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Shrdlu

Herbie Hancock's "Theme From Blowup"

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I just dug out Bobby Hutcherson's "Oblique" album. Track three is Herbie's "Theme From Blowup".

Man, is that ever catchy. I could sure blow up a storm on those changes. Basically, it's four measures of E, two of A7, two of D, then four more of E. There is a B section that pops up on every second chorus. Any resemblance to the mood of "Maiden Voyage" is not coincidental.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuJD8cB_NmM

 

Edited by Shrdlu

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3 hours ago, Shrdlu said:

I just dug out Bobby Hutcherson's "Oblique" album. Track three is Herbie's "Theme From Blowup".

Man, is that ever catchy. I could sure blow up a storm on those changes. Basically, it's four measures of E, two of A7, two of D, then four more of E. There is a B section that pops up on every second chorus. Any resemblance to the mood of "Maiden Voyage" is not coincidental.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuJD8cB_NmM

I started a thread on this track years ago.  It is incredibly hypnotic.  I wonder why it was not released at the time.  I love the part where they are unsure about going to the next change.  I think it is near the beginning of the second chorus, before the solos start.  I burned a custom "Blow Up" CD and closed with the Hutcherson version. I am obsessed with this track.  I have played it at parties, and people will always ask me what it is. 

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Yeah, that track sure is hypnotic. It has been stuck in my head since I played it yesterday. I didn't notice any uncertainty. The changes keep you on your toes, as if you are going to go wrong - but never do. I could corrrect any uncertainty if I were playing, based on decades of experience.

I have doodled with this on my piano: I have an upright grand here, with an awesome tone and rich bass.

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25 minutes ago, Shrdlu said:

Yeah, that track sure is hypnotic. It has been stuck in my head since I played it yesterday. I didn't notice any uncertainty. The changes keep you on your toes, as if you are going to go wrong - but never do. I could corrrect any uncertainty if I were playing, based on decades of experience.

I have doodled with this on my piano: I have an upright grand here, with an awesome tone and rich bass.

The bass line is based on open strings.

The uncertainty occurs around 1:24, with regard to the first chord shift in the second chorus.  I think that some players weren't sure where the first chorus left off and second began.  Anyway, these kind of moments, which musicians tend to dislike, make the recordings human for me.

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The structure of this piece is certainly a little unusual. Not exactly AABA with "Rhythm" changes.

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Use the melody as your guide, not the changes.

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3 hours ago, mikeweil said:

Use the melody as your guide, not the changes.

Except that this particular tune is essentially all changes/groove with hardly any melody.  Compare the Hutcherson version to the film and album versions.  The A phrase, which is 12 bars long, has melody primarily only on the first five bars, and even that is fluid.  After the melody peters out, Hutcherson plays the vamp along with the piano.  I think the musicians weren't 100% percent sure it the return to E after the A7 sus. to G7 sus. marked the beginning of a new phrase or not.  

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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That's always the problem when a tune does not follow the "standard" formulas. But creative minds follow their ideas, not the formulas. Many examples, from classical music as well.

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12 minutes ago, mikeweil said:

That's always the problem when a tune does not follow the "standard" formulas. But creative minds follow their ideas, not the formulas. Many examples, from classical music as well.

Then some of the creative minds who recorded "Blow Up" that day were not particularly creative during that one brief second.  Or, it was simply human error.

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Who are we to judge like this? Write some comparable pieces first.

IIRC Herbie recorded the soundtrack in London with British musicians but for some reason decided to re-do much of it with his New York buddies. Maybe they were in a hurry.

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12 hours ago, mikeweil said:

Who are we to judge like this? 

We were discussing the Hutcherson recording of "Blow Up." You wrote "Use the Melody as Your Guide" and "Creative minds follow their ideas, not formulas."  I inferred that you were talking about the four musicians on the record, since we have not been discussing anyone else. Apologies if I misunderstood.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Sorry for my slightly harsh tone - misunderstanding on my side. I listened to the version on the Oblique CD again - Hancock hits a wrong chord at the end of the theme, and immediately notices and plays the right one. He sounds as he has the changes to Maiden Voyage on his mind. 

Such pieces work only if one (the pianist or vibes, in this case) plays the vamp all trough the piece - but this might get boring. The whole thing sounds to me like a quickly made extension of the movie theme (which is shorter, before Hubbard play a bit) for this purpsoe but was not really well done. There is a live version of the Hutcherson Land quintet from 1969 where they improvise only on the first part, which works but lacks a bit of substance to inspire real great improvisation - at 14:20 minutes it is a bit long.

ZWc.jpeg

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2 hours ago, mikeweil said:

Sorry for my slightly harsh tone - misunderstanding on my side. I listened to the version on the Oblique CD again - Hancock hits a wrong chord at the end of the theme, and immediately notices and plays the right one. He sounds as he has the changes to Maiden Voyage on his mind. 

Such pieces work only if one (the pianist or vibes, in this case) plays the vamp all trough the piece - but this might get boring. The whole thing sounds to me like a quickly made extension of the movie theme (which is shorter, before Hubbard play a bit) for this purpsoe but was not really well done. There is a live version of the Hutcherson Land quintet from 1969 where they improvise only on the first part, which works but lacks a bit of substance to inspire real great improvisation - at 14:20 minutes it is a bit long.

No apologies necessary.  Agree about the "quickly made extension of the movie theme."  I wondered if Herbie originally wrote only what was needed for the film, and then decided to flesh it out for this recording.  I think that Hutcherson went to the melody 4 bars early, and then the bass and piano quickly caught up, but it's hard to say for sure.  I will check out that other version!

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Oblique stayed in the can for a while, for whatever reason(s).

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9 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

 I wondered if Herbie originally wrote only what was needed for the film, and then decided to flesh it out for this recording.  

Maybe Hutch suggested the piece, and they made it up in the studio?

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1 hour ago, mikeweil said:

Maybe Hutch suggested the piece, and they made it up in the studio?

That very well could be.  

 

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Joe Chambers does that tune on this album, too

ZWc.jpeg

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