Head to solo section
In the last post about transitions I discussed transitions generally, and also explained some strategies for practicing them. In today's post I want to focus on one transition in particular, that is moving from a head into the solo section of a tune.
Break into 4/4 swing
The classic transition in this situation is to give the soloist a break at the end of the form, usually two to four bars long, and then go right into driving 4/4 swing. One of the greatest examples of this type of transition is Charlie Parkers terrifying break on "A Night In Tunisia" (around 1:16):
This transition is classic because it works so well, giving the soloist a lot of momentum and energy to start their solo off.
There are times however when this structure doesn't fit the mood of the piece or the soloist. One example of this is when a soloist wants to build their solo at a more gradual pace, starting with lower energy so that they can build the solo up even more dramatically as the solo progresses.
Staying in 2
In this situation, one technique that works really well is to stay with a 2 feel. When you feel that a soloist has reached the point where they want to raise the energy, you can then give them a break and go into a driving 4/4 swing. This delayed break and transition to 4/4 when used appropriately can give a soloist a really exciting and flexible structure to work with. Here is an example of me using this technique on "All The Things You Are" (first break at :58, second break at 1:45):
Playing in 2 with intensity
One important note about this technique is that even though you are probably not going to be playing as loudly as if you went straight into 4/4, you have to keep the intensity and forward momentum of the groove going. Remember that loudness and intensity are not the same thing! Developing a good groove in 2 is really challenging, and needs to be practiced just like playing in 4/4 does.