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Rooster_Ties

Overplayed Tunes, from The Real Book

39 posts in this topic

OK, "Free For All" was wondering what tunes I thought were overplayed, so here are some. I'm flipping though "The Real Book" just now --- and yeah, I'm not a jazz musician, but I've got a Real Book, which I've had for years. (No idea where I got it. but I only paid $5 for it, so no harm done.)

Anyway, here are some tunes that I think I've heard enough substandard versions of, to last me well more than a lifetime. (Presented in alphabetical order, though the first four are by far the worst (in terms of being overplayed), at least in my book.)

All Of Me

As Time Goes By

Autumn Leaves

How High The Moon

My Funny Valentine

Satin Doll (though it's my mother's favorite Ellington tune)

Take the "A" Train

and C-Jam Blues (not in the Real Book that I could see, but I get bored with this the second I hear it)

I might have also almost included a Monk and/or Parker tune, though I can't fault any specific tunes in the book, so I guess I just think Monk and Bird are overplayed, at least by some --- though I'll always welcome any Monk tune from any group that can do something interesting with it.

==========

And that leads me into a side-rant. (Yeah, this is going to be one of those kinds of threads. ;) )

One of the other things I hate is when less-than-inspired musicians play a tune, and then just as soon as the head is over, when the go into the solos --- they go into standard blues changes, or "Rhythm" changes, such that absolutely NONE of the character of the original tune is carried over into the rest of the performance. Zero, zilch, nada!!! I mean, I can't count the number of times where (if I hadn't heard the head), that I'd have any chance in hell of guessing the tune, based on the solos or the comping behind the solos. I mean, why do a tune in the first place, if you're gonna do utterly generic stuff for 90% of the performance??

An example totally UNLIKE this, is when I heard "Free For All" recently play a stunning version of "Beatrice" by Sam Rivers. The chord sequence of the tune (under the main statement of the melody), formed the basis for the comping behind all the solos each person in the group took. Even when there were chord substitutions (which there were), one could still follow where the group was in the form, pretty much at any given point during the solos.

I'm not saying everything has to be hummable, at all times. In fact, I love it when a group drops the form for a bit - or mutates out of it slowly. What I do hate, however, is generic changes (quote-unquote) "that will work for almost any tune". Lazy, lazy, lazy - if you ask me - and I do nothing but get bored real quick.

=====

So, what other "standards" (tunes) are you sick of hearing and/or playing (and perhaps have been sick of for years), and what other performance practices are you tired of hearing among the "less-than-inspired" segment of your local jazz scene??

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Well You Needn't

There Will Never Be Another You

Bye Bye Blackbird

Birk's Works

Man, I totally agree with C-Jam Blues, too. If you're gonna play a blues in C, why not some nasty low-down Don Patterson nutty minor-blues-to-kill-the-white-man?

There's a rhythm changes tune that everyone plays too but I can't think of the name right now. Drives me crazy and makes me glad I don't sit in anymore. Everyone plays the same damn tunes.

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Yeah, I damn near included "Well You Needn't" in my original list.

Didn't have the heart to, cuz it's Monk --- and good Monk is always good. B)

But bad Monk, is... well..., often as bad as C-Jam Blues. :angry:

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The Rhythm Changes was probably Oleo. Everybody plays that shit and it's old (although I do like the Pat Martino version where they strrreeetcch the phrasing out).

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No, not Oleo. Much simpler head than that. Although I agree, Oleo gets overplayed. The Martino version is cookin' though. Just shows what standards can be in the right hands! :)

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Hmmm...Lester Leaps In, maybe? I'm having trouble thinking of simple rhythm changes.

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As many times as I've played "Oleo," it's still never boring or easy. Like I've said before....it's not these songs that are boring you as a listener, it's the performer...the songs are simply VEHICLES for improvisation.

How uninteresting is Miles playing "My Funny Valentine" or "Bag's Groove" or Sonny Rollins on "Oleo, or Pat Martino on "Oleo?" You get my point.

These songs are overplayed because they are perfect vehicles for jazz improvisation. Just like every rock guitarist plays "Foxy Lady" or blues guitarist plays "Hideaway" ...ect.... those songs are part of the landscape.

Songs don't matter to me. They are a starting off point. One chord can be the most interesting song you've ever heard (sam rivers proved that to me this week. live. with his swing in b natural.)

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SOLAR

Confirmation

The Song is You

I've heard these songs and some others so many times at jam sessions I wanna hurl everytime they're called.

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SOLAR

Confirmation

Definitely "Confirmation" - if I had to single out one Parker tune as being overplayed.

Personally, I never seem to hear "Solar" all that often, and I think it's such a great tune - that when I hear it, I'm nearly always glad it got called.

OK, here's one that some of us are probably sick of, though not me - cuz I don't hear it nearly often enough to get tired of it. And like "Solar", I think it's just an amazing tune...

Nardis

But I only mention "Nardis" because I'm guessing some folks here are probably tired of it, I would think.

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Blue N Boogie

Blues Bossa

Watermelon Man (no one ever plays the middle section... if they did, I'd take it off the list)

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Yeah, "Blue Bossa" was another one I thought about including, 'cept I never hear it now that I'm in Kansas City. (I used to hear it a bunch back in my college days, though).

"Blue Bossa" is too progressive for Kansas City, if you can imagine that!! :wacko: (Or at least too progressive to get overplayed.)

EDIT: Shit, now I can't get Blue Bossa out of my head.

Now it'll be stuck there all afternoon!!! :unsure::unsure::unsure: --> :w:w:w --> :angry::angry::angry:

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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And that leads me into a side-rant. (Yeah, this is going to be one of those kinds of threads. ;) )

One of the other things I hate is when less-than-inspired musicians play a tune, and then just as soon as the head is over, when the go into the solos --- they go into standard blues changes, or "Rhythm" changes, such that absolutely NONE of the character of the original tune is carried over into the rest of the performance. Zero, zilch, nada!!! I mean, I can't count the number of times where (if I hadn't heard the head), that I'd have any chance in hell of guessing the tune, based on the solos or the comping behind the solos. I mean, why do a tune in the first place, if you're gonna do utterly generic stuff for 90% of the performance??

I'm not saying everything has to be hummable, at all times. In fact, I love it when a group drops the form for a bit - or mutates out of it slowly. What I do hate, however, is generic changes (quote-unquote) "that will work for almost any tune". Lazy, lazy, lazy - if you ask me - and I do nothing but get bored real quick.

Any reactions from any of the musicians on this board to this particular part of my original post??

I don't mind it every now and then, but several times a night (probably 2 tunes per set) is far too frequent for my tastes.

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I haven't seen this happen a whole lot, other than people bailing out of the changes to Blues For Alice in favor of the more common blues changes. I did read an interview with Bill Frisell in which he was ranting about players that ignore a tune's melodic/rhthymic aspects in their solos, instead just playing all their usual licks, as opposed to creatively addressing the particulars of a given composition. When that happens, it's like you said, it doesn't matter what tune they are playing. A sameness sets in over the course of the night.

I'm getting a little tired of Sugar myself. (I've no doubt now that Jim will call this at our next gig... <_<:P )

Edited by Joe G

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In response to Rooster Ties....I've never seen musicians bail on the original set of changes to a tune and adopt "rhythm" or "blues" changes.

And yes, I too, am not a fan of "Sugar." B)

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I'm getting a little tired of Sugar myself. (I've no doubt now that Jim will call this at our next gig... <_<:P )

Oh I'm calling it in every key now, motherfucker!

:)

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I'm getting a little tired of Sugar myself. (I've no doubt now that Jim will call this at our next gig... <_<  :P )

Oh I'm calling it in every key now, motherfucker!

:)

That doesn't mean anything to a guitarrist :D:lol:;)

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Not when he's strollin'! :w

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I tend to be of the type who says "it's the player, not the tune". I know of specific tunes I'll avoid calling because I'm tired of them, not because it's a lame tune but because my creative well is currently dry regarding that specific tune. Then I'll listen to Miles or Sonny or someone tear it up and think "now why couldn't I do that?". Every time I swear I'll NEVER play something like "Funny Valentine" I hear some recording that kicks my ass. I think if you can call a tune that's overplayed with the intention of resurrecting it and even partially succeed, well, then you're doing something right. That being said, if I NEVER play "Another You" again it won't break my heart........

Edited by Free For All

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Glad you found this thread, Free For All, since you originally asked me what I thought was overplayed from The Real Book.

Looking back on my original post, I think the three absolute worst offenders (at least from my perspective) are...

All Of Me

Autumn Leaves

How High The Moon

So we're still cool, as long as you don't call any of these three while I'm in the room, you dig? ;)

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I think there might be some regional variation on what's overplayed. For instance, in my hometown, I've NEVER heard All of Me or How High the Moon called at jam sessions, and only very rarely at gigs (maybe at the ones that are led by some of the hokier old guys who think they're catering to an older audience when they play that stuff). Usually people will at least call a bebop contrafact of common changes (Oleo instead of I Got Rhythm/Lester Leaps In, Ornithology instead of How High the Moon).

Edited by Big Wheel

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(maybe at the ones that are led by some of the hokier old guys who think they're catering to an older audience when they play that stuff)

Welcome to Kansas City!!!! :rolleyes:

I'm half kidding, of course, but I'm half serious too!!! -_-

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Autumn Leaves

So we're still cool, as long as you don't call any of these three while I'm in the room, you dig?  ;)

Actually, Rooster (BTW, you said you were crashing and yet it's 2AM and here you are! You are a hanger!), there's a reharmonized version of Autumn Leaves that has some cool chromatic ii/Vs in the first eight bars (those of you that know what I'm talking about, please step in) that make it a whole new tune. Please understand I'm with you on this "tired Real Book Tunes" subject, but for many of the examples you cite, I can think of a recording that breathes life into the tune, and I will be happy to make you a CDR of all the tunes you despise, being played with conviction and inspiration. As I said, I just think of this as a lack of inspiration on the part of the player, as opposed to an inherent tune weakness.

Edited by Free For All

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Sometimes when a tune is called that I'm bored with I'll try to think of a way to do something different. Recently I had to play on St. Thomas, a great tune but after 2-3 solos there's not much to say (unless you're Sonny, which I'm not). So I had the bass and piano cut out and played several choruses w/just the drummer, changing keys each chorus. That was fun (on a couple of the key changes I kicked my own ass) and it just goes to show that you can find something new to do on any tune.

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