In this lesson, I bring you Jerry Garcia’s solo on “They Love Each Other” from the legendary May 8, 1977 show at Barton Hall, on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca New York.
"They Love Each Other" is a Hunter/Garcia composition that appeared on Jerry Garcia's 1976 solo album "Reflections". It was debuted February 9th, 1973 at Roscoe Maples Pavilion at Stanford University alongside a number of other soon-to-be Grateful Dead staples. It was performed 226 times after the initial Stanford performance.
Jerry's playing during this period was especially exciting and had a sense of adventurousness to it. The band had released their album "Blues for Allah" just two years earlier, which was heavily jazz inspired. That inspiration continued in Jerry's playing throughout the rest of the 1970's, and you can hear a lot of that influence in this solo.
Without a doubt, chromaticism was a cornerstone of Jerry Garcia's guitar playing, and can be a device that eludes many of those trying to emulate his playing. The word Chromatic originates from the Greek word chroma, meaning color. In Western music, the chromatic scale is a series of 12 pitches (each a half-step apart) that encompasses musical colors. When playing in a specific key or mode, a chromatic tone is any note that is outside of the key or mode you are playing in. "They Love Each Other" is in the key of G Mixolydian; and therefore, has no sharps or flats. Because of this, it is easy to see which notes are outside of the key.
I find with a lot of my students that are new to the idea of using chromaticism in their playing, they have trouble figuring out how to introduce it into their improvisations. This is were phrasing comes in - you can get away with playing anything, as long as it is played convincingly, and resolves into a strong note. Let's take a look at some of the chromatic ideas Jerry employs in this solo.
Half-step below, scale-tone above
This is a very common jazz concept, and one that you can hear quite a bit in Garcia's playing. As the name of the idea suggests, the concept involves playing playing a half-step (or one fret) below the note you are targeting, and one scale-tone (a note that is in the scale your are playing out of) above. Let's explore what this would look like if we were targeting the notes out of a G major chord.
Half-step below, 4th (or 5th) above
The opening lick of the solo is one of my favorites, as well as very ear-catching. The idea combines two chromatic concepts, one being the half-step below, scale-tone above concept we talked about above. The other is similar - it involves a half-step below our target tone followed by our target tone, then we play a specified interval above the target tone. Jerry experiments with the intervals of a 4th and a 5th.
Download the transcription below, and most importantly - have fun!
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