Montana Musicians

The Till is Gone - Duke Sharp & Friends

The Till Is Gone -- A Contrafact A contrafact is a musical composition that's built out of one that already exists, and it's usually a new melody played over a familiar chord progression. As a compositional device it allows musicians to create new pieces for performanc...e and recording on which they can immediately improvise, without having to seek permission or pay publisher fees for copyrighted materials. Melodies can be copyrighted, the underlying chord progression cannot. (wikipedia) The chord progression of George Gershwin's song "I Got Rhythm" forms the basis of countless jazz compositions, and is referred to as 'the rhythm changes.' Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk and dozens of others composed contrafacts... new melodies and arrangements over the rhythm changes. It's an important concept that songwriters and composers sometimes overlook... you don't have to invent a brand new progression every time you want to write a song. With that in mind, I had the idea to gather this group of outstanding improvisational musicians from Bozeman Montana at a local studio, Base Camp Recording, pass out chord charts for some familiar tunes and record the 'spontaneously improvised contrafacts'... what people usually call 'a jam session.' All of these players have been friends for years, decades even, but this was the first time they had all played together. Mike Gillan played the drum kit, Mark Dixon was on congas, and Eddie T. played bass, and they picked a groove, a bolero. The arrangement was this: everybody takes a ride. Craig Hall and Rick Winking played guitars, Bob Nell played keys, and I played mandolin. Tom Murphy made the video. There was only one rule... play whatever you want, just don't even get close to the original melody. So, this is a contrafact we derived from a chord progression that's basically a standard blues, the most famous version is probably "The Thrill Is Gone" written by Rick Darnell and Roy Hawkins in 1951, made popular by B.B. King in 1970. Craig Hall renamed it, just eliminated two letters, H and R, came up with "The Till Is Gone." Another example of how a slight alteration can make a big difference. You might say this is two contrafacts in one. Unrehearsed, first take, first time as a band. It was a lot of fun.

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