The recently deceased pianist’s impact on the jazz world was inmense to say the least. He recorded over 50 albums, played with the greatest musicians of the genre and took jazz fusion to the next level. One could talk about Chicks trajectory for hours and listen to his music for literally days. However, I want to focus on one of his best known tunes; specifically, one of his best known solos. You know it, you love it: Spain.
As always, the full solo will be attached as a PDF at the end of the page. Before you go download it, I want to look to a couple of beautiful lines of the solo and analyze them.
To me, this solo is an ode to pentatonics and upper structures. Chick seamlessly mixes beautiful yet simple pentatonic lines with more harmonically complex upper structures throughout his improvisation. Just when you think he can’t impress you with another line… boom: something crazy happens.
Case in point: the form starts with three and a half bars of silence. That’s followed by downward scalar pattern, then an upper structure arpeggio coming from the 6th degree. Simple and beautifully executed.
It starts getting progressively crazier. Chick uses long chromatic lines several times in the solo in unexpected ways. After the downward chromatic motion that starts in the 9th measure ends in the 10th, he uses a Bb minor arpeggio over the A7 and does a beautiful chromatic encirclement of the 7th degree. He uses the 7th degree as a pivot point to the fifth degree and then it´s smooth, melodic sailing again for the rest of the form. This is a very well established M.O. throughout his solo.
Now, I´m sure you´ll find a lot of stuff on your own. But before you do, I wanna show you my favorite line.
There it goes again: melodic lines throughout G major7 and as soon as the F#7 comes along, it starts to get crazy with upper structures. The first one is just an F# pentatonic, then a Cmin7 arpeggio, then an A minor pentatonic, then an A major arpeggio, then a chromatic line that resolves to an E minor pentatonic in measure 33. As if nothing had happened.
Anyways, I hope you have as much fun analyzing this solo as I did. Let me know if I missed something and happy studying!