Continuing through the Close-Up album, this is track #4 Goodbye.
This fits nicely with the rest of the album – a down tempo track with another soaring melody line. The thing I like the most about this track is how Sanborn’s vibrato is perfectly in time and is so pronounced on the held notes during the ‘A’ section. It’s something that you don’t hear done very much, and it was very tough for me to match exactly.
The ‘B’ section is equally powerful – use lots of air! I wasn’t ready and I couldn’t make it through the first note. This section is a real workout!
Like the other tracks on the album, there’s a brief solo section, then a return to the melody and some more soloing on the ride out. Lots of altissimo, including a high D. I feel like it’s getting a little better, but I still need to work out some short fingerings that will make the high B-A-G-A run.
This is a continuation in my series of resurrected high school transcriptions. I found some glaring errors so I spent about 15 mintues fixing things up, but there are still big gaps (especially at the end). Hey, at least it’s free, right?!
Continuing through the Close-Up album, this is track #2: JT.
This is probably one of the hardest tracks on the album for me to play. There’s a ton of tricky altissimo passages that are right in the break between F-A (the hardest range for me to navigate fluidly).
This month has been a busy one for me, making it hard for me to hit my self-defined goal of posting one transcription per week. I did these Sanborn transcriptions back in High School (with pencil and paper!) Given my limited time, I quickly keyed them in to Finale, played through once or twice to fix the most egregious errors and then rolled tape.
The quality of the transcriptions that I did back then doesn’t meet my current bar for quality. I neglected to put in chord changes, I didn’t transcribe all the way to the end of the fade (I think I stopped when I got to the end of the page!), and there are occasionally multiple parts being played simultaneously that I didn’t capture. Not to mention little inaccuracies with notes and rhythms that I didn’t catch until playing them a few times.
I might need to do a ‘Take 2’ pass of these when I get more time. I could only find my written transcriptions for the first half of the album, so the second half will have to all be done from scratch. Hopefully you will notice an improvement in quality as I go!
Continuing through the Close-Up album, this is track #3 Lesley Ann. A really beautiful track with a soaring melody. There’s not a lot of soloing to this one, just melody, but it’s one of my favorite tracks from the album.
A brief editorial note – You may catch a small overdub in the video. As much as I try to get everything in one take, I don’t always have the time for that. Sometimes I’ll record longer or more difficult pieces in sections and choose the best takes for each section. In this case, there were no breaks in the track, and I blew one altissimo passage late in the track. So I grabbed the audio from another take to patch it up. But there are a few bars where the audio and video don’t line up well 🙂
A few weeks ago, I was reading a discussion on Facebook where someone asked what the best David Sanborn album was. They weren’t looking for the best solo, the best track, or an album that contained a few great tracks and a few filler ones. They wanted to know what people thought the best overall end-to-end album was. And the overwhelming majority said ‘Close Up’. I couldn’t agree more!
The production values sound a little dated now, but the playing is amazing. Whenever Marcus Miller is involved, you know it’s going to be good.
When I was in high school, I transcribed most of this album, and it’s how I learned altissimo on the alto. Since reading that discussion thread, I’ve gone back through my archives and dug up those old transcriptions. They needed a little work to get up to snuff (and so do my altissimo chops!)
Slam is the first cut of the album. The melody is simple yet powerful. You need a lot of air to deliver it with conviction the way Sanborn does. This track has some really crazy high parts that I’m not quite solid on, but I did my best.
Hopefully by the time I get around to posting all the tracks from this album, I’ll have a much better handle on the upper register of my alto with this new mouthpiece!
Recently, I was able to participate in a group effort to transcribe another amazing solo saxophone performance by Chris Potter. This time it was Cherokee done in 10 keys over almost 13 minutes.
Steve Neff was one of the key contributors and describes how the effort came about on his blog.
My contribution was chorus 5, spanning pages 11-12 below. Big thanks to all who were involved in the effort, especially Steve. Due to a family emergency, I threw two pages of rough notes and rhythms over to him in email and he was able to proofread and combine with the rest of the choruses.
Although these solos are amazingly complicated, they aren’t as hard to transcribe as you’d think. Chris is such a clean player that the lack of rhythm section makes it easy to hear each and every pitch if you slow it down enough. The hard part is taking those pitches and making them into something readable. Since there is no frame of reference for time, you have to make a lot of subjective judgment calls.
I’m mirroring the finished work below for ease of viewing on the web. And no, I won’t be posting my own video of me playing along because this is way above my skill level at full speed!
Even though I’m a saxophonist, I’ve always been drawn to Jaco Pastorius’ music, especially his solo bass work. Fortunately, there are many recordings of this work, but this track is perhaps the most famous (and rightly so). And it’s certainly my favorite.
Many of his solo performances involved looping and other effects, but not this track. It’s just beautifully written, with intricate harmonies and rhythms. It occurred to me one day as I was listening to it that Jaco made all of this amazing music with just four strings. Four voices. What would it sound like to perform this piece on four different instruments?
So I set out to arrange it for SATB saxophone quartet. The arrangement process was pretty straightforward. I didn’t add or remove anything from Jaco’s performance. I just de-constructed it into four distinct parts. I slowed parts of it down considerably to let the harmonies breathe more, and make it more playable. I also made the creative choice to dictate the length of the many fermattas through the use of held notes and time signature changes where needed. This reduces the need for conducting.
It also allowed me to put together a click track so I could perform all four parts myself. This was no small feat. I’ve played the piece with a live quartet, and it’s very difficult to play (especially the alto and bari parts). The rhythms have to be perfect, and you have to work hard to both pay attention to, and ignore the other players at the same time!
The result is the video below. Although I don’t normally like to do this, I did make some edits to fix some of the bigger mistakes that I made. My goal was to represent the arrangement in the best light that I could.
The piece is so beautiful and it truly defies classification – is it Jazz? Classical? Other? I think that it would be a great choice for a recital piece, or for any small ensemble performance.
The PDF contains the score with the four transposed parts. Feel free to contact me if you want copies of the parts themselves, or if you’d like it re-arranged for different instruments.
If you end up performing it, send me a video, I’d love to hear it!