I feel a bit like Rocky in training, preparing to make a come back. I haven't missed a day this week, but I'll admit it hasn't been easy.
I decided to narrow my focus to two things:
- Practicing the twelve "super bop" lines given to me by Charlie Banacos a few years ago.
- Transcribing Herbie Hancock's "Takin' Off" record.
The Banacos lines are very chromatic and full of twists and turns. Charlie referred to them as being "snake-y". They make for great chop builders. I plan to stick with one line for a couple of weeks, until I can play it at a good clip, "double fisted" (in two hands), in all keys. For these I have alloted a 1/2 hour daily. I set the timer on my phone and commit myself not to leave the piano bench until I hear the buzzer sound. This has been a far greater challenge than I imagined, but I'm sticking with it, in hopes that it will get easier.
Transcribing has been going relatively well. I've started using the Amazing Slow Downer software program, and love it! I'm surprised at how many details I missed in my first run-through "at tempo". I began with track 2, "Three Bags Full". I have already completed the right hand, and am moving onto the left hand comping. I will post these solos here, along with some analysis. I'm hoping to incorporate some Herbie-isms into my playing over the next few months.
Here's the solo, starting at 3:05, after Freddie Hubbard and Dexter Gordon.
For the first time in a long time, I'm not practicing in preparation for a gig or recording. I'm back to just practicing to "sharpen my axe" and elevate my skills. It feels great.