American Fingerstyle Guitarist

Transcriptions of ten more arrangements now available

Ten newly transcribed arrangements are now being offered for sale on the sheet music page of the online store, here, and are available individually or at a cheaper rate in bundles of five. They are grouped as “swing tunes” or “modern tunes”, even though a couple of the modern tunes are old standards and at least one of the swing tunes (“Jitterbug Waltz”) features some modern jazz harmonies. These arrangements are somewhat more involved that those listed earlier, and required considerably more work. As a result, the cost is £4 for individual pieces or £15 for each bundle of five. It is likely, though, that the price of the other arrangements will also be raised fairly soon, owing to various factors. As before, each arrangement is written out both as music and as guitar tablature, and an MP3 with a midi playback of how the arrangement sounds is included, except in one case (“Mistersioso” as explained below). Generally, only the basic arrangement has been transcribed, though a few do include a chorus or two of variations. 

The swing transcriptions are:

I Found A New Baby
Where The Morning Glories Grow
Honeysuckle Rose
Sweet Georgia Brown
Jitterbug Waltz

The modern tunes are these:

Mistersioso
Like Someone in Love
Someday My Prince Will Come
Sweet And Lovely
The Third World

Here are the descriptions of each tune:

I Found A New Baby – 3 pages, advanced level

This great song was written in the mid-1920s and quickly became a standard for pop and jazz performers. I learned it playing with swing/trad jazz bands in the 1970’s and arranged it based on on the original 1926 recording by Clarence Williams’ Blue Five. Most contemporary versions are instrumental and omit the verse, which in this case is a real pity as it’s superior both musically and in terms of lyrics. I recorded this version on my third LP, The King of Bongo Bong, and anyone wanting to hear my version can find that record as a download or as a CD, elsewhere on this site. The individual track is also available as an MP3.

Where The Morning Glories Grow – 3 pages, intermediate advanced level

This is one of two songs that Carmen Baker used to sing as lullabies to her grandchildren when we were growing up in the 1950s. I assume she sang them to our father in the 1920s, too. Both this and “Mammy’s Little Coal Black Rose”, her other lullaby, were written by the great songwriter, Richard Whiting, though she probably didn’t know this. Though never a very well-known song, it proved fairly durable, finding it’s way into the repertoires of old-time country bands, swing bands, and cowboy crooners. I recorded it as an instrumental on a CD I did with Molly Andrews, and this is basically a transcription of that recording (which is also available as an MP3 elsewhere on this site).

Honeysuckle Rose – 3 pages, advanced level

This is one of Fats Waller’s best songs, and probably the one that gets played most often, especially by jazz musicians. I learned it when I was really focused on swing jazz in the mid-1970s, and used to play it with my friend Thom Keats all the time. The variation is lifted from Django Reinhardt, and it is played in the original key of F. This arrangement depends much more on barre chords than is usual for me. I first recorded it on my second Kicking Mule Record, When You Wore A Tulip, and revisited it as a duo with Will Bernard on Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans, in 2004. Another early solo version is included on the 2019 release Plymouth Rock. The version here conforms mostly to my early arrangement, with one or two ideas from the later version included in the variation.

Sweet Georgia Brown – 4 pages, intermediate advanced level

This great standard was among the first swing tunes I arranged, all the way back in the 1960s, and it has been in my repertoire ever since, though I have never put it on a record, except as a duo with Dale Miller on his 1982 LP, Wild Over Me. I think the omission owes to how popular it has always been with guitarists. This transcription includes the basic arrangement I have always played as well as a variation that I have used mostly when playing with other musicians.

Jitterbug Waltz – 2 pages, advanced level

Written in 1942, Fat’s Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” is generally regarded as the first true jazz waltz. I have never recorded a solo version of it, but Jamie Findlay and I included it on our 2001 duo record, Out of the Past. At that point my basic arrangement underwent a fair bit of modernization, and what I have transcribed includes many of the ideas that Jamie and I worked up.

Mistersioso – 3 pages, advanced level

I have used a different approach for this great Thelonious Monk blues line. Since the basic tune is only 12 bars long. I decided to transcribe two of the four choruses I improvised on the performance released on my 2016 LP Duck Baker Plays Monk. Having done that I realized that the midi version didn’t convey the idea sufficiently, owing to the program’s inability to render bends, muffled notes, slides, and dynamics at all. It was far preferable to just edit the version I recorded, so the MP3 here is about half of what was on the LP, beginning with the last two improvised choruses. As will be obvious, immediately, the timing of the performance is very free and fluid. The basic tune is not difficult to play, and students are of course free to make up their own variations or improvisations. 

Like Someone in Love – 3 pages, advanced level

This Jimmy Van Heusen song was written in 1944 for the film Belle of the Yukon, and quickly became a standard for pop singers and jazz musicians alike. I was inspired to arrange it in about 1980 after hearing Bud Powell’s very different take on the song, but didn’t get around to recording it until much later, on The Roots And Branches of American Music. That record is available on this site, either as a CD or as a download, and the individual track can be bought separately.

Someday My Prince Will Come – 3 pages, advanced level

This great song was of course written for the 1937 Walt Disney version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and though it has not been covered very often by pop singers really came into it’s own when modern jazz musicians adopted it 20 years later. Many people associate it with Miles Davis, but while the Davis version is certainly a classic, Dave Brubeck made the first jazz recording, on Dave Digs Disney. I made this arrangement in about 1983 but still haven’t got around to recording it. Some of the chord shapes involve big stretches, and the shape in measure 27 involving the thumb and a partial barre is a real bear.

Sweet And Lovely – 2 pages, intermediate advanced level

The well loved standard appeared in 1931, and like many another pop song of that period, it only really entered the jazz repertoire during the modern era. This version is based on Thelonious Monk’s arrangement, which he first recorded with a trio in 1952, and returned to many times throughout his career. In fact Monk’s trio version may have been the first modern jazz recording, and it is certainly unique, with those chromatically descending 7th’s all through the first four bars.

The Third World – 3 pages, advanced level

“The Third World” is one of the most celebrated compositions by Herbie Nichols, the great by tragically neglected pianist who only manage to make 4 records in his lifetime, and was known at the time of his death in 1963 only as the composer of Billie Holiday’s theme, “Lady Sings The Blues”. But Nichols was one of the most harmonically advanced jazz composers of his era, one of the very few who can be compared to Thelonious Monk, even though other jazz musicians did not catch up with Nichols until long after they were trying to deal with me. My own arrangements of Nichols’ music can be heard on Spinning Song, which is available on CD and as limited-edition LP. The chord progression is something else, so even after learning the arrangement, improvising on this presents real challenges. It was also a challenge for me to notate, especially the tremolo effect I usually use for the first and fifth measures of B. This looked bad in the score and and the midi version sounded awful, so I rewrote it in a way that much easier to play, and included those two measures at the end of the arrangement To hear them, I’m afraid one needs to buy the record, though most people do think it is one of my best. It was certainly the most ambitious.