Ron Fix

Saxophonist | Educator

Clay Pritchard Transcription

Happy Monday, everybody! Here's a transcription of Texas tenor saxophonist, Clay Pritchard's solo over rhythm changes. A lot of really cool things happening in this solo. I particularly enjoy Clay's use of E and Bb triad pairs over E7 in the bridge. This highlights the 1-3-5 and #11-7-b9 of the E7 altered chord. The original video of this solo can be found here, and you can hear the audio along with the sheet music here. Enjoy!

Sam Dillon Transcription

Hey guys! It's been a minute since I've posted a new transcription. Here's a solo by NY tenor saxophonist Sam Dillon over the Super Mario Bro's theme. The original recording can currently be found on Sam Dillon's Instagram page, and is taken from a live-video session with Charlie Rosen's 8-Bit Band and orchestra. You can hear the audio along with sheet music here. Enjoy!

Books, Master Classes, and More!

Happy 2018, everybody! It's been an exciting year. Here's a little of what's been going on.

CHAD LEFKOWITZ-BROWN TRANSCRIPTION BOOK

CLB Book

I'm thrilled to announce that the CLB Transcription Book has sold more than 500 copies and has reached over 50 countries across the globe. Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy!

The book is available in both digital and spiral-bound form, and can be purchased here.

PAGE MIDDLE MASTER CLASS

Page MC

In March, I was invited to give a woodwind masterclass at Page Middle School in Gloucester, Virginia. Page has a wonderful program consisting of three concert bands and a jazz ensemble. We worked on embouchure, air support, and jazz improvisation. 

Thank you to band director Kristen Friend and the students for having me. And thank you to D'Addario for sending me along with some free reeds and swag for the students.

If you'd like to have me come to your school, please send me a message below.

 

BIO RITMO + RICHMOND SYMPHONY

Lastly, I had the pleasure to share the stage with Bio Ritmo and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. Here are some pictures from the event as well as a recording of "Picaresca," a track off their 2014 album, Puerta del Sur.

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Chad Lefkowitz-Brown Transcription Book

I am happy to announce the release of my book, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown Solo Transcriptions.

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The contents includes 15 complete solo transcriptions from YouTube and Instagram.

All The Things You Are, Body And Soul, Caravan, Driftin'For All We Know, Get Lucky, How High The Moon, Melodic Cell Lines, Nature Boy, On The Sunny Side Of The Street, Recorda Me, Sandu, Struttin' With Some Barbecue, Take The A Train, and There Is No Greater Love.

The book is available as both an E-Book ($20) and as a spiral-bound physical copy ($32). All physical copies come with a digital copy, and both versions come with the corresponding audio files. Free shipping to anywhere in the US including Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.

Chad Lefkowitz-Brown is a world-renowned saxophonist and one of the most followed jazz musicians of his generation. He has toured throughout the globe as a soloist and international recording artist, prompting critical acclaim for his musicianship and virtuosity. The New York Daily has headlined Chad as a "sax phenom" and Downbeat Magazine has commended his "technical abilities that mask the difficulty of his wondrously intricate lines." Chad currently resides in New York, and is on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as a visiting artist. 

D'Addario Artist

I'm very excited and honored to announce that I am joining the D'Addario artist family! I have been playing on Select Jazz reeds since I first picked up the horn back in the 90's. Thank you to Tom Kmiecik and everyone at D'Addario for their help and kindness! You couldn't ask for a nicer group of people to work with.

Patrick Henry Jazz Masterclass

I had a great time working with students from Patrick Henry High School. Wonderful group of kids! Always a good sign when students can recognize Gerry Mulligan, Billie Holiday, and Coleman Hawkins by sight.

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This masterclass focused on the blues and improvisation - specifically, using the major pentatonic scale. When it comes to beginning improvisation, I've never been particularly fond of teaching the blues scale, except in certain cases. I've found that with the blues scale, students tend to view all notes as equal instead of understanding how each note actually functions.

For this masterclass, I divided notes into three categories: chord tones, passing tones, and altered tones. Understanding these three note qualities allows students to form more logical and melodic solos instead of just picking a note at random from the blues scale and hoping for the best. Another benefit of this method is that it gets students to focus on playing the changes.

I'd like to thank the Patrick Henry band director, Mrs. Peters, for having me, as well as D'Addario for providing the students with free reeds and swag! 

Below are PDFs from the masterclass, including the melodic lines we created. I've also included a PDF of a few pentatonic shapes that work great in funk/ rock settings. There is also a link to a playlist I created on YouTube. The playlist includes various blues recordings as well examples of musicians using the pentatonic scale in funk/ fusion settings.

Enjoy! 

Masterclass Worksheet

Pentatonic Shapes

Blues Playlist

Mr. P.C. Minor Line

So you've transcribed your favorite solo, now what? You've memorized it. You've written it down. You understand the theory. How do you turn this newfound knowledge into something you can use? You don't want to just play licks and regurgitate the solo, but make those lines your own and blend them into your vocabulary.

To explain this, I'm going to use John Coltrane's solo from Mr. P.C. as an example - specifically the first half chorus. This is the version off the Giant Steps album.

I'm always looking for ways to stretch out ideas. When I was first starting out with improvisation, I found that on minor or dominant vamps (modal tunes), I would run out of ideas rather quickly. So I was always on the the lookout for ways to take something simple, like a minor scale, and expand upon it.  The opening line Coltrane plays on Mr. P.C. is one of those lines.

Mr. P.C. (short for Mr. Paul Chambers, the bassist on this recording) is a minor blues. Each chorus is 12 measures long. The line Coltrane plays (see the attached PDF) is just a minor scale with upper and lower neighboring tones. The lower is a half-step below the scale tone, and the upper is a diatonic (within the scale) third above the scale town. Example: The scale tone is D, the lower neighbor is C#, the upper neighbor is F.

 Click image to view PDF

Click image to view PDF

Now, I could just play the first three measures of Coltrane's solo verbatim in my improvisation, but that wouldn't be very creative. So what I've done is expanded upon this idea and turned it into an exercise.

In the example I've used the D harmonic minor scale. I could have used any minor scale, but my ear likes the flat 6 and major seventh sound. I've written the line out in multiple keys. Try to play it in every key; write it out if you need to. Writing the exercise out in every key is OK if you're just starting out, but I highly recommend working these lines out in your head as soon as you're capable.

 Click image to view PDF

Click image to view PDF

Once you've mastered this idea in every key slowly, work on getting it up to faster tempos - 16ths at 120 bpm is a good goal. I try to go for 32nds at 60 bpm. It's the same, but it forces you to rely less on the metronome.

Try applying this approach to other transcriptions, and you're vocabulary will expand dramatically!

A Note on Transcriptions

One of the most common questions I see is, "what's the best way to transcribe?"

Short answer: There is no best way. Just do it.

Far too often we get so caught up in the How that we never actually get to the Doing. My advice is to just do it. Get out there and transcribe. No matter how you go about, you will benefit.

As far as the benefits, there are many depending on how you go about transcribing (improved sight-reading, better intonation and tone, better technique, expanded vocabulary...)

When I first started transcribing, I wrote everything down as soon an I learned it. I would regularly go back and read through what I wrote. My tone and intonation improved, and some language sunk in, but not as much as if I had memorized the piece. An unexpected benefit was that my ability to sight-read increased dramatically! This came from writing it down.

My current approach is to memorize the piece, and write it down afterwards (oftentimes from memory and without a horn). I feel this is the "best" way (for me, at least). I still receive the same benefits as before, but now I'm really letting the language sink in to my subconscious.

No matter how you go about transcribing, it doesn't really matter, just as long as you are doing it. Transcription books are great, particularly for those who have transcribed and listened a lot on their own, but they are no substitute for actually doing the work yourself.

As for programs to help with the transcription process, I have used the Amazing Slow Downer and Transcribe. Both are great. There are some who advocate that you shouldn't slow down the music, but try to learn it at tempo. Developing this ability can really help you out on the bandstand when you have to learn a tune by ear on the fly. I always try to do this first, but more often than not I end up slowing the music down a little.

Joel Frahm Transcription - Cherokee

Hey everybody! By request, here is Joel Frahm's solo over Cherokee from Matt Marantz's YouTube video. If you don't know Joel Frahm, you need to check him immediately. So much language! I keep his duo album Don't Explain with Brad Mehldau on regular rotation. I also recommend Sorry, No Decaf and vocalist Cyrille Aimee's Live at Smalls album, where he appears as a sideman with Roy Hargrove.

Also, be sure to check out Matt Marantz. Killin saxophone and EWI player!

This transcription was a little tricky to notate. I have a lot of mixed meter in there to break up the phrases into shapes I recognize. This is really just for my understanding. I placed chord changes throughout to help you follow along. Enjoy!

Click image to access the full file.

Taylor Clay Transcription - Rhythm Changes

Hey everybody, been traveling the last couple weeks so I fell behind on transcriptions, but I got a good one for you today! Today's post is from Taylor Clay. I don't know much about Taylor except that he contributed to Jam of the Week once and it was amazing. Here is his Jam of the Week solo over rhythm changes from 2015. It starts kinda Sonny Stitt, goes Breckery, and ends in fourths. Cool stuff!

Click image to access the full file.

Tim Lin Transcription - Giant Steps

Today's transcription is Tim Lin's solo over Giant Steps from Jam of the Week. This was my favorite Giant Steps solo posted that week and Tim kills it! Tim is a West Coast (soon to be East Coast) musician who you should definitely keep your eye on. Great player and educator! The chords in parentheses are the substitutions I think he's using - backdoor dominants and tritone subs. Enjoy!

Click image to access the full file.

Sam Dillon Transcription - Blue Bossa

Today's transcription falls in the category of Things Sam Dillon Never Imagined Someone Would Transcribe. It's Sam's solo over "Blue Bossa" from 2015. Sam's another one of those freakishly good New York saxophone players that keep me from sleeping at night. Be sure to check him out!

Click image to access the full file.

Lester Young Transcription - Every Tub

Today's transcription is Lester Young's solo on "Every Tub," from the 1938 Count Basie Orchestra Decca recording. This is a rhythm changes tune (based on the chord progression occurring in George Gershwin's song "I Got Rhythm"). Lester makes great use of the augmented sound over a dominant chord. Almost the entire first A section is augmented triads!

A little big of history for ya: Lester Young's contributions to music might have only been surpassed by his contributions to the English language. Lester was an original through and through. So much so, he even had his own language. A lot of the colloquialisms we use today are often credited to Lester Young, you dig? Words like "dig" (to understand), "bread" (money), "crib" (home), and even "homeboy" are associated with Lester Young. The phrase "Every Tub" means "every man for himself." That last piece trivia is from Frank Büchmann-Møller's book, You Just Fight For Your Life: The Story of Lester Young. I highly recommend checking it out!

Enjoy!

Click image to access the full file.

Reggie Padilla Transcription - A Night In Tunisia

Today's transcription is a Jam of the Week solo from 2014 - Reggie Padilla's solo over "A Night in Tunisia." Reggie's solo starts over the interlude, and he absolutely kills it! I always look forward to Reggie's posts, such a great sound and a consistent player. He's released two albums you should totally check out.

You can find a recording of this solo at my Soundcloud page.

Enjoy!

Click image to access the full file.

Lester Young & Buck Clayton Transcriptions - One O'Clock Jump

Here are Lester Young and Buck Clayton's solos (tenor saxophone and trumpet, respectively) from "One O'Clock Jump." This is from the 1937 Decca recording. Funny thing about this tune is, despite how famous it is, it really doesn't have a melody (that I know of). I added a riff from the shout chorus at the bottom of the page. I always kinda liked to think of this as the melody. Enjoy!

Click image to access the full file.

Ben Webster Transcription - Stardust

Transcribed: August 17, 2016

Ben Webster's solo over "Stardust" from the 1964 See You at the Fair recording. You'll be hard-pressed to find a greater ballad player. You really need to dig into the recording to master his use of scoops and alternate fingerings. Enjoy! 

Click the image to access the full file.


© 2017 Ron Fix. All rights reserved.