Jazz Solo Transcription

From a recording of your choice* (approved by Professor MacDonald), transcribe two choruses of the blues (24 measures). Learn the solo transcription on your instrument. Copy every detail and stylistic nuance. Be prepared to perform the two choruses without and with the recording playing simultaneously. The highest grades will be given to students who have the solo memorized.

Soloists to consider:

Trumpet:  Blue Mitchell, Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Woody Shaw.

Alto Sax:  Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Sonny Stitt, Lee Konitz, Art Pepper, Johnny Hodges.

Tenor Sax: Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Hank Mobley, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, John Coltrane.

Trombone:  JJ Johnson, Frank Rosolino, Curtis Fuller.

Piano: Sonny Clark, Wynton Kelly, Kenny Barron, Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones.

Guitar: Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Jim Hall.

Vibes: Milt Jackson, Joe Locke, Steve Nelson

Vocal: Ella Fitzgerald

Bass: Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, Sam Jones, Leroy Vinegar, Ron Carter.

Drums: Jimmy Cobb, “Philly” Joe Jones, Art Blakey.

  • Trumpet solos are a good option for violinists. Flutists could select alto saxophone solos.
  • Cellists might consider learning a trombone solo.


Recommended Solos:

Vocal: “Smooth Sailing” by Ella Fitzgerald. (She has a couple live versions & it’s a nice manageable tempo.)

Due dates:

  • Solos must be selected & approved by Sept. 26th, 2022.
  • Completed transcriptions will be submitted on Oct. 19th, 2022, for grading.
    Enclose a copy of the recording. The transcription must be very neatly notated, preferably using notation software (Finale, Sibelius, etc.). Include chord symbols above the staff. Concert transpositions are appreciated.
  • Solos will be performed with and without the recording on Nov. 16th, 2022.


  • transcription:  5% of total grade
  • performance:   15% of total grade

* If you are a jazz neophyte, visit the provided link to browse a list of 12 bar blues songs. Use this list when searching through the library’s CD collection or YouTube, to find songs which qualify as being a 12-bar blues.

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