Greg Lyons – Bring the Funky Back, Pt. 2

Here’s the trumpet solo from Bring the Funky back. To me, this is the centerpiece of the whole song. The whole tune is a driving, up-tempo funk feel – opening with a fade into an organ solo, and then in to a guitar solo.

But after the guitar solo, the rhythm section breaks down to a floating feel that feels very loose even though the time never actually stops. Greg comes in with a harmon mute, playing around with the different tonalities that the keys are laying down.

Then after 24 bars of the breakdown feel, the band comes back in and kicks it back in to high gear. Greg loses the mute and goes for broke over the last eight bars.

He does a great job of building through to the end of the chorus, a very cool solo! I should transcribe more trumpet solos. The nature of the instrument leads to a different set of ‘comfortable’ patterns, so playing transcriptions from other instruments is a good way of stretching your comfort zone.

Greg Lyons - Bring the Funky Back Pt. 2

 

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

Alexey Nikolaev – Back in Black

Second Opinion was all original material, with the exception of this song. Yes, it’s that “Back in Black”, by AC/DC.

We thought it would be fun to throw in one cover song, but to do something really different, that we could put our own stamp on. We had done that on the first album with “I’m a Man” by Spencer Davis, and it went over really well.

There’s some debate about where the idea came from. My wife is a huge AC/DC fan, and we had seen them live around the time we were gearing up for the album. I think she might have suggested it to me, and I brought it to the band. We were already working with Jeff on the material at that point, so we were getting pretty close to going in to the studio.

The rhythm section guys recorded their tracks before we had any horn parts, which was pretty unusual for us. So they did a rough arrangement, and then when the horns went to do their parts, Jack wrote stuff to fit. So we never played this one live until after the album was done. But it goes over very well live – we usually close a set with it.

It starts off slow, just drums, and it’s pretty down-tempo. Most people don’t recognize the song until the lyrics come in, and some people still don’t until the chorus hits. By that time, everyone is on-board and singing along!

Alexey plays a very cool solo here. He pushes the harmony a bit to create tension. The fast runs at the end are tough to transcribe, but I think they are pretty close. And then of course he takes it way up high to end the solo!

Alexey Nikolaev - Back in Black

 

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

Scott Dart – Bring the Funky Back, Pt. 2

Some would probably say that it’s a waste of time (and perhaps a little self-absorbed and/or indulgent) to transcribe your own solos. Those people are probably right!

But I realized that I had been posting a few other Doctorfunk transcriptions, so why not post one of my own? This one is barely eight measures, so don’t get too excited.

You’ll notice that there are two ‘Bring the Funky Backs’ on the album. Originally, these were the same song. What eventually became ‘Part 2’ was the ending to ‘Part 1’.

The tempo and feel are obviously very different, but I had this complex transition worked out where the triplet of the first part became the quarter of the second part, so it sped up. We even played it like live for awhile. But the transition never felt natural, and it certainly wasn’t good to dance to!

Several people suggested that we break it in to two separate songs, which eventually we did when we started working with Jeff to put the album together. Producers can be an invaluable source of impartial, outside advice. And when you have big ears and great ideas like Jeff Tamalier does, it’s not hard to get people to listen.

So we broke this into two tunes, and part two became an up-tempo jam with lots of solos, similar to TOP songs like Squib Cakes and Ebony Jam.

I love Greg’s trumpet solo in the earlier part of the tune, and I will probably transcribe that next. My ‘solo’ is nothing special. I’m basically trading bars with the ‘melody’, filling in around the vocals. I had never solo’d when we played the song live, but we had some down time in the studio and Jeff asked me if I wanted to blow a little. He just let the jam run and I put down a few dozen licks. When it came time to edit, he pulled out four that he liked.

It wasn’t something that was planned. Honestly, I would have over-thought it if we had planned on it. Instead, I just had to drop in and play without thinking, which worked fine. A handful of pentatonic/blues scale runs – nothing special.

I don’t actually enjoy soloing on bari with Doctorfunk. The setup I use I really optimized to bark out low, loud, short notes. So I’m not a fan of my sound in the middle and upper registers, and there’s basically no nuance to the sound. It’s exactly what I need for the section parts, but when it comes to soloing, I like to say that it feels like tap dancing in moon boots.

Scott Dart - Bring the Funky Back Pt. 2

 

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

Alexey Nikolaev – Promises

Promises is another tune from Doctorfunk’s album “Second Opinion”. This one was written by Jack Halsey, our lead trumpet player, horn arranger, and musical director. It’s a slow funk groove with a great feel to it.

Alexey Nikolaev turns in another great solo on this one, with both fills around the verses as well as a feature solo as well. I love the intervallic work he does during the solo, both up in the altissimo range, but also down to the bottom end of the horn. It really gives the solo some nice contrast and feels unexpected.

Alexey Nikolaev - Promises

 

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

Bob Bradley – What’s Up Doc?

When we recorded “What’s Up Doc?”, we had a fairly long ride out at the end. The band was vamping over the groove and the background vocals.

We decided to have Bob blow a tenor solo over the ride out. Alexey had the feature solo during the tune, but rather than have him play a second solo, it felt like a good opportunity to give Bob some time.

Bob and Alexey are both killer players, and I’ve learned a ton standing next to them night after night. But they are also diametrically opposed. While Alexey’s strength comes from his technical prowess, Bob is all style and delivery. Although he’s a tenor player, he reminds me a lot of Maceo Parker in that regard.

It turns out, this is exactly what the tune needed to fill the void at the end. Not pyrotechnics, but soul. And Bob delivers. He starts off very reserved. Finding the gaps and filling them in tastefully. The phrasing is beautiful, and he builds some nice lines as the song vamps and fades.

Bob left Doctorfunk a year or so ago when he had to undergo the same jaw surgery that I’m now recovering from. He comes and sits in with us occasionally, so it’s great to know that recovery is possible, and that I should be able to play again. Bob’s my hero!

Bob Bradley - What's Up Doc

 

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

Alexey Nikolaev – What’s Up Doc?

What’s Up Doc? is a song I wrote as a tribute to Doc Kupka, of Tower of Power fame. As a baritone sax player, he’s obviously been a huge influence on me, and he’s also provided tremendous support to Doctorfunk over the years.

We worked with Jeff Tamalier (former TOP guitarist) to produce this album, and he continued to work with Doc through Strokeland records. Jeff had Doc record a bunch of his witty sayings to pepper in throughout the recording which make it even more fun.

This is Alexey Nikolaev’s tenor solo from the album. When I wrote the tune, I knew I wanted a tenor solo reminiscent of classic Tower of Power and Lenny Pickett. I didn’t even have to tell Alexey this, the first time he played the solo (and every time since then), he’s nailed it every time, and this recording is no exception.

I was in the studio when he recorded it. He did a few takes just to give us a few options to choose from at mix time, but they were all perfect. He’s a real pro, and a monster player, as you can tell from the solo!

The solo comes roaring out of the gates at the break over the bari walk up (hey, that’s me!) I like how Alexey builds tight four-bar phrases. The second four really knock me out with his use of chromatic bebop-flavored lines and precise rhythmic delivery. The ending is off the charts!

Alexey Nikolaev - What's Up Doc

 

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.

Ernie Watts - Stop on By

 

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.

Chris Potter – All The Things You Are

In a way, this is the solo that started it all for me (again). While I had done a lot of transcribing in high school and college, I had gotten away from it for several years after college for one reason or another.

But then I heard this solo one day and felt compelled to transcribe it (and play it too!)

So I set about transcribing it, and managed to get through the whole thing. I have no idea how long it took, probably two weeks with a few hours here and there devoted to it.

When I first transcribed the solo, I was just going for notes and rhythms, not paying much attention to form or chord progressions. With no rhythm section reference, it can be hard to follow at times, or even find where ‘one’ is (intentionally!)

I made heavy use of off time signatures to reconcile this. But I realize in hindsight that this was a mistake. I recently went back to try and add in chorus markers and chord changes for reference. But often I found that phrases might be notated a few beats away from where they ‘should’ land to line up with chorus start/end points. I spent some time editing and quickly realized that it was going to be a huge amount of work to clean up. So instead I present it as-is, mistakes and all. There are better transcriptions of this solo out there for sure, but this one is mine 🙂

I’ve learned to play passages from the transcription, but it’s obviously very difficult to play certain sections, so don’t expect to see a video of me playing the whole solo any time in my lifetime. I have tremendous respect for those who can!

The recording was the first of many bootleg recordings of Chris Potter playing a capella at a master class. There are now many of these floating around with varying audio quality. I don’t think Chris sees any money from these unfortunately, so please support his albums and performances.

We’re lucky to have such a legendary saxophone player active in our lifetime who is so incredibly gifted both musically and technically!

Chris Potter - All The Things You Are (blog)

 

  • Artist: Chris Potter
  • Album: (YouTube)
  • Track: All The Things You Are
  • Instrument: Tenor Sax

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

P. S. For those of you who are interested in how my recovery from double-jaw surgery is going, I’m about eight weeks post-surgery and still a long way from playing the saxophone. I can now eat soft food gently, but my lower lip is still totally numb and very stiff. I predict another 6-8 weeks before I’m playing again.

Lenny Pickett – Oakland Stroke (Bass Day)

Here’s the last ‘Bass Day’ transcription. It has the same lineup as the previous ones, featuring the quartet of LP, DG, JT, and Rocco. This video looks somewhat ‘official’, perhaps a sponsor of DG? But please support Rocco by buying the DVD from the link below.

Here’s the YouTube video:

This is a pretty straightforward interpretation of the song, just with a smaller ensemble. There’s a quick presentation of the melody, then an eight bar drum solo. Then there’s a sixteen-bar sax solo by LP, which is actually pretty approachable from a technical standpoint. There’s no crazy altissimo, just two Gs and a Bb. There’s a four-bar stretch of alternate Es, which continues to elude me in terms of which alternate fingering he’s using.

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 it’s not that difficult.

Here again is the GoFundMe link to benefit David Garibaldi and Marc Van Wageningen’s recovery:

https://www.gofundme.com/Garibaldi-MarcVW-medicalfund

Lenny Pickett - Oakland Stroke (Bass Day)

 

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Lenny Pickett – What is Hip? (Bass Day)

Here’s another ‘Bass Day’ video featuring the quartet of LP, DG, JT, and Rocco. This time I was able to find a bootleg video on YouTube, but since it doesn’t look ‘official’, please support Rocco by buying the DVD below.

What is Hip starts around 1:50 in to the video

This time, LP has to cover the vocal melody in addition to the horn/organ parts – quite a feat but he handles it well in addition to turning in a fantastic solo. This is a tune that traditionally only has an organ solo on, so it’s nice to hear a horn player stretch out on it. I also love the way LP takes it up and up and up at the end!

Here again is the GoFundMe link to benefit David Garibaldi and Marc Van Wageningen’s recovery:

https://www.gofundme.com/Garibaldi-MarcVW-medicalfund

Lenny Pickett - What is Hip (Bass Day)

 

Enjoy!

@SDartSax