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Bass Transcription by Lucas Pickford – Michael Brecker’s Solo on GIANT STEPS

This month I’ve chosen to feature the late tenor sax giant, Michael Brecker’s solo on the extremely demanding John Coltrane composition Giant Steps.

Why not feature a bass solo on this tune?  It’s been my experience that we bassists can better broaden not only our musical vocabulary by studying the solos of non bass players, but we can also vastly improve our technical facility by learning the solos of great piano, guitar, and sax players.  By studying the lines of people like Michael Brecker we are forced to play things that are outside of our comfort zone and as a result become more sophisticated improvisors than if we only studied other bass solos.  I’ve written Brecker’s solo in Concert Key (tenor sax solos are usually written a whole step down in Bb) so you can more easily analyze his choice of notes over the chord changes to Giant Steps.  Pay attention to Brecker’s use of Chord Tones (R,3rd,5th,7th) Tensions (9th, 11th, 13th including #9, b9, b13) and Chromatic passing notes.  Brecker always knows exactly where he is and where he is going, you should too.  The best bass players today can do it all.  They can lay down the fattest grooves and play amazing solos.  If you don’t believe me you obviously haven’t been watching YouTube.  The bar has been set very high by young players like Hadrien Feraud, Mike Pope, and many others.  By studying and learning solos like this one you’ll gain the melodic and technical chops you’ll need to keep up with the best players out there today.  Happy shedding.



  1. Raul Amador

    Raul Amador

    February 5, 2012 at 4:06 am

    Hey Lucas,

    Giant steps is a killer piece and this transcription is impressive to say the least!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. BassoRidiculoso

    February 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    While I appreciate this material, hand written?? Really?

    It is very difficult to read, and how long would it take to get this into a notation program, really? In some places this thing is barely legible and looks like a 3rd generation photocopy. No offense, it is great, but if you are going to make transcriptions publicly available, then put them in engraved or equivalent notation. The bar is a lot higher on the internet in 2012 than it was in 1999.

    This hand written file is great for you, but for the rest of us (meaning those who did not write it ourselves) it is not very effective or easy to read.

  3. Lucas

    Lucas "Pick" Pickford

    February 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Your point is taken, and I will try to do a better job in the future. That said, where there’s a will there’s away my friend and if you really want to take advantage of the information in that transcription, you will. You pay $0 for the information in Bass Musician and I make $0 from Bass Musician. So again, point taken, but with that, if you are really serious about learning from what took me 15 hours to transcribe, then you will, if you’re not, you won’t. I’ll do my part, will you do yours? We’ll see. Thanks for the feedback.


  4. michael jazz

    May 8, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Pick, You are one of the GREAT transcribers. Your transcriptions are flawless. Thank you for putting them out for everyone to explore. The hand written quality adds coolness to the MOJO.

  5. Paul

    October 22, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Just started transcribing this myself!
    Thanks for the notes, I’ll try not to look at em until Ive finished the whole solo and check what I’ve done!


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