I recently learned about a cool site put together by Varun Singh with a number of jazz solo transcriptions of a bunch of different instrumentalists. Jazz Transcription Hub has 38 different solos available for download. Most so far are trombone transcriptions, but it looks like there’s a lot of potential for more to be added in the future. Go over and check it out and if you’ve got a transcription or three available, consider uploading it and adding it to the mix.
My friend Alan Greene, who plays with me in the Asheville Jazz Orchestra, told me about a great YouTube channel by “bobilleg74.” Bob has has 29 uploads of jazz trombone solos and his transcriptions of them. There are a handful of solos I’ve already done and several I’ve not heard before. There are also a few he’s done that were solos I’ve been thinking about transcribing myself.
While it’s tempting to just learn the solos from Bob’s transcriptions (and I’m sure I’ll end up just stealing a lick or three this way), I’m still planning on working on some of those transcriptions myself at a later date. The benefit from transcribing isn’t just learning what notes and rhythms a great soloist improvised, but training your ear and learning the style through focused and repeated listening. It’s neat to then compare what you came up with to someone else’s transcription.
Check out this great resource here.
Check out the below video created by Don Glanden, who teaches at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. It’s an detailed analysis of Chick Corea’s improvised solo on his composition 500 Miles High. It’s an excellent discussion of an amazing solo.
The University of the Arts currently has 73 videos uploaded on their YouTube page. I’m going to have to look through them carefully for more gems like this one.
Thanks to the Ottowa Citizen Jazz Blog for spotting this one!
Trumpet player Woody Shaw (1944-1989) was one of the most influential jazz trumpet players of his time. His solos still sound fresh and innovative to me today. Which is why I decided to transcribe his solo on the blues in F, The Blues Walk (from Dexter Gordon’s album “Gotham City”) and try to get into some of the harmonic and melodic innovations he was known for.
One thing Shaw was known for doing was employing larger intervals, such as perfect 4ths and 5ths in his melodic lines. Here’s one example from this solo.
Shaw was also known for utilizing pentatonic scales in an interesting way. Here’s one example of him using an F minor pentatonic scale over both the Bb7 and F7 chords. Continue reading Woody Shaw’s Solo on “The Blues Walk”
One of the most influential trombonists in jazz was Carl Fontana. While not as well known as some of his peers, Fontana’s easy swing feel, tuneful lines, and flawless technique has inspired and influenced most jazz trombonists since the 1950s.
Fontana spent most of his career since 1958 playing shows in Las Vegas and not being much of a self-promotor, we don’t have many recordings around. One of my favorites of Fontana as a leader is his 1985 album, The Great Fontana. Fontana’s stop-time chorus on the tune It Might As Well Be Spring is alone worth getting this album.
I transcribed a couple of solos from this album back when I was an undergrad, including Fontana’s solo on the blues tune, Showcase. Since this was almost 20 years ago, I won’t make any guarantees about accuracy, but skimming though it looks like I got pretty close. Click here to get the whole solo.
I’d recommend that if you’re a jazz musician interested in this solo you should transcribe it yourself and then let me know where I got it wrong.
Benoît Sauvé is one bad recorder player! Watch that video to see and hear him play along with Michael Brecker’s solo improvisation on Some Skunk Funk note for note. I’m sure that was an extremely challenging solo to transcribe and to learn to play on recorder.
Here’s what that Sauvé has to say about transcribing:
“Although studying the various scales and chords,and the relations between them,is essential in learning to improve, putting these theoretical notions into practise can be very laborious.
This is why making transcriptions of actual solos can be so useful for training aural perception and instrumental technique, as well as allowing us to analyse the styles of great jazzmen, enrich our musical vocabulary, and thus help develop our own musical ideas.”
I see he has several other videos up, so I’m going to go check out his YouTube channel.
The trombone has been an important instrumental voice in jazz since jazz’s origins. Throughout its history many jazz trombonists have made contributions that have had an influence on other performers, including many non-trombonists. This article traces a timeline of stylistic influence from the early styles of jazz to the present day through the analyses of transcribed solos as played by some of jazz’s most influential trombonists.
Tracing these influences through transcribed solos can show a progression from one style to the next. It can be seen how the earlier players influence the later, after which those players develop their own new styles and in turn influence the musicians to follow. This timeline of influences can be a valuable resource for the jazz performer. A performer who knows how musicians from each style period performed and influenced later musicians will know how to perform within all style periods. Knowledge of the musical roots also allows the performer to build upon influences and create new ideas that break the traditional rules. Continue reading A Stylistic Analysis of Jazz Trombone Through Transcribed Solos
Before covering a process for transcribing jazz, it is important to understand the point to transcribing jazz solos. Today we have access to a lot of written material giving advice on how to improvise and practice improvisation. There are books of solos that other people have transcribed for you. You can even get computer software that will transcribe music for you. With all this information presented for you already, why take the time to figure it out for yourself?
Jazz, like all music, is an aural art form – it is meant to be heard, not read or seen. Attempting to learn to play jazz well just by reading books will take you to a certain point, but will leave quite a bit out that is important to playing jazz. Only a part of improvising involves what notes to play, and you can’t really learn how to swing, phrase, shape notes, or pace your solos by reading music or words. You have to pay your dues by listening to the music. Continue reading How To Transcribe: Some Advice for the Beginning Jazz Improviser