Blue Mitchell’s Solo on ‘I’ll Close My Eyes’
Blue Mitchell is one of the [many] un-sung heavies of the trumpet world. Although not as technically formidable as your Brown or Hubbard, Mitchell possessed a super lyrical approach to improvising coupled with strong grasp of the bop language, making him a non-brainer to transcribe for the budding jazzer.
Mitchell released a number of consistently strong albums as a leader. He also sidemaned for some of the best in his time including Horace Silver, Philly Joe, Cedar Walton, Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordan and was even the featured soloist in Tony Bennett’s early band (not a bad gig). Most recently I was surprised to hear Mitchell on a Jackie Mclean cut called ‘Capunchin Swing’ that Eastside FM Radio was spinning. It was a blues and right after the first chorus of Blue’s solo I knew I had to transcribe it. Although still in the works, it reminded me of another Mitchell solo I put to paper a while back from his 1960 album ‘Blues Mood’. The band features Sam Jones on bass, Roy Brooks on drums and Wynton Kelly on piano who was as hot as ever on this date; Keep an ear out for Wynton’s intro and comping under the opening melody and you’ll know what I mean.
There isn’t too much to say about this one except Blue Mitchell nails it. I transcribed this one really just to see what real no-bollocks bop looks like on paper, especially the shape of his lines. It seemed Blue wasn’t afraid to employ a couple of larger intervals-bar 49-50 being a perfect example- something that I think is a staple aesthetic of the bop sound.