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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been flipping out for the last week transcribing Adam's blues riffs and licks from his (115) instructional videos on youtube. He likes to play single-note lines instead of mostly chords so its great for transcribing for sax.

The great thing is that he plays in the style and tradition of the traditional Mississippi blues. Most (if not all) of the stuff in print for sax seems to be urbanized, big band style blues with chord progressions that are often too elaborate to use the written solo with any traditional blues progression.

Also his rhythm ideas are great for comping blues on sax with syncopated horizontal lines. He plays some great vertical shuffle riffs too. His lessons on warbling and tremolo are interesting for trilling and tremolo on the sax to imitate the blues harp sound.

Adam Gussow Blues Harp Lesson 15 - Blues Scale Lines

Adam Gussow Blues Harp Lesson 105 - Paul Butterfield

Adam Gussow Blues Harp Lesson 86 - riffing 12-bar changes in A [D harp]
(including Ray Charles "What I Say')

Adam Gussow Blues Harp Lesson 24 - Slow Blues and keeping time

Adam Gussow Blues Harp Lessons 109-110 - Hank Crawford

Most of the lessons are in the key of F concert [on Bb cross harp] although E, A and G are the main traditional blues keys.

If you know who Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Elmore James, Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson are, then you know what real blues is about and may dig this material too. Enjoy.

Andy
 

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Great stuff Andy,

I'd like to post those clips to about 85% of the harp players I know--but they'd probably take it the right way;)

Rory

ps. I think that's West and South side Chicago, and the horn players were already there when Little Walter showed up in 1938.
 

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Thanks for your post Andy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
rleitch said:
Rory

ps. I think that's West and South side Chicago, and the horn players were already there when Little Walter showed up in 1938.
I'm sure you're right. In blues there are a lot of "bragging rights" so it depends on who told you the story as to what version you get. Same thing is true with New Orleans claiming the title of "home of the blues." If nobody around knows better, it sure sounds impressive. :D

PS If you know Chicago blues then you must know Willie Dixon. I just love that "I am the blues" re-recording (c1972?) and "I Can't Quit You Baby", the song that the rock group Led Zeppelin used. I'm excited to hear that there are some other traditional blues folks here. I-IV-V
 

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Great stuff, and amen to your comment re: urbanized blues playing. I've played in a lot of straight ahead blues bands, and I always cringe when a horn player sits in and starts playing bebop blues with all kinds of chord substitutions. You gotta stay in context, IMHO.

One off the wall question: why was Lesson 15 recorded in a car?
 

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Frank D said:
Great stuff, and amen to your comment re: urbanized blues playing. I've played in a lot of straight ahead blues bands, and I always cringe when a horn player sits in and starts playing bebop blues with all kinds of chord substitutions. You gotta stay in context, IMHO.

One off the wall question: why was Lesson 15 recorded in a car?
Great sound? Wife can't stand no mo'?

Livin' in a van down by the river?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Frank D said:
One off the wall question: why was Lesson 15 recorded in a car?
He's sitting in his car at a crossroads for symbollic reasons. He's pretty kooky but he knows his stuff. There's another one in the car at night at the crossroads and a Mississippi state trooper stops by to see if he's ok. He occassionally gets distracted by birds, butterflies and kudzu too. :|

Watch the intro on this one and tell me that you don't question the guy's sanity:

In case you haven't checked out the others, here are some more gems:

Lessons 28-29 - CC Rider

Lesson 27 - Slow Blues Intro + Chicken Shack(3:12)

We've all heard Chicken Shack on horn, but I can't way to try it with the inflections that he's using on harp. He also mentions a blues tenor player named Houston Person that I was not familiar with who I plan on checking out.
 

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Andy, definitely check out Houston Person! I used to see him play with Etta James (corrected from Jones to James, thanks to Dr G). Man, what a fantastic player.

I've played with quite a few harp players. All the best ones have listened closely to sax players and picked up blues sax licks. Now this guy is teaching some great stuff that everyone who wants to play the blues, including sax players, can pick up on. Thanks for sharing.
 

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JL said:
All the best ones have listened closely to sax players and picked up blues sax licks. Now this guy is teaching some great stuff that everyone who wants to play the blues, including sax players, can pick up on. Thanks for sharing.
They don't call it the Mississippi saxophone for nothing (although Little Walter was actually from Louisianna).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
JL said:
Andy, definitely check out Houston Person! I used to see him play with Etta Jones. Man, what a fantastic player.

I've played with quite a few harp players. All the best ones have listened closely to sax players and picked up blues sax licks. Now this guy is teaching some great stuff that everyone who wants to play the blues, including sax players, can pick up on. Thanks for sharing.
Cool. I will do that. I can't seem to find the recording that Gussow mentioned, "Tenor Blues," online though. Maybe its a collection. But from the interview I found on the web, he seems to have had a reaction to being labelled as just a blues artist and avoided recording blues in this later recordings (which seem to be all that are still in production).

Do you have any suggestions for other alto blues artists like Crawford?

thx,
Andy
 

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rleitch said:
Hey Andy,

In the blues tradition you've been talking about, the undisputed king of the alto (at least at my house;) ) is Eddie Cleanhead Vinson.
Absolutely. Then of course there's Louis Jordan ("Caldonia," "Let the Good Times Roll," and many more), who played both alto and tenor (but mostly alto). He made his mark as a singer, but was a great horn player as well. His playing was a bit more swing/jump oriented and did vary in some cases from the traditional 12-bar I-IV-V blues. But he's well worth checking out.
 

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JL said:
Andy, definitely check out Houston Person! I used to see him play with Etta Jones. Man, what a fantastic player.
That's Etta James if you cannot find her by the other name.

+1 for listening to Houston Person.
 

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Thanks for the links, really inspiring! The problem is, now I'm inspired to take up the harmonica, rather than "translating" the licks to saxophone... This forum really gets in the way of practising sax!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Perry said:
Thanks for the links, really inspiring! The problem is, now I'm inspired to take up the harmonica, rather than "translating" the licks to saxophone... This forum really gets in the way of practising sax!
Ha ha ha. I'm hooked. I listened through all 115 lessons. But I'm primarily interested in blues sax.

What I'm finding is that when he plays single notes its good for solo lines and when he plays chords its great rhythms for comping parts. I didn't find any other blues harp player on youtube whose material was good for ripping off for sax. It must be like John said, a lot of this stuff came from blues sax players. Its wonderful to find an "unadulterated" repository of this material somewhere without 20 more chords and the super-locrian modal runs shoved into it.

I'm also wondering if there is a way to alternate growling and hat top accents, or something like that, to simulate some of the harps rhythm effects.
 

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Dr G said:
That's Etta James if you cannot find her by the other name.

+1 for listening to Houston Person.
Thanks for the correction. I'll go back & edit it. I should check these things before typing. Also, there is another great singer, more in the R&B tradition, named Etta James. So lots of possibility for confusion. Best thing to do is Google Etta James and Houston Person, if you want to hear the combination. Houston is a great study in how to play sax behind a singer, not to mention his great and tasteful solos.
 

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AndyBlackard said:
But I'm primarily interested in blues sax.

I'm also wondering if there is a way to alternate growling and hat top accents, or something like that, to simulate some of the harps rhythm effects.
Hey Andy, the harp players are trying to sound like us, not the other way round, lol. But yeah there are lots of special effects, of course, like growling, flutter tongue, alternating fingerings, etc. I guess multiphonics is the closest we can get to playing a chord.

I think the best bet for rhythm effects is to check out the horn players (and sometimes horn sections) behind some of the blues singers who used horns: BB King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, and quite a few more I can't think of right now. Also, of course, most jump blues bands used horns. Play along and pick up the various riffs and horn lines. You'll find repeating riffs that are based on the blues scale, and also riffs or lines that are based on the I-IV-V chords and change as needed to fit each chord. The chord-based lines usually are based on the 3rds and 7ths of the chords. The emphasis is on the rhythm, though.

It's best not to overplay, so use discretion when playing backing riffs. Some (maybe even most) harp players definitely overplay. One way to go is play a riff on every other chorus.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
JL said:
It's best not to overplay, so use discretion when playing backing riffs. Some (maybe even most) harp players definitely overplay. One way to go is play a riff on every other chorus.
Thanks, John. There is some great stuff on youtube for checking out horn players backing T-Bone walker and Howlin Wolf, etc. I've gleened some cool patterns like playing behind the vocals like:

| ONE - TWO - - AND | ONE ...
 
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