Tag Archives: jazz

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

Chris Potter – All The Things You Are

In a way, this is the solo that started it all for me (again). While I had done a lot of transcribing in high school and college, I had gotten away from it for several years after college for one reason or another.

But then I heard this solo one day and felt compelled to transcribe it (and play it too!)

So I set about transcribing it, and managed to get through the whole thing. I have no idea how long it took, probably two weeks with a few hours here and there devoted to it.

When I first transcribed the solo, I was just going for notes and rhythms, not paying much attention to form or chord progressions. With no rhythm section reference, it can be hard to follow at times, or even find where ‘one’ is (intentionally!)

I made heavy use of off time signatures to reconcile this. But I realize in hindsight that this was a mistake. I recently went back to try and add in chorus markers and chord changes for reference. But often I found that phrases might be notated a few beats away from where they ‘should’ land to line up with chorus start/end points. I spent some time editing and quickly realized that it was going to be a huge amount of work to clean up. So instead I present it as-is, mistakes and all. There are better transcriptions of this solo out there for sure, but this one is mine 🙂

I’ve learned to play passages from the transcription, but it’s obviously very difficult to play certain sections, so don’t expect to see a video of me playing the whole solo any time in my lifetime. I have tremendous respect for those who can!

The recording was the first of many bootleg recordings of Chris Potter playing a capella at a master class. There are now many of these floating around with varying audio quality. I don’t think Chris sees any money from these unfortunately, so please support his albums and performances.

We’re lucky to have such a legendary saxophone player active in our lifetime who is so incredibly gifted both musically and technically!

  • Artist: Chris Potter
  • Album: (YouTube)
  • Track: All The Things You Are
  • Instrument: Tenor Sax

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

P. S. For those of you who are interested in how my recovery from double-jaw surgery is going, I’m about eight weeks post-surgery and still a long way from playing the saxophone. I can now eat soft food gently, but my lower lip is still totally numb and very stiff. I predict another 6-8 weeks before I’m playing again.

Marc Russo – Silverlake

My playing hiatus due to jaw surgery continues, so no video this week. Instead I’ll be posting transcriptions from the archive.

This is one I did way back in high school. I learned altissimo by playing along to transcriptions of Marc Russo and David Sanborn, and a little help from some books like Ted Nash’s
Top Tones” and David Liebman’s book “Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound” (for overtones, etc.)

I dusted this one off a few weeks ago to clean up the transcription and get ready to post it. I forgot how HIGH it went – double G! D is pretty much my limit these days, although I somehow managed to play this back in high school. I had a very different setup those days, and apparently much harder reeds and tolerance for pain.

I started to work this one up, and I was hoping to get a video posted before my jaw surgery. But once the braces went on, I could barely play anything taxing, they just shred my lips with anything that requires any pressure. So I don’t know when (or if) I’ll ever get back above that high D again. For the kind if playing that I do, I don’t ever go that high, so although I appreciate the value of being able to do it, I realize that my practice time is better spent focusing on more immediate needs with tangible benefits.

That said, Silverlake is a beautiful track. Kind of a ballad that breaks into a funky latin/fusion feel for the solo. There are a few bars that sounds like he switches to soprano, so I indicated that in the transcription (while still notating for alto).

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Bob Mintzer – Boomtown

More Bob Mintzer solos from Mint Jam! I was hoping to get this solo done and recorded before my jaw surgery, but alas that was not to be. I got the transcription done and I was working it up, but it’s a pretty hard solo and wasn’t where it needed to be for me to record it. I’m confident I can work it up some day, but it will be a few months before I can play again, so I’m just posting as-is.

This is definitely the hardest solo I’ve transcribed from Mint Jam to date. Both in terms of the transcription and the performance. Lots of very fast passages, as well as some tricky altissimo.

There’s a lot of complexity in what the rhythm section is doing, and Bob plays off of it very well. For all that is going on, the track still manages to swing – what a killer band!

I plan on continuing to work through this album while I’m laid up. There’s an EWI track that I might even be able to work on while I recover, before I can play sax.

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Maceo Parker – Quick Step

This is definitely the last video I will post before I go in for jaw surgery. I was on the road all week for work, so I didn’t have a chance to practice or transcribe something new. I pulled something out of the archive and spent about an hour working it up – not enough to do it justice. Tomorrow I get the wires put on my braces in preparation for surgery Wednesday, so I doubt I’ll even play sax again before I go offline for 3+ months.

But I didn’t pick an easy one to go out on. Quick Step is an up-tempo Maceo tune (as the title would suggest), and it’s in a flat key, which is pretty unusual. It’s basically a one-chord jam with e melody that is intercut with several short solos.

Transcribing the opening was tough, because when you first hear the tune, you don’t know where ‘one’ is. it becomes clear once the rhythm section comes in. But it can be a good exercise to try and figure it out without that context.

For me, transcribing is like a science experiment. You listen, and formulate a hyopthesis (guess). Then you listen again with that hyopethesis in mind to either validate or invalidate it. If you’re really good at it, you can guess about a whole line at a time. But if you’re like me, sometimes you’re guessing about a single pitch, or the rhythmic placement of a single note in a phrase. But if you follow that basic approach you can get through the hardest transcription there is. Just slow it down and focus on solving one problem at a time until it all comes together.

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Maceo Parker – Pass the Peas

This may be the last video I post before I go in for jaw surgery. I’ll be traveling for a week, and then back for only a few days before I go under. I’ll also be getting wires on my braces when I get back, so playing will only get harder. I’ll keep posting and transcribing as much as I can, just no videos for a few months.

So hopefully this is a good one to go out on. Pass the Peas is one of my favorite Maceo tunes, and this is a great version of it. It’s from the Roots and Grooves CD set, recorded with a full big band.

The melody is a lot of fun to play, but it’s a bit repetitive, so I didn’t record it. I start with Maceo’s first solo, which is pretty straight forward. After a few more solos, Maceo comes back in to trade with the drummer – none other than the legendary Dennis Chambers! They trade twos, and they start pulling the tempo down almost to a crawl. It’s a lot of fun.

I’m still adjusting to my Conn 6M in some ways. The hardest adjustment is the left hand table. I don’t like that the B key is in the middle. I prefer the Mark VI layout which has only the C# and B keys on the second row and the Bb below. Towards the end of the sax/drum solo I missed the B key because I still can’t feel instinctively which is which.

After Mceo drops out, Dennis Chambers takes an amazing drum solo. I didn’t record the melody on the way out either, but it’s all in the written transcription. It’s worth playing along with if you don’t already know the tune.

Enjoy!

@SDartSax