Santa’s Boots – sort of

What can put a sax-playing curmudgeon smack dab into the heart of the Christmas Spirit? That right, kiddies!  Transcribing an iconic tenor solo. What better to hear this season than Boots Randolph’s solo on Brenda Lee’s hit single “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”? None. Simply none. Here it is. Rockin’ like that one-horse open sleigh […]

Marvin Gaye – isolated vocal

In studio recordings the whole should be better than the sum of its parts. Often listening to one isolated track is a disappointment – so much is missing; no support or context. There are certainly exceptions. Listen to this vocal-only track from Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” What fantastic time, pitch and inflection. […]

…but it’s not in my Fake Books!

So what do you do when you teach a student about, say, “Piano-less Jazz Quartet” and the student is excited to learn a specific tune? You allow that passion to drive the learning forward. Sometimes that means transcribing a less familiar song. We will hear this at a private saxophone student’s Senior recital. She has recruited […]

Charlie Parker at 19

I have always been in awe of the structure, melodic content and fire in Bird’s playing. He will forever be revered as an innovator of be-bop music, pioneering the use of rapid passing chords, improvising new variants of altered chords and chord substitutions. It is interesting to me to hear the earliest recordings of influential […]

Jazz Landmark Album, 1959?

1959 was the year of great recordings including “Mingus Ah Um”, Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out”, “Art Pepper + Eleven” featuring fantastic arrangements by Marty Paich, Ornette Coleman’s “The Shape of Jazz to Come”, and the iconic “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis. Each of these had a huge influence on jazz as the be-bop era […]