Ben Goldberg, Blind Paper Dragon

Ben Goldberg–photo by John Rudoff

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Download the PDF: Concert, Bass Clef, Bb, Eb, A

Blind Paper Dragon, written by Carla Kihlstedt and performed by: Tin Hat (Ara Anderson, Trumpet; Ben Goldberg, Clarinet; Carla Kihlstedt, Violin; Mark Orton, Dobro; Zeena Parkins, Harp).  From the album ‘The Sad Machinery of Spring,’ released 2012 by Hannibal/Ryodisk.


So I love listening to and transcribing solos that break lots of rules–and although rule-breaking isn’t a new concept in music (or any other creative activity for that matter), I like to think that it’s largely responsible for the generation of new musical material and original ideas in general.  Ben Goldberg breaks lots of rules in this solo, but for as far out as he goes there’s always a strong indication that he knows where the key center/next downbeat is.  It’s uncanny, really.  And as musically aware Ben must have been to play these killer lines, in an email Ben told me: “I took a nap in the studio and then just walked out in a daze and played that — I didn’t want to be thinking about it too much.” Continue reading

Rob Burger and Carla Kihlstedt, Fear of the South

(Mark Orton, Carla Kihlstedt, Rob Burger)

(accordion solo begins at 1:20, violin at 2:22)

Download the PDF: Concert, Bass Clef, Bb, Eb

Fear of the South, written by Mark Orton and performed by: Tin Hat Trio (Mark Orton, Dobro; Carla Kihlstedt, violin; Rob Burger, Accordion).  From the album ‘The Rodeo Eroded,’ released 2002 by Ropeadope Digital.


This is one of my favorite tunes on the album for its cleverness, lopsided time signature, and killer solos!  Rob Burger absolutely tears it up and Carla Kihlstedt swoops in and picks right up where he leaves off, both of them navigating 5/4 time like it’s their respective jobs.  Which it is.  So there you go.  This tune has a very simple chord progression and A/B form which balances out the quirky time signature–and the tuba does a very clever hemiola bassline in the B sections (mm. 17-18, 21-22, 49-54) that’s just charming as hell, and really caught me off guard ten times I listened to it.  The combination of simplicity, innovative quirks and killer playing epitomizes the impression I get from this whole album, so if you like this track I STRONGLY suggest buying the whole album.

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Bob Reynolds, Out of Nowhere

Download the Transcription: BbEbCBass Clef

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.

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Eugene Friesen, Citric Motion

(Eugene Friesen, courtesy of

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Download the PDF: Bass Clef, Treble Clef, Bb, Eb

Citric Motion, written by Glen Velez and performed by: Trio Globo (Eugene Friesen, cello; Howard Levy, piano; and Glen Velez, percussion). From the album ‘Carnival of Souls,’ released 1995 by SilverWave Records.

I’m FINALLY posting a cello solo, and since I’m an improvising cellist, it’s about time. There are actually quite a few fabulous cello-playing improvisers out there, and Eugene Friesen is a leader in the field.  This whole album, Carnival of Souls, is full of cello techniques and tone colors that you’ve probably never heard, some of them pulled from the acoustic bass, or even guitar lexicons.  As a trio member, Friesen excels at holding down the rhythmic accompaniment with arpeggiations and intricate basslines, as well as soaring, lyrical melodies when Howard Levy takes over the accompanimental role.