Some cool things are brewing here at thejazzlanguage.com. I recently heard about a new app called Anchor that is designed around sharing mini podcast-like “waves” of audio and thought it could be an interesting platform to share some ideas about music.
This weekend I’ll be playing in the house band for an educational jam session. It’s always a pleasure to work with students as they muster up the courage to improvise on a tune, or confidently showcase the techniques they’ve been working on.
One of our jam tunes this week will be Doxy, written by Sonny Rollins. This tune became an early jazz standard and is often one of the first tunes that beginning improvisers learn.
For this week’s Transcription Tuesday, we’ll look at the beginning of Miles Davis’ solo on Doxy from the album Bag’s Groove released in 1957 (the actual recording took place three years earlier in 1954 and features Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone, Horace Silver on piano, Percy Heath on bass, and Kenny Clarke on drums).
If you are new to the jazz language, this is a great solo to learn and to study. You can use the steps outlined in yesterday’s How To Start Transcribing to learn the solo by ear, and then check your work against the notated version below.
Once you’ve learned the sound of the solo, try to make sense of the note choices and rhythms by studying the harmony. I didn’t include the chord changes in the transcription, but careful listening to the bass and piano on the recording will reveal the harmony (or you can surely find a chord chart online).
I find the simplicity and clarity of this excerpt inspiring and the tune overall is fun to play. I encourage you to try using some of this language in your own playing.
From: Lush Life (Red Garland, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Al Heath, drums)
This cut of I Hear a Rhapsody is from Lush Life, one of Coltrane’s earliest albums as a bandleader. He recorded it in late 1957 and early 1958.
There are plenty of things to analyze melodically and harmonically in what he plays, but it’s just as valuable to look at what he doesn’t play. Like all great improvisors, Coltrane uses space. When you listen closely to this and other solos, you can hear his intense, clear ideas punctuated by rest. Read more
In honor of Sonny Clark’s birthday yesterday, here is a partial transcription of his solo on “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” from the album Sonny Clark Trio. The album is Clark’s first trio album and features Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums.
I find it particularly interesting to hear which phrases and sounds Clark tends to repeat. Compare for example the
beginning of the the double-time run in measure 2 with the end of the bridge in measure 24. While the notes are the same, the pattern is now played at half the speed to fit in with the 8th-note groove rather than the double-time feel.
This pattern occurs many more times throughout the recording, so take a listen and add it to your own vocabulary!