I’m still on the Prince train, and I don’t see any sign of it slowing down any time soon! This time it’s the live NPG version of the incredible ballad “Nothing Compares 2 U”.
The liner notes don’t actually say, but I’m reasonably certain that the sax soloist is Brian Gallagher again. I read somewhere that it was Kathy Jenson (from the Hornheads), but I’m pretty sure that’s not true. I’m only familiar with her as an Alto/Bari player, and not tenor.
I really wish I could do this one justice. It’s a monster of a solo! The 5th bar is what really killed me, so I mercifully cut out the worst of the audio from my track and ducked the rest. But I got back on track the next bar. I can (barely) hit that high F#, but I can’t get up and down from it nearly as gracefully as Brian can. It’s amazing how fluidly he does it.
Interestingly enough, Candy Dulfer hits the exact same concert E her solo. It just fits. It’s high on Alto, but much easier to play than on Tenor (for me).
This is another solo that’s virtually impossible to read – you have to listen carefully and slow it down to really internalize the rhythms. The lines that he creates are so ornamented and intricate that there’s no other way.
More Prince. More Candy. Same CD box set as the previous two transcriptions.
This is such a beautiful song! Most people associate it with the 1990 Sinead O’Connor recording (and music video), but of course Prince wrote it. He originally recorded it with ‘The Family’ in 1985. It was hard to find that recording, and not worth the effort (for me), although some people swear that the original is the best recording.
Rumor has it that Prince did a studio recording of his own that was never released. Maybe it will see the light of day eventually? Until then, I’m only aware of his two live recordings – this one, and the more famous one that he recorded with NPG. I’ll try to work up that solo too, but my tenor high chops may not be up for it.
Candy really kills it on this solo. The third bar of the solo is pure genius the way she builds such connects such complex (and yet simple) ideas so fluidly – and nails it! I probably spent about an hour shedding that bar alone and still can’t play it as smoothly as she did.
And just try to play that high part at the end in one breath like she does. I like to think I get some pretty big air (I play a LOT of bari), and I couldn’t make it through both measures in one breath. But she pulls it off somehow!
The written transcription covers most of the song until the time stops. I’m only uploading the main solo to YouTube so I don’t run afoul of the copyright filters.
Slow songs are always the hardest to notate and read, so I really suggest listening closely to the recording as you’re trying to learn it. That’s always the best way anyway, but on ballads it’s almost impossible to do any other way.
More Prince. I just can’t get enough! Same CD as the previous transcription, but this time it’s Candy Dulfer.
Not to be too controversial, but when I first became aware of Candy, I didn’t take her seriously enough. I thought that she was just another Sanborn clone, and the only reason she got any recognition (let alone a record deal) was because of her supermodel looks.
Years later (and hopefully wiser), I’m much more hip to what she brings to the table. Are there guys who can play better than her? Probably, but that’s always the case with pretty anyone. Chris Potter can play rings around Maceo, but Prince is going to choose Maceo every time for his band.
If it were all about technical ability, there would be only one sax player in the world who everyone would want for their gig.
Hopefully you can hear from this track just how funky she can be. It’s also a great contrast with the previous Maceo solo. Same band, same night, two different soloists with pretty different approaches, but both are killing it in their own way!
Since we lost Prince, I haven’t listened to anything else. It’s been very bittersweet to re-discover corners of his vast catalog that I had forgotten about!
This week has been all about the three-CD set “One Night Alone”. It features both Maceo Parker and Candy Dulfer prominently, so expect a bunch of solos from this set over the next month.
The thing I love about this set is how it shows Prince’s versatility. You don’t hear any synth-pop dance tracks. If you dropped the needle in random places, you’d might think it was a live P-Funk show. In fact, George Clinton makes an appearance on this track – re-uniting with his old sideman Maceo.
The solo is meat and potatoes Maceo – super funky and in the pocket over a slow, heavy groove. I’d love to find a video of this concert!
I can’t believe that we lost Prince this week. I’m still in shock over it. So I process the loss of this artist like I always do: by immersing myself in their music. I could write for pages about what his music meant to me, but I’ll save that for another time.
I wanted to find a suitable sax solo from his catalog for the blog. Prince worked with many great horn players over the years (Maceo, Candy Dulfer, the Hornheads), but he doesn’t often feature saxophone solos on his studio recordings.
I was familiar with the tenor solo on Sexy MF, but I had always assumed that it was Kenni Holman (from the Hornheads) playing it. But when I did my research, I found out that it was Brian Gallagher, who also passed away very recently at far too young of an age.
The track (and solo) are very funky, with a hard driving rhythm. When Doctorfunk was in the studio working on our album “Second Opinion“, we were having a hard time getting the track for my song “Better Get Hip” to come together. Jeff Tamalier, our producer, told the guys to think of the groove from Sexy MF. They didn’t even have to listen to it. Everyone knew exactly the type of feel and energy this track captured. I’m sure that you can hear the influence if you listen back to the track. I hope we did it justice!
Because Prince was so protective of his copyright (and because the lyrics are so explicit), I kept the volume on the original track very low, just loud enough to hear the solo in context. There is a radio-friendly edit of the track, but it doesn’t include the sax solo. I also age-restricted the video on YouTube just to be safe.
I don’t think I’ve posted anything from the Mo’ Roots album. I look at this as a transitional album for Maceo, where he was really starting to establish himself as a solo artist. More importantly, it’s pretty much a straight ahead jazz album. I feel as though he was trying to expand people’s thinking about what kind of music he was capable of.
This is a very straight forward tune – a hard-swinging version of the classic Lionel Hampton big band song from the forties. Maceo himself was still a toddler when this song was popular, but he does a great rendition here.
It’s been too long since I’ve posted any Maceo, so let’s get back to it! This is a great track – the thing that I like about it is how much of a ‘latin’ feel the melody would have if you just changed up the rhythm section a bit.
The solo is not very technical, but it is trickier to play than it sounds. There are a lot of really intricate rhythms, so I recommend listening to it a lot before playing it and maybe even learning to sing it first.
The PDF has the roadmap for the whole track, including the solo trading at the end. The video fades out the long vocal stretches so you don’t have to watch me dance :p
We lost another music legend this week. This time, Maurice White, the founder of the band Earth, Wind & Fire. The impact that he has had on the music industry is immeasurable. He created so many classic songs that will live forever. In over 10+ years of playing with Doctorfunk, we’ve hardly played a gig that didn’t have at least one EWF song in the set list. They are definitely in the top five all-time great horn bands.
So when I heard of Maurice’s passing, I did what I always do: I listened. Then I got out my horn to play. I’ve had Don Myrick on my to-do list for a while now, so I figured there was no better time than today to tackle his most iconic solo.
And what a solo! Although the track is considered one of the ‘smoother’ songs in the EWF catalog, the Alto solo is anything but smooth. It’s only 24 bars long, but it’s filled with meaty bebop-inspired lines that are quite challenging to play. Picking them out of the lush mix was no small feat either! But it was worth it in the end to me, I can finally cross this song off of my bucket list!
I’l have more Don Myrick in the future as well – what an inspiration!
If you’re not hip to the Brand New Heavies, stop reading this right now and go check them out, because they are amazing. They are typically classified as ‘Acid Jazz’, which basically means that they play funk and hip-hop inspired music with some jazz influence as well. I continue to hope that this genre will go more mainstream since there is so much good music there, but it’s also accessible to a broad market.
The more recent BNH work leans more heavily into the hip-hop genre and seems to be losing it’s instrumental roots. I assume this is due to label pressure and a desire to cross over, but it’s unfortunate because some of the early albums were amazing. Brother Sister is one of the best, and this track kicks it off.
I didn’t really know Ray Gaskins outside of this performance. I’ve been checking him out on YouTube lately. He’s got his own thing going on, both vocally and playing the sax. He seems to be pursuing a smooth jazz angle, and more power to him. He’s a great player, and I love this solo!
I only recorded the solo, but the PDF includes the entire track. I totally botched the altissimo section at the end – he’s so fluid over the break, and I don’t know how he gets between the G and Bb so smoothly!
Hello 2016! For the my first post of the year, I wanted to dig down deep into my Maceo collection again. This is a track that I believe was recorded in 1974 by ‘Maceo and the Macks’, but you may find it on various compilation CDs (as I did) under the JB’s, James Brown, or Maceo himself.
The solo itself is classic Maceo in many ways, but it also has an uncommon amount of high altissimo. I’m experimenting with different fingerings for the high G to find one that works best in these situations. The ‘short’ fingerings are not very stable for me, so I end up using the ‘long’ fingerings more often than not.
I’m also experimenting with alternate Bb fingerings. Again, the ‘long’ fingering works best for me, but is harder to use in fast passages, which makes me suspect that Maceo has a ‘short’ fingering that works well for him. The alternate ‘A’ fingerings work great for me, but I haven’t found the equivalent for Bb yet. Any suggestions?