"Almost Never" - Youngblood Brass Band

"Almost Never'" (PDF) from the Youngblood Brass Band album, Word On The Street.
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During the recording of Bob Dylan's song, "Like A Rolling Stone," guitarist Al Kooper stumbled his way to the Hammond organ with an idea.  He had not been hired to play at the recording session, and was only hanging out with the producer that day until the studio musicians were switched around, leaving the organ un-played.  Kooper sat down at the vacant keyboard and managed to learn the song as it was being recorded, giving reason to the legendary offbeat rhythm of the organ.  He was simply trying to keep up with the chord changes and his playing was a result of him reacting to the music.

If you listen to the rhythm of the Youngblood Brass Band's tune, "Almost Never," you will hear that the cowbell is the driving force behind its marching tempo.  It appears to be playing an offbeat version of the 2+3 syncopated clave rhythm.  Unless you are controlling the tempo and in charge of pushing it forward with great speed, then you are simply in the passenger's seat trying to hold on for your life.  All you can do is react to the pulse as it pulls you towards the distant horizon.  In this solo, notice how, unless there is a clear melodic idea, most of the solo is simply reacting to the syncopated beats of the percussion, just trying to keep up with Youngblood's "Trilogy" rhythm section.

A valiant effort is made within this uncredited solo to make a dramatic statement.  During the second half of the 16 bar solo, the dissonance of non-chord tones and chromaticism is introduced.  The ascending walk up the scale can be prolonged by using the emphasis of rhythm so that tension is built gradually, and the anticipated ending of the phrase arrives with a bigger payoff.  There is little room for messing with the rhythm, so why not mess with the harmony?

I couldn't find any videos for this tune, so you'll just have to settle for a YouTube video of a trombone battle between the TBC Brass Band & The Stooges Brass Band.

Recommended Reading: Why Jazz?: A Concise Guide by Kevin Whitehead.  Published by Oxford University Press.