My Sir Aly B Journey

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blackcombe's picture

Since its release in 2005 on Best Kept Secret (still one of my favorite JD albums) I have loved Jerry's tune "Sir Aly B" - just a gorgeous tune. Then of course it came out again on Transatlantic Sessions 3 in 2007 - maybe even more beautiful (those haunting vocals at 3:05 or so behind the fiddle solo - amazing).

Starting back a number of years, I decided to try to learn the song, which is not so much technically challenging (like say "Who's Your Uncle") - but it was more about the form of the melody and the irregular length phrases and so on. 

Back in 2008, James Church sent me a PDF of TAB for the tune - hope he's OK with me sharing this scanned copy - it represents a lot of work on his part:

Trouble was, as it is working hard to notate every roll and note, and some inflection, I found it actually hard to learn the basic tune by this chart, and of course like any TAB chart, I couldn't use it with the band to actually see if we could play the tune as an ensemble.

So I started working on a much simplified chart in standard notation - actually went thru a few iterations to get it pared down. Here is a PDF:

(Hope these DB links work)

I tried to get the melody distilled so it could even be played on fiddle or whatever. To add the rolls, think of each note longer than a 16th as an opportunity to add rolls, or go back to Jame's chart for what Jerry did on BKS.

I also elected to represent the whole tune in 3/8 (James changed meter alot to reflect variances in phrase length, but I found that hard to get a handle on)

This work really helped me internalize the form of the tune, and the arc of the melody.

It is really instructive to listen to both versions (TransAt3 and Best Kept) to hear what is the same and what is improvised around the core in the tune from Jerry's POV. I have also seen him play this tune live a bunch recently (most recently at the Troubador in LA) and it's interesting what changes and what remains the same in each performance - even to the point that parts of Gabe's original solo seem to have become a sort of counter melody during the fiddle solo in both versions, and in the live performances (descending lines at 3:12 or there abouts).

Anywy, now that I have it distilled I am getting it worked up to speed and so on. Should be ready to try it with other players in about a week.

Just thought I would share this journey with the 'Nation 






James Traylor's picture

Thanks for sharing and posting.Cool


MarkinSonoma's picture

Thanks for putting this up Willie, I was messing around with it yesterday. Love this tune.

blackcombe's picture

Finally getting it put together and able to play it thru - been a ton of work tho :-)

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