You are on page 1of 4

MUJS 5780 Project Three

Analysis of a Solo
Relaxin at Camarillo
Solo by Jonathan Kreisberg
Transcription and Analysis by Jake Hanlon
Throughout the history of Jazz music one of the cornerstones or rites of passages has
always been the ability to fluently perform a solo on a 12 bar blues and create a solo of interest
and melodic, formal and rhythmic coherence. As modern times have developed, the concept of
how to improvise over a chord progression using Dominant chords as a blues form has obscured
the line between tradition and modernism in Jazz improvisation. When I first heard about
guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg I was told that he was a talented player with loads of chops and a
great sound. Upon the advice of a peer I purchased two of his releases, one of them was the CD

Nine Stories Wide where on the final track, backed superbly by Larry Grenadier on bass and
Bill Stewart on drums they perform Charlie Parkers Relaxin at Camarillo.
Kreisbergs introduction of descending Major 7th intervals is an interesting device
considering that the blues form is devoid of any Major 7th chords. He uses this device to act as a
counter balance to a very angular melody and what will prove to be an angular solo. When the
melody comes in after 8 bars of introduction the band is lose and exploring the rhythmic twisting
of Parkers melody. The melody has wide intervallic leaps, including an Octave, several 5ths and
4ths as well as plenty of blues inflections. However, Kreisbergs treatment of this melody will go
on to shape his entire 9 chorus solo on these changes, which get augmented in the bass part as
well as in Kreisbergs lines throughout the piece as they begin to proceed further into the
It should be noted, that the chord changes reflected in the score of this solo are for the
melody changes. Several times throughout this performance the musicians using their ears and
listening to each other reharmonize the changes in ways that are not predictable (the finest
examples rest in system 10). However in looking at how to learn these devices it is important to

relate them back to the original as Kreisbergs improvisation on this tune is heavily influenced by
the melody.
Melodic Material
In these blues choruses, Kriesberg borrows from his influences in blues and bop as well
as getting into some interesting sequence ideas that get outside of the harmony in a hurry.
Kreisbergs phrasing and time feel are impeccable however there are a few things melodically
that should be brought to the forefront of this analysis. First of all, the use of the Perfect 4th as a
catalyst for his phrases beginnings and in some cases core of and ending of his lines. It seems
that Kreisberg takes the opening of the melody to heart (which begins on an interval of a 4th) and
uses that interval all over his improvisation to create ideas, build upon old ideas and generally
give his solo a sense of coherent unity. Some examples of this are obvious as we can see in
system 5 where he plays 4 bars of successive perfect 4ths descending by 2nds. We see as well
in system 7 how he creates the illusion of the 4th by using a clustered chord then plays the top
voice again a 4th away. Sometimes the use of the 4th is masked as well in the middle of lines
such as in bar 5 of system 4 where he builds a line dropping into a 4th on the + of 2 and beat 2
but then reaffirms his intention in the next bar. These sort of ideas are laced throughout the
improvisation and are marked on the score, as I have circled those areas of importance for
One phrase of importance in this solo appears in ms 65 as Kreisberg plays a dipping,
angular phrase of 8th notes. This phrase comes up several times throughout the course of this
solo and in the same place each time, the 9th bar of each chorus however; it sets up other chorus
ending phrases and often leads into lines that play through the forum such as system 5 through
to system 6 with the repeated enclosed note in the G Ab F# G motive that Kreisberg moves
around at the top of the 6th system.
With the piece being a 12 bar blues, Kreisberg also shows us flashes of blues playing
using both Major and Minor Blues scales throughout the improvisation. In some instance he will
not use the entire scale (as is the way it normally is done by advanced jazz players) but only little

hints of it, in many instances at phrase endings and after more complicated use of harmony such
as in system 7 after playing very rhythmically with quartal voicings he gives us relief with blues
lines in bars 86 and 87. One of the finest examples is the climax of the solo in system 11.
Kreisberg unleashes his impressive technique playing minor 7th arpeggios in sequences of major
2nds until he rests one a big high G, but then after the intensity of his technique gives us a
simple blues inflected line to close out the rest of his solo however, ends his improvisation using
the perfect 4th not melodically but harmonically which we will discuss next.
Harmonic Content
Kreisberg employs many harmonic devices in the piece not only as a guitarist comping
for himself but also subbing the changes out for whatever he desires to use. However, not unlike
his melodic vocabulary on this performance, Kreisberg employs perfect 4ths throughout often
times just playing the interval itself harmonically or building a voicing based off a 4th. The best
example of this being in the 7th system where Kreisberg rhythmically builds tension using these
4ths stacked together for 5 bars until giving melodic relief using blues vocabulary. Kreisberg
uses a clustered voicing in system 10 that has a 4th between the top 2 voices which moves up
chromatically until he gets ready for his big climatic technique expose.
Another point of interest using harmonic devices comes in the final bars of system 8 and
into system 9 where Kreisberg begins to superimpose first minor 7th chords by intervals of a
minor 3rd (playing D-7, B-7, Ab-7) arppegiating them against the harmony then using a fully
diminished B chord moving now into displacing triadic vocabulary at the top of system 9 moving
triads up in whole steps with some passing tones between each one. This not only adds to his
already angular solo style on this tune but gives new harmonic context to an age old blues
At the tempo that this solo is at Kriesberg decides, for the majority of his solos that his
lines are structured on 8th notes. The Melody, played with a staggered rhythm helps Kreisberg
and his trio to establish a quick sense of time and lock in to each other from the downbeat of the

melody throughout the piece. Short of a few chromatic flips in his solo he sticks to mostly
quarter notes and 8th notes with a few help notes for space (employed very effectively) until his
final flurry of triplets at the end of his 2nd last and the start of his last chorus where he displays
impressive technique. Kreisberg also mixes up his rhythms in some related or sequenced ideas
placing them on the beat then off the beat as seen in System 5 the opening 4 bars and again,
similar ideas in system 7 in the opening 4 measures.

All Music Guide Entry for Jonathan Kreisberg

Guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg has transformed from art rocker to fusion hero to jazz traditionalist
-- all in the span of a decade. The native New Yorker moved to South Florida as a child in 1975;
he stayed long enough to graduate from the esteemed University of Miami music program
(attending from 1990 to 1994), and created a large enough fan base there to fuel a career back
in the Big Apple, where he returned in 1998. Initially influenced by rock guitarists like Jimi
Hendrix and Steve Vai, Kreisberg created new musical avenues to explore by adding the influence
of classical composer Claude Debussy, jazz pianist Keith Jarrett, and British fusion guitarist Allan
Holdsworth. After graduating from college, the open-minded young musician recorded a 1995 CD
with the group Wyscan, blending elements of the groups Yes, King Crimson, and U.K. Bassist
Javier Carrion and drummer Vince Verderame also recorded on Kreisberg's self-titled 1996
jazz/fusion debut. Covers of the standards "Someday My Prince Will Come" and "We'll Be
Together Again" hinted at the fledgling artist's future, and after several East Coast tours,
Kreisberg moved to Manhattan and Verderame to Las Vegas while Carrion stayed in South Florida
(eventually working with popular artists from K.C. & the Sunshine Band to guitarist Randy
Bernsen). Eschewing his Fender Stratocasters in favor of Gibson hollow-bodied guitars, Kreisberg
decided not to hurry his recording career while immersing himself into New York's traditional jazz
scene. Gigs with high-profile artists like drummer Lenny White (Return to Forever), bassist Jeff
Andrews (Vital Information), and saxophonists Greg Tardy and Joel Frahm helped, and the
guitarist entered the 21st century in both a jazz standards trio (which Kreisberg calls his
"interpretations group") and an original quartet (his "compositions group"). Kreisberg's early2002 pursuits include his trio (with bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Ari Hoenig)
releasing its Trioing CD, a tour of Japan with drummer Donald Edwards, and the launching of the
guitarist's website ( The trio's material, including John Coltrane's
"Countdown" and Herbie Hancock's "Sorcerer," show that this rising star's career isn't just
heading north geographically. Bill Meredith