Chris Farr – Tenor Madness

Here’s the second Chris Farr post. It’s a transcription of one of his Eastman Endorsement videos. I’ll be honest – it makes me want to try an Eastman sax! Of course I’m not on the market for a new horn and don’t have the money for one, but that’s never stopped me before! ­čÖé

This is an acapella solo, and there’s so much to love about it. Tenor Madness is such a staple jazz blues song that beginners all learn on (I know I did), but he turns it inside out. The solo starts simply enough – melodic and lyrical. He outlines the changes beautifully, and keeps increasing the complexity with each chorus. The voice leading is beautiful, and then he gradually starts adding substitutions that break the barlines and patterns. I’ve never been able to pull off this kind of vertical playing very well, but he nails it.┬á

There are no real pyrotechnics. No altissimo or flashy technique, just beautiful harmonic progression phrased perfectly.




Chris Farr – Compared to What

One of the things I love about writing this blog is finding killer players that I’ve never heard of. If you’re not familiar with Chris Farr, listen up – this will be the first of two transcriptions of his playing.

The Roots first landed on my radar back in 2010 when they opened John Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity”. They killed it. I immediately bought the CD they did with John Legend, which has stayed in my listening rotation ever since.

I had it on the other day, and got really in to the sac solo on Compared to What. I had to do some digging, but I’m 99% certain it’s Chris Farr. He’s an Eastman endorser and saxophone instructor in Philadelphia (hometown of the Roots).

The solo is super funky. It opens with a lengthy hemiola that was a little tough to notate, but I think I got it. Chris has a beautiful sound with a lot of character. And the altissimo at the end is so smooth!

  • Artist:┬áChris Farr
  • Album:┬áJohn Legend and the Roots – Wake Up!
  • Track:┬áCompared to What (YouTube link)
  • Instrument:┬áTenor Sax




David Sanborn – Somebody Up There Likes Me

Another request! Another track from the David Bowie “Young Americans” album. I had forgotten about this track actually. Young Americans is so iconic, it gets all of the attention.┬á

The approach is very similar actually. Sanborn plays throughout the entire track more or less. He melts in to the background over the verse and chorus, but really shines during the other parts.

The track opens with a sax solo, has another during the bridge, and then he blows some more over the ride out. So there’s a lot of material here.

  • Artist:┬áDavid Sanborn
  • Album:┬áDavid Bowie – Young Americans
  • Track:┬áSomebody Up There Likes Me (Youtube Link)
  • Instrument:┬áAlto┬áSax



P.S. Apologies for the gap in posting, Im recovering from some minor surgery, so no videos for a bit. I’ll try to catch up – I want to record this one!