September 7, 2012

What Happened To Stella?

This post is a bit different today - I need your input in the comments below!

I was watching a video from Tuscia with Kurt Rosenwinkel & Eddy Palermo playing "Stella By Starlight" and I noticed something very unexpected and beautiful at 0:47. We're at the [B] section (marked with green below) in the 7-8'th bar when Kurt substitutes the BbMaj7 chord with, what sounds to me like, a Bbm9b5.
He then plays the line below which you also can hear at a slightly reduced speed as MP3 here!
I'll give you my thoughts to get the conversation started. The first time I heard this I particularly noticed that F# he holds for just a little longer. Of course my initial thought was that this was a BbMaj7#5 from the G melodic minor scale - it seems that's not the case. With the exception of the last note (F) this actually looks like the Bb whole-half tone scale. If this was some kind of dominant leading back to Em7b5 I would understand, but I can't make heads or tails out of this. Please let me know what you think!

On a very related note there's more Stella by Starlight coming very soon as Philippe Canovas has send me a beautiful two chords per vocing transcription!


  1. Hi
    I agree with the scale that you mentioned, the half-whole. However, I would look at it as a BbdimMaj7 scale (whole-half), cause its kind of a cadence: Bbdim7-->Bbmaj7. There are some standards that uses that. So i believe he is not resolving to Em7b5, but to Bbmaj7, hence the very last F note in the phrase. What do you think?

  2. Hi , you can see it like a A/Bb ( just play the cadence : A to Bb keeping the Bb on bass) it's also a kind of A7b9 from the harmonic minor or the half diminished scale , you can find it the song spring is here , Kurt's voicing here is Bb (with the thumb) , Bb again , Db , E and C on top .

  3. It is indeed the Edim/Bb to Bbmaj7 suspension. It is used at that spot quite often.

    A song like "If I Should Lose You" has it build in, so does "I´ve Got You Under My Skin".