How to use this site

The title of each entry links to an MP3 recording of the lick. If your browser supports MP3s, this will open a separate window, where the lick will play. This window will still be here - you may need to drag the new one to one side to see it. Click on any of the transcriptions to open a larger version of it. Use your browser's 'back' button to return to this page.

All the transcriptions here are in concert keys. One day, if I have time, I'll create B flat and E flat versions if anyone would like them. Do let me know.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Pat Metheny - Third Wind

Both Luis D'Agostino and Mo Nazam suggested this one. For an alternative transcription, not just of this opening break, but of the whole solo, check out Brent Suntzner's site (where you'll also find a whole load more jazz transcriptions.
Bob Berg - Friday Night At The Cadillac Club

I have to confess to never really listening that much to Bob Berg. I think this stems from seeing him play at Ronnie Scotts and finding it a less than delightful experience. On that gig he made his tenor sound more like a strangulated soprano sax. But I take it all back! This suggestion by Simon Bates and Steve Kershaw is a fabulous romp over a great set of funky changes. I got carried away when transcribing this and ended up with a whole chorus, rather than just a lick.

This is a first draft of the transcription, with a few mistakes - will come back and fix them later...
Bill Evans - Waltz for Debby

Suggested by Ross Wall.
Joe Henderson - Johnny Come Lately

I hadn't come across this tune before I started this project - I don't think it's in any of the Real Books, for example. Then in quick succession I found two versions, one by Ben Webster on a newish re-release by Storyville, then this modern recording from by Joe Henderson and Wynton Marsalis, suggested by Frank Griffith.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dexter Gordon - Cheese Cake

audio version

audio version

You could take almost any bar from this solo, or any other on this album, but here are two suggested by Jake McMurchie
Wardell Gray - Sweet and Lovely

This is really two licks in one - the second bar is much better known as one of Charlie Parker's signature phrases. It's over a slow 4, with the semi-quavers swung.
Paul Gonsalves - J. and B. Blues

This kicks off the second chorus of a joyful solo over a 12 bar blues - it starts in the second bar of the sequence.
Oliver Nelson - Stolen Moments

This is a somewhat ethereal phrase, over a tranquil minor blues. This whole solo is a succession very thoughtful 'developments of a lick', where a very simple idea is repeated, with subtle twists and turns.

I had no idea until looking him up for this blog entry, that the saxophonist, and composer, Oliver Nelson was also responsible for the theme to one of my childhood favourite TV programmes, 'The Six Milion Dollar Man'.
Illinois Jacquet - Flyin' Home

Here's my own first choice - a storming pick up, from the last couple bars of the middle eight of a great rhythm-changes tune.
Miles Davis - Four

The first lick was suggested by Dave Harrison, who instigated this whole idea in the first place.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Stan Getz - Telephone Song

Where to begin...

Well, as a saxophonist, I suppose it's only natural that the first to occur to me are from other saxophonists I've listened to over the years. One of the first things I ever transcribed, which still stays with me is Stan Getz's solo from 'The Telephone Song' on Getz Au GoGo.
Like all jazz musicians, over the years I've learned from those who have gone before, by listening to recordings, and transcribing improvised solos. It's a great way to keep your brain in tune, and to improve your listening and playing skills. Last week I was approached by a music publisher and asked if I would be interested in compiling a set of 50 'Jazz Licks' to be published as a set of cards. It was obvious immediately that this was far too big a task for one person, if there's to be any hope of some kind of comprehensive coverage of the whole of jazz. So, I'm opening this appeal to jazz musicians everywhere to 'send me your favourite licks'.

What's a lick? For this project, we're interpreting a lick as a short phrase, up to 4 bars in length, played as part of an improvised solo or accompaniment. It could be on any instrument. For this particular project, we're not really interested in identifiable 'quotes', ie phrases which are obviously part of the melody - either of the tune being played, or some other well-known tune. Of course, there may be many grey areas, where a phrase is very closely related to a well known tune, but in that case I'll just need to use my judgement to decide whether to include it or not.

It's obvious that there are many many more than 50 great licks in the world. There are a few classic albums which spring to mind where you can probably find 50 just among those tracks.

As I collect the licks, I'll post them here. I also invite people to contribute licks, either as comments, or by email to Please let me know the Album, artist, musician - and ideally the approximate timing of the lick you have in mind - ie where it is in the track. If you feel like emailing MP3s or transcriptions, then please feel free.