Excerpted from Speaking of Jazz: Essays and Attitudes
Below is my transcription of Charles Mingus' Goodbye Porkpie Hat. It is a beautiful blues ballad, written in homage to the then recently-departed Lester Young. I always loved playing this composition with Mingus, who in turn enjoyed sitting down at the piano and discussing his composition and orchestration style with me. In the case of a sophisticated tune such as this or Herbie Hancock's Dolphin Dance, it is always best to do your own transcription rather than trust the Real Book, since it is not a standard tune—which you'd probably want to reharmonize anyway. Notice that the form of the exposition is different for the solos than on the Head chorus.
One of the truly special things about Mingus' writing style can be found in the coda (see transcription below), in which he uses an F pedal point for the two-measure coda, involving an Fsus followed by a GbMA7/F bass (third inversion). From my analyses of various Debussy and Ravel scores, I've found that often the omission of even just one note makes something profoundly different and charming. In this case, the omission of the seventh of the F chord is very special, and the two-measure pedal point is very subtle. Another relatively unusual feature is his use of mMA7 chords as tonic chords in which the MA7 doesn't resolve or function in a line cliché. Instead, they remain unresolved, creating tension and color as an alternative version of the more common m7 chord. Note that the last measure of the Head chorus (before the coda sign) should be a C7. In my arrangement of the piece, I added the contrary motion with the passing chords:
Always loved this tune, Ed. Thanks for posting it.
Your transcription — except for slight differences in some chord qualities (e.g., 7b5) and your nice contrary motion in the bar before the coda — is almost identical to those in Real Book 1 and the Ultimate Jazz Fake Book.
Charles Mingus: More Than a Fake Book contains slight differences from all of the above.
The key is different: Gb rather than Ab, and yet it is written with the key signature Eb, which makes for many accidentals in the head.
The top melody note in the minor second cluster over the D7 chord (C13#11 in the Mingus book) is given in the Mingus book as the third of the chord, rather than the #9 in all the other transcriptions. (I.e., in your key the Mingus book would be F-F# instead of your E-F.)
I'm very fond of mMAJ7 chords. Also like to use mMAJ7 over dim7 in the bass (FmMAJ7/D) for half-diminished chords.
Thanks for your remarks. Mingus probably recorded slightly different versions of this tune. I transcribed it years ago, and I don't remember now which recording it was taken from. It could also be just how the musicians interpreted it.
I agree that this is a special composition with a unique blues mood.
I too like MA7 chords--of all 4 types: oMA7, mMA7, MA7, +MA7. I also like them as a triads over a bass, such as: B/C.
Glad you like the contrary motion; it's not easy to get players to make this kind of thing sound, though, since there's a different voicing under every lead note, each with a different quality; and the contrary motion, although effective, can also require some rehearsing until the players begin to hear it.
Here's an example of minor major 7th chord (mMaj7) in A minor: A (root), C (minor 3rd), Eb (flat 5th) and G# (major 7th). You may vary the position of the notes and omit the root and leave it for the bass player. Chords with major 7th are seldom voiced with root on top because of the minor 9th (G# - A) that sounds pretty dissonant to most ears.
In addition you may add 6th (13th) and 9th (2nd) to the chord: AmMaj7 (6th = F#, 9th = B). When including 9th (B) in minor chord the 9th should be placed on top of minor 3rd (C). However, there are a number of exceptions to these rules, so let your taste be your guide.