What To Practise: Transcription

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Dexter Gordon’s Solo on “Blue Bossa” by Kenny Dorham

Dexter Gordon - Master Jazz Tenor Saxophone Player
Dexter Gordon in Amsterdam. Photo Credit: Albert Kok

Dexter Gordon is undoubtedly one of the all time great jazz tenor saxophonists. His performing and recording career spanned some 40+ years, winning a Grammy, and even earning an Oscar nomination in the Best Lead Actor category for his role in the 1986 film “Round Midnight”.

From a learning perspective his solos can be a dream to transcribe thanks to their clarity, therefore making them ideal for the intermediate player. Dexter’s phrasing, use of space, and sense of time often give his playing an unhurried feel, and so his solos are great examples to try and emulate.

For my blog’s first featured transcription I’ve chosen Dexter’s version of the popular latin tune “Blue Bossa” as it is essential learning for any jazz musician. The tune is great for students of jazz as the chord progression is straightforward (featuring both major and minor II-V-Is) and the harmony doesn’t move too quickly.

This recording of the tune comes from the album “Biting the Apple” recorded in 1976.

The Transcription
Dexter Gordon's Solo on "Blue Bossa"

Here’s a pdf of the solo for you download and work from: –

How To Practise The Transcription

When practising the transcription don’t just learn the notes. Be sure to analyse how the phrases fit with the chord progression of the piece. Try to memorise both the solo and the chord progression. This will help you internalise the relationship between the chords and what Dexter is playing. It’s all great ear training for you!

Here’s the original recording. Once you’ve got the solo under your fingers try and play it along with Dexter himself. In particular, try to match his articulation and placement. It’s a masterclass in playing behind the beat!

I hope you enjoy playing this Dexter Gordon transcription. Transcribing and learning from the Masters is a great way increase your understanding of jazz. I really can’t recommend it enough!

If you want to improve your jazz playing and would like to know more about taking saxophone lessons with me please feel free to get in touch at any time. I’d love to hear from you and I’m sure that we can get you sounding like a pro in no time!

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