On the Sunny Side of the Street

The album Sonny Side Up, featuring both Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins, is fire, and Sonny Stitt’s chorus from On the Sunny Side of the Street is hard to beat. I’ve had this whole album on repeat for the last month or so and there’s not a bad track.

Dizzy Gillespie sings on “Sunny” and there’s a video of him playing it with Stitt:

On the recording, Stitt plays a bunch of rapid fire 16th note patterns over the bridge which makes it hard for me to play above 70% speed — good patterns worth incorporating into the practice routine. But the last A section is the high point, especially the emphasis on chromatic progression from the G7 to Am7 near the end. Here’s my transcription.


So I haven’t posted a transcription for September or October nor have I done much of anything this month, because I had COVID officially for the first time. Unofficially, who knows, probably at least twice by now?

Someone needs to let BillG know the 5G has worn off at this point and we all need a refill… in 2-3 months time.

Anyway, I finally learned first couple of choruses of Bloomdido from my transcription and here I can be seen playing it not quite correctly so enjoy!


August’s tune is another Parker blues: Bloomdido. I transcribed all four choruses this time around, which was educational in that Parker repeats the same licks at the same place in more than one chorus, for example the C minor pentatonic figure in bars 21, 33, and 57 resolving to the 3rd of the F7. In two of those cases, he leads into it with a descending G mixolydian b9 b13 scale using a 3rd to b9 (B to A flat) intervallic leap which sounds amazing. The tempo is whipping by, so I didn’t really notice those until breaking it down, but there are a number of sounds worth stealing here.

I transcribed this tune by hand without my instrument during a 6 hour flight using a virtual piano and slow downer app; consequently I don’t actually know how to play it yet. I have maybe the first 2 choruses down at about half speed but will need a couple weeks of practice to memorize the rest and get it up to speed. So, no video yet!


Straight, No Chaser

July’s video is short and sweet. Rather than transcribe a solo this time around, I learned the head without actually writing it down and then composed a single chorus. The changes are a very bare bones B-flat blues, so this was an opportunity to check up on my voice leading and whatever bebop licks have found their way into my fingers.

A few observations on this process:

  • my composed chorus is, not surprisingly, better than my improvised solos (not shown), so more work to do here
  • despite this being a very straightforward I-IV-V, I initially wrote in a G7 arpeggio in bar 8, so I can see some progress in my ear anticipating common jazz harmonies, even if they aren’t actually there

The recording is solo with no backing track or metronome. There are a couple of places, especially during rests, where I rush the tempo, and there’s a bar where I obviously failed to get my pick and left hand in sync, but on the whole I think it’s alright.

Blues For Alice

Here we go again, this time trying a Charlie Parker Jazz blues. I thought blues was easy. Wrong!

I cut the video off early because I didn’t actually learn the 3rd chorus, just knew the next two bars or so.

Here’s the transcription — I know there are errors after having compared to the Omnibook but I’m going to leave it here for now. New month, new tune!

blues for alice

Moose the Mooche

I’m transcribing and learning a jazz standard each month of 2023 to try and get better at internalizing jazz language. For the month of April, I went back to bebop and learned Charlie Parker’s Moose the Mooche, a song about Parker’s favorite drug dealer. I picked the version that’s in the omnibook to have a reference to check my transcription against, and while the omnibook is probably more accurate, my transcription is a bit simpler and amenable to guitar. How Aebersold & Slone hear all of those eighth notes in the middle is beyond me.

The first time this tune grabbed me was probably when hearing the version on Joshua Redman’s Wish and I just liked the syncopation and chromaticism on the head. That version is recorded as a trio with bass and drums and so has a bit more space, while still managing to bring the intensity.

And here is me playing Parker’s head and solo. I stumble a bit around bar 14 where there is a fast position shift but overall it sounds OK, I guess.

The transcription:

Transcription: St. Thomas

My current jazz odyssey involves transcribing some tunes. So I played around with lilypond/lilyjazz for the first time while transcribing Sonny Rollins’ solos on St. Thomas.

Lilyjazz is quite nice – the output really looks like the page was ripped out of the Real Book and much more readable than anything I have ever written out by hand.

I admit to not knowing the rules about how best to spell notes or rhythms so a few things probably look weird, and I glossed over some of the fast parts. Still, it’s not terrible for a first try.

As for this solo, what caught my ear initially was how well one measure leads into the next, and there are plenty of examples of nice voice leading in here. But after writing it out, the quarter notes in bars 41-42 and 76 stand out to me — just great examples of tension and release. I also missed on first hearing how Rollins returns to the opening motif at various points like bar 31, giving it a nice thematic completeness.

Anyway, lilypond source and the second page are in my github. Corrections welcome.

Note: I transcribed it in C for piano / guitar; lilypond can transpose automatically for other instruments. On guitar, I find 5th position is the most comfortable spot to play it. Although 8th position is a typical place for C major, I find the notes sound too muddy on the 5th and 6th strings.


Originally uploaded by bluesterror

To add a little space to our cozy apartment, I put up a couple of guitar wall hangers over the weekend and put the cases in storage (don’t tell our leasing office). It looks pretty cool, though I do think the guitars want 8 or 9 more friends. I just hope this isn’t the start of the inevitable transition from guitar-as-instrument to guitar-as-display-item.

Patitucci @ KC 9:30

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good band. Well, not too long ago — we saw Los Lonely Boys in Honolulu during our honeymoon. I meant to write that up, but what more is there to say than they are a capable cross between Santana and SRV? Anyway, the fact remains that I’ve seen many fewer shows this year than in recent times.

That is why when I saw that John Patitucci is playing tomorrow night with a 3 piece including the most frickin’ awesome drummer alive, Brian Blade, for only $25 at the Kennedy Center, I had to grab a pair of tickets. (The KC has a jazz club? Who knew?) Patitucci is most well-known as the bass player for various incarnations of Chick Corea bands, and if he doesn’t set the crowd ablaze, I’m sure Blade will.