Original Guitar Arrangement – “Someday My Prince Will Come”

I’d like to share my arrangement of “Someday My Prince Will Come” with you.

I first came across the tune when I heard the Miles Davis recording which runs over 9 minutes.

It showcases great solos from Miles Davis on trumpet, Hank Mobly on tenor sax, Wynton Kelly at the piano and John Coltrane who was one of the greatest improvisers.

Keith Stirling

I was always interested in improvising and was ambitious to develop my skills.

I’d heard that the great Australian trumpet player, Keith Stirling, (Stirlo to his friends) had been given a grant by the government to go to New York for a year to study with some of the top Jazz musicians and I found out he was back home in Sydney; so I got his number and called him asking if I could have lessons.

Even though he didn’t play guitar and I didn’t play trumpet I knew he had the information and knowledge that I was after.

Keith’s lessons in New York took the form of interviews with legends like Lee Konitz which he taped and he’d often recount things that they’d said during our lessons which was not only interesting but insightful.I’ll never forget Stirlo saying how the great bass player, Ray Brown, admonished him:

“work hard on your music, practice hard. People are nicer to you if you’re good at what you do, if you play well”. Keith was full of great little anecdotes like that.

The Great Australian Trumpet Player – Keith Stirling

Keith had become a Buddhist and practiced the same Nichiren Buddhism that people like Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Tina Turner practiced.

He’d often share a word or two of wisdom that he’d learnt through his Buddhist studies which earned him the nickname of “Cosmic Keith”… but he didn’t care.

Keith would get me to learn Miles Davis solos from recordings and write them down.

He had books with the solos reproduced correctly so we’d compare my transcription with the official one.

We would then discuss how the notes and how phrases worked over the chord changes, also how they related to the chord progression.

“Someday My Prince Will Come” was one of Miles Davis’s solos that we worked on.

Composer Frank Churchill

Keith was a huge Miles Davis buff so hanging out with him was like doing a course in “Jazz History” with a focus on Miles Davis.

There’s a great radio documentary made by Steve Rowland on Miles Davis which Keith had.

He loaned it to me so I taped it and listened to it several times which was quite an effort because it was something like 10 episodes with each episode being an hour in length!

Keith and I would discuss each episode and those conversations were quite the revelation because he had spent a lot of time with the musicians he had played with like Miles Davis, like Lee Konitz and Ray Brown.

I actually met Lee Konitz after his concert here in Sydney and mentioned that I was a friend of Keith Stirling, he said “oh beautiful Keith, you must say hello to him for me”.

Steve Rowland has made a lot of great radio documentaries apart from his “Miles Davis” doco including; a 6 hour documentary series on John Coltrane, another on Franki Zappa, one called “Music For Life” on Carlos Santana and another on Leonard Bernstein.

If we think about that set of 5 musical forces of nature, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Zappa, Santana and Bernstein they’re the core of late 20th century American Art Music.

“Someday My Prince Will Come” was composed by Franck Churchill for the Disney movie “Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs”.

Churchill had dropped out of his medical studies at UCLA to pursue a career in music and he eventually joined the Disney team where he wrote songs and music for movies like Snow White, Bambi, Peter Pan and even won an Oscar for his work in Dumbo.

Before working at Disney Frank Churchill had been the house pianist, from 1924, at the Los Angeles radio station “KNY AM” which is still operating today.

At the age of 15 Churchill had played piano accompanying silent movies and that seems to have been a great musical training ground.

Whatever Franck Churchill’s training, the song he wrote for “Snow White” is a very sophisticated composition and is one of the most challenging tunes to improvise over, that’s why it is a favourite for musicians to hone their improvisation.

I’ve composed a solo to go with my arrangement here.

I hope you enjoy

Steve

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