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Walkin’ Struttin’ Strollin’ | feat. Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis | The Time Thief blog #9

Alfred 'Pee Wee' Ellis recording 'Walkin' Struttin' Strollin'
Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis recording ‘Walkin’ Struttin’ Strollin’

Watch Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis up close recording in the studio here or watch Stefan talk about his experience recording with PW here.

The inspiration for this tune came from what now seems a lifetime ago: when I was younger I used to play in a place called ?Paletti? in the town I grew up in. Not only did this place offer live music it also put on DJs. I still remember one DJ – way back in the day – playing ?Misty? – but not in the usual jazz standard way – but instead it was in this super funky style which was, at the time unbeknownst to me, ?Go-Go? performed by singer/guitarist Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers – some say Chuck Brown is ?the godfather? of Go-Go – well – listen to him that evening – he certainly made a ?god-fatherly? impression on me.

?Walkin? Struttin? Strollin? is not really a purist Washington D.C. Go-Go style tune, rather than a Funk tune inspired by Go-Go in the broadest sense, mixed in with influences from other funk sub-genres and of course, the universe of Jazz.

Mike and myself spent quiet a bit of time to develop a drum and bass arrangement with a good hook-up. Adding Eran to the foundation helped to shape the tune into what it is today. As ?Go-Go? puts an emphasis on live audience call and response (according to wikipedia), I thought it would be cool to have a call and response between the guitar and the horns over the main riff.

The B section provides a good contrast to the A section with the high flutes and organ melody on top of a tight rhythm played by all. This leads to what has become ‘The Zawinul section?. I felt I wanted to find a melody to be played by most instruments – comparable to a Big Band arrangement ?shout chorus? in the widest sense. I was improvising on my bass until I came up with a somewhat unusual melody which Mike nicknamed the ?Zawinul section? as he improvised these words to the last phrase:

We gonna make it sound like Zawinul!

(He can be a very funny man! – watch this short impromptu video)

Mike Sturgis in the control room of Monnow Valley Studio
Mike Sturgis in the control room of Monnow Valley Studio

When it came to arrange the horns I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted. However, when Michael B Nelson had a choice of a ?blowing section? of a ?horn tutti? instead, he opted for the latter and this section brings a massive Cheshire cat smile on my face every time I hear it! His writing and the performance of the Hornheads is just superb!

?Walkin? Struttin? Strollin? has, aside from the Beat Fatigue Glitch Funk edit which I already wrote about in my ‘Time Thief blog #4‘, two versions – the extended one feat. trombonist Michael B Nelson and tenor sax player Kenni Holmen and the ?radio edit? version featuring Alfred ?Pee? Wee Ellis. I have to thank guitarist Tony Remy for the hook-up with PW. Having already worked with trombonist Fred Wesley (another titan of ?the JB horns?) on ?Bom Le Bom? (watch the video of the recording session here) and ?Fred?s Haus? – it was a great please to work with ‘Pee Wee’ on ?Walkin? Struttin? Strollin?.

I?m looking forward to presenting you with the videos we shot during the recording session once ?The Time Thief? is out on December 1st.

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