The LH bass line creates a 12/8 Afro-Cuban feel which I just love. We are using the chord tones (root, 5th, 7th, and octave) of the Gm7 and C7. Take note that we are in the key of Bb, so it's a vi7 to a II7. This bass line is pretty much taken verbatim from the Aaron Goldberg version of the tune.
For the RH, I opted for simple 3-note voicings -- a 735 for the Gm7 and a 379 for C7. Notice how to move from the Gm7 to C7 you just have to change the F to an E -- sweet! I displaced the rhythm of the RH chords for a groovier, more off-beat feel.
MELODY (1st 8 measures)
In the video, we start by learning just the single-note RH melody, something I would recommend doing no matter what tune you are working on. Then we fill in the RH melody by harmonizing it with chord tones below, known as a "chord melody." Our LH uses that same funky 12/8 Afro-Cuban bass line from the intro. Don't forget to be aware of the chords and theory as you learn this one. The 4 chords of the 1st 8 mm are: Gm7, C7, F7sus, Bb -- this is a fairly common chord progression: vi7 - II7 -- V7sus -- I. (Note - you could also play Cm7 to F7, a ii7 to V7, instead of the F7sus, but in this particular arrangement, I think the F7sus works nicely.)
MELODY (2nd 8 measures)
In the second half of the melody, we switch from an Afro-Cuban 12/8 feel to a straight swing feel. The walking bass (quarter note bass line) in the LH along with the swung 1/8th notes in the melody is creating that feel for us. The walking bass is either outlining the chord tones or else moving in a step-wise motion towards a destination note (the root note of the next chord). Again, with the RH melody, we start by learning the single-note melody and then thicken it up with chord tones as a second step. These 2nd 8 bars end with a unison line over a Bb major blues scale (starting on F). If you are familiar with your minor blues scales, this is the same thing as a G minor blues scale (starting on F). Take some time and get the fingering right for this ending lick -- you'll be happy you did!
A NOTE ABOUT THE KEY
The purists out there may have noticed that this arrangement is not in same key as the original Stevie Wonder version, which is in the key of E. I don't really have any good reason for doing it in Bb like I did. I think as I was figuring out the tune by ear that's where my fingers fell and I liked the way it sounded! But, by all means, for the advanced players out there, try to transpose the entire arrangement to the original key of E -- this would be a great exercise and a good opportunity to play in E major, a key that strikes terror in the hearts of most jazz players.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Shedding!