Composed by Charles Mingus
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat is a popular standard originally recorded in 1959. It was composed by Charles Mingus and lyrics were later added by Joni Mitchell. Originally, Mingus had written the tune as a sort of homage to the late Lester Young.
Throughout jazz history, the tune has been recorded by a number of musicians in a variety of settings and arrangements. Today, it is regarded as one of the more popular standards in the American lexicon.
The Nuts and Bolts
The harmony for this tune is not totally functional. Instead, many of the chords are treated as their own sound. This is also often the case in many Wayne Shorter tunes. The form almost acts like a blues in a very loose fashion.
Personally, it helps me to think of that first F7 as the I like you’d see in a blues. Next, the Db7 then pulls to the Gbmaj7 for some functional movement. Then, at bar 5 it goes to that IV chord of Bbm7 – also like you’d see in a blues. Eventually, it makes its way back home to the F7. Additionally, it’s a 12-bar form which is also very typical of a blues tune.
We could go in and give some sort of justification to each of the chords, but I feel that may be beyond the scope of this lesson. The important thing to take away is that the approach to this composition is much less functional than many standards.
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat: Comping Ideas
Here are some good basic shapes for comping over Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. It might seem boring at first, but it’s important to learn to treat a tune like this with care as the changes are a bit unusual. Try messing around with the way you play them. Instead of just playing block chords, maybe you can try arpeggiating some of them and so on.
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat: Chord Melody
Here is a nice and simple chord melody for this tune. Nothing fancy. We’re simply making use of drop 2/3 shapes as well as a few shell voicings here and there with some extensions. Feel free to explore more possibilities with this one as we are just giving you a frame of reference.
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat: Single-Note Solo
Once again, nothing fancy in this one. Here, we’re just making it a point to highlight important chord tones and move through melodic passages in between. The main thing I’d like you to take away from this one is the treatment of each individual chord.
I’ve treated this one as more of a 12/8 feeling. It’s just something that came out that way, and I was happy with the result! 🙂
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat: Backing Track
If you’d like to download the backing track, you can do so here.
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat: Chord Reference Sheet
At the end of the PDF, we’ll be giving you some more voicings to play around with over this tune. Here, we’ll add extensions and things you can use to further explore its interesting harmony.
-Charles Mingus’ Ah Um album originally released in 1959. It’s always a good idea to listen to the original with tunes like this!
-Joni Michell’s Mingus album released in 1979. Mitchell was the one who added lyrics to this tune and her rendition is as wonderful as just about everything she’s done.
-John McLaughlin’s My Goal’s Beyond album released in 1970. I thought it necessary to include a guitarist’s version and who better than John McLaughlin to provide it?
Jonathan Orriols is a guitar player out of Miami, Florida with 20 years of experience. He writes and performs music in several groups spanning different genres such as jazz, blues, and rock. He also studied composition for film, tv, and games through Berklee’s online program.