Just Squeeze Me – Mulgrew Miller Solo Transcription

Hey all – it’s been too long once again.  Let’s see… I finished my Master’s Degree from MSU, had my first child (a son, Ellis), and got a job playing piano at the Detroit Airport five days a week.  So… if you’re headed to/through Detroit, come say hi!  But the real reason you’re here – to check out some Mulgrew Miller.  This is from the 2006 Delfeayo Marsalis album Minion’s Dominion on the standard “Just Squeeze Me.”  The neat thing about this tune is the key is mostly centered around F Major which gives the skilled improviser lots of room to play around in and out of the key, which Miller does adeptly.  He does a fair amount of superimposing new keys outside the standard harmony, which I tried to designate in the chord symbols, ex. G/F in measure 9, the sideslip to Abmin7 in bars 13, 23, and 54.  He also uses a lot of sequencing – check out bars 35-36, 39-40, and 45-46, and also check out the pentatonic idea he uses in measure 42.  Another thing I love about Mulgrew’s playing is the way he mixes complex harmonic substitutions in alongside really bluesy figures.  To grossly oversimplify, it’s a nice mixture of the “intellectual” and the “down home.”  People say similar things about Charlie Parker, which I guess would help explain my deep love of Parker’s music.  Anyway, enough of my ramblings.  Check out this solo – super bad.  The fun starts about 5:30 in.

And while you’re at it, check out my other Mulgrew Miller transcriptions.

Or check out the full transcription index.

4-Note Minor ii-V-i Voicings

All the piano voicings posted so far have been for Major ii-V’s, so below are two different options for voicing minor ii-V-i’s with 4 notes, LH only.  Note that each progression resolves to a minor 6/9 chord instead of a minor 7th chord.  The reason for this is that minor 7th chords tend to act as a iimin7 chord, meaning it wants to resolve to a Dominant V7th chord (with the 7th of the iimin7 resolving to the 3rd of the V7 chord), rather than acting as a tonic resting place.  So in the case of a tune with a tonic minor (i.e. Blue Bossa, Recordame, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise, etc.), you’ll want to use a min6/9 rather than a min7 chord.

The first version of the minor ii-V voicings has a natural 9th on the iimin7(b5) chord, which some people don’t like, but I love the rub of the sound – since the natural 9th of the ii chord is the Maj3 of the min i chord.

The second version of the minor ii-V voicings uses a rooted version of the iimin7(b5) chord, so the 9th isn’t a problem.  I think the first version has smoother voice leading and less jumping around, but to each his/her own.

Altered Rootless Drop-2 4-note ii-V-I voicings

Applying the Drop-2 technique to the Altered Rootless voicings posted yesterday, we can easily create two-handed voicings to comp over Major ii-V-I’s with Altered Dominants.  The below voicings cover altered V7’s with (b9, 13), (9, b13), and (b9, b13).  Play through the two inversion types of each voicing set to hear the subtle differences between voicings with the alterations on the top or in the middle of the chord.  Enjoy!

Altered Rootless ii-V-I 4-Note Piano Voicings

The most common alterations you’ll find on the ii-V-I progression will be over the Dominant (V7) chord.  With only slight alterations to the rootless 4-note voicings previously posted, we can cover a number of common Altered Dominants, including V7(b9, 13), V7(9, b13), and V7(b9b13).  Maybe in a later post I’ll address some improvisation options over these various alterations, but for the time being, start to experiment by substituting these alterations into your major ii-V-I’s.  Check out both inversions of each alteration – the voicings sound a little different with the altered note on the top of the voicing or with the altered voice in the middle of the voicing.  And you can use the Drop-2 technique to quickly and easily turn these into two-handed voicings.

Drop 2 Major ii-V-I Piano Voicings

Using the Drop 2 technique, it’s fairly straightforward to turn the 4-note rootless LH ii-V-I voicings posted earlier into two-handed, open voicings that are great for comping behind a soloist.  Below is a PDF showing four-note, Drop 2 voicings through all 12 in two inversions.  Though all the keys are shown in the PDF, it’s good practice to try to generate the voicings yourself, without having to look at the sheet for all the keys.  Also, even though the voicings provided on the sheet are for ii-V-I’s whose key centers are related by descending whole steps (C, Bb, Ab, etc.), it is also good to practice different key center relationships, i.e. the circle of fourths, descending half steps, randomly, etc.  And it is very important to start getting some practical application as soon as possible by applying the voicings to tune you are currently practicing.

Creating Drop-2 Piano Voicings

I have intended for a while to add some more jazz piano resources to the site, so I thought I would start to remedy the lack of piano info.  Below is an informative handout on how to create open voicings using the Drop-2 technique.  Drop 2 is a powerful (and slick!) technique that allows you to take a closed (less than an octave) voicing and turn it into an open (8ve or more) voicing.  It’s a great way to take voicings you already know and stretch them further, by turning a left hand only voicing into a two-handed voicing.  For example, you can take the Rootless ii-V-I voicings posted earlier on the site and turn them into two-handed Drop-2 voicings.  You can also alternate Major 6th and diminished chords to harmonize a major or minor scale, a la Barry Harris.  Enjoy!