dear all,

i'm a late beginner in jazz piano who wants to get started with transcribing solos, but i'm having a hard time figuring out what to start with.  i need something that sounds nice, for incentive, but which won't be too difficult for an intermediate player.  any recommendations, especially on piano?  i'm thinking of starting with some of chet baker's solos on his album "best of chet baker sings" since they are so melodic and based on the tunes.  what do you think?
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hi,

since you're doing jazz piano, it makes sense to transcribe a piano player.

a great solo to start with is on the miles davis recording of pfrancin.  for the life of me i can't remember who's playing- might be cedar walton, maybe herbie, but it's a solo that's easy to work with but at the same time has all sorts of good stuff in it to give your fingers ideas when you're working out solos on your own.

also, nat king cole was a heck of a pianist and his older trio recordings (before he stopped playing and only sang!) have some great stuff on them.
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yes, miles' pianists are well worth looking at...

wynton kelly's solo on 'freddie freeloader' (kind of blue) is a commonly transcribed solo and is a great lesson in jazz blues playing.

red garland's solo with miles on 'if i were a bell' (with that famous intro) is also one that's not too difficult to transcribe but full of good vocabulary.

away from miles' pianists, horace silver's solo on song for my father, from the album of the same name is a masterclass in economy and saying a lot with a few notes.  

a lesser known set of solos well worth transcribing can be found played by herbie hancock on the excellent grant green album 'feeling the spirit'.

hope you find some of these appropriate.

barry
scot on pfancing the piano player is the groove master himself...wynton!!
that's what i was looking for, not pfrancin, but freddie freeloader.  that's a great solo to start out with!
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abo,  

i've been working with a teacher for over 6 months now, he has me on a well-thought of method. part of the weekly routine is to do transcriptions.  
they're not really transcriptions per se, because i don't write anything down.  
the most important part of the exercise is singing along to solos. so you have to learn them really good until you feel you click. then if you want, you can play along to them.  
to me, that's been a lot of fun. definitely not a chore. really fun.  
he gives me specific solos to transcribe. we don't do pianists, not yet. mostly wind players. we only study the masters on their best days. we progress mostly chronologically. so i started with louis armstrong, then lester young, then charlie christian, and i've been doing parker for a couple months now. now you might think that transcribing louis is a waste of time, but i don't think so. isolate him and what he plays is actually really good.  

to me, it's not a riff exercise, it's mostly an ear training exercise. you get better at recognizing intervals, various types of swing, and overall, how those guys play with time. each solo has been very interesting. parker has been amazing for me. until i started to really listen, i never knew parker was such genius.  
the other thing is when you try and play horn lines, you force your fingers to do things you wouldn't typically do, so that's a good exercise right there.  

i use transcribe to slow down the records, because otherwise it goes too fast. for example, listen to parker on the ballad embraceable you.  

anyway that's my 2 cents. i guess you should ask yourself why you want to transcribe first. if the intent is to play a piece just like bill evans, then picking up a bill evans book is probably quicker, i don't know...
if the intent is to strengthen the ear, then you can't buy that at the store...
gee, knotty, it sounds like you're working on some sort of tristano method.  your teacher isn't a tristano student, by chance?
jon,

touchť

i don't claim this is the best method or whatever, but i'm really hooked on it.
actually... respectfully to disagree.  most piano players start by transcribing horn players.  we start by transcribing the great melody players begining with louis armstrong and lester young.  
some specific suggestions:
louis armstron:
   strttin with barbeque sausce
   potatoe head blues
    west end blues
lester young:
    oh lady be good
     taxi war dnce
     lester leaps in
louis and lester were so incredibly consistent you really can not go wrong tackling any louis or lester solo.  horns are melody instruments
pianos are percusions intrumensts.  so horn players in general are much more consistent better soloists than piano players are.  therefore it is in general a more pleasing experience transcribing a horn solo than a piano solo.  transcribing a piano solo can be a little more like transcribing a drum solo...  not that that is a bad thing... but it is harder because when you transcribe percussion you are not helped along by the natural hearing of where a melody is going.  dave mckenna (one of, if not the best solo jazz pianists to ever live) told me he never listened to piano players and never took any of his ideas from piano players, only from horn players.  
all of the best piano players i have known never transcribe other piano players except for occasionally stealling a particular voicing or smaill idea.
i agree mike, i would add the vocalists to that group.  ella and sinatra have been inspiration to me on enough occassions that i
feel drawn to revisit certain songs such as "fly me to the moon" and "blue skies".  the expressiveness of the human voice cannot be denied.
to add, take a sinatra song like night and day or angel eyes and transcribe his vocal melody.  sinatra is a master of altering a melody with added notes so smoothly that you don't notice it unless you're listening for it.
https://www.learnjazzpiano.com/citadel/scotcit.mvc?action=files&sub=file_details&id=1075846998 is the link to a file i posted here back in 04 dealing with this.....
when learning the solo you transcribed, do you accompany yourself with left hand chords?  
personally i don't have any preference.  i usually start out just learning the melody.  i actually like to learn the melody of the solo in both hands just to make sure my left hand is as strong as my right.

depending on the solo, i might learn the rhythms of the comping chords, or i might decide to transcribe exactly what the pianist is doing. if you hear some great chord voicings it might be worth while.  it's probably always worthwhile to transcribe the rhythm of the comping because it's fairly tied into the rhythm of the solo itself.

in the end, i wind up playing left hand chords with the solo, and probably fairly close to what was on the recording just because i listened to it so much and the comping is such a big part of it.

i know, not really an answer, but i guess in the end it's up to you. the more you get out of a transcription, the more it will come out in your playing as time goes on.
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Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
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