The Serial Sessions: Hypatia


Spring is having a hard time getting out of bed, but the Subscriber Series can help! The Serial Sessions track for March is Hypatia, and trombonist Ryan Keberle weighs in on the track:

In some ways, writing about this most recent Serial release, “Hypatia,” a tune written by Dave Douglas in homage to Wayne Shorter, is easy for me. There are seemingly endless things to get excited about when talking about Dave Douglas, one of my heroes and living inspirations, whose composition captures everything we as jazz musicians love about the master composer and improvisor, Wayne Shorter. An undeniable melody, an unorthodox chord progression that somehow manages to function in beautiful ways, plus the room for personal improvisatory expression within the framework of a cohesive performance by the band.

However, with all that being said (and I could go on!) what always first comes to mind when I think about Wayne Shorter is the following story from my days as an undergraduate at Manhattan School of Music studying with the legendary trombonist, Steve Turre.  I was in the final stages of preparing for my graduation recital for which I had programmed the Wayne Shorter tune, “Nefertiti.” The chord progression on “Nefertiti” as it’s played by the Miles Davis Quintet is ambiguous, at best, and in those early days of the internet when Google wasn’t the all-knowing resource it is today, Steve and I decided to turn to the primary source in our quest for the original chord progression. Steve called Wayne one afternoon and Wayne picked up on the first try. After a bit of small talk Steve explained our dilemma and asked Wayne if he wouldn’t mind reciting the chords to us on his tune, “Nefertiti.” With no hesitation Wayne said, “Man, we weren’t playing chords on that tune, we were playing COLORS!”

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