Vincent Herring Alto Sax Transcription-All the Things You Are

This is a very cool transcription from a 1996 bootleg recording of Vincent Herring soloing over “All the Things You Are” on the alto sax.  I have no further information about the recording except that it is from 1-27-96.

This transcription was done by a very talented 10th grade student of mine up here in northern Vermont named Jack Egan.   Jack was my one and only in-person student when I lived up in Newport Vermont for a year and a half.  I knew I was in trouble up there when I met a neighbor after we moved in and he asked me what I did for work.  I said I was a musician and he replied “What’s that?”  I was caught off guard and replied “You know….., I play music on an instrument”  He  just looked at me like I was insane, that’s northern Vermont for you……….Let’s get back to Jack, unfortunately I ended up moving about 2 hours south of Newport the next year and I was bummed that I would lose Jack as a student.  He was only in 9th grade but was doing incredibly well.

The good news is  Jack and his parents decided to continue lessons with me. They travel about two hours each way to take lessons every 2 weeks and I have to say that Jack is one of the hardest working students I have ever had.  If I say to practice something, Jack usually has it down by the next lesson two weeks later. Doesn’t matter what it is, if I say learn all the diminished scales, he comes back knowing them.  If I say learn all your altered scales, he comes back with them all mastered.   I am very proud of him and he has grown tremendously as a player over the last year.

As an example of Jack’s incredible work ethic, we were working on “All the Things You Are” together and I found this Vincent Herring bootleg of it on my computer that I shared with Jack.  We were listening to it during the lesson and I offhandedly said “You should transcribe this!”  He replied “Really?  You think so?”.  I said “Sure, give it a shot…….”

Now I have to admit,  I have said this to many students over the years but very few follow through on the challenge.  Jack was not one of those students.  The next lesson he came in with a page and a half of a transcription and said he was about half done.  Here’s a picture of his page 1:

I asked Jack if he could play it with the recording and he gave it a shot.  He did really well and said he would continue to work on it.  Sure enough, two lesson later he had it completed. There were a few measures that he had a bit of trouble with that I took a crack at for the final version but you have to give props to Jack for tackling this monster for his very first transcription in 10th grade.  Wow!!

As far as the benefits of doing this, I think there are a multitude.  Jack improved his ear, he learned some cool new ideas that he immediately starting using in his solos, his phrasing sounded more mature, his sound became more confident and mature,  he started working on imitating some of Vincent Herring’s stylistic nuances (vibrato, bends, falls,etc……..), his intonation improved in the upper register and lastly, he gained confidence from tackling a very hard challenge and finishing it.  I would say that he has made huge strides forward in the 6 weeks leading up to the finished transcription as well as the weeks afterwards.

Now, before you write Jack off as just a supremely talented youth who could do this stuff blindfolded as he was leaving the womb,  I asked Jack how much he practiced everyday expecting him to say “I try to get an hour in a day” like most of my students.  Nope, Jack’s goal is 3-4 hours a day!!  I broke into a big grin when he told me that…….

I’m looking forward to seeing Jack continuing to advance in the years ahead.  He is already light years ahead of where I was in 10th grade that is for sure.  Well done Jack!  Keep up the great work!!  I promise I won’t move any farther away in the next four years.       Mr. Neff


All the Things You Are-Vincent Herring Alto Sax Solo-Original Tempo(solo starts at :49)

……..and for us mere mortals……..half speed………….

All the Things You Are-Vincent Herring Alto Sax Solo-Half Speed(solo starts at :05)

All the Things You Are-Vincent Herring Alto Sax Solo Eb

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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


  1. Avatar Jennie Davis says

    I met Jack Egan when he moved to VT from California. I was fortunate enough to be his 4th grade teacher. ! An exceptional student no doubt, but the unique part of Jack, I felt, was he always wanted to know more, needed to figure it out. The news that he practices 3-4 hours a night does not surprise me. He started band in 4th grade and was so excited about the saxophone. Kudos to you for offering him the challenge to help him pursue his passion.

  2. Good News! I just heard Jack made All State jazz band up here in Vermont. I told him it would be tough making it in 10th grade but he worked as hard as any student I have ever had! Congratulations Jack!………

  3. Avatar Børge-Are S. Halvorsen says

    Absolutely stellar work! Vincent Herring is a good torch bearer to study for any budding alto saxophonist – and for me at almost 40, this serves as a great reminder to continue to hit the shed. So I did, and I’ve had a blast with this solo this morning! Slowing the solo down further proves Vincent Herring’s effortless mastery of his double time phrases. In the name of honest nerdery, however, and I’ll have to admit I only really heard it at half speed, there are a few minor corrections to be made:

    1) bar 47, beat 2 and 3: sixteenth notes – F G G# B E G# G Gb – he quickly outlines a E major triad for that G13b9 effect in the middle of this bar.

    2) bar 69, beat 4: just two eight notes, Bb and D

    3) bar 70, beat 3 and 4: eight notes – Eb C Db Bb (with a slur or bend fra C to Db)

    4) bar 95, beat 4: sixteenth notes – Ab G (the G is missing)

    It was also a lot of fun to compare this bootleg solo with the recorded version on “Alto Summit” by Phil Woods, Vincent Herring and Antonio Hart from around the same time (1995). Herring certainly has some pet phrases, just as the rest of us mere mortals! 🙂

    Vincent Herring’s style is instantly recognisable, very intense and soulful, with lots of scoops, and bends and that almost growly sound for added intensity. Love it! Along with Bird, Stitt, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Kenny Garrett, Steve Wilson, Stefano Di Battista, Rosario Giuliani, Jon Gordon, Will Vinson and Miguel Zenon, he’s one of my go-to alto players for inspiration.

    Again, thanks for sharing, and please say hi to Jack from me!

  4. Avatar Børge-Are S. Halvorsen says

    5) Bar 43, beat 4: sixteenth notes – E D C# E

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