Adam Larson Chord Tone Blues Tenor Saxophone Solo Transcription

Here is a short two chorus transcription of the young tenor saxophonist Adam Larson playing a tenor saxophone solo over a blues progression that I saw on Instagram the other day.  Adam is mostly just using chord tones on this tenor sax solo with a few tritone substitutions here and there.  It is not overly complicated but Adam makes it interesting with his choice of intervals and anticipations of chords. I always tell my students that they should be able to play a pretty good improvised sax solo with just chord tones and this is a great example for them to check out (hint, hint).

Adam Larson-Tenor Saxophone

The most important element of playing a saxophone solo like this is the connections of the melodic ideas and lines across the barlines. Most students have trouble making smooth connections over the barlines where the chords change because they are not anticipating the next chord nor able to readily recall the chord in order to choose where to direct the line.  Getting great at just soloing with chord tones and then expanding and deepening your solos by adding extensions and other concepts is a great way to progress in your improvisational solos.  Check out the great example by Adam Larson below (another hint)  and see if you can play as interesting of a sax solo as he does on a 12 bar blues.  Now, during this pandemic, while we are all quarantined at home, is the perfect time to get your saxophone out and work on it!

If you want to check out more from Adam Larson, you can find out more about him here on his website.   He has a great bio there that compares him to Mark Turner and Donny McCaslin which is super impressive all by itself.  He has also released five albums to date that you should check out. You can also find Adam on his Adam Larson Instagram page  as well as on his Twitter page.   Thanks for the great tenor saxophone blues solo Adam!!

Adam Larson-Chord Tone Blues Demo from Instagram

Adam Larson-Chord Tone Blues Demo-Bb PDF
Adam Larson-Chord Tone Blues Demo-Concert Key PDF

If you love these type of intervallic Adam Larson lines, be sure to check out my PDF book “Mastering Major Diatonic Patterns“, which includes hundreds of diatonic lines over major tonalities that I have written out in all 12 keys. These lines are the foundation to building a great jazz vocabulary and you can’t move on to playing larger intervals like Adam Larson does, before building a strong foundation with diatonic lines and intervals!!


Mastering Major Diatonic Patterns

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 Howard Brown says

    He plays a double lip embouchure.

  2. Speaking of his embouchure (I guess that’s socially acceptable?), I notice that the corners of his mouth are raised slightly, mostly when he is either in upper register or altissimo, but on the occasional low note, they turn down a bit. I have been thinking about this in my playing, which I mostly try to do with a slight frown, ie. my RBF, but not sure one position is ideal.

  3. And huge finger movements, and yet he can play amazingly smoothly and fast. Go figure….

  4. Avatar Giuseppe C. says

    Double lip embouchure? And even if it were? It happens even in the best families …
    Giuseppe C.

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