Transcription: Jumpin' At The Woodside
Composer: Count Basie
This transcription illustrates how Freddie Green's guitar part would often be shaped more by the melodic line than by the harmonic changes. Freddie's musical colleagues commented that he was always playing little melodies in quarter notes. This facet of his playing, the creation of counter melody, distinguishes Freddie from nearly all other rhythm guitarists. Most rhythm guitarists concentrated on time and vertical harmonic structure; Freddie concentrated on time and horizontal melodic structure. This approach to the rhythm guitar was likely suggested by bassist Walter Page, Freddie's prime musical mentor when he joined the Basie band. Page was a schooled musician and had studied counterpoint. It is not difficult to imagine Page telling the young Freddie Green, "Don't just bang out chords. Play a melodic line that keeps time and also complements my bass part."
In measures 1 - 15, Freddie plays the same note, G, that acts like a pedal tone. The bass is walking below Freddie's static G and the horns are stating the melody above it. The G acts like the hub of a wheel - everything rotates around it.
In measures 28 - 31, Freddie plays a chromatic line upward, then plays it downward. Very few of the notes actually match the chord changes, but the melodic motion of the line makes it work. These four measures illustrate the genius of Freddie Green's concept of rhythm guitar. Then he reuses the chromatic line idea in measures 44 - 46, and in measures 54 - 56.
This version of "Jumpin' At The Woodside" is a prime example of how Freddie's one-note chord technique provided melodic interest in addition to a solid quarter note pulse. See the Lessons and Technique section of this website for details about the technique.
Note: The notes played in measure 50, beats 3 and 4, are inaudible. The notes in parentheses are suggestions.
Transcribed by Michael Pettersen