Bob Mintzer Solo on “I Love You”

Here’s a solo transcription I started working on a few weeks ago.   This is from one of my favorite tenor sax players, Bob Mintzer.   I love Bob’s playing because it is so melodic and thematic.   He always plays ideas that you can grasp on to and that are catchy, yet he mixes in some pretty hip and advanced harmonic concepts into his lines.   This solo is from a live clip on Youtube of Bob playing  “I Love You” duo with  a piano player.

This is chorus one of the solo that starts at :39 in the video.  I emailed it out to my mailing list this morning but thought I’d share it here also for those who are visiting.   If you are interested in more material like this feel free to sign up for my newsletter to the right of this page.   I plan on working on new solos each week and I will add them to the Neffmusic blog as I finish each chorus.    Thanks,   Steve

I Love You-Mintzer Solo

A few things to think about while looking at and practicing this transcription:

  • Notice how Bob’s lines connect from chord to chord.  You can see that a great % of the lines flow and connect to a note that is close to the last note of the line from the chord before.  A great improviser works on keeping their lines connected and flowing through the chord changes.  Having to jump to a new note or idea at every chord is a sign of a beginner-intermediate improviser.  It makes it hard to develop thematic ideas and flowing lines.  To overcome this, practice connecting your lines to the next closest note when you change to the next chord.  Try to avoid having to jump  around.   Doing this well also increases your knowledge and recall of the chords………….
  • Try to listen for the melodic gems! Most great improvisers use stronger melodic gems intermixed with what I call connectors. Different improvisers use different mixes of these two elements but Bob Mintzer is a great example of using both equally well. A connector might just be a line that travels through the chords effectively. A melodic gem has a certain melodic or rhythmic motive that is repeated and built upon.  Great examples of melodic gems are 1.) measures 19-24  2.)measures 35-41  3.)measures 43-49  4.)measures 50-54 5.) measures 82-86.   Notice how these melodic ideas run through the chords and how catchy and memorable they are to the ear.
  • Many times when I am working on a transcription I look for repeated ideas and concepts.   In the 3 choruses I count 5 times where Bob uses a augmented triad on a dominant chord.  This is a great tool to get an altered sound before resolving your line.  The measures are 14,48,58,62 and 98.
  • Another cool melodic device is where Mintzer uses a triad a half step below the Major chord as in measures 54 & 85. You can see that he uses the F# triad over the G Maj7 chord.  This has a cool effect of setting up some dissonance and a delayed resolution on these tonic chords.
  • A reader of this blog also noticed that Mintzer is using a hemiola pattern in 3 over the 4/4 time in measures 35-39.
  • Another cool harmonic concept that I notice is that many times Mintzer seems to be using an EbMaj7 based line on the A-7(b5) chords.  Check out measures 11-12, 43, 59 (EbMaj7#11), 67 and 75.  In measure 91 he could just as easily made the B a Bb to again outline Eb major.  Instead, he makes it a B and outlines Eb Major #5 which put a natural 9 sound into the A-7(b5) chord.
  • Also, notice Mintzer’s use of triplets during different sections of the solo. Measures 43-47 and 77-80.  It has an effect of the lines floating over the time which is a great sound!
  • I had a particularly hard time transcribing the rhythms at measures 73-80.  I’m still not sure if the rhythm is 100% correct but it was as close as I could get………

That’s about it for now,  If you have any other thoughts about this solo please feel free to let me know in the comments below.   Thanks again to Bob Mintzer for his great playing and all he does on a daily basis to promote jazz music and education.   Now I have to pick another solo to start for next week………….

If you are interested in learning about transcribing and the process and benefits involved I have two video lessons on the subject in my Neffmusic Lesson Store:


If you like the lines in this solo or love other tenor players like Michael Brecker or Bob Berg, check out my book  “Devastating Minor Lines for Jazz and Funk Soloing”.  It contains 100 killer modern 16th note lines in the styles of these players in all 12 keys………You can hear samples and read reviews by clicking on the link below.   Thanks,     Steve

DevastatingFrontCoverSmallAdDevastating Minor Lines for Jazz and Funk Soloing

Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site


  1. Thanks for the notes………I’ve always enjoyed Bob Mintzer a lot!

  2. muy interesante su propuesta

  3. Avatar Steven Hartman says

    Worth mentioning are bars 35-39, where Mintzer plays 3 against 4, which you illustrate in you 3 against 4 hemiola lesson.

  4. Steve, thanks a lot for all you do ! It is very motivating. For a poor beginner like me, it gives the feeling that it is reachable. It is like a magician reveling his tricks. Thanks for guiding us along the path of practice and sweat !!!

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