Michael Brecker Sax Solo Transcription on David Letterman Intro

Here’s another great Michael Brecker tenor sax transcription to check out.  It’s a short one of Michael Brecker sitting in with the Paul Shaffer band on the David Letterman show in the 80’s.  This transcription was done by Joe Raia who is a local sax player down in Massachusetts and was nice enough to share it on Facebook.  I actually found the transcription as I was cleaning stuff off my computer the other day and asked Joe if it was ok to share here on the site.

This is classic Michael Brecker playing over the standard Letterman show intro in A7 concert (B7 for tenor saxophone).  This is a great example of Brecker mixing up the G# blues scale G#BC#DD#F#G# with the B blues scale of BDEFF#AB over B7.  The G# blues scale which is also called the B Major Blues Scale BC#DD#F#G#B (notice it is the same notes as the G#Blues scale) is a very consonant sound and the only note with a lot of tension is the D which gives it a bluesy sound.

In measure 5 Michael plays a few notes from the B Blues scale which gives you a little more tension and bluesy sound with the F and D.  It also introduces the A (b7th) into the line.  He gives a little taste and then switches back to the G# blues scale until measure 8 where he switches back to B blues scale.  Measure 9-10 is back to the G# blues scale.  Measure 11-12 back to B blues again for the unison lick with the band.

Measure 13 until the end is just pure classic Brecker mastery that he was known for. Holding out the ending chord?  Brecker’s going to crush it with everything he’s got!  Love it!


Michael Brecker Sax Solo Transcription on David Letterman Intro 
Michael Brecker Sax Solo Transcription on David Letterman Intro Bb

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.



    Great excellent page , thanks Neff you’re fantastic , it’s really good dedication yours congratulations !

  2. Avatar Rob Payne says

    Right up to the time of his death Brecker was playing the most cutting edge jazz of anyone around, tenor or otherwise, in my own opinion. A few years ago I went to a concert in San Francisco billed as the Three Tenors with Brecker and two other tenors, Liebman, and Lovano doing a tribute to Coltrane. Unfortunately Brecker was too sick to make the concert and he died not too long afterwards. They replaced him at the last minute with Redman. Check out this video of Brecker playing Oleo, it still blows me away:

  3. Steve, Thanks for sharing your knowledge and transcriptions! always great stuff!

  4. Avatar Larry Weintraub says

    Steve: I do not have a transcription to share, just an experience. Michael Brecker did a 1 day workshop at my Navy Band in Norfolk, VA in early Sept, 2003. Other than Zoot he was the most humble and modest jazz payer I’ve ever met. He was more in awe of his brother Randy. He talked about Randy a lot. He also talked about his Dad who was a Philly lawyer who played jazz piano. He said, ” my dad sued by day and swung by night.”

    Michael gave me and others a lot of positive reinforcement. He told people what they did wrong but in a nice way. He listened to 3 groups, the Big Band which I played in, the Show Band Combo and the Rock Band Combo playing jazz.

    At the end of the day he gave us words of wisdom and advice.

    Larry W

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