American Fingerstyle Guitarist

Bemsha Swing

Sheet Music, PDF Download, 2 1/4 pages, advanced level
MP3 guide track is included with purchase

Monk’s first recording of this great little tune was on a 1952 trio date for Prestige, which was followed by two more classic studio versions, the Miles Davis Jazz Giants 1954 session, and the his own 1956 quintet recording for Riverside, Brilliant Corners. Duck Baker has written out three ways to play the melody, all of which keep the original bass line going (tranposing the piece to the key of A was basic for this). The first has the melody pitched low, starting on A on the 3rd string, 2nd fret, and the second is an octave higher. The third pass adds middle voicings, including a nice bend up to the major 3rd. Because the Sibelius midi rendering of this gave no idea of what it actually sounds like, the MP3 guide track included here splices the midi version to a short excerpt of Baker’s recording on Duck Baker Plays Monk. It wasn’t possible to use an edited version of that track for the first two versions of the melody because the interpretation of the first section was so free on the record.

That bend, which first appears at bar 33, may represent the biggest technical challenge in this arrangement, though there are a few other stretches and odd shapes along the way as way. Baker himself uses the thumb to fret all the F and F# bass notes except for the F in the Bb chord (bars 31-32, 47-48), and this certainly simplifies things greatly, especially the F# just after the bend. Another passage to give attention to comes at the transition from bar 35 to bar 36, where the index finger must hold the A on the 2nd fret of the 3rd string while the middle finger moves to the 2nd fret of the 5th string and the ring finger goes to the 3rd fret of the 4th.

Price: £4.00

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