Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Clifford Brown Transcriptions

Back in high school when I was learning jazz improvisation, one of the things I did quite a bit of was transcribe solos.  I had a terrible little tape recorder that I pretty much wore out, and before that was available I used to just drop the needle on the record over and over and over until I got the passage that was trying to figure out.  I don't think students today realize the amount of jazz educational  stuff out there and ease with which they can have access to all of it with one click of a mouse. 


Over the past 25 years there have been so many great books written about how to improvise, and now there are tons of great books on specific artists that break down every aspect of what they played on recordings.  In a way, the amount of information available on jazz playing is almost overwhelming so it is best to just focus on one thing, one solo, one tune, or even one short chord progression when you are practicing.  I remember a Kenny Werner clinic from a number of years ago where he suggested to play one tune in all keys for an entire year.  That might be a little over-the-top but I totally understand where he's coming from.  One of the hardest things to do when learning how to play jazz (or anything for that matter) is to simply focus on one thing until you master it.

When I first started transcribing solos, I would tend to gravitate towards players whose melodic lines sounded like they were written out before hand, almost perfect in a sense.  I still have some of the solos that I transcribed in high school from Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, and Lee Morgan. As I was surfing around I stumbled across what looks like a terrific book on Clifford Brown's playing.  From what I can tell it is a complete analysis of Clifford's melodic lines, broken down into digestible chunks. You can check out below

Essential Jazz Lines in the Style of Clifford Brown, Bb Edition

Clifford Brown was one of the most influential jazz trumpeters and was a true master of jazz. His fantastic tone, time, feel and command of the jazz language have been inspiring jazz musicians on all instruments for decades. This book breaks down many of the one and two-bar phrases played by Clifford and helps students apply them to their own playing. Lines played over minor, dominant, and major chords as well as short, long and minor ii-V material can be mastered by practicing with the accompanying play-along CD. Chapters on Guide Tones, Bebop Scales, Targeting, and Playing the Upper-Structure will help students analyze and memorize the lines presented in the book. There is also a chapter with further insight in Clifford’s style which discusses his phrasing as well as other musical devices he used to get his sound. A must have for aspiring students wanting the master the jazz language.



At 2:40 PM, Anonymous RAZ SEKELES said...

hello Jim !
i know brown's transcription book. it's a wonderful way to understand brown way of building lines and using the bop language mixed with his own phrases.
a few years ago , i bought the book to the jazz department i manage in jerusalem . some of the students took my advise and worked seriously on cliffords solos and it helped them alot.
i personally play guitar but always prefered to transcribe horn player such as miles,navaro,morgan,rollins,dexter,parker and so on.
i find the young generation abit lazy about transcribing solos or specific phrases and try to let them understand how rewarding it is.
Jim , keep the jazz spirit !!!!
goodbye for now :-)
Raz Sekeles


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