A Lesson in Jazz Blues Soloing - Peter Bernstein on "Gravy Waltz"

solo by Peter Bernstein, as heard on Trio (1999, Criss Cross Records)

Bernstein takes the second solo in this recording. Jump to 3:08 to get right to the guitar solo.

This week, I'm posting a couple more Peter Bernstein solos from the fantastic Sam Yahel album Trio. If you haven't already checked out his solo on Yahel's original tune "The Gambit", that transcription can be found here.

Today's solo is two choruses of Peter Bernstein on the classic Ray Brown tune "Gravy Waltz". The entire blow is appropriately on the bluesy side, and in typical Bernstein style, just about every lick is laid very far back, making for some unusual rhythms. This transcription aims for some balance between the literal rhythm and what I'd call the implied rhythm; implied rhythm in this case referring to the rhythmic values that might have been written without any push or pull on the time.

With that said, this solo is less an exercise in melodic vocabulary as it is in rhythmic control and development. Those lazy, back-of-the-beat phrases are contrasted throughout the solo with the occasional crisp eighth note triplet line, which serve not only to anchor the solo back to the rhythm section, but also provide a perfectly-timed glint of immediacy to the entire developing phrase.
Amidst the continuous stream of blues vocabulary, there are also a few great "functional" licks to pull from this solo. One extremely common theme in tunes, and in improvised outros, is the #iv dim. walk-down, first seen here at m.5, and Bernstein's lines through these are worth attention. Possibly my favorite lick of the solo is the whole-tone line in bar 56, over the C7 chord. Easy to hear, and very sequence-able!


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