Archive for Ed Thigpen


Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , , , on July 30, 2020 by telescoper

Now for one of those jazz posts that people don’t seem to like and which will no doubt reduce today’s blog traffic even further. This is a very nice version of a tune called Jordu which was written by pianist Irving “Duke” Jordan in 1953 and which became part of the standard jazz repertoire after a wonderful version was recorded by Clifford Brown and Max Roach in 1954. It’s not hard to figure out where the title comes from. The version I’ve picked is much later, and features a trio with the great Ed Thigpen on drums and Mads Vinding.

Duke Jordan began his recording career with the brilliant Dial sessions with Charlie Parker in 1947 and he carried on making great music after he moved to Denmark in the 1970s until his death in 2006. The Steeplechase label on which this record was released is actually based in Copenhagen too. He is buried in Vestre Kirkegard in Copenhagen. He was in my opinion one of the most consistently underrated pianists of his era.

When I was younger I used to try to figure out by ear the chord changes in Jazz standards. Nowadays you can find cheat sheets all over the internet, which rather takes the fun out of it. This tune is a particularly interesting challenge to unravel as well as to perform  but if I ever got a band together we would definitely (try to) play it!

Jordu is in a standard AABA form. The A sections are constructed from dominant chords in a pattern based on the ii-V-I progression which is very common in jazz. The variation introduced here is to use a major II instead of a minor ii and add a dominant 7th to the basic triad, which makes a much richer sound. The eight bars of the A section are divided into four pairs, the first of which finds the theme played without backing chords or rhythm accompaniment, the second having the backing instruments accent beats 1, 3 and 4. The first sequence is a II/V/I in C minor, using a D7 instead of a minor ii chord. Then it’s a similar sequence in in Eb major (F7/Bb7/EbMaj7). After a repeat of the first II/V/I, the A sections ends with Ab7 – G7 (bVII7 – V7). Every chord but one in the entire section is a dominant 7th.

Since the A section ends in an unresolved way on the V chord (G7), a device used quite a lot in music stylistically based in the bebop era, Duke Jordan devised  a two-bar coda to be played at the end of a performance that resolves to the tonic (Cm), bringing everything gently back to Earth to finish.

The B section is based on the Circle of Fourths, another standard jazz device but still a challenging pattern to improvise on. If you want to learn to play jazz most tutors will have you practicing a lot on the Circle of Fifths (clockwise) and Circle of Fourths (anticlockwise) trips around this diagram showing all the major and minor keys:

Anyway, you don’t have to know anything about the harmonic structure of this piece to enjoy this lovely playing. Duke Jordan’s solo finds him completely at home in this tune, and why shouldn’t he? He wrote it!

C Jam Blues

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on May 22, 2012 by telescoper

I finished a marathon session of examination marking yesterday evening, and gave the papers another check through this afternoon just as a precaution against any errors on my part. Now I’m satisfied with them I’m going to hand them over to the second examiner tomorrow morning for another check. We do take a lot of care over this things, you know…

Having got such such a big job out of the way I think there’s grounds for a minor celebration. On top of that I noticed this afternoon that the total number of visits to this blog has just passed the one million mark!  Thanks to everyone who has visited for taking the trouble to read my ramblings. I hope to be able to pass on news of an important development on the blog very soon…

In the meantime, here’s a video I’ve been waiting for a good day to post. It’s the great Oscar Peterson Trio vintage 1964 in excellent form playing a Duke Ellington standard called C Jam Blues which, as its name suggests, is a 12-bar blues in the key of C Major. I have many reasons for loving this performance: Oscar Peterson’s lengthy improvised introduction is worth a shout all on its own, but watch out for the little look he gives to bassist Ray Brown at about 2.34 to signal him in at the start of the next chorus. Look out too for the flawless performance of the legendary Ed Thigpen on drums; one of my Dad’s absolute favourite drummers, and mine too. The three musicians are definitely all on the same wavelength for this track, but the eyeball communication between Ed Thigpen and Ray Brown seems almost psychic.