Learning jazz language from horns - who are your favourites?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by project_c, Jun 13, 2020.

  1. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    I heard a bassist talking about Johnny Griffin recently, and he mentioned that transcribing his sax lines in particular really helped him with jazz language. So question to those of you who have benefitted from transcribing horns - were there any specific players whose lines had a big impact on your own playing? Any particular players (doesn't have to be just horns, can be anything other than bass) whose solos / ideas you've found to translate particularly well to bass?
  2. kerrycares

    kerrycares Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2006
    Dexter Gordon
    Cannonball Adderly
    Charlie Parker
    Barry Harris
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  3. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Louie Armstrong comes to mind. Paul Desmond. Much of later Miles' solos are playable. I transcribed his solo on All Blues and it was playable at speed and a valuable lesson in melody and harmony for me.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
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  4. oren

    oren Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    Salem, OR
    Some horn players that I’ve transcribed and learned from:

    Dexter Gordon for sure.
    Chet Baker
    Miles Davis
    Art Farmer
    Sonny Stitt

    I recently started learning a Hank Mobley solo. And I’ve been thinking I should work on some Paul Desmond and some Stan Getz solos.

    I can’t play hardly any of them up to tempo or well, but I’m learning stuff from all of them.
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  5. ugly_bassplayer


    Jan 21, 2009
    I gotta go with Bird.
    Get the Omnibook. Lifetime of stuff right there.

    Clifford Brown but his lines are crazy hard to pull off on bass.
    Just getting the theme to Joy Spring right was quite the challenge.
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  6. Being a former trumpet player, myself - Harry James, Roy Eldridge, & Red Nichols. When they were either in Benny Goodman’s or Gene Krupa’s bands.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
  7. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    Some favourites include Louis Armstrong on Tight Like This, Potato Head Blues and Weather Bird. Pretty much anything Lester Young played, particularly the recordings with Oscar Peterson.
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  8. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    I had a lot of fun last fall transcribing Chet’s solo on ‘But Not For Me’, both the intro solo and the one after the vocal. Many of his solos are highly playable and transcribe-able.
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  9. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    Since you mentioned Johnny Griffin....i love this:

    As for what sits well on the bass, i think it's best to pursue whoever you gravitate to while listening. For me Miles Davis expresses himself in a way that i am inspired by. I like his lyrical and textural approach which seems to translate in an interesting way to the bass, also his well placed phrasing. He tends to do more with less, which i think is something to be embraced on the double bass.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
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  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Awhile back there was a big symposium for Art Blakey's centennial they had a bunch of alumni from the various incarnations of the Jazz Messengers on stage and they would pass the mic from person to person so they could say a few words about what it was like to play with the band, what they learned from Art etc. And when Branford got the mic he had a few stories - one was particularly cogent. They were playing some concert and Branford is in the green room listening to Trane on his cassette player as Art is walking through. Art, as he passes, gives Branford a look of disdain and a sort of "Pfff..." remark, so Branford says "What!?!", kind of as a challenge. Art asks him what he's listening to , B says Trane. Art asks "why you listening to that?". B says I like his playing and I want to play more like him. Art gives him a withering kind of Fred Sanford "You dummy!" look and says "So what, you think Trane went to the future and got tapes of himself playing so he could learn to play like himself?" And walks off....
  11. thabassmon


    Sep 26, 2013
    New Zealand
    I think a lot of jazz vocab can be learnt from horn players Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown in particular.

    A bit more challenging to transcribe but if you can do it, there's a lot to learn from piano players like Oscar Peterson.

    I wouldn't recommend transcribing someone like Bob Brookmeyer, the lines sit well on the bass but there's a lot of chromaticism in his playing that obscures the underlying harmony and make it more difficult to internalize and apply. I transcribed a few of his solos and found them interesting to play but hard to use them in any meaningful way. That may be just my analysis of it though, I don't have a doctorate in Jazz education.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
  12. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Low the mighty have fallen . . . this so-far uncited artist used to be No. 1 on the "start here" list:

    Mr. Rollins work generally, and this piece in particular, embodies the words of Charles Mingus: "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i think all of the great jazz horn players are wonderful sources. i've been a bit partial to wayne shorter's stuff lately --- not so much for solo transcriptions, but his library of compositions is extensive. (he's got serious chops, too.) just learning some of his melodies/changes will get anyone further on up the road!

    have fun with your jazz studies! :thumbsup:
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  14. notabene


    Sep 20, 2010
    SF Bay area
    I have been a tenor player for over fifty years. Whenever I listen to Dexter Gordon, or Sonny Rollins, (both of whom I have listened to "live" numerous times) I hear/see a smile in their sound. That "smile" can't really be transcribed. One can but try.

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  15. kerrycares

    kerrycares Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2006
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  16. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    I was at a masterclass with Branford a few years back and he told this story! He told the next step when he phones up Benny Golson to find out who Trane was trying to emulate in the early days and Benny tells him about Trans sounding exactly like Johnny Hodges. It was a pretty great story.
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  17. bass183


    Apr 22, 2014
    Hank Mobley, Lester Young, Miles. Those are my faves for translating to bass. I need to transcribe more horn solos as I haven't done any in a while. I was taught to sing anything I'm transcribing first before going to the instrument; and to learn by ear for easy memorization, not write the solo down first if at all. Lester Young's solo on Them There Eyes (Kansas City Six) is a fun one to learn.
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  18. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    Sonny Red is a good example.
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  19. Pjotor


    Nov 5, 2018
    I’m bringing Stan Getz into the mix since he hasn’t been mentioned yet. Seconding Baker, Gordon and Rollins.
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  20. well...did he?