Transcribed: Joe Henderson – Inner Urge

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I did this transcription several months ago as an assignment for my lessons with Garry Dial. It was the most difficult solo I’d learned to that point and the experience was both rewarding and empowering. It felt really good to know that I was capable of doing that.

Anyway, a couple of notes on the solo. Joe Henderson was a master of rhythm. This rhythmic sophistication is, to me, one of the most intriguing aspects of his playing, but it also presents the greatest challenge when writing out the transcription. In some cases, I just tried to make all of the notes fit within the space in which they were played. I’m sure there are a few different ways to notate some of the more complex phrases.

Notes for a couple of specific spots:

In measure 14, there’s an altissimo D in that measure. To me, it sounds like Joe Hen played the F# (with the front F/fork key) on beat 3 and it cracked, resulting in the altissimo D.

In measure 79 (4th chorus), the “and” of 1 is a harmonic/false fingering. You could finger F# or G while holding down the palm D key. It could be F# or G depending on the intonation of your horn. F# works better for me.

Measure 110 (5th chorus) on beat 4, the A is another harmonic/false fingering. You would finger D while playing that note. If you’re unable to do it, experiment with the voicing (tongue placement). The tongue should be in a slightly higher position. If that doesn’t work, play the fingering for D without the G key (LH3).

At the beginning of the 6th chorus (measure 121), the notes alternate between palm key D and palm D with the fingering for G added.

Hope you enjoy the transcription.

Here’s a recording of me playing along with the solo (warts and all):

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From 1 to 10: Ways to get more from your transcriptions.

Tonight I was listening and playing along with a nice duo recording by Archie Shepp and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (NHØP if you’re nasty) called Looking At Bird. All of the tunes on the album were written by Charlie Parker.

While listening to Moose the Mooche, I came across this phrase by Archie Shepp:

From 1 to 10

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It starts with an enclosure of the A, the 5th of D7. Then it proceeds down the D Bebop Dominant scale and finishes with an enclosure of the F natural, the 7th of G7.

At this point, you could learn the phrase verbatim (in 12 keys, of course) and call it a day, but you’d be much better off in the long run if you can spend some time working out some other ways of playing it.

Below are some examples of ways you could manipulate this phrase:

1. is the original phrase.

2 .begins a beat earlier. Number 1 starts on beat 3 and number 2 starts on beat 2. No other changes.

3. starts a beat later than number 1. No other changes.

4. starts 2 beats later than number 1. This created the need for some adjustments. The C# passing tone between the D and C is gone so that the B is on the downbeat of the G7. I added my own ending to the line on the G7.

5. is the original phrase in double time (twice the speed). It’s rhythmically lined up so that the first note of the G7 is the same as the original.

6. is where bigger changes start. Instead of starting the phrase with an enclosure of the 5th (A) of D7, we start with an enclosure of the root (D). The phrase maintains its overall direction and shape.

7. starts with an enclosure of the 3rd (F#). Again, the direction and shape of the phrase are similar to the original.

8. starts again with an enclosure of the 3rd (F#). This time I added chromatic passing tones between the F# on beat 4 of the 1st measure and the D in the 2nd measure.

9. starts with an enclosure of the 7th (C). I started mine with a Db, but you could just as easily start on D. Whichever one you like is the best choice.

10. is the deluxe Bebop version of this phrase. It starts two beats earlier than the original phrase and contains every available chromatic approach over the D7.


Just by changing where the phrase started rhythmically and which chord tone it started with, I very quickly had exponentially more material to work with. The beauty of that is there are many more options than I listed in the pdf. For example, you could take the double-time version of the phrase (5.)  and start that on a different beat or you could use you other scales in the place of the Bebop Dominant. It only limited by your imagination.

There’s a whole world waiting to be discovered in every phrase!

The 3 Laws of Practicing

Developing a solid and productive way of practicing is a real source of anxiety, frustration, and confusion for many musicians. There seem to be so many competing factors pulling at each of us – the expectations of teachers, market expectations, and the perceived difference between where you are and where you want to be in your playing, to name a few. When we strip away all of these factors and influences, we are left with 3 concepts that together form a prerequisite for successful practice.

The 3 Laws of Practicing

1. Have A Plan.
2. Correct Mistakes.
3. Be Consistent.

1. Have A Plan – This is the most fundamental element of practicing. To me, a plan is a set of instructions that you can act upon to reach specific goals. Having a plan is important for a couple of reasons. First, it requires you to think about what you’re doing, especially when it comes to large long-term goals. The ability to break down large goals into small manageable tasks is invaluable. Also, it creates an opportunity to track progress over time. You can see what’s working (or not working) for you. You can also work out how realistic your timeline is for reaching your goals.

Having a plan is essential. In my opinion, if you’re playing without a plan, you’re not really practicing. With that said, playing music is a creative endeavor and there must be room for spontaneity and creativity. Sometimes you’ve just gotta play for the sake of playing.

2. Correct Mistakes – This sounds simple, but is often overlooked. These rules are short and simple. If I were to elaborate and give this rule a longer name, it would be “Correct mistakes mercilessly and fully.” This means that you must first remove any personal judgements about making mistakes (i.e. I made a mistake. I’m a terrible musician and a horrible human being.). No one is perfect. Top performers in any field make mistakes. The difference is that they accept that they will mistakes and then approach those mistakes with a laser-like focus and correct them.

This is a multi-step process.
1. Identify a mistake and its exact location.
2. Identify the nature of the mistake – mechanical (fingers/tongue), mental (counting errors), etc.
3. Find a solution to the mistake.
4. Practice the correction at the point of the mistake (just a few notes before and after the mistake)
5. Play it slowly until it feels comfortable and easy then increase speed as needed.
6. Play the section in context.

The process of correcting mistakes is where skill is developed. Music is built on a lot of patterns and repetition. If you encounter a particular problem in a piece or a tune, you can expect to see it pop up again somewhere down the line. Addressing mistakes fully the first time around will increase your chances of success in the future.

3. Be Consistent – The key to developing a skill over time is consistency. You have to show up and do the work on a regular basis.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts about practicing in the comments below.

Play-Along with Gerald Clayton on Strasbourg/St. Denis

Here’s a recording I made of myself playing along with Gerald Clayton’s piano solo on Strasbourg/St. Denis from Roy Hargrove’s Earfood album.

There are a few times in the solo where Gerald plays multiple notes at the same time in the right hand. I did overdubs with the saxophone to try to cover all of that.

Here’s a rundown of the gear I used to record this:

DAW: Logic Pro X
Interface: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
Microphone: Cascade Fathead II with Lundahl transformer
Plug-ins: Eventide Ultra Channel, Apple Platinum Verb

Barry Harris Half Step Rules

The video above was filmed at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, NL. It is part of a collection of video chronicling workshops that were given by pianist Barry Harris between 1989 and 1998. That collection can be found on the Barry Harris Videos channel on YouTube. There is a lot of great information there. Dr. Harris’s career has spanned over half a century and at the age of 85, he continues to perform and teach.

In the video, Harris outlines and demonstrates a set of rules for dealing with descending dominant (Mixolydian) scales. The basic concept is that in particular circumstances, the addition of half steps is necessary to insure that chord tones (1, 3, 5, b7) occur on downbeats instead of upbeats.

In the handout below, I wrote out the rules outlined by Dr. Harris in the video. Harris briefly talks about rules for the Major scale, but only mentions the use of a half step going from 6 to 5 before returning to the discussion of the dominant (Mixolydian) scale.


Transcribed: You Stepped Out Of A Dream – Dexter Gordon

A Swingin' Affair












Here is Dexter Gordon’s solo on You Stepped Out of a Dream from his 1962 album, A Swingin’ Affair.

You Stepped Out of a Dream – Dexter Gordon Solo by eddierich

Transcribed: Lester Leaps In – Sonny Stitt

A couple post back, I played along with the recording of Sonny Stitt playing Lester Leaps In. I had learned the solo by listening and listening to it and playing along and figuring it out. I mentioned in that post that I wasn’t planning on writing it down


After working with it for a few weeks, I decided it might be better to write it down. I was at a point of extracting and isolating vocabulary. I find this to be easier if I can see it. With that said, and without further ado, here it is.


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Upcoming Events!

I’ve got a couple of really cool shows coming up that I wanted to share. The first one is on March 13 at Red Rock Casino with a new band called The Dirty. Check out the website to get a feel for what we’re doing.

The other show is with the Rockie Brown Band. That’s coming up on March 22nd at the Downtown Container Park. Rockie Brown Band is also in the studio now recording an album. I’ll be posting some photos and videos from the sessions soon.
You can find more details about the gigs by clicking on the Events tab at the top of the page.