Musical Experiences


Not confirmation in the rite of initiation into Christian church sense…”Confirmation” as Charlie Parker’s jazz bebop tune. According to Will this is a “quintessential bebop tune: an angular melody over quick chord changes.”

I’ve been a little bit bored with the tunes that I’ve been practicing recently. Not saying that I’ve mastered all of the tunes that I’m working on. Just that I need some variety. So the other day at lunch, Will suggested that I look at some Charlie Parker tunes and solos. He said to look at “Confirmation” because a lot of people like to play it. So I got my Real Book out, sat down at the piano, and tried to conquer the beast that is “Confirmation.”

It’s intimidating to say the least. While I may not being delving into a religion…I must say learning this tune was a religious experience. I don’t have too much structure in the way that I practice. I’ve only spent a good…two days on this tune so far. My goal while practicing yesterday? I really just wanted to learn the head before trying to solo over it. Gotta teach you some jazz lingo here — head: The first (and last) chorus of a tune, in which the song or melody is stated without improvisation or with minimal improvisation.

Why don’t you listen to the tune. Then we will proceed.

Pretty damn good, right? Bird knows how to blow. If I have taken one thing away from “studying” jazz, it’s that listening is one of the most important components. (I put studying in quotes because my “studying” has consisted of reading/listening on my own, picking random jazz players brains, and trying to recreate what I hear other singers do. I’ve never really had formal vocal jazz lessons.)

While attempting to learn the head to Confirmation, I played it on the piano and listened to the Charlie Parker recording. I also tried to find singer-versions on youtube and iTunes. They don’t exist. There’s a reason that there are no recordings of vocalists playing this tune. It’s freakin’ hard. Especially if you add in all the turns that Charlier Parker is playing. It gets a little ridiculous during the bridge. I sometimes feel like at the end of the tune my tongue will be in a huge knot.  I ultimately downloaded Hank Jones’ Bop Redux/Groovin’ High version of “Confirmation”. I love Hank Jones’ playing — it’s so clean and precise. About an hour into practicing and I can finally sing the tune pretty well with the recording. My next goal is to be able to sing through the whole thing without a recording. With all the chromaticism, that will be a feat in itself.

Maybe I’ll get the nerve up and post a recording of me singing it. We’ll see. If you’re good and don’t throw a temper tantrum at the store when we go later because you want candy.

Until tomorrow, dear BFs!


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