Michael Brecker Transcription-Blue Bossa 1985

Happy Holidays Everyone!!    Here’s another new transcription I have been working on. It’s Christmas Eve, the wife and kids are in bed, the presents are under the tree, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse, when down from Steve’s office arose such a clatter, the sound of Michael Brecker……that was the matter……….

This is the first 8 choruses of a burnin’ Michael Brecker solo over the standard “Blue Bossa” from the Roppongi Pit Inn in Tokyo,  1985.  This was taken from a grainy video camera recording that is on youtube.  I have included the video below for you to enjoy.

 Michael Brecker in the 70’s

This solo might rattle your brain a bit if you are the kind of person that believes life…… and jazz  for that matter,  should be played by the rules.  That we should color within the lines if you will……….One of the things I always loved about Michael Brecker was the total freedom he had while soloing.  You don’t have to look far in the PDF before you notice certain anomalies. If you were to just see them on paper you might think “This guy isn’t playing the right notes” or “He doesn’t know what he’s doing”  but that is far from the truth. Brecker used these “outside” note choices to create exquisite tension and resolution throughout the lines of his solos.  These amazing lines are what drew so many of us to his concerts and recordings.

One very cool concept you see Brecker using in this solo is the use of the B melodic minor scale and E7 sound over the Bb7 chord.  Measure 12 outlines B minor. Measure 28 has a E Major vibe to it. Measure 44 starts with the remainder of the F minor line from the previous measure but on beat 3 he surprises us by not going to F but to F# and then outlining B-7. Measure 60 is all B melodic minor (also known as Bb altered scale).  Measures 75-76 sound like a strong E7  line.  He’s thinking of the tri-tone sub of Bb7 and playing it right through the whole ii-V would be my guess.  He even carries it in to the Eb Major bar a bit. He does the same thing in measures 92-93. Delaying the resolution of the Eb Major chord………Same thing with 108-109.

There are many other melodic “gems” and concepts in this solo to dig through and try to understand.

This is pages 1 -4 and includes the first 8 choruses.  I will put up the other 12 or so choruses of the solo as I complete them. Some of these sections are pretty hard so I will do what I can with no promises……..  I hope you enjoy this part of the solo. Let me know what you think or if you have any comments below (although I don’t blame you if you feel speechless after watching the video………….)  Enjoy,       Steve

Blue Bossa Solo-Brecker 1985 Pages 1-4 Bb (8 choruses)

Blue Bossa Solo-Brecker 1985 Pages 1-4 Concert Key (8 choruses)

If you want to learn more about using the melodic minor and altered scales for a modern sound while improvising, check out some of these great video lessons:

Complete Lesson  and Book Index




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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 Neffmusic.com.


  1. A friend just emailed me asking about measures 40 and why Brecker seems to be outlining F# Major over D-7. I have no idea. He does the same thing in measures 9-10. Maybe it’s a technique he used to take the line as far away from the chord as possible? F# Major has a heck of a lot of tension in it when played against D minor……………….

  2. Although, as I just listened to those measures it is a cool sounding line and affect…………

  3. Hello Stefan
    Did you try Audacity ? Can be used to slow down or transpose mp3.
    Happy New Year

  4. You can also use VLC to slow down videos and create repeating loops ! I use this a lot to study Steve solo’s ;o)
    Icons ‘slower’, ‘faster’, ‘loop from A to B’ can be added in the toolbar via the menu tools – customize interface, so that a single click is enough to do the trick !
    Hope this help

  5. Avatar Milton Parker says

    Thanks so much for the concert key transpositions of your transcripts.

    Best wishes from New Zealand….[where it is finally summer….!]

    Milton Parker

  6. Andre, I use Amazing Slowdowner to transcribe at slower tempos.

  7. Who makes the lost wax method dave guardala ish mouth pieces

  8. Dennis, Not sure. I haven’t heard of anyone making lost wax copies of Guardala’s. I’ve heard that Sakshama’s Guardala copies are pretty good but I haven’t played them. Steve

  9. Avatar Lachlan McGargill says

    Thanks for this transcription, one of my favourite versions of Blue Bossa.
    Would love the other choruses transcribed if you have done them.

  10. I think the F# major scale used over the Dm chord is setting up the resolution to Fm.
    It implies the b2 chord (tritone sub for the V7 / C7 chord) resolving to Fm.

    Great site and awesome transcriptions. Thanks, Steve!

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