Elena Pinderhughes’ Solo on Letter to the Free – From Common Tiny Desk at the White House

Transcription: Eb, Bb, Bb with Octave Adjustments, C, Bass Clef

Recording: Letter to the Free – Elena Pinderhughes Solo


So…it’s been a while. I’ve transcribed and learned many solos since my last post, but I’ve also started teaching at McNally Smith College of Music in St Paul and have toured with several bands all over the world since then too, so it’s been a little crazy. Naturally, the solo that would make me want to post here again would be a….flute solo? Yes. A flute solo.

SKM, meet Elena Pinderhughes. I’ve been checking out Elena’s stuff since I starting learning one of her solos on a Christian Scott album. The thing that stands out the most about her playing is her feel. Her feel is ridiculous. I learned this solo by ear first and played along trying to match her feel throughout the solo. That’s recommendation #1 from me as you start to learn this solo. That’s not to say her note choice isn’t – how did Ferris Bueller say it? “choice” – because it is.

Not unlike a trombone shorty solo I transcribed a while ago and posted here, Elena primarily uses the pentatonic scale throughout her solo, with a few major/natural minor scale uses and a couple spots where she’s playing borrowed pentatonic scales. For instance, she slips outside the key and plays in C major (over a tune that I hear as being in Eb major) for a measure, which actually corresponds with a passing chord Robert Glasper is playing that includes that E natural (Cadd9/E) — It should be said that I copied and pasted the progression over the solo (thanks to my dudes Reid Kennedy and Kevin Gastonguay for taking a listen and giving me their harmonic opinions), and it’s possible Glasper is playing something different in the Cadd9/E spot when it comes around each time. You often hear him slip in and out of keys a 1/2 step away, so it’s hard to put a definitive finger on the progression.

Later in the solo, Elena plays the Bb major pentatonic scale (second half of measure 10) temporarily before moving back to the Eb major pentatonic. I love the sound of two closely related pentatonics being used. When you’re messing with this idea on your own, try playing over a Ima7 chord using the major pentatonic scale starting on the second scale degree (which will give you the 9, 3rd, #11, 13 and ma7). Then try the same idea starting on the 3rd a scale degree for a more dissonant sound. Continue up the scale and see what sounds cool!

Enjoy this super killing solo (and band!) – the entire concert can be seen and heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AChGszRGwI

Guest Post by Spencer Ritchie: Lewis Nash, Monk’s Dream

(“Lewis Nash In Montreal” by Professor Bop is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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[Thanks to Spencer Ritchie for this post! Check out more of Spencer’s transcriptions on his blog spencertranscriptions]

Check out Lewis Nash’s chorus on his arrangement of “Monk’s Dream” off his 1989 Album “Rhythm Is My Business”. This whole solo is accompanied by Ron Carter’s steady walking bassline, so when trying this solo, lock in with the walking, but keep an ear open for Nash’s phrasing and attempt to mimic it. Continue reading

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 http://bendv.wordpress.com/]

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 by Marc Adler: Autumn Smiles

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Download the PDF: Concert

This post was very generously provided by Marc Adler, a fantastic flutist and pedagogue out of PA. The above track is off the album Autumn Smiles played by Marc Adler, flute; Jim Ridl, piano; Darryl Hall, bass; Butch Reed, drums; and John Swana, trumpet. Marc sent along a “brief” analysis of the tune (below) which may not look brief on first glance, but compared to the subtlety of the recording it’s just the tip of the iceberg. And since we’re already getting the inside scoop on the music theory behind this tune–the skeleton of the music–I took the opportunity to ask Marc about the soft/squishy side of the music. Continue reading

Guest Post by Italo Sales: Wes Montgomery, Four on Six

Download the transcription: C

Listen! Four on Six

Watch Italo’s Transcription Video! http://youtu.be/iHlo0dDFQb0

This solo is a masterpiece by Wes. There’s everything you’re used to hearing in his improvisations: Double stops, quartal structures, tritones, pentatonic ideas, dorian phrases, fast and wide arpeggios and his famous octaves all along his last choruses. That’s probably because it was recorded in 1965 (only three years before his death, in June 15th 1968 – 45 years ago) with the wonderful Wynton Kelly Trio. It’s really a solo to remember by all guitar students and improvisational musicians.

Guest Post by Derek Dreier: Herlin Riley, Evidence

Download the Transcription: Drums

Listen to the Solo

Watch a video of the solo being performed by Derek! — http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OAEaf_qHunU

The transcription features Herlin Riley’s playing on “Evidence” from Wynton Marsalis Septet’s 1999 multi-disc release Live at the Village Vanguard. Monk’s writing, exemplified in “Evidence” is rhythmically unique, often jagged and deceptive, a quality which gives drummers many possibilities. Herlin’s choices are tasteful, organic and exploit the rhythmic opportunities Monk provides. Herlin plays with triplet vs. sixteenth and straight vs. swing ideas, and moves in and out of downbeat and offbeat oriented phrasing. All of which reflect the similar off-kilter effect the tune’s melody has. Also, notice the two busiest portions of the solo, (m.49-56 and m.73-76). The first example phrases triplets, with the latter phrasing sixteenths, demonstrating smart soloistic flow and development. With its phrasing, and creative rhythmic ideas, this transcription stands out as a fun and excellent example of musical drumming.

Guest post by Adam Spiers: John Coltrane, Blue Train

Blue Train - Blue Train
Dowlnoad PDF: Bass Clef

This submission is of an iconic solo played by John Coltrane and if you’re any kind of jazz fanatic it’ll be very familiar, but seriously–watch the video. Adam Spiers plays along with the solo, note for note, on the cello. As a cellist I find it difficult to describe just how insane this is, but to put it in perspective it’s kind of like climbing the stairs of the Empire State building in flip flops; it’s not impossible…but yeah. Wow. I’m very humbled to be posting this incredibly thoughtful and meticulous transcription along with such an amazing video, but unfortunately for you horn players out there the transcription is in C and an 8ve down. But you should still follow along and check out this amazing video and transcription. Probably twice.

With Adam’s permission I’ve pasted in the body text of his blog post on this transcription, which can be visited at its original location here: Cello Lessons from a Dead Genius. Continue reading

Guest Post by Dario LaPoma: Brad Mehldau, August Ending

Download the Transcription: Piano Score + Bass

Audio Link: August Ending

“August Ending” Brad Mehldau

For nearly two decades, composer-improvisor Brad Mehldau has left a prophetic mark on the music of our generation. One supporting reason is that his music strikes an emotional, spontaneous core while maintaining a structural quality evident through analysis. House on Hill was released by the Brad Mehldau trio (Rossy on drums) in 2006, and the opening track, “August Ending,” illustrates Mehldau’s search for “successful integration of composed and improvised material.”1 Feel free to decide for yourself, but I’m pretty convinced he’s on the right track.

The composition is bound together by a string of 8th notes (A-Bb), which while fitting colorfully into the harmony serve several foundational purposes throughout the tune. Continue reading

Guest Post from Jason Fabus: Kenny Garrett, There Will Never Be Another You

Download the Transcription: CBbEb

Audio Clip

This is a transcription of Kenny Garrett’s (the REAL Kenny G!!!) solo on “There will never be another you” from Woody Shaw’s album, Solid (2009).  Garrett does a great rendition of this often heard standard.  Listen to his style and the way he shapes notes and phrases.  There are a great deal of scoops, accents, and slurred passages that will be thrown at you, which is always fun.  Also, listen to how Garrett uses rather simple, yet effective forms of chromaticism and “going out” to give this tune a nice remastering.

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.