Wynton’s Blog

Mr. Freddie Green

Today I am working on the 'guts' of one movement of my symphony……. thinking about the late great Freddie Green who played guitar with Basie for so many years. Freddie spent 5 decades of nights playing those steady springy quarter notes that undergirded everyone else's rhythmic flights of fancy. He was the key to the infectious Basie swing. Mr. Green said that his role required a lot of humility AND aggression.

His playing was dependable and flexible like bamboo. I am thinking about that constant stream of on the beat quarter notes (or eight notes depending on tempo) that is found in classical symphonies, tango, and some rock bass parts, in latin music (sometimes on the g├╝iro), marches, and a lot of viola parts. I'm remembering how Mr. Freddie Green told me there's a lot of motion to be found when you're being still.

I guess he was talking about all the little melodies and nuances he would find in that steady stream of rhythm. Or he could have been talking about what those whirling dervishes achieve: through motion——-stillness. I mean the swing is also a circular motion.

Well, Mr. Green was so intelligent and experienced by the time I met him—-no telling where he was going. I should have asked better questions back then.


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