Moose the Mooche

I’m transcribing and learning a jazz standard each month of 2023 to try and get better at internalizing jazz language. For the month of April, I went back to bebop and learned Charlie Parker’s Moose the Mooche, a song about Parker’s favorite drug dealer. I picked the version that’s in the omnibook to have a reference to check my transcription against, and while the omnibook is probably more accurate, my transcription is a bit simpler and amenable to guitar. How Aebersold & Slone hear all of those eighth notes in the middle is beyond me.

The first time this tune grabbed me was probably when hearing the version on Joshua Redman’s Wish and I just liked the syncopation and chromaticism on the head. That version is recorded as a trio with bass and drums and so has a bit more space, while still managing to bring the intensity.

And here is me playing Parker’s head and solo. I stumble a bit around bar 14 where there is a fast position shift but overall it sounds OK, I guess.

The transcription:

My One and Only Love

I am continuing to transcribe and learn a jazz standard each month to try and get better at this genre. And recording myself to keep myself honest.

March’s song is My One And Only Love because I thought, “why not try to learn a ballad?” I started by making a playlist (“My many one and only loves”) and listened to twenty versions of this song, settled on the version by Grant Green as the one to transcribe, and wrote it out (just melody this time — most recorded solos are generally embellishments of the melody). Green’s version has a slightly different melody and chords than the standard, and is in Eb instead of C.

I recently got a Focusrite Scarlett for recording and the audio quality difference is, unsurprisingly, night and day compared to just recording with my webcam mic. The guitar is straight into the Scarlett, then I am using Guitarix with a Fender Twin Reverb-like amp model to get the clean sound. The bass/drums are a JJazzlab midi track. I’m using pipewire in place of Jack to route and mix the audio sources. I’m really pleased with this setup, and after years of Linux audio being, well, Linux audio, it feels like pipewire finally got things right (even on the oldish version Debian stable ships that disclaims any responsibility).

Here’s a full song with improvised solo.

Things for me to work on after having watched myself:

  • It’s a bit shaky on the B7 -> Bdim -> Cm transition. I kept missing the b5.
  • I got a bit behind the chords on the last chorus and had to play catch-up.
  • The solo is generally in the right key centers but not outlining the chords very well or having much development.
  • I tend to play way behind the beat, even though (I think) I have it clicking away in my head. This is something I’ll need to focus on because it makes the whole thing sound sluggish and weird.

Although I still like the melody, I got bored of this one pretty early on, so next month I’ll pick another uptempo bebop standard to learn.

Confirmation part 2

I finished transcribing the first solo chorus to Confirmation and then went back and compared a few other transcriptions to fix some errors. I won’t claim mine is exact at this point, but it is as close as I can hear it. Meanwhile, I learned it on guitar and can kind of play it at about 80% tempo. There are some nice finger stretches and sweep picked arpeggios in this one. Parker’s swings way harder, of course.

Have a listen below.


Continuing on my goal to transcribe and learn a tune each month, I set Groovin’ High aside and transcribed the head of Parker’s Confirmation this weekend. On github as usual.

I took a quick scan of the internets and my transcription is pretty close, at least as far as the rhythms go. There are a few places where we disagree on notes, on some of the 16th triplets and a few bars in the bridge. I’ll have another listen and fix these things up as I have time.

The intro comes from Al Haig on whichever version I happened to have. I worked it out in front of the piano and can just play it with my terrible piano skills. Not sure about the chromatic descending minor chords since I can really only hear the bass notes on the recording but it doesn’t sound too bad.

Anyway, onto the solos…

Grooving not so high

Since last time I have been working on transcribing the solo on the tune Groovin’ High.

As a snapshot of where I am on this one, you can watch me creak my way through the solo over here:

There are a half dozen wrong notes and the last phrase is totally off, but, it’s getting there.

While at it, I wrote an arpeggio study for the chord changes and tried out lilypond’s built-in tablature renderer for this. The automatic numbering works well enough. I work out the fingering first and then tell it which string to use (otherwise it will pick fairly random positions with open strings), but at least it’s less likely to make a typo when you give note names instead of fret numbers.

Correction to my previous post, the sax player on this recording was (I think) Ernie Henry, not Charlie Parker. I do have one of the versions with Parker on it, but the recording quality is not great so this one is easier to listen to. It comes from the album Dizzy in Greece that I had from a compilation, so it took a lot of googling to figure out when it was originally released and who played on it.

First Standard of 2023

I never really liked big band music as a genre, but I guess it’s hard to find fault when Dizzy and Bird are on the bandstand. And thus I’ve had Groovin’ High going through my brain for weeks on end, so I finally sat down this morning to transcribe the head. It doesn’t appear in any of my real books so I did it the old fashioned way: listening, and then after I had a first draft down, cheating with image search. Mistakes are either my own or someone else’s.

This is fun to play on guitar: the arpeggios are all familiar shapes starting in 11th position and there are some interesting chromatic enclosures. It is not hard to play at tempo. Maybe I’ll keep going on this one and transcribe the solos at some point. Lilypond source in the link.

The latest on letters in squares

Somewhere along the way this summer I quit doing crosswords for a while. Maybe my gardening hobby took over, or I didn’t want to touch the computer after work, or perhaps pandemic has been too much of a stressor, or maybe it just felt too much of an obligation to keep up with — whatever the reason, I fell out of practice a bit. Visualized, my puzzling activity for 2022 looks like this:

legend: white = streak meaning I solved it the day of, gray = I did it (possibly much) later, black = still haven’t opened it

I also skipped entirely the ACPT this year.

Recently, though, an LWN story about Gnome Crosswords rekindled my interest a bit. A few of the puzzles from my website have been merged into this project, and I have another few sitting around that I will polish up and submit someday.

This was a good exercise to clean up some awkward fill:

  • BOB / MAKO cross to BIB / MAKI; for this rejected-from-NYT puzzle, I still felt bad about putting my own name in it; also I guess MAKI is more common for anyone who has ever eaten sushi
  • PETRE [Architect of Christchurch Basilica (?!)] / GAR to PETME / GAM in this puzzle. Although GAM feels objectifying, I clued it as bygone film noir slang. Anyway PETRE was so terrible that it had to go.
  • Same puzzle, AKA / OKE [Just great, in old slang (?!)] to ADA / ODE. People running Linux are quite likely to know Ada Lovelace, besides which it is in mainstream puzzles by now, and OKE is very O_o.

There are still some lousy answers in both puzzles, driven by grid shape so fixing would require a lot of work, but these tiny tweaks make them a lot less bad.

Meanwhile, I’ve completed most of the early-week puzzles over the last few weeks, chasing the 5-minute mark on Tuesday puzzles (personal best currently 5:07) and the 4-minute mark on Mondays (4:12).

The discussion in the LWN thread was about crossword file formats, and since Gnome crosswords uses ipuz, I dusted off XwordJS and added ipuz support, and even wrote a couple of test cases. For my money I still prefer XD, much the same as I prefer Markdown to HTML, which brings me back to the image at the beginning of the post.

When I was a wee lad, we would write programs to make images, and all libraries sucked in these times so we would often roll our own. As an example of sucking, this is from a real-life comment in actual code:

 * We use C's setjmp/longjmp facility to return control.  This means that the
 * routine which calls the JPEG library must first execute a setjmp() call to
 * establish the return point.  We want the replacement error_exit to do a
 * longjmp().  But we need to make the setjmp buffer accessible to the
 * error_exit routine.  To do this, we make a private extension of the
 * standard JPEG error handler object.  (If we were using C++, we'd say we
 * were making a subclass of the regular error handler.)

Being poor students at the time, we could not afford to spend our hard-earned money on compression, decimal to binary conversion, or complex serializers, so we did the simplest possible thing that worked: we wrote out P[BGP]M text files (we were profligate when it came to disk). My little visualization was done just in this way: open up vim, a few macros later, a PGM file is born. I let gimp handle the hard work of rotating, scaling up, and converting to PNG, but ImageMagick probably would’ve worked just as well.

7 38

128 128 128 128 128 128 255
255 255 255 255 255 255 255

There is a lot to be said for plain old text, and no, that does not include JSON.

August already

It’s that time of year when all the fruits are ripening and we have more than we can reasonably eat.

Zucchini is new this year, and this used to be one of my favorite summer vegetables, but now I’m just trying to figure out how to use it all up. We ate it as tacos, parm, grilled, roasted, fried, donated to the food pantry, and we still have some in the fridge. Perhaps zucchini bread is in the offing.

The Black Krim tomatoes are delicious sliced on their own, but having several pounds on my hands at the peak of ripeness, I can’t make enough biscuits to go with them. So yesterday I made a couple of jars of pizza sauce (mix of fresh Romas, Black Krims, and a can of San Marzanos, some of my garden basil and garlic). Today we had freshly made sourdough pizzas topped with this sauce and, reader, I submit there is nothing better.

July already

It’s once again that time of year where I have enough growing out in the garden that I can share a couple of photos. Pictured below: some marigolds, gai lan, sugar snap peas, and unripe tomatoes. Last week I made some garlic mayo from harvested garlic scapes — a delicious addition to grilled burgers.


Recently my Kindle (Paperwhite 3, 2015 edition) had a mishap wherein it took a trip through the washing machine. After it dried out, I tried booting it up again only to get a “you should really go repair this” graphic on the display and it was toast. I took the opportunity to upgrade to the more recent, somewhat waterproof edition.

Meanwhile, I wondered if I could do something with the e-ink screen on this old one. After manhandling it open, I found I could get it back on after disconnecting and reconnecting the battery and shorting the traces where the power button used to be. So, naturally I rooted this thing.

Besides trying out KOReader and the like, one possible use for the device would be as a very low power black-and-white photo frame, so here’s a picture of one of the kiddos on the screen. Perhaps encasing this in a better frame and setting up a cron job to cycle images every few days would make a nice build.