Category Archives: Lesson

Autumn Leaves – When You Only Use Pentatonic Scales

The Pentatonic Scale is one of the first things we learn on the guitar, and it makes a lot of sense to use this when working on how to play  an Autumn Leaves Guitar solo.

The way I am demonstrating the pentatonic scale on Autumn Leaves in this lesson is as a 5 note scale that we can use to get the sound of the chord across. Most of the choices are using the standard minor pentatonic scale and I am also using a m6 pentatonic scale.

Finding Pentatonic scales for each of the chords

I am going to use the first 8 bars of Autumn Leaves since that covers all the chords in the song except 2 and it has the main cadences in the key so a cadence to a major tonic and one to a minor tonic.

The Progression is:

Cm7 F7 Bbmaj7 Ebmaj7

Aø D7 Gm6

For the Cm7 I am using the Cm pentatonic scale:

The F7 is played as an F7alt chord. F7 alt is the same as a B7(#11), so a Lydian dominant, and we can use a B major or Abm pentatonic scale:

For the Bbmaj7: Bbmaj7 consists of the notes Bb D F A and what you see here is that the upper part (D F A) is a D minor triad. For this chord I use Dm pentatonic. 

Over a maj7 chord using the minor pentatonic scale from the 3rd is a good rule to remember!

And that rule gives us Gm pentatonic on the Ebmaj7 chord

The Minor II V I – m6 Pentatonics

A m6 pentatonic is a minor pentatonic scale where the b7 is replaced with a 6th. So for Cm pentatonic we have: C Eb F G Bb and the Cm6 pentatonic will be C Eb F G A.

For Aø: A C Eb G it is worth noticing that this is an inversion of a Cm6 chord: C Eb G A. That means that the Cm6 pentatonic sale is a great option for this chord.

As a result the rule is: ø chord -> m6 pentatonic from the 3rd of the chord 

Over the altered dominant we can use the m6 pentatonic associated with the Melodic minor scale that is also the altered scale. 

In this case D7alt that is Eb melodic minor and the Ebm is a perfect scale choice:

Eb Gb Ab Bb C spelling out b9,3,b5,b13 and b7.

And of course the tonic minor chord Gm6 is easily taken care of with a G m6 pentatonic scale

Practicing Pentatonic Scale Patterns

One of the ways we use pentatonic scales is by exploring scale patterns. A pentatonic scale doesn’t work like a “normal” scale and the patterns. Therefore patterns can produce interesting groups of notes and interval structures. 

In many ways this is what probably makes it such a common device in modern jazz. It is a source of new interesting melodies to work with.

On guitar you should try to work on some common patterns. In the three examples I am also using that it is easy to play pentatonic scales as 2 notes per string patterns.

Pentatonic Pattern 1 – Diatonic “3rds”

This pattern goes through a pattern in the pentatonic scale that is equal to playing a major scale in 3rds. The scale is played descending and the direction of the “3rds” are changing so first up the down etc.

Pentatonic Pattern 2 – Switching direction

This pattern is again using the 2 notes per string aspect. Here it is used with the scale played ascending but the order of the notes per string switches creating some nice 4th intervals through the scale.

Pentatonic Pattern 3 – A sus4 triad

One of the structures in a Cm pentatonic scale is an Fsus4: F Bb C.

In the example below this structure is moved through string sets in the scale, generating some sus4 triads but also a Cm and an Eb major triad.

Solo using only Pentatonic Scales

The solo hereunder is using the Pentatonic scales I went over on an A part of Autumn Leaves.

Autumn Leaves Lessons

I have a few WebStore Lessons based on Autumn Leaves. Here’s one on soloing over the form and demonstrating a few approaches to creating lines:

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Rene Thomas – Is This an Overlooked Bebop Hero?

Rene Thomas is maybe not the first Jazz guitarist to come up in a conversation, but his very melodic and strong bebop inspired jazz lines are very much worth checking out. The Rene Thomas Guitar Legacy includes sideman gigs with Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins and Chet Baker. Besides that he recorded several albums under his own name.

The excerpts in this video are form his first US album “Guitar Groove” an album that features Rene Thomas and saxophonist Bobby Jaspar with whom he recorded and worked very frequently.

The story goes that Stan Getz heard a trio with Thomas once in London and hired the band on the spot.

These examples arereally illustrating how he manages to use modern jazz sounds and a lot of bebop tradition in his playing. The melodies are often very refined and the ideas very long which is of course also a trademark of a master improvisor.

If you want to check out some other performances then I have a short playlist of videos here: Rene Thomas Live Videos

Especially the solo on Oleo is burning!

Triads – 5 Easy Exercises for Better Solos

You want to include Triads in your Jazz Guitar vocabulary. Triads are some of the stronges melodies we have available and in the video I am going to go over 5 easy exercises to build your triad vocabulary on jazz. For each of the exercises I also have a jazz lick using the pattern so you can hear how it sounds in context.

Of course you are practicing scales and arpeggios but it is difficult to put that into real music. But there are also ways to practice that are a lot easier to put into a solo.  I am also going to talk about how ways practice them and of course give you some examples on how to use them in a solo.

I find that working a bit at these patterns really helps:

  • Making more interesting solo lines
  • Use the things you Practice for technique
  • Have a better overview of arpeggios on the neck
  • Knowing the Scales and music theory

As a small extra feature this also demonstrates some of the places where I use sweeping or economy picking!

Lick #1 – Top Note Targets

As you will see I tend to work mostly on triads in scales, so what is often called diatonic triads. This is because if you check them out there then you have them together with all the other notes you use when you are soloing so it is about understanding the triad, the chord and the scale.

This first example is a pattern that really emphasizes the top note of the triad arpeggio. Since the top note also almost can work as an independent melody this is an easy way to build a strong line just having a simple melody that is harmonized with arepggios.

On a side note you can hear Lage Lund use this pattern quite a lot.

Exercise 1 – Diatonic Arpeggios

Probably the great thing about this pattern is that it really emphasizes the top note, so the rest of the notes almost sound like they are accompanying that note. This means that the melody you hear is mostly the top-notes moving. The large interval skip from the 5 to 1 followed by the ascending arpeggio also gives the line a lot of forward motion.

Altered Scale Triad Pair

Here you have an example of how I might use the top-note pattern. In this II V I lick I am using it starting on the Dm7 and then going on to the G7alt with Bbm and Abm triads.  

Bbm and Abm form a triad pair on a G7alt since they are triads with out common notes:

Abm: Ab B Eb and Bb: Bb Db F

Finding triads for a chord

The way I find the triads that I can use over a chord is by looking at a chord with extensions. As an example you can look at the Dm7 chord, with the stable extensions in C major that would be a Dm(11):

D F A C E G

And the process is really just to pick out the triads contained:

Dm: D F A

F: F A C

Am: A C E

C: C E G

Lick #2 – 3rds Distance Cascade3rds distance

This way of playing the triads is useful because you are playing them together so that they fit a chord. If you are improvising over a Dm7 then Dm, F and Am triads all work over that chord.

Having the triads together like this works well for cascading arpeggio ideas combining several triads over one chord.

A useful or practical way to practice this is across the string sets in two different ways

The first approach relies on Economy picking where the second is using legato for the same note set. As you may have noticed in other lessons I use this economy patter quite a lot.

3rds Distance – Legato idea

In this lick the cascading triads are on the Dm7 and then stretching into the G7alt with the Db triad. This way of using the triads also creates a great 3 note grouping.

Lick #3 – Leading Notes

Adding chromatic passing notes to triads is a great way to use them and add some bebop or jazz flavour to the triads.

The exercise here below is taking the diatonic triads in a common 8th fret scale position and add a chromatic leading note before the root.

Chromatic leading notes

The example here below adds a leading note first to the F major triad and then the A minor triad. The G7alt also adds a descending version of the leading note to an Abm triad.

Lick #4 – The Wrong way around

Another variaton that is easy to use is to play the triads ascending through the scale, so Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bø, C but then play each triad descending.

This exercise is showed on the top string set and notice how I am using economy picking to play the triads.

New Directions for Triads

The lick is using the first three triads from the exercise: Dm, Em and F major and from there going into an altered lick based on an AbmMaj7 arpeggio.

Lick #5 – Arpeggios are melodies

You don’t have to play the notes of the triad in the same order all the time. In this exercise I am changing the order from 1 3 5 to 3 5 1. 

This has two advantages: I t really brings out the 3rd in the triad and of course creates a strong melody.

Creating new triad sounds

This lick is demonstrating how you might use the triads. On the Dm7 I used an F major and an A minor triad.

Notice how the lick has a lot of large intervals and the triads still pull everything together.

Arpeggios and Target notes

A huge part of playing over chord changes is using arpeggios like triads and then thinking ahead so you hit the right target notes in the next chord.

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Pat Metheny – This is What Jazz Blues Should Be

The Solo in this Pat Metheny Lesson is on a medium swing 12 bar blues in Bb. The Freedom and the multitude of approaches that Pat Metheny has when it comes to improvising over a blues is mind-blowing. Certainly worth a closer look!

This covers the super melodic side of Pat but also really illustrates his Bop playing and the great way he uses Blues material. There is a reason why Charlie Haden really emphasized how much he loves playing Blues with Metheny. I think this solo really demonstrates why.

Pat Metheny Lesson Content

0:00 Intro

1:18 Example 1 – Blues, Double-time and Lydian Dominants

4:37 Example 2 – Spelling out Harmony and Reharmonizing

8:42 Example 3 – Free Jazz, Tritone Substitutions and Chromaticism

Check out the John Scofield Solo on the same song

If you want to check out the video I did on the John Scofield solo on this track then have a look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6n9FE7PDBU&list=PLWYuNvZPqqcF247KJAOrdpBzCY0YTWk6O&index=6

Minor Blues – 5 Important Sounds To Know and How to Use Them

In this video I am going to show you some longer melodic ideas or licks with arpeggios and using different minor sounds on a Cm blues. It’s going to show you how to really get these sounds across and also how to create some great licks with the diatonic arpeggios also some of the other great arpeggios available like Quartal Harmony and Shell voicings. You can of course also use these ideas in a modal situation on a minor chord because the minor blues really is in between the modal and the functional harmony.

I am going to cover some of the more common scale sounds and also that are a little less common or even outside, and the nature of the arpeggios also demonstrates some odd note grouping ideas.

In this Lesson:

  • Minor scale options on a Minor Blues (Inside and Outside)
  • Arpeggio Based Licks or Melodic ideas
  • Material for Modal and Minor Blues progressions
  • How to make melodies with Diatonic Arpeggios

#1 Melodic Minor – Cascading Arpeggios or a Single Triad?

The first phrase is using the most common tonic minor sound in jazz: Melodic minor. The lick can be interpreted in several ways. The first one would be to see it as a row of 3 descending arpeggios: Ebmaj7(#5), B7(#5) and G7(#5). Notice how it contains two arpeggios that are not strictly diatonic arpeggios in the melodic minor scale.

In the video I demonstrate how I play the arpeggios in more detail, but that is easier to actually check out in the video as it shows my hands with the explanation.

The other way to analyze the likc is to look at as being variations of melodies created with an augmented triad and then on each string I add one note, so D on the 1st string, A on the 2nd and F on the 3rd string.

#2 Dorian Shell Voicings

The other very common minor sound that you want to be familiar with is Dorian. Dorian is a mode more than an actual key, but is used very often on minor chords, and also tonic minor chords.

This lick is using Shell-voicing arpeggios, 3-note arpeggios that contain the root, 3rd and 7th of a chord.

The first part is an enclosure targetting the 3rd of Cm: Eb. From there the line continues with shell voicing arpeggios for Ebmaj7, Gm7 and Bbmaj7.

The final Bbmaj7 shell voicing really helps bring out the 13(A) on the Cm7 which is the defining color of Dorian: Cm(13), a chord with both a b7 and a 13.

#3 Harmonic Minor Triads

The Harmonic minor sound is less common than the previous two, but is a very nice sound to have in your vocabulary.

In this case I am using the Harmonic minor sound (defined by a b6 and a maj7 on the C minor) to create alternating Cm and Bdim triads. I start with a Bdim and then move up a few inversions to end with a scale run down to the 9th(D) of Cm.

#4 Dorian Quartal Harmony

A great sound to explore on minor chords is Quartal Harmony. In this case I am using a Dorian sound and working with some 3 part Quartal Arpeggios. The first part of the line is a fairly straight forward Cm7 line that is followed by three quartal arpeggios from G, A and Bb. The final one ending on the 13th(A) of C.

#5 Diminished Quartal Groupings

A more exotic scale that you can use on a minor chord is the diminished scale. It doesn’t actually fit the chord since it doesn’t have a 5th, but is a nice effect on top of an extended minor section.

The construction is that we split the 5th(G).

C melodic minor: C D Eb F G A B C

now if we “split” the G into Gb and Ab we have:

C diminished: C D Eb F Gb Ab A B C

This is also shown below:

The lick uses the quartal arpeggios found in the diminished scale. The first one is from A: A Eb Ab. The pattern I play the quartal arpeggio in is adding a Gb as well and creates a 5 note pattern. This is shifted up and repeated on the next quartal arpeggio: C GbB. Finally the line ends on the quartal arpeggio Eb A D which also takes it back into the Cm melodic sound as it is found in Cm melodic as well.

This is a very smooth way of transitioning of shifting back into a more normal tonic minor sound.

Next Level Minor Blues

Take your Minor Blues skills to a higher level. If you want to really build a solid foundation and explore some more options on a minor blues then check out this lesson in my WebStore.

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Adam Rogers – This is how to use Triplet Rhythms

In this Adam Rogers Lesson, I am going to take a look at some phrases from his guitar solo on Beautiful Love. It’s a great solo as a show case on how he works with triplet rhythms and triplet polyrhythms. Having worked with Chris Potter and Michael Brecker, Adam Rogers is no stranger to complicated rhythms and meters. The examples in this video are all on II V I cadences so you can also view it to watch get some II V I Adam Rogers Licks.

This solo is found on Adam Rogers trio cd: Sight. The cd features Clarence Penn on Drums and John Patitucci on bass.

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You can get access to the PDF by supporting my channel on Patreon.

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5 Chromatic Licks – This Is The Way You Use Them In Your Playing

In Jazz Guitar, Chromatic Licks are really a huge part of what we consider the jazz sound. But you can use chromatic passing notes and enclosures as devices to create different kinds of surprises in your solos. This Guitar Lesson is going over 5 different examples of how you can use chromaticism and chromatic approach in your playing. The examples are both in a Modal setting and on a II V I.

The lesson covers

  • Adding color with chromatic passing notes
  • Suspending chord tones with chromatic enclosures
  • Creating forward motion towards the next chord
  • Outside sequences and parallel movement.

#1 Chromatic Passing Notes for Color

In this modal example I am using a passing notes and chromatic enclosures as a way to add some color to the line. They are there as ways of adding a few colorful or surprising notes in the line.

Whenever you are playing over a chord then the ear exoects to hear the notes of the chord and the surrounding scale notes. It does however also hear the remaining notes as tensions that need to resolve.

You can add this to a line to give it some colors and some movement. In this modal A dorian minor example I am first adding a passing note between the 9th and the root from beat 3 to 4 of the first bar.

The passing note is placed on the off beat which makes it a bit more smooth.

The Chromatic enclosure is a 4 notes melody in the beginning of the 2nd bar that creates some movement towards the C on beat 3 of the bar.

The final part of the lick is a Cmaj7(b5) arpeggio which is a great way to really get the Dorian Am13 color out on the chord.

#2 Chromatic Lick = Forward Motion

In this example I am using the chromatic enclosure to create some forward motion and move the chords along.

The Progression is a II V I in G major. The chromaticism used is first a passing note between the 3rd and the 2nd on D7 (in bar2)

From here I continue with a very common way to target the 3rd(B) of Gmaj7 that really drives the lick forward and pushes towards the resolution on the and of 4.

#3 Suspending a Resolution

Instead of using the chromatic phrase to drive the changes you can also use it as a way of delaying a chord. In this example, a II V I in G major again, I am using two chomatic ideas to delay the resolution to the Gmaj7.

The Am7 line is constructed of a spread triad 1st inversion C major triad. This is followed by an Am pentatonic phrase.

In this example the dominant, D7, is an altered dominant. The phrase is a pretty basic altered phrase using an Ab triad and a stock Ebm line.

The D7alt line should resolve to the D on beat 1 of the Gmaj7 but instead

These types of ideas are very common in Pat Metheny’s playing around the Question And Answer era. You will find him making harmonic movement quite unclear by adding long chromatic phrases instead of a clear resolution.

#4 Modal Shifting Example

Another great way to introduce chromatic passages is to shift an interval and in that way move out of the tonality for a bit.

This A Dorian modal example demonstrates this. The first bar starts with an enclosure targeting the A on beat 3.  From there it is a descending 1st inversion Am7 arpeggio.

In bar two the first two notes are a chromtatic enclosure of an E. The E and the C then becomes an interval that shifts down in half steps twice. The line ends with a chromatic passing note added between D and C. 

#5 Chromatic Licks as Outside ideas

Chromaticism can also be used as a way to create some outside material in a solo. This modal example is demonstrating some side slipping which is shifting an arpeggio in half steps to add some outside melodies to the phrase.

The beginning of the phrase is a fairly straight forward 4-note enclosure targeting the root of Am7. This is followed by an Am7 arpeggio. 

In bar 2 the Am7 arpeggio ends on the 9th and this is then the first note in a descending Em triad. This triad is shifted down to Ebm and Dm. From the Dm the line ends on the 13(F#) of Am via a chromatic enclosure.

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Tal Farlow – This Is Cutting Edge Bebop

Tal Farlow was one of the pioneers to further develop Bebop Jazz Guitar after Charlie Christian. He really has his own style and own melodic language which I demonstrate in this video with an analysis of the solo on Gone With The Wind.

This Tal Farlow solo really highlights how he plays across the bar line and has a very advanced use of chromaticism in his playing. In many ways his concept and his solo lines where ahead of his time and he was truly a bebop innovator with a clear own voice.

At the end of the video I also talk a little bit about how his playing likely has influenced Kurt Rosenwinkel.

8 Awesome Types Of 3-Note Chord Voicings And How To Use Them

You probably see Jazz Chords as chord voicings with lots of notes, alterations and extensions which makes them big and difficult to play. But actually most of the time when I am comping or playing chord melody I am using 3-note chord voicings, and it is amazing how rich and diverse you can still sound just using 3 notes, and most of those are pretty easy to play.

In this video I am going to go over 8 types of 3-note voicings including different ways to use Shell-voicings, Upper-structure Triads, Quartal Voicings, Sus chords and different types of Cluster-like Interval Structures.

The Voicing types I cover in this lesson is:

  • Shell Voicings (137)
  • Triads
  • Quartal Harmony
  • Shell Voicings (157)
  • Sus4 Triads
  • Triad Derived Cluster Voicings #1
  • Triad Derived Cluster Voicings #2
  • Shell Derived Cluster Voicing

This is a lot of material but going from one type of 3 note voicing to another is surprisingly easy as you will see in the main example.

The Practical Approach: Solar Chords

The way I have chosen to approach this is to make an example chorus of comping on the song Solar. I will break down the chorus and while going over the chord voicings also talk about what type of voicing it is also give you an overview of a set of Diatonic Chords using this type of voicing.

Basic Shell Voicings and Triads – “The Power Chords”

The first part of the chorus on Solar is shown here below. For the first three voicings I am using Shell voicings and then from the middle of the Gm bar there are two triad voicings.

The first Shell voicing is a CmMaj7 Shell voicing. You probably know the shell-voicings as the basic chord voicings that are used for Freddie Green comping or as a basic building block to create voicings with extensions.

In this case I am using the shell-voicings both as basic chords and as upper-structures with extensions and colors.

To Practice shell voicings you can do this exercise of the diatonic shells in C minor melodic:

The CmMaj voicing in bar 2 is a B7 shell voicing. This is not the diatonic chord that is found on the B. This is constructed in a different way but is a chord that you can find in C melodic minor. You just need to be a little creative.

The B7 voicings is great for CmMaj as it contains the Maj7th, b3 and 6th.

The voicing on the Gm7 is a Bbmaj7 shell voicing which works as a Gm7 without the 7th.

Triads as Jazz Chords

The second half of the Gm bar is covered with a Bb major triad. The Bb major triad is a Gm7 without a G: G Bb D F

On the C7 the chord is a Bb dim triad. This set of notes is Bb Db E so it works as a C7b9.

A way to go over the triads is to play them through the scale, but think of them as the chords that you would use them. This is shown in the example below.

Triad inversions: An easy set of extra chords

A bonus from working with triad voicings is that they are easy and practical to invert. If you take the C7(b9) chord as an example then we have these possible chord voicings that all work:

Quartal voicings and 157 Shells

The voicing is a triad voicing for the Fmaj. An Am triad. Again the triad found on the 3rd of the chord.

From there the next three voicings are quartal voicings, two on F and one on Fm7.

3-part Quartal chords

Quartal voicings are hard to really tie to only one type of chord, so instead of assigning them to a specific chord I have written them out without a chord name.

The way the chords are moving in Solar example is a good example of how quartal voicings are used moving in a step-wise manner.

157 Shell-Voicings

The second chord in the Fm7 bar is another type of Shell voicing. I am using an Ab 157 shell voicing which is Ab Eb G. This spells out an Fm7(9). 

The Bb7alt voicing is an Abm7(b5) 157 Shell-voicing, moving on to a BmMaj7 137 Shell voicing.

Moving the 157 Shell-voicings through a scale you get this exercise:

Sus4 Triads as Chord Voicings

The last 4 bars of the example is introducing quite a few voicings.

First a sus4 triad for the Ebmaj7 and then three types of cluster voicings that I will go over.

Sus4 triads – Extra colors

The Ebmaj7 voicing is a Gsus4 triad. This spells out an Ebmaj7(13): G(3) C(13) D(7).

Using the sus4 triads like this is a really useful way to add colors to a chord. Taking this chord through an Eb major scale like this yields these voicings.

Especially the Bb7(13) is a nice sound here, and some to the b13 voicings can be a bit hard to put to use.

Triad based Cluster Chords #1

One way to get a 2nd interval in a triad is to substitute the root with the 9th. This is similar to how you add extensions to a drop2 chord.

Below is shown how the Ebm7 voicing is constructed. Strictly speaking this is an Ebm(add9) voicing since it does not have a b7.

Taking these voicings through the sale yields these voicings:

The Ab7 is an AmMaj7 shell voicing working as an incomplete Ab7(b9) voicing.

Triad based Cluster Chords #2

On the Dbmaj7 I am using another triad derived voicing. This is a the set of notes C Eb F which is derived from a Bbm triad. Here the Bb is replaced with C and the Db with an Eb.

Taking this through the scale gives us these voicings:

Shell Voicing Derived Cluster Voicing

The final voicing type is create from a 137 shell voicing where the 3 is replaced with a 2 or 9. As shown here below:

This chord voicings through the scale yields these chords. My notation software is unable to turn these voicings into chord diagrams.

Taking 3-note Jazz Chords further

If you want to check out more examples of how I use these types of chord voicings on a standard then check out this WebStore Lesson:

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Download the PDF to check out the exercises away from the article:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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Ed Bickert – A Jazz Guitarist You Need To Know About!

Ed Bickert is the secret super hero of Jazz Guitar. He is somehow always under the surface, but you don’t want to miss checking him out! Probably most of us know him from his great playing on Paul Desmond albums like Pure Desmond and Desmond Quartet Live.

This video is on a solo on the Standard Have You Met Miss Jones, off a live trio album with Don Thompson and Terry Clarke.

What I really like about Ed Bickerts playing is his sense of melody and also how he is amazing at adding chords to his solos. But the examples in this video also highlights his use of reharmonization and cross rhythms.

I don’t actually know too much about Ed Bickert probably because he mostly has been active in Canada and haven’t appeared on that many albums as a sideman. But I really enjoy his playing. First I wanted to cover a song from the Pure Desmond album, but then I came across this great transcription on Francois LeDuc’s channel so I used that instead. You can check out Francois’ channel and Patreon in the description of this video. He has a lot of great transcriptions there!

Francois Leduc – Patreon

If you want to check out some more stuff on Ed Bickert then try to look up the two Paul Desmond albums that he play on:

Paul Desmond – Pure Desmond with Ed Bickert

And the live album with the same band:

Paul Desmond Quartet – Live