Pat Martino’s Great Just Friends Guitar Solo Transcription Transposed for Saxophones

Here is a great transcription of the great guitarist, Pat Martino, soloing on the classic standard “Just Friends”.  This was in a file on my computer labeled “Solos to Transcribe”.  Usually, I put music in this file that peaks my interest and that I would like to dig in to at a later date.   After listening to this solo again yesterday, I was reminded why I wanted to transcribe it in the first place………

Pat Martino

Unfortunately, Pat Martino passed away at the age of 77 on November 1st, 2021.  If you don’t know Pat Martino’s story, do yourself a favor and read about his life and trials.   The story is amazing, miraculous, and inspiring.  I found this at under his biography:

“When the anesthesia wore off, Pat Martino looked up hazily at his parents and his doctors. and tried to piece together any memory of his life. 

One of the greatest guitarists in jazz, Martino had suffered a severe brain aneurysm and underwent surgery after being told that his condition could be terminal. After his operations he could remember almost nothing. He barely recognized his parents. and had no memory of his guitar or his career. He remembers feeling as if he had been “dropped cold, empty, neutral, cleansed, … naked.”

In the following months. Martino made a remarkable recovery. Through intensive study of his own historic recordings, and with the help of computer technology, Pat managed to reverse his memory loss and return to form on his instrument. His past recordings eventually became “an old friend, a spiritual experience which remained beautiful and honest.” This recovery fits in perfectly with Pat’s illustrious personal history. Since playing his first notes while still in his pre-teenage years, Martino has been recognized as one of the most exciting and virtuosic guitarists in jazz. With a distinctive, fat sound and gut-wrenching performances, he represents the best not just in jazz, but in music. He embodies thoughtful energy and soul.”

Wow!  I can’t imaging waking up and having forgotten almost everything. He was 36 when he had a brain aneurysm!  What does Pat Martino do? He starts from the beginning teaching himself guitar and jazz improvisation all over again!!!  Such an amazing and inspiring story.

Check out this solo!   These are amazing classic bebop lines.  What caught my ear when listening to this solo (and inspired me to transcribe it) was the fact that Pat Martino had some qualities in his playing that I don’t hear in a lot of sax player’s solos.   I like taking apart a solo like this and gaining a fresh perspective from an artist on another instrument!

The most obvious fresh approach in Pat Martino’s playing is his large interval jumps in between his lines and phrases.  I don’t hear this in the playing of most sax players.   Many times, Pat would start a new idea or line by jumping way up to the top of the staff and then weaving a  classic bebop line down from that first high note. Pat Martino makes it sound so effortless and flowing.  I would imagine that this isn’t too hard on the guitar but it is a bit more challenging for us sax players.

The other elements that stands out is Pat Martino’s use of bends and grace notes as well well as his use of augmented triads over dominant chords as well as minor chords (giving a melodic minor sound).

Pat Martino also uses a guitar technique that creates “ghost” notes in his jazz lines.  Some of the notes within this solo are not in other guitar transcriptions I have seen online but when listening with headphones I swear I could faintly hear many of these “ghost” notes within the lines (I don’t know if they were all there or I might have imagined ,some of them).  I might very well be mistaken on some of them but even when a note is unheard, Pat Martino’s driving eighth note pulse and line is so strong that I started to hear the notes in between the notes if you will.

This Pat Martino solo is jammed packed with great bebop vocabulary to learn from.  Work on the solo and memorize it but also take it apart into digestible bits of vocabulary that you can master and utilize in your own solos.  I hope you enjoy this solo as much as I do.     Steve

*PS. The Bb version of the solo for tenor saxophone is more challenging because of the altissimo lines involved.  The Eb version for alto saxophone is a much easier because it stays out of the altissimo register.

The second to last bar of every chorus has what I hear as a G7sus4 chord.   There might be other alterations in the chords but this one easily stood out to me as a totally cool little alteration from the standard progression of  “Just Friends”………

Pat Martino’s Great Just Friends Guitar Solo Transcription-Bb PDF

Pat Martino’s Great Just Friends Guitar Solo Transcription-Eb PDF

Pat Martino’s Great Just Friends Guitar Solo Transcription-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

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