Dave Koz – All I See is You

This week I’m adding a transcription requested by one of my students. This is another win-win situation, because he gets a free transcription of a song that he wants to work on, and I get content for my site that I wouldn’t have selected otherwise.

While I’m not a huge fan of ‘Smooth Jazz’, or Dave Koz in particular, it’s still great material to work on. The playing on this track is not technically very difficult, but it’s executed flawlessly. It takes a great degree of control and discipline to execute every note so consistently.

There isn’t a lot of improvisation in this track. It’s mostly an A-B-C structure where Dave plays the melody (either solo, or in harmony with other horns). At the bottom of the second page there is a breakdown section where Dave solos a bit more freely around the melody for a bit. Other than that, it’s mostly fills in and around the repeated melody lines.

I didn’t transcribe the harmony parts – I just went for what sounded like the main tenor line.

Fun trivia fact: Brian Culbertson is listed as co-writer. He and I are around the same age, and went to a jazz summer camp when we were in high school. He’s a great bone and piano player himself, and has a successful solo career as a smooth jazz artist. Well done Brian!

Dave Koz - All I See is You

 

  • Artist: Dave Koz
  • Album:  Saxophonic
  • Track: All I See is You
  • Instrument: Tenor Sax

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

P. S. Bonus Content! Here is the (somewhat) simplified version of the transcription – for ease of sight-reading. It leaves out many of the grace notes and ornaments, but is basically the same transcription.

Dave Koz - All I See is You (simplified)

Wessell Anderson – Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

Sorry for the dry spell, looks like I got this one out just in time for the holidays! This Wynton Marsalis album is my go-to Christmas tradition. It’s a beautiful album, with very cool arrangements of the classic Christmas Carols. I’m pretty sure my family gets sick of me dragging it out every year, but I love it!

This is really the first time I heard Wessell Anderson. I’m really only familiar with his work in Wynton’s bands. He has such a beautiful sound, so round and full! He reminds me of a modern-day Cannonball Adderley. I really need to check out more of his catalog.

His playing on the melody is beautiful, pulling the time back just the right amount. His solo really swings, with a lot of very cool lines in it.

You may notice that I’m back to my Mark VI on this video. I haven’t played it singe I got my Conn, but I finally sent the Conn to the shop for a much-needed overhaul. I had a weird feeling that I might pick up the Mark VI and fall back in love with it instead of the Conn, but no. Although I much prefer the ergonomics of the Mark VI, the Conn outplays it by a mile! I’ve got to re-learn how to play the Mark VI I think since the Conn will be on the disabled list for awhile…

Wessell Anderson - Hark the Herald Angels Sing

 

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

David “Fathead” Newman – I Got a Woman

I wasn’t sure what I was going to post this week. Then, as I was sitting in the barber’s chair this morning getting a haircut, I heard this old Ray Charles song on the radio. That was pretty unusual, because it’s not a “Ray Charles” kind of barbershop (are there any?)

Regardless, I heard the track and knew instantly this would be my project for the day. I’ve heard the track a hundred times at least, and I love the solo by David “Fathead” Newman. I should have known it was him, but I’m embarrassed to say that I had to look it up to find out.

The solo itself is pretty short, and technically easy to play. The hard part is getting Fathead’s sound and style. It’s kind of a major blues, but without the traditional blues changes. The only tricky part might be the ninth bar where he’s playing the trills from high D. Most people I know play this by adding one of the right hand side keys. On my horn, the E (topmost) side key in the right hand gives the best effect – like a minor third trill.

David Fathead Newman - I Got a Woman

 

  • Artist: David “Fathead” Newman
  • Album:  Ray Charles
  • Track: I Got a Woman
  • Instrument: Tenor Sax

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Ralp Bowen – One More Once

I’ve been a huge fan of the piano player Michel Camilo since I heard his (US) debut album in the 80s. I’ve followed him ever since, even though he didn’t usually play with horn players. When he did, it was typically someone very technically proficient, like Paquito D’Rivera.

So when this big band album came out a few years back, I got really in to it. I loved the tenor solo on the title track. There’s so much to love about it – the tone is so smooth and pure. The technique is so clean and flawless. The altissimo is so clear and controlled. The solo builds beautifully and is filled with so many great ideas, and is so well executed.

I didn’t know who Ralph Bowen was, but I wanted to find out. Check this guy out, he’s a monster player!

No video for this one this week. I’ve been playing through it slowly, and can pull everything off in isolation, down tempo – but I’m a long way from putting it all together at full speed. Maybe that will be a project for me over the holidays if I get some time off of work. It’s going to be a real stretch!

Ralph Bowen - One More Once

 

  • Artist: Ralph Bowen
  • Album:  Michel Camilo – One More Once
  • Track: One More Once
  • Instrument: Tenor Sax

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Joe Farrell – Friends

Time for some flute! This was the first flute solo I ever transcribed. I’ll admit that I probably bought this album ironically back in High School because of the smurfs on the cover, but when I listened to it, I realized that it was the real deal. There are so many good tunes on this album, including one of my favorite Chick Corea compositions – Samba Song.

Joe Farrell’s playing on this tune is beautiful. He plays tenor on the album as well, and I’m a big fan of his sax playing too, but I have to say he’s probably my biggest influence on flute. Without even listening to the track, you can tell how masterfully he builds the solo from beginning to end. Just look at the page to see how the register gradually moves up and the density of notes increases as he builds. And of course when you listen to it you’ll hear how masterfully it’s executed.

I was hoping that one positive side effect of my jaw surgery would be a lot of down time from the saxophone that I could channel in to my flute playing. Alas, that was not to be. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that my lower lip would be 100% numb for 6+ months! While I’ve started to slowly pick up the saxophone again, I can’t make a note on flute because I can’t feel where it is on my lip. If I play in front of a mirror I can get a note out, but it’s frustrating to say the least.

Joe Farrell - Friends

 

Enjoy!

@SdartSax

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

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.

Marc Russo – Silverlake

My playing hiatus due to jaw surgery continues, so no video this week. Instead I’ll be posting transcriptions from the archive.

This is one I did way back in high school. I learned altissimo by playing along to transcriptions of Marc Russo and David Sanborn, and a little help from some books like Ted Nash’s
Top Tones” and David Liebman’s book “Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound” (for overtones, etc.)

I dusted this one off a few weeks ago to clean up the transcription and get ready to post it. I forgot how HIGH it went – double G! D is pretty much my limit these days, although I somehow managed to play this back in high school. I had a very different setup those days, and apparently much harder reeds and tolerance for pain.

I started to work this one up, and I was hoping to get a video posted before my jaw surgery. But once the braces went on, I could barely play anything taxing, they just shred my lips with anything that requires any pressure. So I don’t know when (or if) I’ll ever get back above that high D again. For the kind if playing that I do, I don’t ever go that high, so although I appreciate the value of being able to do it, I realize that my practice time is better spent focusing on more immediate needs with tangible benefits.

That said, Silverlake is a beautiful track. Kind of a ballad that breaks into a funky latin/fusion feel for the solo. There are a few bars that sounds like he switches to soprano, so I indicated that in the transcription (while still notating for alto).

Marc Russo - Silverlake

 

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Bob Mintzer – Boomtown

More Bob Mintzer solos from Mint Jam! I was hoping to get this solo done and recorded before my jaw surgery, but alas that was not to be. I got the transcription done and I was working it up, but it’s a pretty hard solo and wasn’t where it needed to be for me to record it. I’m confident I can work it up some day, but it will be a few months before I can play again, so I’m just posting as-is.

This is definitely the hardest solo I’ve transcribed from Mint Jam to date. Both in terms of the transcription and the performance. Lots of very fast passages, as well as some tricky altissimo.

There’s a lot of complexity in what the rhythm section is doing, and Bob plays off of it very well. For all that is going on, the track still manages to swing – what a killer band!

I plan on continuing to work through this album while I’m laid up. There’s an EWI track that I might even be able to work on while I recover, before I can play sax.

Bob Mintzer - Boomtown

 

Enjoy!

@SDartSax

Maceo Parker – Quick Step

This is definitely the last video I will post before I go in for jaw surgery. I was on the road all week for work, so I didn’t have a chance to practice or transcribe something new. I pulled something out of the archive and spent about an hour working it up – not enough to do it justice. Tomorrow I get the wires put on my braces in preparation for surgery Wednesday, so I doubt I’ll even play sax again before I go offline for 3+ months.

But I didn’t pick an easy one to go out on. Quick Step is an up-tempo Maceo tune (as the title would suggest), and it’s in a flat key, which is pretty unusual. It’s basically a one-chord jam with e melody that is intercut with several short solos.

Transcribing the opening was tough, because when you first hear the tune, you don’t know where ‘one’ is. it becomes clear once the rhythm section comes in. But it can be a good exercise to try and figure it out without that context.

For me, transcribing is like a science experiment. You listen, and formulate a hyopthesis (guess). Then you listen again with that hyopethesis in mind to either validate or invalidate it. If you’re really good at it, you can guess about a whole line at a time. But if you’re like me, sometimes you’re guessing about a single pitch, or the rhythmic placement of a single note in a phrase. But if you follow that basic approach you can get through the hardest transcription there is. Just slow it down and focus on solving one problem at a time until it all comes together.

Maceo Parker - Quick Step

 

Enjoy!

@SDartSax