Bozo As Played By Ed Cuffee

One of my favorite bands to play with is the Low-Down Sires. We strive to recreate the spirit of early jazz styles as authentically as possible, frequently even through recreating performances of groups that pioneered the style. One tune we recently added to our repertoire is Bozo, as recorded by Clarence Williams (featuring King Oliver).

After learning to play this solo, we discovered that the tune “Bozo” appears to be a plagiarized version of “Tozo,” by Fletcher Henderson. Check out what the blogger for Pop From Yestercentury noticed in his post, Tozo and Bozo.

Regardless of who originally composed this tune, here is the melody/paraphrase of this tune as played by trombonist Ed Coffee on the Clarence Williams recording of “Bozo.” Check out the first four measures and think about the historical context of the melody and chord.

Listen closely to the recording on the embedded video above and let me know if you hear it the same. I hear the harmony pretty clearly as an Eb7 chord. While an Eb7 chord isn’t all that unusual in a tune in G major during this style period, having it right at the beginning of the tune is odd. Even more strange is the A natural and E natural (enharmonically Fb) in the melody notes.

For a jazz tune composed at least as early as 1927 this is harmonically surprising, very much ahead of its time. This is quite early in jazz for an altered dominant chord. You will find examples in swing style tunes, but it’s not until the emergence of bebop where this sort of harmonic relationship becomes common.

In the context of this tune, which is in the key of G major, an Eb7 chord more commonly leads by resolving down a half step to the dominant, D7. In “Bozo” it skips the dominant chord and jumps immediately to the tonic, but only after a fairly long time. In most jazz tunes of this time period it’s not uncommon for chords to remain static for so long, but a harmonically sophisticated chord of this type would normally not sit statically for so long.

Then there’s the altered extensions of this chord. Looking forward again to the 1940s and later, it became common in jazz to alter the dominant chord extensions by altering certain chord tones like the 9ths and 11ths. It’s unusual in a jazz tune from the late 1920s.

As an interesting aside, I’ve often heard of this chord relationship (VI7 chord) as called the “pineapple chord,” but never understood the context of why. My formal music theory background compares it to the Neapolitan chord, but my jazz theory background things about it as a tritone substitution to the V chord.

Does anyone know why “pineapple chord” has become a common term for this chord function?

The link below is a PDF to my transcription of the melody/paraphrase. As always, take it with a grain of salt and check it yourself for errors. Let me know if you find any.

Bozo – Trombone

Jake V

Hey Dave, I was on the contact page and saw that you said to post on a blog post to try and contact you. Watched your YouTube video a while back about embouchure and found it very informative/interesting. I was interested in possibly having a lesson with you to get some input on my embouchure. Im a trombonist and live in south eastern Wisconsin. Your located in Chicago right? I would love to take a lesson or two with you if possible. Please email me if you would be willing to look into setting something up.

Dave

Hi, Jake. I grew up in Chicago and still visit friends and family from time to time, but I live in western North Carolina now. Sometimes I can give some advice after watching video footage, if you want to post something a send it to me.

Vanerio

Hi Dave!
I have what Jeff Smiley calls protruding top lip. This means that the center of my upper lip is never tense and it is peak shaped. Something like this but even with a more pronunced downward peak:(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3145/2727846968_14287fd304.jpg).
With this condition it is very hard to keep a good aperture or to roll-in the lips because this part of the lip always follows the airflow forward.
I am having trouble with my embouchure due to this.
Could you please give some advices to pleople like me?
Thank you very much!

Dave

Vanerio, I don’t think that the anatomical feature you’re describing is itself a distinguishing factor of embouchure form and function. I would need to be able to watch you play in order to give you advice.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.