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Lang "breaks"

Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
edited May 2016 in Eddie Lang Club
Among the most endearing aspects of Eddie Lang's playing were his "breaks".

A feature of twenties jazz which is now passe (and was, in fact, already pretty much passe even by the time Django and Stephane began recording!) was the "break": when the band stops playing, usually for two or four bars, and one instrument plays an unaccompanied solo.

Although Lang's breaks sound sophisticated, careful study reveals that they were often based on moving a single chord shape up and down. (Which reminds me of Doug F., a friend who used to mix in all kinds of bogus filler to make his university essays longer, because as he once explained to me, "Bullshit baffles brains".)

I'm going to post a few Lang breaks for your info-tainment, starting with this one in the key of F from a 1927 recording with Annette Hanshaw, "I'm somebody's somebody now"



Eddie's break (MP3 below) comes near the end of the piece, after the Vic Berton tympani solo, and is all based upon the C7 shape 3X231X.

Have fun!

Will





I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.

Comments

  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited May 2016
    Here are two more examples of the same kind of breaks, both MP3 clips taken from one of my favourite Lang recordings, "Big Bad Bill is Sweet William Now", featuring singer Emmett Miller.



    Although the record comes out of my computer sounding like it is in the key of F#/Gb, I'm pretty sure it was actually recorded in G. But for the sake of simplicity, we'll treat it as though it is actually in the key of F#.

    The first break, which used to be known as a "dominant break", we'll call a C#9 break, even though it was originally recorded as a D9 break. It is done by just moving a ninth shape up and down a couple of frets.

    C#9 XX3444

    The second one refused to load, so I'm going to put it my next post.

    Will

    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Here's the second example, which used to be known as a "tonic break".

    We'll call this an F#6 break, even though it was originally recorded as a G6 break. It is done by just moving a sixth shape up and down...

    F#6 24X34X

    Will
    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited May 2016
    I don't want to give the idea that Eddie's harmonic horizons were limited to just moving shapes up and down the fingerboard... far from it!

    He was especially gifted at using these little breaks in order to modulate into a different key.

    Here's a fine example from a 1929 side by singer Willard Robison of a Fats Waller classic composition, "I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling".



    After the band's intro and opening chorus in the key of F, Eddie modulates to Eb for the singer...

    -he begins with an F9 chord XX7888, moves it up and down a couple of frets

    -then an F7 8X786X

    -then a Bb7
    Bbdim
    Bb7 sequence

    68679X
    X7868X
    68679X

    -and ends with this classic Lang touch, using his pinky

    -F note on 4th string 3rd fret--- then Bb9 XX3534--- then Bb7 XX3334
    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited May 2016
    Another modulation break, this time from the classic 1931 Venuti-Lang Blue Four recording "Pardon Me, Pretty Baby"... mp3 clip of Lang only is below.



    This is a two-bar modulation from the violin-friendly key of D to the singer-friendly key of Db.

    -open A string
    -D6 X5443X
    -F#7 24235X
    -Bm 224432

    -Cm 335543
    -Gb7 24235X
    -Ab7 464544


    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Well, hopefully I've got the ball rolling here enough so that anyone else who is interested in this topic can chime in with their own thoughts or musical examples.

    I'll finish up by quoting 1920's saxophonist Frank Trumbauer on the subject of Eddie Lang and his modulations...

    "His musical mentality could be termed a natural one, as he carried the entire Paul Whitman library, as fas as his parts were concerned, on the back of a small business card in his coat breast pocket. There would be some intricate modulations to play, and rarely in radio rehearsals would he have time to actually set these things, so Whiteman would say, "You take the modulation, Eddie." During the program that night, just before the modulation, the excitement of the entire band could be felt because it hadn't been rehearsed and the boys were wondering if Eddie remembered. All Eddie had was a few marks on that little card- marks that meant nothing to anyone but Eddie himself.

    "Came the modulation- and the master played it from another world. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and from that day on, when Eddie would say, "I got it," everyone realized he knew what he was talking about.

    "Evidence of this genius can be heard on all of our early Okeh records, as Eddie did practically all of them. Too many, in fact, for me to recall here in detail. Those of you who are acquainted with the recordings will recall many a masterful lick that would do credit to present-day records. Inseparable with Joe Venuti, the early recordings stand to prove that these two great artists presented guitar and violin masterpieces that will live forever as the ultimate for such a combination."


    -"Hear Me Talkin' To Ya", Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff, Dover Publications, New York, 1955, ISBN 0-486-21726-4
    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Hey Will, yeah his breaks and modulations are classics.

    thanks!
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