Jazz Lessons Tiny Grimes Tiny's Tempo

Published on April 6th, 2015 | by Sam


Tiny Grimes – Tiny’s Tempo Transcription

Tiny Grimes is an underrated guitarist from the bebop era.  He is best known for playing with the Art Tatum Trio and some recordings featuring Charlie Parker.  Tiny Grimes is definitely out of the Charlie Christian school of playing, and to my ears is one of the best of that particular style.  He has a very similar attach and tone to Christian.  His tone is also very similar.  Tiny Grimes – along with Charlie Christian, Herb Ellis, and T-Bone Walker – is one of the best links between country music and jazz.

This recording features Charlie Parker, who plays a typically amazing (yes – typically amazing) solos.  We will look at Tiny’s solo starting midway, on the third chorus.

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 Tiny Grimes Harmony

The note choices Tiny uses are pretty much in line with anything that Charlie Christian would have played in this same era.  One thing that modern players miss about Grimes and Christian is that they would play very guitar-istic things, or things that lay easily on the guitar.  They weren’t as concerned as modern players are with finding ways to break apart the fingerboard.  Instead they were focused on playing specific lines that lay well on the guitar.

The final chorus is a shout chorus played by both Tiny and Bird (Charlie Parker).  This phrase again sits really well on the fingerboard with the same fingering on both the E and B strings.  The end of this lick is right out of Charlie Christian’s book, almost verbatim.

Tiny Grimes Rhythm

The rhythm is a major driving force in this solo.  Most of the time he plays driving, steady eighth notes.  The moments when he switches to off beat syncopated notes ( bar 9 of the transcription) give the solo some extra vibe.  The triplet figures are also particularly grooving on this recording.


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It’s noticeable to my ear in listening to guys like Tiny Grimes and Charlie Christian that they are very focused on groove, vibe, and clarity much more than notes, harmony, and playing altered scales.  Their time period is certainly a big reason for that, but it’s worth noting that groove, vibe, and clarity never sound old fashioned.  These guys are absolutely worth going back to check out.

Make sure to check out some of the other jazz articles here. Also check out 80/20 Jazz Guitar, available on Amazon as well as here.

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