It’s recently been the 100th birthday of the legendary saxophonist Charlie Parker. Most musicians, and jazz enthusiasts know that he was (and still is) a huge influence on the music, but don’t necessarily understand why. I therefore decided to not only post a transcription of one of his solos, but take a closer look at what he actually plays so we can try and understand his genius (even if it’s just a little bit)!
Sonny Stitt’s Solo On “Elora” (Take 2) by J. J. Johnson
This is how I discovered the music of the great jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt…
When I was fresh out of the Royal College, very young, and so very naive I arranged to have a sax lesson with the legendary American saxophonist Bob Mintzer whilst he was over in the UK on tour with his band the “Yellow Jackets”.
Back then I was still finding my feet with my jazz playing and if I think back to that lesson it makes me shudder! What on earth was I thinking?! Anyway, Bob was very kind to me in that lesson and actually he gave me some invaluable pointers.
Dexter Gordon’s Solo on “Blue Bossa” by Kenny Dorham
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.
In this post I’m going to go over the key area of how to add licks to your improvised jazz solos. It’s a great way to start building your jazz vocabulary for improvisation, plus it’s great ear training too!
For this I’m going to be using my “Top 5 Bebop Licks” introduced in one of my earlier posts. Please check that out or just grab the PDF download from the resources section below.
Following on from my previous “Favourite Jazz Saxophonists – The Greats” post here’s part two as promised focusing on contemporary artists. Hopefully it will provide you with a useful introduction to some fantastic and inspiring musicians, all of whom are well worth checking out.
With this playlist I’ve tried to create a selection that covers a wide range of players and styles, and if you listen carefully you will hear that all of them have learnt from the Past Masters like the ones featured in my previous “Favourites” post.