The next transcription in the blues series comes from a solo by Clifford Brown, one of the most influential trumpet players of the be-bop era (in spite of having lived a short life).
Clifford makes use of the C blues scale throughout his solo, providing a good lesson on how to put the old scale to good use.
The file is in Adobe’s PDF format and no chord changes are listed (it’s the blues form). The soloist is Wendell Brunious, a fantastic trumpeter from New Orleans who mixes his traditional New Orleans style with beautiful, clean bebop lines and helped inspire Nicholas Payton.
This solo comes from a video recording of Wendell in concert, which was uploaded to YouTube. The melody in the beginning is Charlie Parker’s “Au Privave”.
As an improviser, one of my main goals is to be able to play what I hear immediately. This is the basis of my improvisation education.
An improviser is a type of composer. One of the most important things a composer/improviser can do is to listen to as much music as possible and learn how to translate what he or she hears into a performance or composition. This will help immensely when one attempts to translate one’s own ideas into a performance or composition.
You can start to develop your translating abilities by mimicking recorded sounds that are easy to recognize, such as major scales or blues scales.
Your first assignment is to learn and perform as little as two or as many as all choruses of Miles Davis’ solo on “Trane’s Blues” by listening to the recording, on the CD Workin’. If you do not have this recording, please purchase it here (or download the mp3).
Miles uses notes from the C major scale and the C blues scale throughout.
C Major: C D E F G A B C
C Blues: C Eb F F# G Bb C
Rather than attempt to learn the whole solo or one note at a time, try breaking the solo down in phrases. Listen carefully to each phrase as many times as needed. Practice each phrase on your instrument and then play along with Miles. Try to mimic everything exactly as Miles plays it -the rhythm, articulation, style, dynamics, everything. Do not worry about writing anything down. It is more important to listen and play back at this point.
If this solo is too difficult for you, please try learning the melody “Sonnymoon for Two” by Sonny Rollins. The CD, “The Best of Sonny Rollins” on Blue Note has a good recording of this as well as others. The melody is mostly a decending blues scale (minus one note) and repeats itself three times. Please do not use written music (you must rely upon your ears).
Have fun and please share your comments below.