Cannonball Lick

Cannonball Lick

Posted by on Jan 14, 2014 in Play Even Better | 0 comments

On Being A More Interesting Improviser Series – Lesson 6

“Cannonball Lick”

This lick is taken from Cannonball’s solo on Love for Sale, from the CD, Somethin’ Else – Cannonball Adderley (Blue Note BST 81595). The All Music Guide calls this CD, (which also features Miles Davis on it) “Absolutely essential”.


For the transcription I recommend getting this excellent book of transcribed solos: The Julian Cannonball Adderley Collection, compiled and edited by Tim Price (Hal Leonard HL006763244). Besides the little lick that I’m pointing out here, pay special attention to the articulations in this solo. Tim did a great job including this extremely important aspect of Cannonball’s sound.

Adderley Collection Tim Price

Bear in mind that it’s difficult for most mere mortals to play as fast and clean as the great Mr. Adderley. Don’t be discouraged. Play the lines as slow as you need to, but do the articulations. Articulations or the lack of articulations are one of the main reasons why many inexperienced improvisers just don’t sound as popping as the Jazz greats. Before I get to the lick and while I’m on the subject of articulation, let me say this: Saxophonists – please don’t only transcribe and copy other sax players. Trumpet and trombone players are usually better at articulation then we are. Listen to some Freddie Hubbard and Frank Rosolino and copy some of their articulations. Now you’re popping.

cannonball adderley Potrait

Well, without further ado, here’s the lick: It occurs in the 19th bar of Cannonball’s third chorus. These trills on high B, C, and C# are achieved with the right hand index finger. In the same way that you play your side Bb, put your index finger up to the top key of those three side keys. By the way, keep your thumb under the thumb rest where it’s supposed to be. You will play the high B and let it sound before you start the trill. Most people who try this for the first time do not trill fast enough and that’s why it doesn’t sound right. Trill as fast as you can and like everything else; if you need to, by all means start practicing it slowly. For alto players, this lick works great over the Blues in Bb concert. For tenor players, the same lick will work nicely over an F concert Blues.

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