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  1. #1

    Default Omnibook for Tenor Saxophone players?

    I have been playing a ton of saxophone solo transcriptions lately. I decided to work on some Charlie Parker solos from the Be-Bop bible, the Omnibook, on my tenor sax that I already played on the alto sax. There is a problem here. The Bb Omnibook has to go to quite a bit of left-handed pinky work in order to keep the integrity of the original key signature alive. Now, I don’t profess myself to be the first-call reed person in Denver, Colorado, but I have been in the shed a bit. And there is no way I can move my pinky on the low end keys at 200+ beats per minute. When my Tenor Sax students ask me about playing be-bop, playing Charlie Parker solos, I am advising them, and the world, to look to the experts of your chosen instrument! While it is important to cop some great Parker riffs for the tenor (he even played tenor once or twice!) get the tenor feel with these guys: Coltrane, Dexter Gordan, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt… I think that any be-bop phrasing needs on the tenor can be met by studying Sonny Stitt alone! You will find plenty of Charlie Parker inside of Sonny Stitt’s playing. Yes, I am a big fan.

    Here are two great websites to find transcriptions, both for Bb and Eb:

    This guy is an incredible player and an incredible transcriber!

    More solos-


    Some great Parker licks, in all keys!

    Tim Price

    PS. Tim Price, you are the man! Your exercises changed my playing!

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member
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    Dr G's Avatar
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    Feb 2003

    Default Re: Omnibook for Tenor Saxophone players?

    Hey Jason,

    Why not just play through the Omnibook on your tenor? And then, when you find licks worth learning, transpose them - to every key (ala Tim Price's exercises).

    As to playing transposed, pinky-workin', Parker licks: That's just wrong. That's not where those lines are supposed to reside.

    Funny that you should mention the Omnibook, 'cause I just got a new wind synth and I've been playing through the Omnibook at lunch time this week. For me, it's more about the shapes, the lines, the feel. If you really, really, want to play Parker live, in the correct key... Get an alto!

    P.S. I've been down that alto path too many times and, sometime past my half century birthday, finally came to grips with the fact that I don't like playing Eb instruments.
    Go for The Tone,


    "When you are doing well, don't forget to do good." - Sichan Siv.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Omnibook for Tenor Saxophone players?

    "I've been down that alto path too many times and, sometime past my half century birthday, finally came to grips with the fact that I don't like playing Eb instruments."
    That's funny, because when I'm playing tenor I'm often thinking how much easier this would be on alto!
    Horses for courses, eh?

  4. #4
    Distinguished SOTW Member Kelly Bucheger's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    Buffalo, New York

    Default Re: Omnibook for Tenor Saxophone players?

    Fie on the Bb Omnibook! (Except maybe for trumpet players...) As Dr G says, just play the Eb book on your tenor -- move your fingers the same way Bird did, feel how those lines lay on the horn. (And the ones that you really dig, you must transpose to all the keys. -- New York State Law)

    (If you *really* want to feel Bird playing these lines with you on your tenor, get the Amazing Slow Downer. It'll also pitch shift if you'd like -- you can take the original recordings, bring Bird down to tenor pitch, and have a blast...)
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  5. #5
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    Feb 2003
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Default Re: Omnibook for Tenor Saxophone players?

    Bird played those lines on alto, so they don't all 'fit' well on tenor in the same key. Best way to go is to play from the Eb book on your tenor, as Kelly & Dr G suggest. The idea is to find out what Bird was doing, not to play in any specific key.

    OTOH, if you are going to be playing some Bird tunes on tenor with an alto player who wants to play them in the original key, you'll have to at least learn the head arrangement in the original key, maybe making some register adjustments. Then play your own solo, maybe with a few Bird 'quotes.' I think you'd want to play your own solo anyway. No point in playing what Bird already played. No one can match what he did, so do your own thing.

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