Structural elegance and harmonic disparity in selected solos by jazz trumpeters Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw were two of the greatest figures in the jazz trumpet pantheon from their emergence in the 1960s until the 1980s. They were both unusual personalities; almost as well known for their volatility as for their instrumental virtuosity and creativity. Their association was characterized by competition and a certain degree of discomfort: Shaw, born nearly seven years after Hubbard, was often compared to his elder in a fashion that seemed to denigrate the younger trumpeter’s originality; he in turn often denied that he’d ever been directly influenced by Hubbard, in what appears to have been an attempt to distance himself from his more famous colleague. In fact, the two shared many characteristics in their playing: aggressive tone qualities and articulation; a penchant for virtuosic, vertically-oriented playing that transcends idiomatic trumpet technique; and perhaps most significantly, an adventurous and exploratory sense of harmonic invention. In 1985 and 1987 the two were brought together to record as co-leaders for the only times in their careers. These sessions present an unusual opportunity for students of jazz: to hear two of the most important trumpeters in mainstream jazz performing together in a setting which allows for convenient comparative analysis of their respective styles. This study presents an analysis of eight solos and one trading duet transcribed from four performances recorded during these two sessions. The analysis focuses on passages in each soloist’s work that defy explanation in terms of conventional jazz harmony. The passages are labeled “Non-Idiomatic Chromatic Patches” and placed into six categories: 1) disguised traditional or idiomatic chromaticism; 2) use of contour/sequence; 3) progressive modal agreement; 4) use of rhythmic devices; 5) alternative dominant chord chromaticism; and 6) modal reharmonization. The study reveals a number of ways in which the two soloists diverge in their approaches, as well as what they have in common. It provides ample opportunities for students of jazz improvisation to place Shaw’s and Hubbard’s improvisational languages under the microscope. Ultimately, the objective is to allow such students to borrow from the techniques of these jazz giants, in order to enhance their own approaches to improvisation.
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Richardson, Edward Rex, "Structural elegance and harmonic disparity in selected solos by jazz trumpeters Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw" (2006). LSU Major Papers. 29.