Inchworm

This is another rehearsal recording with my friends Doug, Jamie, and Michael. You can meet them in the post about Listen Here, if you are interested.

This is a song written by Frank Loesser, and introduced to the world by the wonderful Danny Kaye. He sang it beautifully, and that is the version that is in my head when I play it.

The arrangement we are playing is from the Real Book 5th edition. Back in the 1970s somebody (nobody will say who) put together a thick book of jazz standards and popular jazz songs. This violated copyright law, because they didn’t get permission from any of the composers. So it was produced and published and sold through a grey market. I bought mine in the late 1980s from a music store that I heard had it. You’d go in, say, “Can I get a Real Book?” and they would try to sell you the legit version (which was completely different, and was missing most of the songs you would want), and you’d say, “Uh…. the other  Real Book…” and they’d look you up and down, and open a drawer and sell you the one you want.

A few years ago, a publisher finally went to the trouble of getting most of the rights to the songs, and transposed them so most of them are in the same key as the original Real Books. That’s called the 6th Edition, and you can get it anywhere. But it’s not exactly the same, so it’s better to use the 5th Edition if you can get your hands on one. And these days, that’s incredibly easy, since there are PDF scans of it that you can get from any file sharing network you want.

The version of Inchworm in the Real Book is based on how Coltrane recorded it. After the head, it goes to a simple two chord modal pattern for the solos. I am very comfortable with soloing over this kind of pattern. You are basically working in a single key and exploring the scale of that key any way you want. I just close my eyes, and see where it goes.

After my solo, I move over to the keyboard and play a couple chords so Michael has something to play over. I learned to play jazz piano about 17 years ago. I was living where I am now, but with Wife 1. Her sister owned a square grand piano from the late 1800s. A square grand is a lot like a regular grand, except the soundboard with all the strings is criss crossed so they can pack everything into a smaller space. I guess it was invented so that you could have a grand piano in the small rooms of the Victorian era.

Anyway, this thing weighed a ton, and it was ruining her sister’s house, and so we volunteered to give it a new home. I got it, and immediately set about tuning it, which, if you’re a musician with a good ear and a wrench, isn’t really very hard to do. So then I had an in-tune grand piano in my house.

So I called my brother. “Hey, Zack. How do I play jazz piano?” And by phone and email, he taught me enough jazz piano theory and practice to be able to fake enough chords to back up a guitar player while he solos.

Since then, I’ve learned a few bass lines so I can sit at a piano and play the head on a jazz tune, and then just play a bass line while I fool around and improvise with my other hand. I can do this for hours. Which explains the following tweet, which is what I’ll leave you with:

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