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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, I play Tenor sax in my local high school's jazz band. We're auditioning for improv solos for the song "Sweet Home Chicago" here on Tuesday. Have any helpful tips or suggestions for a better solo?
 

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For one thing, that's a classic twelve bar blues, not a swing tune. Even if it's done with a swing feel, it's still the blues, so get yourself over to YouTube and listen to any number of versions by Buddy Guy, BB King, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc., etc. Learn the line, learn the lyrics, and learn the blues, and you can't go wrong. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
For one thing, that's a classic twelve bar blues, not a swing tune. Even if it's done with a swing feel, it's still the blues, so get yourself over to YouTube and listen to any number of versions by Buddy Guy, BB King, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc., etc. Learn the line, learn the lyrics, and learn the blues, and you can't go wrong. Good luck!
Now I feel like an idiot, I meant blues. =P I've been listening to this song for hours now, memorizing the chord changes and listening to the solos. Thanks for the help!
 

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Yeah, it's definitely blues, even if it is swung. Don't get knotted up by playing too many notes too quickly. Stick to good sounding notes in bursts. Even riding a single note will work for you for a couple of bars here and there.
 

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If you want to hear some real Chicago style tenor, it doesn't get much better than the late A.C. Reed, here's a clip that actually includes a bit of Sweet Home with an A.C. solo break:

http://youtu.be/m4VcQyqVCxY

Enjoy.

You could also go back a little further and listen to J.T. Brown with Elmore James, etc. for more stylistic hints.
 

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This thread is relevant to my interests
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If you want to hear some real Chicago style tenor, it doesn't get much better than the late A.C. Reed, here's a clip that actually includes a bit of Sweet Home with an A.C. solo break:

http://youtu.be/m4VcQyqVCxY

Enjoy.

You could also go back a little further and listen to J.T. Brown with Elmore James, etc. for more stylistic hints.
Thanks! That's some pretty nice tenor solos right there. Definitely stealing some of it! Not sure if anyone cares, but I'll post whether I get the solo or not. Thanks for your contributions!
 

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Yes, by all means let us know how you do! And no matter what, even if you don't get the spot, keep playing that horn.

Good luck!
 

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Check out this SOTW teaching resource for a lot of info on playing the blues:

http://www.saxontheweb.net/Rock_n_Roll/

"Sweet Home Chicago" is a pretty typical, staightforward I-IV-V blues. The minor pentatonic and blues scale will work well, along with playing over the 12 bar changes.
 

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Listen, listen, listen. Not just to sax players, but check out singers, other horns, guitarists, keyboard players, harp players, etc., who play the same style you're trying to absorb. The rest will take care of itself.
 

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Hey all, I play Tenor sax in my local high school's jazz band. We're auditioning for improv solos for the song "Sweet Home Chicago" here on Tuesday. Have any helpful tips or suggestions for a better solo?
yeah, here's a tip. "The Blues Brothers" Soundtrack, 1980
 

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Listen to all the advice here. Also, makes sure you switch between a major pent and a blues pent. This will make you sound more sophisticated than the rest of the guys who can only fumble around on the blues scale. Play few notes, but use a lot of interesting rhythm and articulation. These are all just tricks, but you want to sound cool, right?

Major pent: 1,2,3,5,6,1
Blues pent (with flat 5th): 1, b3, 4, (b5), 5, b7, 1
Major blues: 1, 2, b3, 3, 5, b6, 6, 1
 

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.... make sure you switch between a major pent and a blues pent. This will make you sound more sophisticated than the rest of the guys who can only fumble around on the blues scale. Play few notes, but use a lot of interesting rhythm and articulation. These are all just tricks, but you want to sound cool, right?

Major pent: 1,2,3,5,6,1
Blues pent (with flat 5th): 1, b3, 4, (b5), 5, b7, 1
Major blues: 1, 2, b3, 3, 5, b6, 6, 1
Of course you don't want to just 'fumble around' with the blues scale, or any other scale, chord, etc. And when using the major pentatonic or major blues scale/mixolydian, with the major 3rd of the key, you have to be aware of the chord progression. The major 3rd will clash badly on the IV7 chord. So you can't fumble around and sound good, no matter what scales or chords or notes you are using. Imo, these are not 'tricks.' They are tools and harmonic devices that can be used effectively if you listen and work with them enough to find out what works well (sounds good) and what doesn't.

There is a blues 'vocabulary' just as there is a jazz 'vocabulary' (and of course they overlap to a large degree). Scales, chords, and harmony will help you understand and learn the vocabulary, as well as create some of your own. But you have to learn it, just like learning to speak a language.
 

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What key?

Say it's in F# like the video.
Then, just honk on a f#2 for the first three measures, maybe thrown in a a2A#3A#3 every now and then ..... the a2 a grace note
For the 4th measure play eight notes, starting on 1, A2B3C3C#3B3A2F#2E2 d2D#2 ..... the d2 is a grace note
Play something or other for 3 bars
On bar 9 play eight notes, starting on 2, G#1B2D#2F#2A#3C#3
On bar 10 play eight notes starting on the 2 E3C#3A2E2C#2A2 a2A#2F#2 ..... the a2 a grace note

The main thing is to do something interesting in bar 4, which is where then tune is in a suspended and excited state anticipating the coming IV chord, and also on the V and IV chords in bars 9 and 10 where the tune is in a suspended and excited state anticipating the coming I chord, the rest can be filler.
 

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The Blues Brothers version is likely my favorite, but there's a lot of good covers of that out there. Either way, it's a pretty straightforward blues progression. You can do a lot with the basic blues scales, and in most cases a good blues solo is more about how you play the notes versus what notes you play. You'll find a lot of great solos that sound simple on the surface, but there's a lot of soul in what's being played, and the rhythms are "just right".
 

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Of course you don't want to just 'fumble around' with the blues scale, or any other scale, chord, etc. And when using the major pentatonic or major blues scale/mixolydian, with the major 3rd of the key, you have to be aware of the chord progression. The major 3rd will clash badly on the IV7 chord. So you can't fumble around and sound good, no matter what scales or chords or notes you are using. Imo, these are not 'tricks.'
Hey, he's only got till Tuesday. What's he going to do, become professional jazzer in a few days. He probably already knows the blues scale, and if he learns the major pent to mix things up a bit, it will sound better. As far as what notes go with what chord, if he plays it to a backing track (or youtube version) 20 or 30 times, he'll know what notes work and what notes don't work. But , of course, what you are saying is true as well.
 

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Hey, he's only got till Tuesday..
That's a good point, but it brings up an issue that I think might be somewhat counterproductive. I've noticed quite a few posts on here by high school students who have some sort of audition or show coming up in a few days, so they come here and ask for advice on how/what to play. In less than a week! What are we to tell them? What advice can we give that will be of any use whatsoever? And we usually get no background info at all.

It sounds like a search for some sort of 'magic bullet.' Well I have news. There is no magic bullet. It takes time, work, practice, time, listening, time, patience, time, and more time to learn how to play the blues or jazz or anything, really. If the OP already knows some fundamentals of playing the sax, his chords, scales, a blues chord progression, has listened to the blues and especially to the tune in question, then maybe some of our advice can be of use (for next Tuesday). Otherwise it will only be useful over the long term, assuming the OP has any idea what we are talking about. It's still worth it to try and help out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Otherwise it will only be useful over the long term, assuming the OP has any idea what we are talking about. It's still worth it to try and help out.
Haha, I know what you guys are talking about... mostly. I'm just a freshman, but I think I'm fairly skilled at music in general. I'll definitely use the suggestions, and they have helped me greatly. Btw, yes, I got the solo! I have a Jazz Festival here on Saturday, and a concert on Tuesday. (I play bassoon in concert band). Thanks everyone!
 

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Haha, I know what you guys are talking about... mostly. I'm just a freshman, but I think I'm fairly skilled at music in general. I'll definitely use the suggestions, and they have helped me greatly.
Excellent. And that's why I don't like to 'dumb down' my responses. Keep on playing that sax! And be sure to check out the link I posted above with articles on playing blues.
 
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