Here are some transcriptions for other musicians to check out. There are some drum solos, full-tune Buddy Rich transcriptions (Love For Sale, Big Swing Face, Mexicali Nose), melodies, arrangements and lead sheets so you can take the tunes to play with an ensemble if you like.
Jazz Crimes - Joshua Redman
Here's a transcription of Brian Blade's drum solo in the song Jazz Crimes by Joshua Redman (as played on the Elastic album).
There are other transcriptions available for this tune - notably one by Sam Nadel that is available online, and I've heard that Modern Drummer also published one a couple of years ago. I found it useful to do my own version, but if you're learning this piece it might be worth comparing the available transcriptions.
There's a video in the Videos section of this website of me trying to play this solo with a self-made backing track. I added the backing track without drums at the end of the video so you can try playing along (there's also a version in slow motion at the very end).
I found some really modern sounding new licks in this piece, and because they're pretty evenly split between triplets and 8th/16th-based fills, they can be easily translated into a lot of different contexts - jazz, funk etc. Not necessarily for soloing but even for nice fills.
The biggest challenge with this piece - and the hardest to replicate - is Brian's feel and sense of dynamics. He 'pushes' and 'pulls' quite a lot, whilst always keeping the overall time firmly in place. I kind of failed to capture this fully when playing it. But I still got a lot out of it, and hopefully will get even more out of it if I can come back to playing it again in future.
Rope - Foo Fighters
Here's a short transcription for Taylor Hawkins' drum feature on the Foo Fighters song Rope. The transcription's based on the album version, but the dotted 8th notes part (where it's filled in with 16th notes grouped in 3) is exaggerated a bit when I play it (see the clip in the Videos section), i.e. the notes aren't ghosted like on the album - I saw him doing this live on the Letterman show and thought it sounds good. The fills are all pretty simple but really effective as he plays them with lots of power and energy.
Notice there's a cowbell hit written in the 6th bar.
Airegin - melodic transcription of arrangement by Sylvain Beuf
The original head was composed by Sonny Rollins and is already rhythmically interesting. French saxophonist Sylvain Beuf did an arrangement with a great sounding rhythm section - I've tried to transcribe how he plays the head and compare each bar with Sonny Rollins' original version. The top staff shows Sylvain Beuf's playing and the bottom shows Sonny's.
Beuf extends the last note in the second bar of each A section for an extra two bars, whilst the rhythm section keep a steady latin feel going. This is a nice touch and spaces out the melody more; it's at a fast enough tempo for the momentum to keep going even with these additional 'empty' bars.
The vamp at the beginning also has some really nice stabs for the rhythm section to play around with.
If we're thinking of it as an ABAC head, Beuf plays the B/C sections by making a lot more out of the hits and compressing the stabs - in contrast to spacing things out for the A sections. He plays some of these hits really sharp and stacatto, and the drummer joins in with these hits to make them stand out. The drummer sets up these stabs really nicely. The quarter-note triplets at the end of the head are particularly sharp and effective and bring a clear ending to the head.
Beuf has re-harmonized the changes: for the most part it's in the same key as the original, but parts of the head are often transposed to follow the new harmony (e.g. lowered by a semi-tone at the 1st, 5th, 20th, 25th bars etc.)
Love For Sale - The Buddy Rich Big Band
Love for Sale was written by Cole Porter for Broadway show ‘The New Yorkers’ – it has since become a jazz standard and been recorded by countless groups. The song was the subject of a great deal of controversy as it is written from the viewpoint of a prostitute, and it was banned from radio play at the time. Trombonist Pete Myers did this arrangement.
There is a 12 bar intro of Buddy playing solo – he just swings on the hi hat, with only a couple of embellishments to the usual swing pattern on the hi hat, and sets up the time for the band to come in. The form is quite long, it’s AABA with the first two A sections and the B section being 16 bars long each, and the last A section being 20 bars long (including a 4 bar tag – this tag sometimes gets played when playing it as a standard and sometimes doesn’t). The hi hat keeps going steadily for the first two A sections, with minimal comping (though with some nice pushes on beats 1& and 3& on the hi hat), then at the bridge Buddy moves onto the ride cymbal.
The first solo is an alto sax solo. Buddy just keeps things driving by swinging on the ride and playing some simple comping (usually on offbeats on the snare). Half way through the sax solo, the trombones come in with backing figures. These are rhythmically quite sparse at first and Buddy’s comping fills in the gaps in these phrases, then the backing phrases become shorter and more staccatoed (more like hits) and at this point Buddy plays with these figures and sets them up with fills on the snare. Around 4 bars from the end of the alto solo, Buddy shouts something – probably letting the band know that the solo has nearly finished and that they’re nearly at the ensemble section. It sounds like he's playing the role of the conductor in this group.
Then there’s an 8-bar ensemble section with all of the horns, and Buddy outlines all of the horn hits here, again setting up the hits with snare fills. Next Chuck Findlay comes in with a trumpet solo. Buddy plays quite loud and busy behind this solo – he seems to play like this in general behind trumpet solos. There’s another ensemble section between soloists, and then Jay Corre comes in with a tenor sax solo. Buddy keeps the volume down more than in the trumpet solo, but continues to play quite busily throughout this solo – again he highlights backing figures that the other horns are playing behind the tenor solo.
The ensemble come back with horn arrangements of the A section of the head, and when they come back in Buddy keeps a heavy 2 and 4 going on the snare. There are drum breaks scattered throughout these arranged A sections. There’s a huge amount of energy and there are some great fills from Buddy from here on out. Notice that two bars after the ensemble come back in after the drum break (where Buddy plays a long snare roll), that there’s a dotted quarter note figure that the drums and piano play together – Buddy accents the dotted quarter pulse on ride/bass drum and fills in with 8th notes on snare. As well as the drumming, I equally love the horn parts and rhythmic backing figures throughout solos in this arrangement.
Big Swing Face - The Buddy Rich Big Band
Big Swing Face was composed and arranged by Bill Potts for the Buddy Rich Big Band and was one of the band’s most frequently played tunes. Their 1967 album on the Pacific Jazz label was named Big Swing Face and the tune itself was track listed second (after Norwegian Wood, a cover of the Beatles’ tune). The album was recorded live at the Chez Club in Holywood. It’s a 12 bar blues and so can be felt in 12 bar phrases throughout, except for an 8 bar intro section. The harmony changes slightly from chorus to chorus; deviating from a standard blues chord progression.
Notice Buddy counts in the band in half time – he may have been thinking of this as a half time shuffle throughout. The 8-bar intro has the entire band playing hits together, with the saxophones leading into each round of hits. Buddy plays these hits with the band (usually with bass drum and cymbal in unison), and sets up these hits, as well as complementing the sax lead-ins, with shuffle-like phrases on the snare. He takes a 2-bar solo in bars 7 and 8 which is rhythmically very restrained (and tasteful!) and brings the dynamics down to lead the band into the head of the tune. The trumpets and trombones have hits every 4 bars on beat 3& which Buddy joins in with on the snare. He continues to outline these types of hits throughout. Apparently Buddy couldn’t read music, but he had a good ability to listen to a tune once or twice through and then be able to remember all the sections – on top of this tune being a regular for the band to play live, he definitely would have known where all the important ensemble hits were. You can hear him setting these up beforehand with fills (he does this with an amazing sense of musicality in the chorus before the piano solo starts).
Ray Starling takes a 3-chorus piano solo and the band comes right down to a trio setting (if there is guitar at all it keeps well out of the way, the piano plays the chord changes whilst soloing). Buddy just swings steadily and comps on the snare with a mixture of ghosted, regular and accented notes. He frequently plays a kind of ‘half-buzz’ stroke on the snare. He builds up the last couple of bars of each 12 bar phrase to keep things driving and outline the form (in general there’s an anticipation harmonically in the last section of a blues, so he’s reflecting this build up and release rhythmically). Notice Buddy shouts something 7 bars before the end of the piano solo – he’s probably indicating that the sax solo in up next, i.e. also playing the role of conductor.
Ernie Watts plays the alto sax solo. He plays 3 choruses then the trumpets and trombones play 2 choruses of backing figures (in a question-answer way), and then one final chorus where the last two bars are cut off for the sax soli to enter early. Buddy picks things up a gear in the sax solo, his comping is busier and now between snare/bass drum. Again he outlines the end of 12 bar phrases. He doesn’t seem to be trying to join in with or repeat any of the soloists phrases (same during the piano solo) – his comping seems more geared towards driving the band. When the backing figures come in he accents these rhythmic figures.
The sax soli section enters two bars before the beginning of the 12 bar phrase, and lasts for 2 choruses. Buddy’s comping with definite awareness of the soli phrasing as he fills in the spaces between phrases (like answering back once a phrase has finished). The trumpet and trombone sections play a few short background hits during the soli and Buddy outlines these figures on drums as well as setting them up with short fills.
Then Bobby Shew comes in with a trumpet solo for 1 chorus. The dynamics are loud here and there’s a lot of energy, with Buddy actually playing a rock beat with quarter notes on ride and alternating bass/snare drum, with a strong accent on the snare on 2 and 4. This section finishes with Buddy playing a 2 bar build up and a big hit on beat 4 – with the rest of the ensemble also coming in on beat 4 (just ahead of the next 12 bar phrase). This is great and creates a feeling of forward motion, it keeps the energy right up! The ensemble stays in for the rest of the piece, with Buddy continuing to set up and join in with horn section hits. Wherever there is space between the horn parts he fills it in really tastefully and keeps the rhythm moving along smoothly but steadily.
Mexicali Nose - The Buddy Rich Big Band
Mexicali Nose was composed by Harry Betts and recorded live at the Chez Club in Holywood. It’s on the 1967 album Big Swing Face (on the Pacific Jazz label). There’s a lot going on rhythmically in this tune. There’s a 20-bar intro section with the ensemble, which is split into a 12-bar section that is swung with lots of ensemble hits (that Buddy joins in with), and then an 8-bar latin section (where Buddy moves to the bell of the ride cymbal and then onto a cowbell). The 12-bar section in the intro features a dotted quarter note rhythm, which is a recurring theme throughout the tune. It’s mostly the trombone section and baritone sax that carry this dotted quarter note rhythm in the intro (with emphasis from trumpets for the first couple of repetitions before they deviate to play a melodic line at the end, and with the saxes joining in where they are not playing the sax melodic lines). The change into the 8-bar latin feel adds a nice touch (it’s got a kind of James Bond soundtrack feel to it), and it’s almost strange that he only spends two bars playing the cowbell, though when you listen to it this sets up the change to the head really well.
The head is swung, with a recurring 3-note rhythm of 1, 2, 3& in the A-sections, which Buddy joins in with. The ‘head’ is unusual; it doesn’t really fit into a standard form and could instead be seen as a series of themes (some of these themes are repeated at the end of the tune but not in the same order). 16-bars before the end of the head Buddy takes an 8-bar drum solo (which is kind of an unusual place to have a drum feature); he makes use of straight 8th and 16th notes. For the last 8 bars of the head, the ensemble join in, again playing a dotted quarter note phrase starting on beat 2. When Buddy comes out of his solo into this, he seems a little ahead of the rest of the band for the first of these hits.
There’s a really nice bit where the horns build up going into the sax solo section and continue slightly into the next section with a big hit on beat 2. This has a really good effect, as the soloist delays coming in until the next bar, it creates a feeling of anticipation and there’s this big release just as his solo comes in. It’s tenor player Jay Corre taking the solo, and Buddy keeps things driving behind him, with some snare comping particularly on offbeats 1& and 3&. The sax solo is relatively short (less than 16 bars), and then Buddy is back in for another 8-bar solo. He plays very rudimentally on the snare, starting with a series of longer rolls with accents on some downbeats, followed by a series of 5-stroke rolls. Towards the end of this he continues the dotted quarter note theme repeating a 3/8 rhythm (1 2& 3) with straight 8ths (this is quite a common lick), then he swings the last few 8th notes leading the ensemble back in for the outro section.
Beatrice - Robert Glasper arrangement in 7
On his album 'In My Element', Robert Glasper played a version of Sam Rivers' tune Beatrice, which he arranged in 7/4. This has Vicente Archer on bass and Damion Reid on drums. The drums begin with a fast 7 pattern with brushes. I wanted to play this with a jazz group and wrote out the lead sheet here for musicians to read through it. Robert Glasper plays the melody in a relaxed way; the drums push the tempo and Glasper plays a little behind them, but the lead sheet gives an idea of where the melody rhythm lies.
The group I was playing this with has a 4-person horn section; below is a little arrangement for passing the melody between the horns, and with a short 4-part harmony section (the bass player should play the root notes here). I changed a couple of chords from the lead sheet in the real book. The slash chords for the piano part show the main 'clave in 7' pattern that stays throughout the tune - the whole rhythm section should be playing around this rhythm. It's a 4-3 grouping of 7 throughout the tune, with emphasis on beats 1, 3, 5, 6&.
Footprints - Terence Blanchard arrangement
From Terence Blanchard's album 'Bounce', this arrangement of Wayne Shorter's Footprints has one of my favourite drummers, Eric Harland, on drums. The main thing I like about this tune is the rhythm section groove, so I've transcribed the head with bass & drum parts to show how they all lock in together, then if you scroll down a little I've put a lead sheet with head/chords if anyone wants to take it to a combo.
The rhythm section lock in on a sequence of hits in all of the A sections throughout the tune. You could think of these hits as a series of 3, 4, 3, 4 etc (counting 16th notes), or as two notes grouped in 7s - counting ONE (2) (3) FOUR (5) (6) (7). The bass drum is playing these hits with the rest of the rhythm section. I love the symmetry that where the second note finishes the first of the next group starts in the next beat (e.g. the second of the first grouping ends on the last 16th, and the first of the second grouping starts on the last 16th). The hi hat is filling in 16th notes with an emphasis on the downbeats and the snare is hitting a rim shot on backbeats, this ties things together into a bit more of a normal funk groove. The rimshots on snare are often really behind the beat, giving a nice hip-hop flam sound to the groove between hi hat and snare. Notice that the 16ths are 'just off' being straight, they're slightly shuffled, nice and hip hoppy!
The bass part is written, the piano can follow these stabs and play around with some different voicings of the chords.
Soul Stirrin' - Bennie Green
Another lead sheet so I could take this tune to play with my jazz group. The album has Elvin Jones on drums, I think it's his 4th album with Blue Note. The whole album is great, really worth checking out. I've written in a guide bass line as well as the melody and chords, so feel free to print it out and take it to a band. The chords in brackets could be played in the head and left out during solos.
Bill Cobham transcription of the paradiddle fill in Red Baron
This is a short fill but it's a commonly played tune and we've probably all come across it and wondered what Billy Cobham is doing during that fill in the head at 1min 17secs. I think it's basically paradiddles between the right hand (on the hi hat, and doubled by the bass drum) and left hand (on the snare), grouped in sextets. Most of the snare notes are ghost notes, and there are accented snares that mark the beginning of each left hand triplet. It sounds great and works well on most generic funk tunes.