Beauty in Simplicity - Ray Brown's Walking and Soloing on "Fly Me To The Moon"

This transcription of Ray Brown, featured alongside guitarist Russell Malone and pianist Monty Alexander, also includes one chorus of walking bass over the Bart Howard standard "Fly Me To The Moon." With Alexander soloing above, Brown takes advantage of the unusual transposition of this tune--Ab major, as opposed to the more common Bb major--by using open strings generously throughout his walking line. Brown's ghost notes, indicated in parenthesis on the score, serve not only as rhythmic embellishments to the walking line--they also give him a chance to move his left hand to accommodate the unusual position skips frequently required by the key. As expected from Brown's style, his walking line is relatively uncluttered, with only the occasional skip note, and nothing more than quarter notes and 8th notes.

In the solo section, we're treated to a highly motivic solo utilizing the full range of the instrument. Alluding to the established blues feel of the tune, Brown is liberal with slides into his phrases, and makes frequent use of the Ab major pentatonic scale. Notice how Brown reaches for the bottom end of the instrument instead of the upper end at what we'd normally consider the climax of the solo, concluding the phrase with a loudly thumping half-position F at bar 56. All that said, perhaps the most significant aspect of Brown's playing, in this solo and throughout all his music, is his super-swinging 8th note feel. Listen carefully to the accented notes in his 8th note lines, and you'll start to get an idea of how his swing conception is established: he frequently begins phrases on upbeats, and he tends to accent upbeats in his 8th note lines, which he then counters with heavily downbeat-focused lines. For example, listen and compare the climactic point of his solo, beginning after letter D, to the downbeat-ridden lines at marker 5:53. The contrast helps to create a hard-swinging conclusion to his solo, and authoritatively leads us back to the head.


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