“Fundamental Frequency” (Toots Thielemans)

While the bass solo in this bop tune equals the combined time of the intro and ending, the three primary soloists have roughly the same amount of solo time: harmonica (61 seconds), sax (65), and piano (72). The BPM ambles if compared to more extreme examples of the genre. While the harmonica may be a non-standard jazz instrument, there are precedents (and heirs). Those are the particulars, as far as frequency and fundamentals go. Thielemans is probably more concerned with the spacing of the band, often pushing back against organizational and operational structures and a strict sense of time. The playful coupling and teasing of the introduction—harmonica partnering up with the other soloists sequentially—for example. And the harmonica’s carry-over from the intro to its solo magnifies the case. Frequency as a given variable. Fundamental: the foundation, the (shifting) root of a chord, and the sounding/vibration of a body.


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