Chet Baker’s solo on Portrait in Black and White (Zingaro)


Portrait in Black and White is also known as the tune Zingaro, by the Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. The song begins with Chet stating the melody twice, followed by an improvised solo later in the tune. I have included a leadsheet in Bb below for reference if anyone wants to see the melody, which is very repetitious and Jobim-esque. This recording is from the album “Chet in Tokyo” and is part 4 of a series of transcriptions I am doing on the album.

This is the most difficult solo I have ever transcribed, mostly because of the speed but also because of the way I choose to notate the tune. The changes go by at about Q=100, meaning that in order to truely show what Chet was playing there are a lot of 16th notes and 32nds involved in the notation. Measures 18,19, and 20 took a while to figure out how to notate, and 25-30 were also quite an endeavor. Without the aid of the transcription software Transcribe I most likely would have not been able to transcribe this solo, but by slowing down the recording a little bit I was able to truely realize the lines that Baker plays in that section. The rest of the tune is pretty straight-forward, but this one took a while to get under my fingers due to the velocity at which this solo commences.

When I first listened to this solo I was blown away at the technical abiliites Chet shows at parts of this solo, and felt pretty intimidated. However, once I slowed down the recording a little I was able to see that is basically running up and down scales with a few bop-licks in between. Measure 41 is also notated to the best of my abilities, so I would suggest listening to the recording if you want to learn that lick.

Something that jumped out to me while transcribing this solo was the amount of diminished arpeggios and licks that Chet uses to resolve phrases and connect chords that don’t have typical ii-V-I resolutions. There is also a fair amount of melodic repetition that occurs within in the solo, for example measures 38 and 43. The idea is similar but different, bringing back a familiar melodic gesture and rhythm to tie together the solo. I hope you enjoy watching and listening to this solo as much as I did. Truely Chet at one of his finer moments on this album.

Download Leadsheet   Bb

Download Solo Transcription   Bb  |  C

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