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Bass Transcription Analysis: “I Start With The Blues” Bob Mintzer Sax Solo, Part 1

I’m kicking off a new series here for Creative Bass Lines. In this episode, we’ll take a look at a really great solo over a jazz 12 bar blues – performed and transcribed by sax great Bob Mintzer!

We’re really fortunate to have this music for our lessons. Bob very kindly agreed to let me share this with you, so If you dig it go get the book, 14 Jazz & Funk Etudes: Bass Clef Instrument – it’s on Amazon and Bob’s website.

There’s a ton of amazing ideas in this first page alone, and over the course of four episodes, we will look at some of the ideas over the first 12 bars of Bob’s solo, which starts at letter A. (The bars before this are the melody for this Blues composition).

For this episode, we’re going to look at Bob’s opening phrase and how it perfectly scans the first two bars’ chord movement. It’s a simple phrase, but the rhythm makes it swing beautifully and it’s an easy phrase to learn in all keys – something I recommend for any ideas you like in this or any jazz solo transcription.

We also examine the cool phrase which Bob plays at bar 4-it’s a passing “ii v” idea into bar 5.

Check the video below and download the transcription.

It’s also a good idea to check out the form of this tune. Bob adds a couple of extra passing chords, but generally speaking, this follows the form of a classic jazz blues, which is very different to the I-IV-V rock blues form, and it’s essential you can play over a jazz blues if you ever sit in at a jazz jam session.

Here’s a simplified Jazz Blues so you can compare. Notice bars 11 and 12 have two chords per bar. That’s a classic I-vi-ii-V turnaround -in this case, in the key of F:

F7 | B♭ 7 | F7 | F7 |
B♭7 | B♭7 | F7 | D7 |
G-7 |C7 | F7/ D7/ |G-7/C7|

Rufus Philpot is a performer and educator living in Los Angeles who has performed and or recorded with everyone from Scott Henderson, Allan Holdsworth, Virgil Donati and Tony MacAlpine to Randy Brecker, Tom Scott, Gary Novak and Marvin "Smitty" Smith. For more, check out his website.

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