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Solar (1954)

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Origin and Chart Information
Rank 402
Written by Miles Davis

Here are the top ten...

Year Rank Title
1930 1 Body and Soul
1939 2 All the Things You Are
1935 3 Summertime
1944 4 'Round Midnight
1935 5 I Can't Get Started (with You)
1937 6 My Funny Valentine
1942 7 Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be)
1930 8 What Is This Thing Called Love?
1933 9 Yesterdays
1946 10 Stella by Starlight

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Musicians' Comments

One of the more enduring myths about this tune is that Miles Davis wrote it. In fact, as has been the case with Mr. Davis and his many “composer” credits, he didn’t. This song was written by Chuck Wayne in the late 1940s, as a tribute to his close friend and Woody Herman band mate, the great trumpeter Sonny Berman, hence, the song title is a play on words with Mr. Berman’s first name. Solar is essentially a modified 12-bar blues that starts in minor key, but quickly moves to the major IV chord, before traveling back to the I chord by way of the same tonicizing sequence to the bIII and bII areas, as found in Toots Thielman’s “Bluesette”. The last I heard was that Chuck Wayne’s daughter was suing Miles Davis’ estate for copyright infringement and back royalties.

Steve Rochinski, Guitarist, Composer, Arranger, Author, Professor, Harmony Dept., Berklee College of Music

Solar, pronounced “so-LAHR” by the jazz community (attributed to Miles), rather than the usual “SO-ler,” is still popular and often called at jam sessions, encores, and occasionally on programs. The relative simplicity of its form (only 12 bars) and harmony (Cm with a string of [slow/chord-per-bar] ii-V-I’s make it easy to memorize and “blow” over yet this simplicity allows for much creativity and “stretching out” for the soloist and accompanists.

“Solar,” on Walkin’ by Miles Davis All Stars with Horace Silver, Percy Heath, etc., is taken at a relaxed, medium swing tempo and features Miles with his famous muted tone.

Keith Jarrett’s Tribute CD features a more aggressive and quicker version.

Roland Davis, composer, performer

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By the Same Writers...

Written by the Same Composer(s)...
This section shows the jazz standards written by the same writing team.

Miles Davis

Year Rank Title
1947 194 Donna Lee
1959 248 All Blues
1958 287 Milestones
1954 402 Solar
1959 426 Blue in Green
1959 435 So What
1954 537 Four
1959 633 Nardis
1953 652 Tune Up
1947 851 Sippin' At Bell's
1948 894 Half Nelson

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