Free Transcription of Brad Mehldau’s Solo on C.T.A.

Here are the first three choruses of Brad Mehldau’s solo from his most recent album recorded at the Village Vanguard in New York City, Brad Mehldau Trio (Live).  I always loved this solo. When I first heard it, I was somewhat floored. Brad’s seemingly dissonant yet wonderfully melodic lines had developed to an entirely new level. As usual, the solo itself also developed and unfolded flawlessly. Although I only got around to transcribing the first three choruses, I feel that there is a wealth of information that one can learn from these three alone.

Brad Mehldau’s Solo on C.T.A.

To sum up how I interpret what Brad is doing, I believe he is essentially taking the elements that make up the average melodic bebop line and applying them through different cycles, as well as simply interpolating different keys over the harmony of C.T.A. The tune, C.T.A., is very similar to a rhythm changes tune, however, the A section is slightly different at the beginning. (Let me add that I also think he simply hears this way at this point after a great deal of practicing).

First of all, what makes a good bebop line? As my former teacher Hal Galper coined the term, “Forward Motion.” Basically, the idea that every line is leading to a strong melodic tone (root, 3rd, 5th, 7th) that falls on beat 1 or 3. (I highly suggest that you go to halgalper.com and learn more about Forward Motion.) If you listen carefully, you can hear that Brad’s dissonant sounding lines often use forward motion, but sometimes the “melodic” tones are actually led to in a different key than the original key of the tune.

That’s my theory. Hope it helps. Enjoy the transcription, and please feel free to contact me with any questions you have.

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Pictures of The Great Jazz Pianists

Below is a Pinboard of pictures and videos that I have created about the Great Jazz Pianists on Pinterest. So far, it includes everyone from Art Tatum to Keith Jarrett to Brad Mehldau, and others! I’m going to keep building it, so you should definitely check it out. It’s fun to look at.

The Great Jazz Pianists Pinboard

Here’s a little snippet of what’s featured on the board:

Herbie Hancock – I Have a Dream – Transcription by Joe Gilman

Here is a beautifully done transcription of Herbie Hancock’s “I Have a Dream” by pianist and educator, Joe Gilman. This includes horn parts and full arrangement (no solos).

I_Have_a_Dream Transcription

Check out Joe Gilman on our contributors page: https://jazzpianoconcepts.com/about-our-contributers/

And in this video with Bobby Hutcherson:

Left Hand Technique: Taylor Eigsti

While I was at the Brubeck Institute, in Stockton, CA, I had the priviledge of working with a great young pianist, Taylor Eigsti. Taylor is one of my favorite people to study with and I go back to him for lessons whenever I feel in need of some inspiration. Whenever I feel bored with a subject, he instantly finds a way to challenge me. I have lots of great ideas and exercises that I will eventually get around to posting about that I have learned from Taylor, but I wanted to take a look at this video of him playing “Like Someone In Love.” You’ll notice that throughout the video he uses lots of great runs in his left hand to fill up space, acting as exciting, modern-sounding fills.

Finding Your Own Sound

I once asked my friend this question: “How can I ever find my own sound?” Wait… did I say once? Because that question was the most stressful thought that crossed my mind for years. Sound familiar? OK. So I don’t know about you, but I get really stressed sometimes about the level of competition out there in the music industry. Let’s face it, if you’re an artist of any sort, you’re going to face some very, very stiff competition. But here’s the thing, and I warn you, this will sound incredibly simple despite the fact that it took me years for it to really sink in. Competition has nothing to do with art, because yes folks, you are unique and your art will without question be unique. What’s the one exception? When you try too hard to be someone else. I will make you an ABSOLUTE GUARANTEE RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW— If you are completely honest with yourself about who you are, what art you like, and what you want your art to be, YOU WILL be a unique artist and you will do things that have never been done before. Now, let me explain this a little just to clarify. As far as being honest with yourself goes, this means you have to toss aside everything that people tell you. You have to forget about the norm, forget about what other people like. Let me give you an example. For a long time, I would listen to music based on other people’s suggestions. I always thought that if, well, this guy said it, that means I should listen to it over and over. But I didn’t really like it! Forget what people tell you. Do what you love. Listen to what you love. Create what you enjoy creating! Develop what you LOVE developing, and if you do these things, I promise you that you will know yourself better than ever before and create art that cannot be reproduced by any individual out there no matter how hard he/she tries.