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“Straight No Chaser”

"Straight No Chaser"
When Lee gave his workshop on rhythmic phrases he always finished by playing a wonderful blues by Theolonius Monk called “Straight No Chaser”. “Straight No Chaser” doesn’t really involve lots of different rhythmic patterns - in fact, it’s mostly quavers - but what it does do is it uses rhythmic displacement to great effect and, in some sense, it’s a paradigm for how one should think of using rhythmic displacement in one’s own soloing. It’s really just based on one phrase … and then the rest is either extending that phrase, or displacing that phrase, or placing it in a different part of the bar - a real exemplar of jazz soloing.
We’re going to play it with a playalong using a standard F blues sequence - so a standard modern jazz F blues sequence. On the sequence I’ve put a turnaround at the end in parentheses, meaning you don’t have to if you don’t want to - and you don’t, obviously, do it the last time, but the turnarounds there if you want to use it. The playalong I’ve got is about 25% faster than we had in the last part of this course. It’s actually usually played very bright ba doobie doo ba, ba doobie doo ba, but that’s probably too fast for us at the moment. So I’ll stick to this medium tempo.
Of course, you are always free to ratchet up the tempo if you feel you can cope with it to get it closer to the sort of speed that most people play it at. What I’ll do is I’ll play the tune twice so that you can hear how it goes. Then I’ll do a couple of choruses of improvisation, but I’ll try to utilise this little motive, this little thematic element - either in terms of the notes that make up the tune or in terms of its rhythmic pattern - be doobie doo ba.

We investigate the blues “Straight No Chaser” which employs rhythmic displacement.

You can download the chart for “Straight No Chaser” in PDF format at the bottom of this step.

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