omnibook, p.19)

Bloomdido head (Omnibook, p. 108)

Donna Lee solo (Omnibook, p. 49)

Perhaps solo (Omnibook, p. 72)

Klaunstance solo (Omnibook, p. 90)

Parker uses the lick in various ways, not just over a straight II V. For example, the "Donna Lee" solo clip above is over what I would have called IVm bVIIdom (as is the Dameron "Lady Bird" instance). The Scrapple example is pretty heavily disguised, and played in Eb, "side-slipping" a half step above what the rhythm section is playing. 

I also ran across a couple of examples in some Brazilian classics - a 1946 choro by K-Ximbinho, "Sonoroso," and a 1960's bossa by Mauricio Einhorn, "Estamos Ai." That seemed a little surprising, but upon further reflection, maybe not so surprising after all. K-Ximbinho (stage name of Sebastião Barros) was a Brazilian jazz saxophonist and clarinetist, born in 1917. His bio is here (translation from Portuguese Wikipedia). It's quite likely that he would have been listening to records from the US in 1946.

Mauricio Einhorn is a jazz harmonica player, born in 1932. He was active as a performer in Rio in the 1950s, and was prominent in the early days of bossa nova. He's still performing. American jazz fans might remember him as the composer of "Batida Diferente," recorded by Cannonball Adderley. Einhorn certainly would have been familiar with the bebop language. His bio is here (translation from German Wikipedia).

Here's the lick as used in K-Ximbinho's "Sonoroso" (it occurs at the end of the "B" section) (key sig. is one flat):

There are many recordings of  "Sonoroso" on Youtube. The first one below is probably the original. It's from 1946 with the Orquestra Tabajara; K-Ximbinho played with the group at that time. Following it is a more modern version with Altamiro Carrilho and Paulo Sergio Santos.

Here's the "Honeysuckle Rose" lick as it occurs in Einhorn's "Estamos Ai" (bars 16 and 32):

A 1965 version by Leny Andrade:

A two-harmonica rendition by Einhorn and Toots Thielemans, played with a swing beat:

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