Afternoon River Bop: a line on the changes to Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson’s ‘Tune Up’

‘Tune Up’, by the alto saxophonist Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson, is one of a number of tunes which Miles Davis claimed to have written but which were actually composed by others.  Other tunes in this category include ‘Four’ (also by Vinson), ‘Solar’ (by guitarist Chuck Wayne), the ‘old ‘ ‘Milestones’ from the sessions with Charlie Parker on tenor sax (by a number of accounts, composed by pianist John Lewis) and ‘Blue In Green’ (by pianist Bill Evans).  In a live recording by Vinson, the tune is played as a sixteen-bar form, starting with three ii-V-I progressions the keys of which descend by whole steps, followed by a phrase where the V and I chords in the key of Bb (F7 and Bbmaj7) are bookended by the ii and V chords in the key of D (Em7 and A7). Miles Davis recorded the tune twice, first a 1953 version for the album Blue Haze, followed by a 1956 version for Cookin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet. In the Blue Haze version, he makes what appears to be his only contribution to the tune, extending it to a thirty-two bar form; I borrowed this progression for my original tunes which are shown below. 

Below you will find links to videos and sheet music for two different versions of my tune ‘Afternoon River Bop’, which borrows phrases from tunes by (in order) Miles Davis and Gil Evans, Arthur Hamilton, Miles Davis (a different tune) and John Lewis.  ‘Afternoon River Bop #1’ makes each chord change a separate ‘question’ with a separate melodic ‘answer’, and is somewhat more approachable in terms of technique.  The video for ‘Afternoon River Bop #1’ also includes a demonstration of a scale outline for the progression, which I have also included a notated version of below. In the video I also play a slightly different melody and use mostly root position voicings rather than the rootless chord voicings shown in the chart. In ‘Afternoon River Bop #2’, I have more chromatic phrases that melodically connect the ii-V chord pairs (Em7-A7, Dm7-G7, Cm7-F7).  These phrases are ‘bookended’ by chord voicings on either side of the phrase.  ‘Afternoon River Bop #2’ works particularly well as a countermelody to ‘Tune Up’. 

Link to video of Afternoon River Bop #1

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