"Race Track" - Vin Gordon
We are heading back to the Caribbean again to finish off this album. I have to admit that there was some culture shock from dealing with the mechanical stylings of Fredbot 2000 last week, to the freewheeling nature of Mr. Gordon. However, the shared charactistic between these two recordinds is the extra long, strung-out trombone solo. This one was a beast.
In stark contrast to Mr. Wesley's driving funk, Gordon tends to meander a bit. He does not always stay in the pocket, and there is space for the rhythms to become flexible. And while Funky Fred tends to speak in four-bar phrases, Vin Gordon is not so metric. Gordon's melodies tend to go where they end up going. In fact, I sense that he even loses track of the feel for four-bar phrases during the solo (or maybe he just never had that feel from the beginning). Amazingly, based on the timing of the drum fills , it appears that the band tosses aside the tune's structure and simply follows Gordon's path.
Solos like this one make me question why I do what I do. If you ask me what the highlight of this solo is, I could not tell you. I do not know. A Trombone Shorty solo usually has some climactic high note, Fred Wesley messes with syncopated rhythms, but I do not really understand what Gordon is trying to accomplish, other than to simply play over a beat and add a sonic layer to what is already there.
While I was in the practice room learning tunes, a few weeks ago, I got caught up in chord changes when it dawned on me. My improvisation was hindered by my concern of "making the changes," finding the guide tones and whatnot. But I realized that when you are improvising, it has nothing to do with the changes. It is about what you have to say. Furthermore, who are we to really judge whether this kind of freedom is good or bad? The simple fact of doing it is what should really matter. Why do I do these transcriptions? Because I can, so why not? I am adding a layer to what is already there. And as long as this process does not appear to be unhealthy, then I must keep the faith that the process will pay off somewhere in life. It will. Keep this in mind when you are in the practice room.
Anyway, to lively up yourself, here is a front-row YouTube video of Vin Gordon sitting in with the band, Framix, from a few months ago. And go get yourself some rum.
Recommended Reading: The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman. Published by Riverhead Books.