Thursday, November 20, 2008

Little Willie's Quantum Leap

This is an interesting record. And when I talk about this record, I'm talking about this record -  the very one you are looking at. When I first got it, I saw some writing on the inner grooves in grease pencil, and two concentric circles drawn right onto the grooves. Closer inspection revealed an arrow marked in pencil pointing upwards to the first of these two circles. This is the type of thing that audiophiles or a certain type of record collector might scoff at. Not me. I find it thrilling. There's a story in the grooves that goes beyond the music contained within them, giving life to this object and the purpose that it served, probably as study material to it's previous owner, whom I'm guessing was a musician.

The first circle comes precisely at the moment when the band drops out and Charlie Parker begins his lyrical solo on tenor - not alto - which he hadn't played since he was in the Earl Hines orchestra, and leads into Miles' solo and then pianist John Lewis' run. I have a few other Bird records, where you can visually see where the solos are, because the grooves are worn out from excessive replay of these parts. This is the first time I've seen it marked.

Modern technology makes this type of loving demarcation unnecessary. I can tell you that after making an mp3 of this record, that the first circle comes at exactly 0:34, and the second one (where the solos end) at 2:21. It also gives visualization to another another bit of mathematic symmetry. The band plays the harmonic be-bop riff on the chord changes over the head in a 32 bar form at the beginning and the end of this take for approximately 33 seconds.

If a paper airplane is sent off from the Empire State Building's observation deck on a clear day, and a bullet is fired from a smoking gun 100 yards away pointed toward a rocket leaving Cape Canaveral, who picks up Little Willie's bar tab?


"Little Willie Leaps" (take 3) mp3
by Miles Davis All Stars, 1947.
available on The Complete Savoy & Dial Master Takes


"Little Willie Leaps" (take 1 - incomplete) mp3
by Miles Davis All Stars, 1947.
available on Complete Savoy & Dial Studio Sessions

"Little Willie Leaps" (take 2)
by Miles Davis All Stars, 1947.
available on Complete Savoy & Dial Studio Sessions


Anonymous said...

This is super cool!

Unknown said...

It's not a record - it's a fetish! A talisman of greatness, that can be decoded for the elusive starlight engraved into its grooves.

Ariella said...

Righteous post.

Also, nice snaps in the new Yeti!

Paul said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I CANNOT stop listening to this. The bar where he jumps in contains multitudes.


Ted Barron said...

Nearly every phrase Bird plays contains multitudes - and effortlessly. That's what they call genius. Hearing him on tenor, you can hear echoes of Lester, and the sound of Coltrane and Sonny Rollins' early

I love this too.

Mark said...

Thanks, Man.

I knew Ornette has an album where he plays tenor, but I was unaware that there were recordings of Parker on tenor.

sroden said...

awesome friggin' post!!!!!