Category Archives: Jazz

Rhythm Section Primer

I wrote this handout for a class Kathy and I did at UVA last week.  I hope you enjoy it (pdfs are at the bottom of the post, if that’s more your style).  Special thanks goes to John D’earth and everyone else in the Jazz program at UVA.  Kathy and I had an amazing time!

PDF Files:
Rhythm Section Basics page 1
Rythm Section Basics page 2

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Standards in Solitude

Randy Pingrey – Alone

Easy Living

Sweet Sue

Come Sunday – solo piano

Deed I Do

Randy Pingrey – all instruments and arrangements (except for Deed I Do, which is based on a Kathy Olson arrangement)

I recorded these tracks over the past few months using a small digital four-track device.  It started out as something that I was doing just for fun, but eventually I realized that I had pull together a few of my favorite tracks to release here.  I hope you enjoy it!

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Chasing the Bird

While at NEC, I was fortunate enough to study for a year with the famed trombonist-extraordinare Robin Eubanks.  For a while, I was bringing in Charlie Parker solos to work on with him, and in one of our lessons he said (and I’m paraphrasing here):

You know, someone should take some time to transpose these solos up a fourth.  They’re really in the pumpin’ register.

After you take a second to chuckle at the phrase “pumpin’ register”,  let me explain what he meant: When trombone players practice Parker’s solos (say, from the Omnibook or from their own transcription), we play what Parker played, but down an octave.  Unfortunately, the “money register” for a saxophone tends to skew lower on the instrument’s available tessitura than what is common for the average jazz trombonist.  As a result, here is what a trombone player looks at when they try to play a Charlie Parker solo:

To a jazz trombonist, the preceding excerpt, although playable, doesn’t really lay in an idiomatic fashion on the horn.  When a trombone is played in its lower register, all of the slide positions are further apart compared to the closer positions of the higher register.  In other words, what Robin meant by “pumpin’ register”,  is that the solo is just too damn low and one has to move the slide too much.  Bebop is already hard enough on the trombone, and the range that trombonists play Parker’s solos in certainly doesn’t make these tricky solos any easier.  Here is what the same excerpt looks like when it’s transposed up a fourth:

Now we’re talking!  The range is much more reflective of what jazz trombonists actually play.  So, I went ahead and I transposed the whole solo up a perfect fourth, just like Robin suggested.  Here, take a look and listen for yourself:

Moose the Mooche (pdf file)

The benefits are pretty clear – I’ve been working on the solo for about a week, and the bebop vocabulary feels much better suited to my instrument.  I suppose one could argue that it would be more valuable to study Parker’s solos at the original pitch, but I’ve always thought that the jazz tradition is ours to play with, so why not?

I also went ahead and did the same thing to Parker’s solo on Donna Lee.  Check it out too:

Birds Solo on Donna Lee (pdf file)
(I haven’t had the time to work on this solo, so I can’t totally swear by its accuracy, and there’s not yet an audio file for me to post.  Besides, it’s really, really hard…)

So anyways, feel free to download these solos, and share them with your trombone playing friends!

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The Olson Pingrey Quartet at Rutman’s

December 10th, 2009

On the D.L. “by” Randy Pingrey

Tygart Valley by Kathy Olson

Stone Age Rhumba by Randy Pingrey (more info)

Blues for Mac by Kathy Olson

Reverie by Kathy Olson

My Waltz by Kathy Olson

Low Contrast by Randy Pingrey (more info)

Venus de Milo by Gerry Mulligan, arranged by Randy Pingrey

Kathy Olson – bari sax
Randy Pingrey – trombone
Mark Zaleski – bass
Austin McMahon – drums

What a great evening!  Kathy and I can’t thank Mark and Austin enough for being so shockingly perfect for our music, and it was wonderful to see so many people at the gig.

And special thanks goes to Rutman’s Violins for having us play…

…and an extra special thanks goes to Joel and Laura for being totally awesome.

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Stone Age Rhumba – Sneak Peak!

The December 10th Rutman’s hit is quickly approaching for the Olson Pingrey Quartet!  Kathy, Mark, and I had a lovely rehearsal last night and I thought I’d post a sample of one of the new tunes we’re going to play.  It’s called Stone Age Rhumba.  Here are the first two minutes:

Stone Age Rhumba

Kathy Olson – bari sax
Randy Pingrey – trombone
Mark Zaleski – bass
Recorded on December 8th, 2009

(by the way – the piece features an extensive drum part – which you’ll have to come to the gig to hear!)

My intention for Stone Age Rhumba was to write a tribute to the great trombonist Bill Harris while continuing the vibe of other pieces I had written for this ensemble (this piece shares a few motivic ideas with my piece Low Contrast, which you can listen to here).  Harris was the featured trombone soloist of the Woody Herman Big Band starting in the 40’s.  His technique, imagination, and sense of humor were totally unique and second to none, and his playing has been a recent source of inspiration for me. 

Harris’ most famous feature in the Herman big band was the tune Bijou by Ralph Burns.  It was once described by Woody Herman as a “stone age rhumba”, which is where the title of the piece comes from.

And as one final reminder – the Olson Pingrey Quartet plays on December 10th at Rutman’s Violins in Boston, MA.  We’ll start at 8PM and play until 9:15 or so.  There’s a $10 suggested donation, and we would really love for everyone to come out.  Thank you!

P.S. The gig has happened, and you can listen to the whole thing, including the full version of Stone Age Rhumba right here.

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The Next Gig

This is our second gig – our first was at La Luna Cafe in Cambridge, and you can listen to it here.  I’m excited for this gig for several reasons: the band is smokin’, we’re working on some new tunes (to compliment the work we’ve already done with the ensemble), and it’s going to be my first – ok, maybe second, but who keeps track – major performance with my new trombone – a Conn 6H from 1949.  I’m just sayin’…

And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me or Kathy.  Please come!

For those of you who aren’t already hip: Rutman’s Violins is at the corner of Westland Ave. and Mass Ave. in Boston, MA.  Near Symphony Hall.

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Variations on a Theme – October 1st

Variations on a Theme by Salvatore Pugliese

Randy Pingrey Trio – October 1st, 2009 at St. John’s Episcopal Church

First Variation

Second Variation

 Third Variation

Fourth Variation

Subsequent Variations

Randy Pingrey – trombone, piano, tape recorder, etc.
James Wylie – alto sax, tape recorder, etc.
Jerry Sabatini – trumpet, tape recorder, etc.

Feel free to download or stream all of these files.  Be aware: Subsequent Variations is quite a large file.

———————————

On October 1st, the Randy Pingrey Trio played this hour-long piece.  My goal was to create my first evening-length work, and in the spirit of past trio performances, I wanted the piece to reflect the vibe of the venue and of the performance opportunity.  We played in a giant, old church at night, with just enough light to see the written music.

The piece consists of oblique variations on a hymn, which is performed every year in Cambridge, MA during the Feast of Cosmos and Damien.  I originally learned the melody when I was playing at the feast from Salvi Pugliese, the musical director and lead trumpeter with the Roma Band – an organization which I play with a lot during the summer months.

Special thanks goes to Peter Terry for having us play, to James and Jerry for their excellent performances, and for all the people that came to check it out.

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October 1st – A Sneak Peak

Here is a draft of the first half of what we’ll be playing on October 1st at St. John’s in JP:

october 1st

Are you curious what it will sound like?  Me too!  Hopefully I’ll be able to post some rehearsal recordings sometime early next week.

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Low Contrast

brookmeyer and mulligan

Here are two choice tracks which were recorded on August 21st at La Luna Cafe in Cambridge, MA.  I might put up a few more tracks in the next several days, as I have time.  Download the track by clicking on the name, or listen to it via the streaming flash player.

Low Contrast by Randy Pingrey

Check out the score here. (pdf file)

Venus De Milo by Gerry Mulligan (arranged by Randy Pingrey)

Kathy Olson – bari sax
Randy Pingrey – trombone
Mark Zaleski – bass
Austin McMahon – drums

I’m particularly excited about the track Low Contrast.  I wrote it for this group, and my idea was: what if Morton Feldman wrote a tune for the Mulligan/Brookmeyer band?  I’m quite pleased with the results, and it’s a thing I’m definitely going to pursue in future projects.

Enjoy!

Kathy Olson Quartet

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New Tracks from the Kathy Olson Quartet

fireplace17

Here are a few selected tracks from our August 19th gig at the Fireplace in Brookline, MA.

On the DL by Randy Pingrey

T42 by Randy Pingrey

Check out the score to T42 here. (pdf)

Blues for Mac by Kathy Olson

Tygart Valley by Kathy Olson

Smoochin by Kathy Olson

Kathy Olson – bari sax
Randy Pingrey – trombone
Plamen Karadonev – piano
Brad Barrett – bass

Don’t Kathy, Plamen, and Brad all sound great?  I really had a fantastic time – special thanks to the Fireplace for having us!

Kathy and I are playing at La Luna Cafe in Cambridge, MA on Friday, August 21st at 10PM, with a different band – the aforementioned Mulligan/Brookmeyer concept band.  Please come and hear us play!

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