From the Summer 2017 issue of Ukulele | BY JUMPIN’ JIM BELOFF
Lyle Ritz, who passed away on March 3, 2017, at the age of 87, was acknowledged as a jazz ukulele legend. His 1958 Verve album, How About Uke?, is essential listening for all fans of the instrument. In 2002, when we released his Lyle Ritz Solos songbook, I wrote in the introduction that the arrangements were some of the most challenging ever published for the ukulele. In 2008, when my company published Lyle Lite, I pointed out that Lyle had at last created a collection of chord solos “for the rest of us!”
This chord solo of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” is from the Lyle Lite book and is a fine introduction to Lyle’s arranging style. Chord solos are arrangements where both the melody and harmony of the song are built into the many chord frames. As you play through them, you’ll hear all the musical DNA of the song. Not surprisingly, chord solos are especially beloved by players who would prefer to keep the focus on their fingers rather than their singing voice.
When first attempting to play any chord solo, it’s wise to start out at a slower speed. With practice, you’ll eventually be able to take it to performance tempo. In this solo, keep an eye out for the X above certain strings in the chord grids, like the one in the first Eb chord. This means do not play the A string. In the second grid, over the word “me,” there are X’s above three of the strings, which means you only pluck the E string. However, you’ll also notice the “6 fr.” notation to the side of that grid. This tells you to play that dot or note at the sixth fret. The number 4 above the dot is a suggestion that you use your fourth finger or pinky to play it.
Like all of Lyle’s arrangements, this one includes some distinctive chord choices. The second ending is especially delightful. In his Lyle’s Style DVD he calls it a “deceptive resolution.” This means that instead of hearing the expected Eb right after the Bb7, Lyle delays the ending with two harmonically attractive stops at Badd9 and Emaj7. No doubt the most interesting chord choice is the Eb(#11). Lyle calls that a “rogue chord” meaning that it sounds strange and yet somehow “works” and sounds “pretty.” It also includes the melody note on the open A string. At the end of the day, that may be the ultimate test for any arranger. Does it sound good? Yes, Lyle, it sounds great!
LET ME CALL YOU SWEETHEART
By Beth Slater Whitson and Leo Friedman | Arranged by Lyle Ritz
PUBLIC DOMAIN. ARRANGEMENT BY LYLE RITZ. USED BY PERMISSION OF FLEA MARKET MUSIC.