Guest Post By Ben DeVries: Roy Hargrove, I’m not so sure

(The solo starts ~1:23)

Download the transcription: Bb

[Check out more from Ben DeVries at]

I still haven’t decided which is my favourite track on Roy Hargrove’s ‘Earfood’ – either “Strasbourg St. Denis” or “I’m Not So Sure”. Or was it “Starmaker”? I started writing out Roy’s solo in “I’m Not So Sure” some time ago already, and then shelved it. I’ve finally got around to finishing it and digitizing it in MuseScore.

What struck me immediately as I was writing out this solo was the sparsity of notes and delicacy of the phrases at the beginning, followed by sudden outbursts of expressive lines (like bars 21 and 31/34). What I’ve noticed from my own playing is that I often play far too much in trying to find my way through the changes, so this is definitely a lesson to take home.

Writing out phrases such as bars 5, 21-22, 36 and 44 actually doesn’t do the solo justice, and they shouldn’t be taken too literally (as with most solos, I’d say). These lines have their roots in soul and gospel – the kinds of phrases that make you want to jump out of your seat and shout “AMEN!”.

Guest Post from Jason Fabus: Cannonball Adderley, Corcovado Take 2

Download the Transcription: EbBbC

This is actually an alternate take of the Jobim standard Corcovado done by Julian “Cannonball” Adderley from the album Cannonball’s Bossa Nova.  It has got to be one of my favorite albums of all time, and Cannonball shows why.  He has a very effortless way of playing, especially when attacking a difficult passage.  Please do listen to the recording to hear this.  While I may have notated all the notes, Cannonball does a great deal of “ghosting” notes throughout the section, gliding from phrase to phrase.  Challenge yourself not only to perform the notes with accuracy, but also the the style in which Cannonball presents them.


Guest Post from Sumner Truax: Miles Davis, So What

(The solo starts around 1:33 in the video)

[Thanks to Sumner Truax for today’s guest post!  Check out more of Sumner’s transcriptions and phenomenal classical recordings over at]

Download the Transcription: BbEbC

Kind of Blue is one of the most iconic jazz albums recorded to date.  This track and this solo are probably the most well-known recordings on that album.  Miles is one of my favorite horn players because everything he plays sits so perfectly in the pocket.  On this recording especially you can hear him playing primarily on the back side of the beat.  It sounds so effortless!  This is also a great study in melodic development since most of these ideas are just triads!

Guest Post from Kevin Sun: Joe Henderson, Computer G

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Download the Transcription: BbEbC

[Special thanks to Kevin Sun for today’s guest post.  For more of Kevin’s transcriptions and articles, be sure to check out his website at]

From Kenny Garrett’s Black Hope (1992), Computer “G” is a 12-bar blues in F that has a simple melody based on ascending and descending stacks of perfect 4ths.

Joe starts his solo with a simple motif at B that he displaces rhythmically over the first few bars. He uses syncopation and repetition to develop this idea—basically 5-#4–5–1—in a way that’s swinging but not predictably so.

At C, Joe begins to break away from his opening motif by playing longer lines and arpeggios—check out the clearly outlined tritone sub in the 4th bar of C. Joe gestures towards his opening motif in mm. 31-2 and throws in a trademark trill in mm. 33-4 (can you think of any other tenor players who use trills as reliably and as tastefully as Joe?).

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Joshua Redman, Straight, No Chaser (pt 1)

(The transcription starts at 1m35s in the video.)

Download the Transcription: Bb, Eb, C, Bass Clef

This is a great tenor battle between Joshua Redman and James Carter on the classic Monk tune “Straight, No Chaser.” This first transcription is only Joshua’s first four choruses. I’m planning on completing most (if not all) of the rest of this video over a series of 4-5 parts since it is quite lengthy.

Redman and Carter clearly have different approaches to the instrument and I find it very interesting to see how one kind of leads the other. In an aesthetic sense, I definitely prefer Redman’s style over Carter’s, but the two are so different and both players are clearly talented that I think it’s useless to talk about who “won” the battle. Though, if you read the youtube comments you’ll see there are fierce defenders in both camps. I think both players offer plenty to learn from. More to come in following posts. Happy shedding!

Gerry Mulligan, Walkin Shoes

(Solo starts at 0:56)

Download the Transcription: EbBbCBass

Gerry takes a “riff” like approach through out most of the solo and swings pretty damn hard. The start of the second bridge is probably my favorite part; the way he stretches out the time during those first two measures contrasts so nicely with the rest of the bouncy swing feel. Not many people can make the bari sing like Gerry can, definitely check him out if you haven’t before!

Guest Post: Blue Mitchell, Bluesville

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Download the Transcription: BbC

Blue Mitchell’s Solo on “Bluesville” from the album Step Lightly (1963). Players on album: Blue Mitchell (trumpet), Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Gene Taylor (bass), Roy Brooks (drum set). Transcribed by Lukas Skrove, Spring 2012. Solo begins 0’38’’

With transcribing the jazz language I’ve always been fascinated with the process of figuring out what the great players of the 50’s and the 60’s played. With such ease and flow their language of be-bop, and blues just feeds the ears of our generation with so much substance that I feel we sometimes miss out on. I’m a young musician trying to study this music and hopefully begin to understand it a little bit more with everyday that goes by. At school I try to transcribe as many solos as I can. This semester my trumpet teacher Adam Rossmiller came across this solo of Blue Mitchell’s and told me to check it out and transcribe it. So I did!

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Bennie Wallace, Straight No Chaser

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(Clip starts at mm 36 of the transcription which is the start of the solo)

Download the Transcription: Bb

*I can’t seem to find my original Finale file for this transcription.  I’m in the process of creating a new one so that I can provide Eb, Concert pitch and bass clef versions of the solo; hopefully in the next few days.

This Bennie Wallace solo from the album Bennie Wallace Plays Monk is quite a unique approach to the blues form.  Quite honestly I don’t even know where to begin analyzing this solo in terms of harmonic language; this solo is far different from anything other I’ve looked at.  Bennie is clearly influenced by Monk in his use of harmony, interval jumps and even phrasing. In a few spots he is definitely basing his lines (or at least parts of his phrases) around certain intervals – typically starting low on the horn and jumping up by 6ths, 7ths, 8ths or 9ths.  A lot of the solo is “out” with respect to the chord changes which has a great tension building effect.  Bennie eases the tension a few times by hinting at a resolution to the 3rd of the I7 chord (see mm 83, 107-108, 217).

Starting around mm 145 the bass drops out making it a drum/sax duet.  This section builds to a frenzy with more frequent octave leaps (mm 151, 158, 163, 165, 173 etc…) and  more 16th note lines and flurries of notes up until the bass comes back in at mm 205.  Bennie counterbalances the frantic nature of the duet section by holding out a nice long G for three beats in mm 205 which brings the tension back down and leads to the end of Bennie’s solo.

I really wish I could provide the full solo for you to listen to because it is insanely awesome. Please check out Bennie’s website and pick up this track on Amazon or iTunes.  Definitely worth it to get some different ideas on the blues.

Ben Webster, Cottontail

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Download the Transcription: BbEbCBass Clef

Today’s post is a short and sweet Ben Webster solo over Duke Ellington’s rhythm changes tune “Cottontail.” Ben uses a fair amount of repetition to develop his ideas through the solo. In mm. 1-4 he repeats the rhythm while stepping down chromatically each repetition. Each bridge has an idea that he repeats throughout each chord change (mm. 17-23 and 49-56).

Measures 33-40 act almost like an interlude between choruses even though the form doesn’t change. This is also a great example repetition. Each time he repeats the motiv he moves up higher in the register which, along with the diminished sound, creates a ton of tension and a very nice peak to the solo.

This was a slightly challenging solo to transcribe because it is such an old recording and some parts of the solo are very hard to hear because they get covered up by the brass hits. I think the transcription is pretty accurate, but I might be off in some of those spots.

Bob Reynolds, Vultures (Live)

Download the transcription: BbEbCBass

I’ve always been more of a straight ahead/bebop kind of player and since my main gig is with a pop band I’ve been looking towards some more pop oriented influences to help myself feel more comfortable soloing in that style.  The real lesson in this transcription is in the inflections, articulation and use of grace notes; I think that is really what makes this style come alive so to speak.  I tried my best to notate some of the more distinct articulations and grace notes, but you really are going to have to spend a lot of time just listening and following along with the transcription to pick up on these things.

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