Literary Review: Chris Gumbley - Gilad Uncovered - 10 Saxophone Solos By Gilad Atzmon Transcribed And Edited By Chris Gumbley

Gilad Uncovered Gilad Uncovered -
10 Saxophone Solos By Gilad Atzmon Transcribed And Edited By Chris Gumbley

Chris Gumbley

Gilad Uncovered - 10 Saxophone Solos By Gilad Atzmon Transcribed And Edited By Chris Gumbley
Gumbles Publications, 2011


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Gilad Uncovered - 10 Saxophone Solos By Gilad Atzmon Transcribed And Edited By Chris Gumbley

At long last, someone has undertaken the arduous task of transcribing some of the thrilling sax solos of jazz genius Gilad Atzmon. Plus even one no less thrilling bonus clarinet solo. That someone is enthusiastic Midlands club owner and saxophonist Chris Gumbley.

Such transcriptions of Atzmon solos have of course been long overdue. Potentially, they could be of huge benefit to the aspiring musician, and even more advanced players might learn a thing or two. So do Gumbley's transcriptions live up to the task?

It's simply got to be said, Gumbley is some kind of genius himself in delivering these wonderful transcriptions, meticulously accurate as they are. They are simply a beauty to read along as one listens to the relevant track! Personally, I might have preferred if Gumbley had used the standard Arabic microtonal indications in Western notation, but that is being pedantic and in any case shouldn't make the slightest difference to the practicing musician. Often, even the fingering for the microtones, so characteristic of Atzmon, is indicated. I cannot emphasise sufficiently what a sheer joy it is to read these excellent transcriptions of Atzmon's incredible solos.

The solos come from a good selection of tracks from the albums Exile, Refuge, In Loving Memory Of America, and the most recent, The Tide Has Changed. There are one or two tracks where personally I might have chosen different ones, but that is what it is, purely a matter of choice. Tutu Tango, on the actual transcription, is wrongly indicated as coming from the album The Tide Has Changed, which should of course have been In Loving Memory of America. (It is correctly listed on the contents page.)

The bonus transcription is of a beautiful clarinet solo, Bechet's classic Petite Fleur from the early (second) OHE album Nostalgico from 2002. This track has always been a personal favourite of mine I have to confess; the sheer beauty of Atzmon's interpretation and solo is almost otherworldly. It is also characteristic of the already high degree of maturity in the playing of Atzmon and his OHE at the time.

The transcriptions also provide the student with excellent insight into Atzmon's often complex harmonies (also so reminiscent of Charlie Parker), and his predilection for unusual time signatures - 5/4 being a common example - as well as his proclivities to alternate these say every couple of bars for example (e.g., we might have 2 bars of 5/4 followed by 2 bars of 2/4, etc., and sometimes more seemingly randomly).

Of course, with Atzmon you always get more notes to the Pound than with anyone else (as indeed with Bird), so a reasonable degree of proficiency in sight reading is required. But the transcriptions are easy enough to follow.

If there is one thing one could really wish for, it would be a few transcriptions of Atzmon playing live. There, we would be into a whole different ball game! (Compare Bird's studio albums and his live ones, and you get the idea.) Alas, so far a live album by Atzmon has not been forthcoming.

One really has to marvel at the quality of these transcriptions, and one also has to thank and indeed congratulate Chris Gumbley on this sterling effort. Kudos to him. To add that this collection of Atzmon transcriptions should be a must have for any aspiring jazz musician at least would seem superfluous. I'd recommend this exquisite book, Gilad Uncovered, even to any jazz fan capable of sight reading, if nothing else but for the sheer pleasure of it.

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