Michael Brecker “Happy Days” Tenor Sax Solo Transcription

Here is another great solo transcription of Michael Brecker on the McCoy Tyner tune “Happy Days” from the album “Infinity”.  This has been on my transcription list for many years now and this morning I thought I would hammer away at it and finally finish it.

I remember when this album came out, I was so excited to get home and listen to it!  I listened to it over and over for weeks. I was even lucky enough to see Michael Brecker perform with McCoy at the Regattabar in Boston soon afterwards.  The friends I was with wanted to meet Michael after the show and I remember being so nervous and not wanting to bother him.  My friends walked right up to him and started talking.  I could barely speak.  I remember Michael looking tired but he was so nice and talked to us for a few minutes while packing up. I’m glad I got a chance to meet him…….



McCoy Tyner and Michael Brecker 

This is a great solo to analyze to see some of the concepts Brecker would use on dominant chords.  For the majority of the solos A7 measures (referring to the Bb music) you see him using a “bluesy” approach by using the A major blues scale (ABCC#EF#A) with notes from the A Mixolydian scale thrown in for color and effect (D and G).  He also uses the A Minor Blues Scale at times (ACDEbEGA) as in measures 9-17,21-23, 59-66,80-81 and 86-89.

In each chorus there is a 6 bar transition that travels around the circle of 5ths back to A7.  You can see it in measures 10-15 for the first time D7, G7, C7, F7,D7 Ebo7, E7(sus4).  Brecker usually lets loose on these sections with a variety of concepts.

You see bits and pieces of the dominant bebop scale like in measures 32, 55 and 76.

In measure 37 you see him use a F melodic minor line over the E7(sus4) chord giving him an altered scale sound over that V7 chord.

In between these concepts you see Brecker use some chromaticism to get from one concept to another which he was the master of.

Hope you enjoy the solo!  Thanks to Michael Brecker for the solo and McCoy Tyner for writing this great tune!   We miss you Michael Brecker and think of you often……..

Michael Brecker Solo on Happy Days-Bb PDF
Michael Brecker Solo on Happy Days-C PDF

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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. Avatar Mats Granath says

    Thanks for the transcription Steve! Makes my practice time much more fun!

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