Jul 4, 2012

Those "Footprints" Changes

I've just finished reading "Footprints," Michelle Mercer's biography of Wayne Shorter. This book goes a long way toward explaining Wayne's personality and his music, and I'd recommend it to anyone who is a Wayne fan. Although the book doesn't attempt much in the way of musical analysis, it includes a handwritten lead sheet of "Footprints" as a frontispiece.

As you may know, the chords to measures 9 and 10 appear a number of different ways in different publications. So it appears that we finally have something like a definitive version...or do we?

This lead sheet includes an intro in 4/4 that I've never heard played on any recording, by Wayne or anyone else. The chart also features a small change in the bass line in m 12, with the notes shown as:
(A kind of Picardy third thing - no one plays this, either...)

I had been under the impression that Wayne contributed lead sheets to the Aebersold playalong, as well as to the "Footprints" chart in the Sher New Real Book. While all very similar, these charts (bio, Aebersold, Sher) are not identical. Other print sources show some very different versions of the harmony for these two measures.

Following are some versions of mm 9-10:

From the "Footprints" bio mentioned above:
|  F#m9  B(+5, +9)  |  E7+9  A(+5, +9, +11)  |    (note: no 7 shown on the B or A chords)
From the Sher New Real Book, vol. 1:
|  F#m11(b5)  F13(#11)  |  E7alt  A7alt  |   or alternatively,  
|  F7(#11)  E7(#9)  |  D7alt  G7#5  |
Aebersold vol. 33:
|  F#m7b5  B7+9  |  E7+9  A7(+5, +9) or Eb7#11  |
Colorado Cookbook:
|  Gbm7b5  F7#11  |  E7#9  A7alt  |   or alternatively, with a 4 against 6 feel:
|  Dbsus/Ab   Csus/Db   Bsus/F3   Bbsus/B   |   Asus/E   Absus/A   Gsus/D   Gbsus/G   | 
"The Ultimate Jazz Fake Book" (Hal Leonard)
|  F7b5  F13  |  E9b5  A9  |
Old (bootleg) Real Book:
 |   D7   |   Db7   |
Jimmy Rowles (via David Ferris - see this discussion):
|  F#m11  B7  |  Fm11  Bb13(#11)  |
Hal Leonard "Artist Transcriptions":
|  D13  G9  |  Em7b5  A7  | 
Hal Leonard "6th Edition" Real Book:
|  F#m7b5  F7#11  |  E7b5(#9)  A7b5(#9)  |

So which version is "right"? Well, if you want to approximate the treatment of this tune on the "Adam's Apple" LP  (the first time it was recorded, February 1966), you should probably use the first version above. It seems to be pretty close to the way the band plays mm 9-10.

By the time "Footprints" was recorded by Miles Davis' group on the "Miles Smiles" album (October 1966), the treatment of the tune had become more abstract. Here are a few later live recordings by Miles' group:

Sweden 10/31/67  (the form is very loose)
Germany 11/7/67
France July 1969

On Wayne's "Footprints Live" album (2005), the treatment is very free indeed.

I would hazard a guess that Wayne did supply lead sheets for Aebersold and Sher, but that he tweaked each one a little differently. That's a composer's privilege.

You might note that in the lead sheet from the bio and in the Aebersold chart, chord extensions are specified, and the expression "alt" is not used. I'd hazard another guess - that the editors of the Sher book decided to use the "alt" expression. "Alt" means that both the ninth and the fifth have been altered (raised or lowered) in some way, but the expession does not specify exactly how. The "bio" chart is quite specific. The expression "alt" also implies the usage of a "altered" (aka "superlocrian" or "diminished whole tone") scale over the chord; I don't think that's necessarily what Wayne had in mind.

Some of the charts exhibit definite wrongness: for example, the "Ultimate Jazz Fake Book" chart shows bars 5-6 as Abmaj7. The "Artist Transcriptions" chart seems pretty far off in the chords to mm 9-10, and besides that is written in 3/4 rather than in 6/4. You might say that that is a judgement call, but all of the supposedly Wayne-derived charts show the tune in 6/4. Anyway, when notated in 6/4 it looks more like a 12-bar blues.

So - I'd say check out the sound of these various versions, and take your choice. Also bear in mind that Wayne left this sort of literalness behind long ago, 40+ years ago. Here's an excerpt from an interview with Eric Nemeyer in January 2000, printed in the magazine "Jazz Improv," regarding the song "Dolores," also from the "Miles Smiles" album:
Wayne:  "...we were actually tampering with something called DNA in music in a song. So you just do the DNA and not the whole song. You do the characteristics. You say, "Okay, I will do the ear of the face, I will do the left side of the face. You do the right side of the face..."
EN: "You are looking at maintaining the flavor and character of the tune without necessarily being bound by the harmonic structure that was underlying the melody?"
Wayne: "Yeah. Because...in those days we were talking about getting rid of the bar lines."
EN: "Yeah. and was Herbie Hancock's accompanying - do you know if he was looking at it the same way? Or was it just meant for the whole thing to be loose and 'let's use our ears and see what goes'?"
Wayne: "Yeah, that's all..." 
Many of the points in this post are considered in forum discussions here, here, and here.

There are a few more thoughts about "Footprints" in my next post.


Unknown said...

Ebma7#5 /d7#9 dbma7/cm7

Unknown said...

I find it adventurous to play chords associated with the melody notes on the B section while having resolution to the parent chord

scapegoat said...

I play this on guitar: F#m11 (low to high as A C# F# B E), B7+9 (B D# A D), F#13 (G# E A# D#), and G7sus (G F G C). These chords work well with the melody (unlike many of the above choices), and they sound hip.

John Hancotte said...

Your changes at least have a V chord before the i. I could never wrap my head around what I considered to be a minor blues that didn't include a V chord, no matter how altered. Thank you for this.