Friday, May 11, 2012

The Spencer Davis Group: Blues in F

As I do every Friday, I pick a flip side to feature. If you hadn’t heard today’s song before, I bet you might lean towards think it was Jimmy Smith tickling the plastics on the Hammond B3 organ; however, it is a very young Steve Winwood and the Spencer Davis Group. “Blues in F” was released in late 1966 as the “B” side to the band’s  “Gimme Some Lovin’” that charted at #7 in the US.

The song has a great jazz vibe (although it has no vibes) and is not characteristic of the music we’ve grown to expect from The Spencer Davis Group. It really shows the extent of their creativity and influence that this band and its members had.

Not only is Winwood’s organ parts top notch, Spencer Davis’ guitar rhythm and lead guitar parts are also characteristic of jazz recordings of the mid sixties. The rhythm section features Steve’s older brother Muff Winwood on bass and Peter York on drums.

Interestingly enough, the song is F for :30 and then modulates to G – well, modulate is not the correct terminology, as the song switches gears from first to fourth without any hesitation. G or F, it’s an excellent instrumental and to top it off Steve ends with a great chord a G11. I just love jazz chords.

If you play keyboards, I am going to give you my secret to easily play complex sounding chords.  For example, a full eleventh chord as referenced above is comprised of the root chord triad and the adding of a flatted 7th note, a 9th note, and an 11th note in the scale.  For G it is G-B-D-F-A-C. The easy way to remember how to play an 11th chord is to play a chord one step below the actual chord either on top of the root chord or the bass.  In this case, it would be a G chord on the bottom and an F on top.  For C11, it is C on the bottom and Bb on the top.  E11 is E on the bottom and D on top.

To even extend the sound to the next iteration, try a 13th.  You add a 13th note (same as a 6th) to the 11th chord on top.  For G, it comprises G-B-D-F-A-C-E.  To easily play a 13th, I play the root chord on the bottom and then the major seventh of the chord one step below the root on the top.  For G, it is G on the bottom and Fmaj7 on the top.  For D, it is D on the bottom and Cmaj7 on the top. For B, B on the bottom and Amaj7 on the top. 

Elevenths and thirteenths can easily substitute for a seventh or a ninth and can really make a chord sound fuller.  I stumbled on this years ago and if someone asks for an 11th or 13th, I don't have to think about it.  It is very easy to remember and simple to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment