Over the long weekend, I not only enjoyed a relaxing vacation with the nation (excuse me), but I also finished David Amram’s Vibrations. I can’t reiterate this enough: he is such a compelling storyteller. More than an insight into the world of jazz horn playing, Amram’s autobiography charts the rise and fall of jazz for everyone who wasn’t Miles Davis, and really elucidates how creative and inspirational a person Amram is (in his own words, of course).
It also shows how much Amram did in his life, and how he was able to do it. He was a megacomposer, spending (after about 1959) at least 8 hours a day writing music, whereas before he was playing horn around that much. As well, he accomplished so much early in his life, allowing his credentials to net him a gig as the NY Philharmonic’s composer in residence at the tender age of 35 years and 10 mos.
That being said, Vibrations ends its chronological tale with its publication date of 1968. So digging still must be done surrounding Amram’s “second half”, which includes “Havana New York“, among other things, and his more adult, non-army travels, which spurred creativity in the direction of native and lost instruments.
As well, today, I transcribed a take of Edgar Sampson’s “Stompin’ at the Savoy” from NBC’s The Today Show that Mitchell and Ruff performed together in 1991 (I think, because that’s the year A Call To Assembly was published and I think that the show was meant to publicize it). Anyways. Here it is.
While the interview itself is… lackluster, the playing is great, with Ruff’s superlative tone capturing the listener and transporting them to the concert hall. I believe the only note Willie cracks is in the melody very early on, and from there, his playing is flawless. I am beginning to realize that Ruff mainly focuses on the important color tones of a chord or tonal feel, utilizing far fewer scales than either Watkins or Amram. Ruff also focuses on traditional jazz phrasing, syncopating here and there and holding out wonderfully crafted scale tones.
Very soon, once I get around to it, I will make a post dedicated to my transcriptions and continue updating it as I scan them in.
In Love and Horn-