Eric Harland’s “Transform” from the Terence Blanchard album “Bounce”

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I have owned the album Bounce by Terence Blanchard for quite some time now, and have always found the tune “Transform” energizing. It’s rhythmic excitement along with simple harmonic concepts give a fantastic platform for improvising over, and Terence Blanchard’s band doesn’t disappoint. Something I have always enjoyed about Harland’s writing is the use of rhythmic tension to propel the tune forward. The almost pop like chord progressions also bring jazz to an audience that is beyond that of bop and standards enthusiasts and is a trend among many young composers today.

The tune begins with a short bass solo and then establishes the groove and harmony in the vamp, and builds until the head begins. For this transcription I choose not to record the tenor sax lines since I will be using this with my quartet. However, for those who wish to add a second horn part the melody is harmonized in fourths for the most part. The 7/4 groove of the song uses a fair amount of syncoptation but still has a floaty feel that never gets too heavy or taxing. Throughout the tune Aaron Parks emphasizes the F Major tonality over different chords, often times with a trill between the tonic F in different octaves.

After the first time through the head the tune goes back to the vamp for some more Aaron Parks/Eric Harland magic and then continues with the melody once more. For the first solo section the tune repeats a 4 bar progression, although from time to time Aaron seems to omit certain chords to build tension….more chords are added to this vamp as the solo continues. Following the first solo the B section is played, followed by a second solo on some modified changes in the B section style. There is also a third solo in this chart that is on the entire form, but I took it out of my transcription since my group will only have 2 soloists on this tune.

After the last solo the tune goes back to the head (once through) ending in a drum solo with horns sprinkled throughout. I found the idea of the final solo vamp as a combination of the different harmonic sections of the piece a great way to generate something new that is familiar. Eventually Parks plays octave Fs over the entire vamp, and the tune fades out. In a live setting I plan on ending on the F major chord with an F in the bass for a complete ending.

My transcription of the song is not 100% of what happens, and without actually seeing Eric Harland’s chart I had to take my best guess at what chords and extensions are being used in the song. That said, I do feel that there is more than enough information in the chart to perform this song. If you have any feedback or alternate thoughts on anything I have notated please share with me!

Download Chart   C | Bb | Eb

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