Today’s transcription comes from a video that Bob Reynolds posted to Youtube demonstrating playing in 7/4 time on the tune “Out of Nowhere.” I chose this solo to transcribe, because quite frankly I’m pretty terrible at playing in odd-meter and I wanted to have a good example to practice along with; an etude of sorts. This solo comes pretty close to that while still retaining a genuine/musical feel that I think etudes tend to lack (especially jazz etudes). Besides, there are some really killer phrases that go across the entire range of the horn that I really wanted to learn.
Today’s transcription features Joel Frahm’s solo on the Coltrane tune ‘Grand Central.’ This track is from Matt Wilson’s 1999 album ‘Smile.’ I decided to transcribe this solo for several reasons:
- Joel’s time and feel are impecable at this incredibly fast tempo (about 300bpm!). What better way to practice speed and feel than by playing along with a great example of fast playing.
- The changes are moderately challenging; this is a tune I could certainly use some work on. Specifically I wanted to learn the first bridge the Joel plays as Db is not a key I’m very comfortable in. Seeing how he deals with the fast ii V’s as well as the Db7b5 chord are quite instructive as well.
Read on for my full analysis…
This track came from a compilation album called The Art of the Jazz Saxophone: Bebop & Beyond. Unfortunately I do not know the original album that this track appeared on or the other artists that are present on it. If someone else does please let me know so I can update that information.
This album is pretty special to me because it was one of the first jazz albums I ever really got into. Harold Land and Clifford Brown are probably the first two jazz musicians that I really studied and tried to emulate and have had quite an influence on me. This selection in particular has stuck with me a) because it’s just really fun to listen to Clifford and Harold trading all the way down to 1/2 measures and b) it demonstrates a high level of communication between these musicians.
To anyone that knows me it’s no secret that Chris Potter is one of my favorite musicians and this recording is a prime example of why. I’ve heard a number of criticisms about this recording citing that it is too technical and not very musical. While I patently disagree (true it is very technical, but I find it to be extremely musical as well) I think given the context of the recording, a masterclass at Youngstown University, it makes perfect sense that Chris would emphasize his virtuosic ability as a way of demonstrating what is possible as a saxophonist and as an improvising musician.
This is a short and sweet little Chris Potter solo at about 3 minutes and 30 seconds. I chose to transcribe this recording for several reasons:
- I like the melody a lot and wanted to learn it
- As a saxophonist, this is a challenging yet accessible solo with some great language
- It just sounded like it would be a lot of fun to play!
This solo was recorded early in Chris’ career and while it is still clearly a ‘Chris Potter solo’ it is vastly different from the complexity in which you would find on his later works such as Lift, Follow the Red Line, or Underground. Chris also recorded “Boogie Stop Shuffle” almost 10 years later on his album Lift and I think it will be very interesting to compare the differences between the two.
I think this solo is a really great example of using themes, motives and variations to develop a well thought out solo…one that ‘tells a story’ as it were.