Lenny Pickett – Sparkling in the Sand

More flute!

One of the things that impresses me about Lenny Pickett is that he’s not just a virtuoso on one instrument (the tenor saxophone), he’s also a prolific doubler.

He’s got amazing tone and technique on the flute, and in this recording he really gets to stretch out and show off his flute chops. I’ve seen TOP a number of times, and I’ve always wished that they would incorporate more flute in the horn section. It fits so beautifully in to the classic soul ballad sound.

This track is no exception. For me, it’s the epitome of a sould ballad. Powerful lead vocal with beautiful backing vocals, soaring horns, and a bubbling rhythm section underneath. The solo section slips into a double time latin feel that’s just perfect.

This a live recording, and they execute it brilliantly. Well done guys!

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Joe Farrell – Friends

Time for some flute! This was the first flute solo I ever transcribed. I’ll admit that I probably bought this album ironically back in High School because of the smurfs on the cover, but when I listened to it, I realized that it was the real deal. There are so many good tunes on this album, including one of my favorite Chick Corea compositions – Samba Song.

Joe Farrell’s playing on this tune is beautiful. He plays tenor on the album as well, and I’m a big fan of his sax playing too, but I have to say he’s probably my biggest influence on flute. Without even listening to the track, you can tell how masterfully he builds the solo from beginning to end. Just look at the page to see how the register gradually moves up and the density of notes increases as he builds. And of course when you listen to it you’ll hear how masterfully it’s executed.

I was hoping that one positive side effect of my jaw surgery would be a lot of down time from the saxophone that I could channel in to my flute playing. Alas, that was not to be. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that my lower lip would be 100% numb for 6+ months! While I’ve started to slowly pick up the saxophone again, I can’t make a note on flute because I can’t feel where it is on my lip. If I play in front of a mirror I can get a note out, but it’s frustrating to say the least.

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

Greg Lyons – Bring the Funky Back, Pt. 2

Here’s the trumpet solo from Bring the Funky back. To me, this is the centerpiece of the whole song. The whole tune is a driving, up-tempo funk feel – opening with a fade into an organ solo, and then in to a guitar solo.

But after the guitar solo, the rhythm section breaks down to a floating feel that feels very loose even though the time never actually stops. Greg comes in with a harmon mute, playing around with the different tonalities that the keys are laying down.

Then after 24 bars of the breakdown feel, the band comes back in and kicks it back in to high gear. Greg loses the mute and goes for broke over the last eight bars.

He does a great job of building through to the end of the chorus, a very cool solo! I should transcribe more trumpet solos. The nature of the instrument leads to a different set of ‘comfortable’ patterns, so playing transcriptions from other instruments is a good way of stretching your comfort zone.

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

Alexey Nikolaev – Back in Black

Second Opinion was all original material, with the exception of this song. Yes, it’s that “Back in Black”, by AC/DC.

We thought it would be fun to throw in one cover song, but to do something really different, that we could put our own stamp on. We had done that on the first album with “I’m a Man” by Spencer Davis, and it went over really well.

There’s some debate about where the idea came from. My wife is a huge AC/DC fan, and we had seen them live around the time we were gearing up for the album. I think she might have suggested it to me, and I brought it to the band. We were already working with Jeff on the material at that point, so we were getting pretty close to going in to the studio.

The rhythm section guys recorded their tracks before we had any horn parts, which was pretty unusual for us. So they did a rough arrangement, and then when the horns went to do their parts, Jack wrote stuff to fit. So we never played this one live until after the album was done. But it goes over very well live – we usually close a set with it.

It starts off slow, just drums, and it’s pretty down-tempo. Most people don’t recognize the song until the lyrics come in, and some people still don’t until the chorus hits. By that time, everyone is on-board and singing along!

Alexey plays a very cool solo here. He pushes the harmony a bit to create tension. The fast runs at the end are tough to transcribe, but I think they are pretty close. And then of course he takes it way up high to end the solo!

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

Scott Dart – Bring the Funky Back, Pt. 2

Some would probably say that it’s a waste of time (and perhaps a little self-absorbed and/or indulgent) to transcribe your own solos. Those people are probably right!

But I realized that I had been posting a few other Doctorfunk transcriptions, so why not post one of my own? This one is barely eight measures, so don’t get too excited.

You’ll notice that there are two ‘Bring the Funky Backs’ on the album. Originally, these were the same song. What eventually became ‘Part 2’ was the ending to ‘Part 1’.

The tempo and feel are obviously very different, but I had this complex transition worked out where the triplet of the first part became the quarter of the second part, so it sped up. We even played it like live for awhile. But the transition never felt natural, and it certainly wasn’t good to dance to!

Several people suggested that we break it in to two separate songs, which eventually we did when we started working with Jeff to put the album together. Producers can be an invaluable source of impartial, outside advice. And when you have big ears and great ideas like Jeff Tamalier does, it’s not hard to get people to listen.

So we broke this into two tunes, and part two became an up-tempo jam with lots of solos, similar to TOP songs like Squib Cakes and Ebony Jam.

I love Greg’s trumpet solo in the earlier part of the tune, and I will probably transcribe that next. My ‘solo’ is nothing special. I’m basically trading bars with the ‘melody’, filling in around the vocals. I had never solo’d when we played the song live, but we had some down time in the studio and Jeff asked me if I wanted to blow a little. He just let the jam run and I put down a few dozen licks. When it came time to edit, he pulled out four that he liked.

It wasn’t something that was planned. Honestly, I would have over-thought it if we had planned on it. Instead, I just had to drop in and play without thinking, which worked fine. A handful of pentatonic/blues scale runs – nothing special.

I don’t actually enjoy soloing on bari with Doctorfunk. The setup I use I really optimized to bark out low, loud, short notes. So I’m not a fan of my sound in the middle and upper registers, and there’s basically no nuance to the sound. It’s exactly what I need for the section parts, but when it comes to soloing, I like to say that it feels like tap dancing in moon boots.

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

Alexey Nikolaev – Promises

Promises is another tune from Doctorfunk’s album “Second Opinion”. This one was written by Jack Halsey, our lead trumpet player, horn arranger, and musical director. It’s a slow funk groove with a great feel to it.

Alexey Nikolaev turns in another great solo on this one, with both fills around the verses as well as a feature solo as well. I love the intervallic work he does during the solo, both up in the altissimo range, but also down to the bottom end of the horn. It really gives the solo some nice contrast and feels unexpected.

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

Bob Bradley – What’s Up Doc?

When we recorded “What’s Up Doc?”, we had a fairly long ride out at the end. The band was vamping over the groove and the background vocals.

We decided to have Bob blow a tenor solo over the ride out. Alexey had the feature solo during the tune, but rather than have him play a second solo, it felt like a good opportunity to give Bob some time.

Bob and Alexey are both killer players, and I’ve learned a ton standing next to them night after night. But they are also diametrically opposed. While Alexey’s strength comes from his technical prowess, Bob is all style and delivery. Although he’s a tenor player, he reminds me a lot of Maceo Parker in that regard.

It turns out, this is exactly what the tune needed to fill the void at the end. Not pyrotechnics, but soul. And Bob delivers. He starts off very reserved. Finding the gaps and filling them in tastefully. The phrasing is beautiful, and he builds some nice lines as the song vamps and fades.

Bob left Doctorfunk a year or so ago when he had to undergo the same jaw surgery that I’m now recovering from. He comes and sits in with us occasionally, so it’s great to know that recovery is possible, and that I should be able to play again. Bob’s my hero!

Enjoy!

@SdartSax