Woody Shaw’s Solo on “The Blues Walk”

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.

His use of bitonality is also particularly interesting.  For example, in this following line he superimposes a B7 sound in measure 124 (a tritone away from F, notated below sort of in C flat in order to make it read easier).  This resolves nicely down a half step to the Bb7 chord.  This is a pretty common chord substitution, known as a “tritone substitution.”

When you look through the entire solo, you might also note that Shaw leaves a great deal of space.  Be sure to check out the recording of this tune so that you can listen to the great interplay between Shaw and the rhythm section (Cedar Walton on piano, Percy Heath on bass, and Art Blakey on drums).

Here are links to PDF downloads of the entire solo.

Woody Shaw’s solo on Blues Walk
Woody Shaw’s solo on Blues Walk (Bb)
Woody Shaw’s solo on Blues Walk (Eb)
Woody Shaw’s solo on Blues Walk (bass clef)

As always, I encourage everyone to get the recording and transcribe this solo yourself.  You’ll get a lot more out of it by doing so.  Plus, I won’t guarantee my accuracy here.  Let me know if you spot any mistakes.

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