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Birk’s Works

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“Birk’s Works” is a tune written by the late great trumpeter and co-pioneer of bebop Dizzy Gillespie. This is a fantastic tune and has been recorded by many of the greatest in jazz. John Birks Gillespie was Dizzy’s full name. “Birk’s Works” refers to Dizzy’s middle name.

 

This tune is basically a minor blues, however according to Dizzy’s original recording and multiple other versions of this tune, the iv chord is replaced with the bVI dominant. In the key of F minor that would be Db7. However this tune is often dismissed as a standard minor blues perhaps partly because the Real Book shows it as such. Therefore be mindful of this while playing Birk’s Works with other musicians. There are indeed some recordings out there that use the iv as well, however I believe the bVI was Dizzy’s original intention.

 

It’s hard to say what the common key would be considering everyone who has recorded it seems to do it in a different key. Dizzy recorded it in several different keys himself. The charts are in the key of F minor but this is one of those tunes you should be able to play in all 12 keys.

Videos to learn the melody/changes

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Brent Vaartstrahttp://www.brentvaartstra.com
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for learnjazzstandards.com which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."

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