Transcribed: Lenny Pickett – On The Serious Side

This is another solo I transcribed to help me get my stuff together for the Tower of Power cover band I’m playing with. “On The Serious Side” is from Tower of Power’s 1975 In The Slot album. An interesting thing about this solo is that Lenny Pickett plays it on alto saxophone. The band leader for the cover band told me this was kind of a tribute to Maceo Parker and that’s the reason for going with the alto.

LP takes two solos on the recording – one in the middle and the other close to the end. They’re both 9 measures long and the first bar in both is a pickup measure. Both solos are built around a minor pentatonic scale with an added 6th. The intervals for the scale are 1, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7 (A, C, D, E, F#, G).

LP also uses false fingerings on 16th note lines where he repeats A2 (A above the staff). The “o” and “+” denotes this. The “o” is the regular fingering. For the “+”, you’ll add 1,2, and 3 on your right hand. I’m not entirely sure he’s doing it in the first solo or if he’s kind of half-tonguing, but the false fingerings were the best way for me to play it. You can experiment with it and come to your own conclusions. If you do, please feel free to comment on that.

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Transcribed: Rick Margitza – Spin

Rick_Margitza

 

 

Spin is a tune written by Rick Margitza that he recorded on his 2001 release, Memento. I’ve had this album for a couple years and have always really enjoyed this tune in particular, but only got around to transcribing it this month. It was a fun process and I’m happy to share it with you now.

Here’s a breakdown of the tune:

  • Style: Jazz Waltz
  • Key: F
  • Form: The tune is 76 bars and roughly follows an ABA’ form (26, 26, and 24 bars) in the statement of the melody. One of the most interesting things in this tune to me is that the band plays the same chord progression in the solo sections, but aims for different cadence points leading to a form with 4 sections (16, 24, 20, and 16 bars)
  • Range: The entire horn! Margitza plays from Bb1 (low Bb) to Db4 (altissimo Db). The fluidity with which Rick Margitza plays lines in the altissimo register is one of my favorite things about his playing. You can really tell that he put a lot of work to be able to play like that.

Below is a recording of the melody followed by my transcription. After that, you’ll see the recording of the solo and the transcription. Both the melody and solo are written for tenor saxophone and are not in concert pitch.

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iReal Book – A 900-song fake book on your phone.

I had a few friends who had the iReal Book on their iphones and I was a little jealous because it hasn’t been available for my android phone. I checked for it tonight and it’s now available for android. The iReal Book is mine!

I guess that my excitement warrants an explanation of just what iReal Book is. As the title of this post suggests, iReal Book is a fake book app for your iphone or android. Here is a list of features that both versions share (the iphone has a few more):

  1. 900 tunes covering jazz, bebop, Brazilian, Latin, and pop music.
  2. The chord changes are fully transposable to any key and transposing is very easy in the app.
  3. The screen will stay lit when you are looking at a tune.
  4. You can search by titles or composers.
  5. Each tune fits on one ‘page’ on the screen so you don’t have to flip around in the app within a tune.

The only real downside is the lack of melodies for any of the tunes. I think this is primarily done to avoid any copyright issues. I think that all in all, for the price ($5.99 for android, $7.99 for iphone), the iReal Book is a great tool for musicians.

iReal Book

Massimo Biolcati – creator of iReal Book

Jerry Bergonzi Scale Exercise

I was checking out the Sax on the Web forum when I can across this thread that member Mike Cesati wrote about an exercise that Jerry Bergonzi gave him in a lesson several years ago.

This exercise is based on the modes of the major scale. It is similar the 1st exercise in the Taffenel and Gaubert 17 Daily Exercises for Flute, but in an expanded form. Mike explains the exercise well in the thread and in reading it, you can see how you will go through the modes.

I have working on this exercise for about four weeks now and it has helped me find a few technical weaknesses to further address in my practice. When I’m going through the exercise, there are a few things I try to keep in mind –

1. Relaxation – I want the least amount of tension in my hands and fingers as is possible.

2. Evenness – I want all of the different intervals to be even. Anytime something comes up that isn’t even, I will isolate it and work on it until it is.

3. Finger position – I have really flexible fingers and I have to make a conscious effort to keep my fingers curved (mostly right hand).

4. Modes – I try to stay focused and think about which mode I’m playing at any given time in the exercise.

As far as range goes, I start on B3 on the saxophone (written B above the staff in treble clef) and go down to Bb1 (Bb1 below the staff). I have given an example in the key of C so you can see what the exercise looks like.

Click on the music for full-size.

P.S. – If you haven’t heard of, or checked out, Jerry Bergonzi, he is a complete and total beast of a tenor player.

www.jerrybergonzi.com

Transcribed: Diggin’ On James Brown

I recently began playing tenor saxophone with a Tower of Power cover band. This isn’t a style of music I have a lot of experience playing, so I decided to transcribe a few solos to get a better handle on what the guys in TOP were playing. The first solo I transcribed was the studio version of “Diggin’ On James Brown” from Tower of Power’s Souled Out album. The solo was played by David Mann.

The solo is very short – it’s only 8 measures plus a pick up. The note choices are pretty much all inside the changes and there’s a strong sense of groove and melody. As notated below, the entire solo is 8va. The trill marked in the next to last measure is played with the right hand E side key. I’ve also included the time code below the first system. The solo starts at 3:01 on the recording. You can click on the solo to see an enlarged version.

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Figuring out what to practice – make a list.

A very common question that musicians are confronted with from time to time is “What do I practice?” of “What should I be practicing?”.  Although you may get some direction from teachers, mentors, or colleagues, most of the work you do while practicing is self-dictated. This means that appraising where you are is a necessity.

The method I use for appraising my playing is one I picked up in a private lesson with Jeff Coffin. (Jeff plays saxophone with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and with Dave Matthews Band.) You will be making a list with two columns – “Things I do well.” and “Things I suck at want to improve.” What you put on your list can be as vague (technique), or as specific (RH ring finger isn’t curved enough), as you like. You might also have things that are related on opposite sides of the list. A very important thing to do when you put together your list is to make sure you have an equal number of items on each side. It can’t all be bad, but it’s probably not all good either.

After you’ve compiled your list, you will get an idea of what you want to practice. You want to get all of the things from the “Things I want to improve” side over to the “Things I do well” side.

I’ve included my current list below to give you an idea of where I am right now.