Welcome to our exploration of T-Bone Walker, part 2! Last month we covered some T-Bone history and ended with some classic T-Bone licks. Today, I have transcribed the introductory 12 bar chorus on “I Got a Break Baby” (available on YouTube.com). This is essentially an improvised guitar solo that opens the piece, and there are some fantastic classic T-Bone riffs here! An important early work, T-Bone recorded this in 1942; it’s just as fresh and inspiring today!
T-Bone shows his interest in jazz horn-like phrasing by alternating swing eighth-note phrases with double-time sixteenth note lines. His mastery of the blues scale is apparent, but mixed in are a few jazz-like harmonies, such as leaning on the A natural note at times. Other jazz tendencies include the Charlie Christian style licks, which use the natural third (C-Eb-E-G-C), using a pure, natural archtop tone with no overdrive, and using syncopated rhythms that are very akin to jazz phrasing (especially the implied hemiola that starts on beat two of measure 5 [F7]).
The chorus immediately following this one starts with a classic double-stop (notes Bb and G played together). Continue transcribing that chorus as a great ear-training exercise and to incorporate T-Bone’s vocabulary into your own!
Just for fun, here’s a charming video showing T-Bone Walker sitting in with Chuck Berry…the ‘student’ honoring his main influence:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dampex4f4is (on youtube.com use the search words: every day I have the blues t-bone walker chuck berry)
I Got a Break Baby – solo on YouTube.com
(on youtube.com use the search words: Roots of Blues T-bone Walker I Got A Break Baby)
* the transcription below has been corrected and does not contain the misprints that appear in the Premier Guitar version.