This last month I have been a bit obsessed with Con Alma by Dizzy Gillespie. It took me a few days to really start to understand the changes. I found that playing the chords slowly on piano in the lowest register possible and really getting the counterpoint and voice-leading in my head, helped a lot. Then of course, being the compulsive, analytical creature that I am, I transcribed Toots Thieleman’s solo from his album East Coast West Coast (1994). This is another get Toots album with a stellar group of players from John Scofield to Mike Mainieri to Charlie Haden on bass, Peter Erskine on drums, Terrance Blanchard. I mean… how can you possibly go wrong with this album. 5 stars on Amazon.
Toots’ ability to milk the meaning out of ballads will always amaze me. Like some of his other work, he will bring an arrangers perspective to the tune. Con Alma starts as a ballad in 4/4 time. Two measures before the solos begin, the tune turns into a 6/8 waltz. When the tune ends we are back into a very rubato ballad. Brilliant!
Here is the Toots solo.