Madeleine Peyroux

Lead The Dance

One of my all time favorite musician is Hans Groiner: his interpretations of Thelonious Monk’s music are timeless. But today I will talk about his nemesis : Larry Goldings.

I’ve already mentioned Larry Goldings on a previous post  “Listen to the Singer“. He has a very well design website of his own, I won’t introduce him again.

The ‘instrumental intervention’ in a song that I’ve chosen today is from Madeleine Peyroux version of Leonard Cohen’s song “Dance me to the end of love”.

Here we have a quite simple song harmonically, in minor key. It’s originally a folk song, with simple and powerful melody and lyrics. When your time comes to solo on a song like that, you need to make a powerful statement, or you’ll be useless: the song don’t need noodling and technical show off.

You can get the transcription HERE


Golding’s solo starts with a cool chromatic line: actually two lines going in opposite directions. Starting on a unison, the top line spells the minor scale with a chromaticism between the 4th and the 5th, while the descending line is chromatic down to the 5th. This line is played twice : once over Bb min and finishing with the minor chord. Second time over Fmin finishing other the min9 chords. The rhythm flies above the rhythm section, giving these opening phrases a striking effect.

This is a tricky line to play on the guitar, spend some time figuring out what fingering works best for you depending if you play with fingers, pick, or both.

After this striking chromatic opening, Goldings sticks to scale and arpeggios sounds. But to give some spice to it, when playing the minor third (Ab), he hits the G natural creating a minor second, to give a little bit of dissonance to what otherwise would be ‘simple’ arpeggios. It’s swinging and as a very assured rhythmic drive : Golding leads the dance.

The solo finishes with a cool descending line over the V chord C7 using the whole tone scale: symmetric rhythm, symmetric intervals. Going outside of the harmony with logic.

That’s a very classy solo, that both manages to lift the energy without loosing the feeling and the atmosphere of the song.

Goldings shows us a tasteful way to incorporate some jazz elements in a pop-folk context: if you go too far in the jazz language (be-bop licks, fast runs, etc) you’ll play against the song. But as a jazz-player we all want to play a little bit ‘more’ than ‘basic’ scales and chord-tones. The maestro shows us how it’s done.

Thanx for reading, next week I’ll show an other approach with a solo by Dean Parks : the ‘composition’ approach.

Take care.