EPIC Michael League Lick!

We all know Michael League as the power house bassist behind Snarky Puppy, but did you know he also has some serious jazz chops? The kind of chops that make these kind of faces…

Oh yeah!

We’re going to take a look at a lick that I took from a jam with Cory Henry (that you can listen to here), the lick comes in at 06:55 and is a swinging chromatic line that makes the crowd explode, you can’t miss it! Let’s check it out.

Download the backing track from the video here!

So why is this lick so awesome? Let’s break it down.

1. Target notes on strong beats.

A G Lydian sound is implied in the opening bar by targeting the first four scale notes (G A B C#), these notes all land on the beat giving them more weight than the other notes in the bar. The backing track I’m jamming to in the video is over an A7 groove, the target notes would then be b7 (G) R (A) 9 (B) 3 (C#).

2. Approach Patterns

League uses a variety of approach patterns to arrive at his target notes, all of which come from the bebop tradition. Ascending and descending chromatic approach notes are used along with an enclosure.

3. Sequence

The repeating pattern in the first measure provides a solid foundation for the lick which helps engage the listener, the ascending pattern also builds excitement.

Learn more about Using Sequence In Your Improvisations here!

4. Harmonic Structure

The second measure outlines an E major chord before descending the E Mixolydian scale. (NOTE! The D natural in this run is pretty difficult to hear and could well be a D#, making it and E major scale but D natural seems a better fit!)

Using this technique League is implying a | I | VI7 | progression. At this point in the lick, Cory Henry (the awesome keys player) lays out giving League space to bring in whatever harmony he likes before resolving to the G in the final bar.

5. Long Double Time Line

This lick is played in double time, or all as semi quavers, rather than the expected quaver based lines commonly found in jazz. Playing in double time you burn through your ideas in no time at all! League glues together three separate ideas (chromatic approach notes, scales fragments, scale runs) to create one long line, as each idea comes to an end the excitement is built further by the delayed resolution as he runs seamlessly into the next phrase.

Download the backing track from the video here!

If you’ve enjoyed this lesson please consider supporting me over on my Patreon page!

Stay up to date with new lessons by signing up to my mailing list!

* indicates required

Being Cool And Playing The Blues – A Lesson From Miles.


Everybody knows that Miles was the coolest, even lying in bed wearing polka dot pyjamas and holding a bright red trumpet, he was still the coolest. In this lesson I’m going to try and help us all learn from the master and be that little bit cooler when we’re playing the blues.

Read more

Chick Corea – Spain Lesson. Awesome Pentatonic Lick.

Recently I’ve been looking further into the music of Chick Corea, he is an incredible improviser, composer and a great inspiration to me and many other musicians! If you haven’t heard much Chick Corea I’d recommend you check out the ‘History’ album available on Spotify for a quick intro!

In this lesson we’re going to look at a typical Chick lick, a few key features of it and there is also a free backing track at the end of this post for you to practice with! The lick in this lesson is taken from Chick’s classic tune, ‘Spain’, you can hear the lick at 06:36, check it out below:

Read more

Lover Man – Dizzy Solo

Hey bass fans! Back with another transcription for you, it’s only short but it is a double whammy – bass and trumpet transcription! I’ve transcribed the bridge that Dizzy blows over from his 1945 recording with Sarah Vaughan. Take a listen in the YouTube clip below!

Read more

What The World Needs Now

Welcome to another awesome transcription! This one is by Stanley Turrentine who is a guy I definitely don’t listen to as much as I should. The tune I picked is ‘What The World Needs Now’ written by Burt Bacharach. I play an arrangement of this song with my jazz trio, Minor Third so when I found this version I had to transcribe the solo! Take a listen to me playing over the solo in the video below and then read on to find out exactly what’s going on!

Read more

ii V I Walking Bass Lick Using Altered Dominant Harmony

After my week away I was pretty eager to get back into the Ray Brown transcription I have been working on. (Click here to see the progress so far!) Yesterday I got through another chorus and found this awesome little ii V I lick that I had to share with you guys!
Read more