Tag Archives: R&B

Michael Brecker – Candy

Since I’m still unable to play due to my jaw surgery recovery, I might as well break out the Brecker transcriptions!

Actually, this may be the only one I’ve done. I’m certainly no Carl Coan! Brecker’s stuff is impossibly hard to transcribe and play, and this solo is no exception. So I’m sure that it’s full of mistakes, but it’s the best that I can do.

I can play the first half reasonably well, but things get crazy in the second half (in typical Brecker fashion).

I recommend learning the first part if you can. It’s quite approachable, and has some great ideas. The first eight bars are a master class in developing an idea.

The next four bars play with rhythm and space, and then the next four bars add some interesting harmony and layer in some intervals to provide some contrast.

Brecker does an amazing job on this harmonically simple song. He brings in such rich ideas. He had such breadth and depth in his playing, it’s a tragedy that we lost him so prematurely.

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

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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

Ernie Watts – You’re Welcome, Stop on By

If you’ve never heard this live Rufus and Chaka Khan record, stop what you’re doing right now and go get it! It’s one of my all-time favorites!

Both Chaka and the band are in top form here, and it’s great to hear what the horn section adds to these tunes. I believe Jerry Hey did the horn writing, so it’s no surprise there.

This tune is a beautiful duet, and Ernie Watts turns in a masterful 16-bar solo. I love the phrasing, how he sets up and executes these perfect four-bar ideas that build to a logical conclusion that ties right back in to the tune.

Obviously, the ‘black ink’ through bars 9-10 are the most difficult. But as with many passages, the faster it is, the better it lays on the horn. The tricky part here is how Ernie changes it up in the second bar. I don’t know exactly what he’s doing on the horn, but he’s overblowing the line to hit a higher harmonic. My suspicion is that he’s essentially playing the same line, but adding the front ‘fork’ key in the left hand to facilitate the overtone. When done quickly, it’s a cool effect and very tasteful.

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

P.S. I’m still recovering from jaw surgery, so no video from me this week (and for many more weeks), but I may come back and record one for this solo since I’ve worked it up previously.

Maceo Parker – Mother’s Kitchen

What a week this has been! I promise I won’t talk politics. Usually practicing, and especially transcribing serves as a good escape from whatever is going on around me, but this week was particularly tough to focus on anything and be productive. Still, onward and upward!

This is a fairly obscure recording from the J. B. Horns. It’s around the time that Maceo struck out on his own, but before he had really broken through as a solo artist.

The thing I like the most about this track is the horn section work. It’s great practice to play along with the J.B.s and really get in to the mindset of these lines. Nice and short, crisp articulation, tight cut-offs, dynamics, and controlled lip falls. Lots to get right (or wrong!)

The solo is over a one-chord groove. Slow and funky. The solo sticks almost entirely to the blues scale, with the 13th thrown in for color in the sixth bar. Very tasty.

  • Artist: Pee Wee, Fred, & Maceo
  • Album: The J.B. Horns (1990)
  • Track: Mother’s Kitchen
  • Instrument: Alto Sax

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Lenny Pickett – Business is Business

If you’re a fan of Tower of Power, but don’t know about Strokeland, go fix that right now, I’ll wait. www.strokeland.com

This is another killer Lenny Pickett solo. And what a great song! I just love a good hard-swinging 12/8 feel. I used to be intimidated by them, but it’s just 4/4 with a heavy triplet feel. Notating and reading it can be tricky sometimes if you don’t do it often, but it never gets old to play over.

I definitely got tripped up on some of the rhythms and a few of the high parts, but I’m amazed at how much easier the upper register has become for me just in the past few weeks since I started tenor month. This ‘practicing’ trick is useful!

Also, how great is Huey Lewis at this style of music?! I was already a fan, but now I want to hear more of him in this style.

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Candy Dulfer – Ana Stesia

I’m almost done with this box set. One more Candy solo after this, and one more Najee solo.

Anna Stesia is a classic slow funk jam in (concert) C. Candy’s solo is short and sweet – only about 8 bars, with some fills after that, but she’s got some nice licks in there. Nothing too hard here, and just one high note to worry about. In bar 12, she’s trilling between E and G. I wasn’t sure if that was clear from the notation. The minor third trill is classic blues/funk/R&B/pop staple – it always works!

Listening back to my recording, my timing was pretty off in the first few bars. I should have done a few more takes!

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Stevie Wonder – I Feel For You

Happy birthday Stevie Wonder! Instead of waiting to celebrate these legends after they pass, I figure I should be celebrating them NOW while they are still with us.

So I grabbed this Stevie Wonder solo off of the famous Chaka Khan track “I Feel For You”. The song was written by Prince, so my Prince tribute streak is still intact 🙂 I love both versions of this song – Chaka’s version, which is probably much more well known, as well as Prince’s original studio recording.

But this track features an absolutely burning solo by Stevie Wonder on the chromatic harmonica. This track has peak 80’s production values: heavy reverb, delay, etc. so it can be hard to pick out what’s going on under the wash of effects, but Stevie’s playing is great. The harmonica has quite a range and really gets up there. I obviously took some parts down an octave, and arguably should have attempted a few more in the lower octave, but there’s no way to get better at your high chops without spending the time working stuff like this out.

The PDF contains the harmonica parts for the whole track, but the video only contains the solo.

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

P.S. Is this the first non-saxophone transcription that I’ve posted? I should do more of them, they’re harder!