• Classic Gene Ammons solo transcriptions

    We have some very exciting new arrivals on for the first time on the website, transcriptions of Gene Ammons solos are available. These all-time classic solos come from three of the tenor sax giant’s original songs, all of them blues. Two of them come from his 1960 album “Boss Tenor”: Blue Ammons, a cooking medium swinger, and the deep slow blues Hittin’ The Jug. The third song is Jim Dog, a medium jump blues that Gene recorded at two sessions in 1953 and 1958. Jim Dog has three of his solos—from the 1953 recording and both the master and alternate takes of the 1958 recording—available together in one publication. This is a fascinating opportunity to compare and contrast his solos on different versions of the same song. These transcriptions have detailed articulation and dynamic markings to really give an in-depth look at Gene Ammons’ signature style. Lead sheets are also available for these songs. The 1953 version of Jim Dog also has a condensed score that shows the 4-horn voicings and all important differences from the 1958 recording, which is the source of the lead sheet.

    We also have several new songs from other tenor sax masters. New to are Charlie Rouse and Clifford Jordan. Two songs by Charlie Rouse are available: Upptankt, a “rhythm changes” head from his first album as a leader, and Bird’s Nest, a blues head from his last album. Clifford Jordan’s delicate yet solemn gem of a song, Down Through The Years, is now here as well. This one is also part of our new Guitar Corner; check out the recordings featuring Marvin Sewell and Hugo Lippi, as well as our Guitar Chord Melody Arrangement.

    Finally, we now have all six of Lucky Thompson’s compositions from one of his best-known albums, “Lucky Strikes.” These songs make a great set together, as they cover a wide range of different tempos and moods: uptempo “rhythm changes” (Fly With The Wind), medium up 3/4 swing (Mid-Nite Oil), laid-back medium swing (Reminiscent), uptempo Latin (Mumba Neua), ballad (I Forgot To Remember), and medium swing stop-time blues (Prey-Loot). Enjoy! Check out the LUCKY STRIKES set (below New Arrivals on the Home page).

  • More great tenor saxophonists, plus . .

    We've got more fun things for you to play starting with additions from two of our Tenor Sax masters. We're starting to explore Hank Mobley's "Curtain Call" album with On The Bright Side, The Mobe, and Curtain Call. From Gene Ammons we're adding two of my favorites - Ger-ru, and Geru's Blues. Be sure to also check out the video of five more classic Tenor Saxophonists (Coleman Hawkins, Don Byas, Barney Wilen, Guy Lafitte, and Stan Getz—positioned as you see them on the video)—playing our last selection for today, the classic contrafact by Tadd Dameron & Fats Navarro: Ice Freezes Red.
    -- Don Sickler

  • New Hank Mobley titles

    Take a listen to two newly-arrived compositions by tenor sax great Hank Mobley: An Aperitif from Hank's "Third Season" album with parts for the three-horn arrangement, and On The Bright Side from "Curtain Call," with trumpeter Kenny Dorham's transcribed solo.

  • The Van Gelder Organ livestream May 15

    Van Gelder Studio, the legendary recording studio home to hundreds of jazz icons from John Coltrane to Herbie Hancock, announced the launch of ‘Live from Van Gelder Studio’ a new virtual music series that will stream live from

    The series is designed to pay homage to the unmatched legacy of Rudy Van Gelder, who launched his recording career from his parent’s living room in Hackensack, NJ recording the most significant jazz artists of the day including Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, to name a few. Van Gelder dreamed, planned and built his renowned Englewood Cliffs, NJ, studio from scratch, innovating at every turn. That studio opened in 1959 and is still actively recording today.

    Sounds captured in the studio can be heard every moment of every day in any corner of the globe. A working piece of art in acoustics, improvisation and physical beauty, Van Gelder Studio is a historic landmark. From its architectural roots to the artists that have recorded under its roof, the space is a stunning Mid-Century Modern trove of treasures. Its beautiful cathedral-like ceiling of Pacific Northwest timber has rarely been seen outside the circle of important artists who have recorded there which includes Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, J.J. Johnson, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Hank Mobley and many more jazz greats.

    The series debuted on Saturday, November 14th, 2020 featuring an all-star quartet in tribute to jazz great Hank Mobley whose most beloved recordings turn 60 that year. Performers include Ron Carter, bass; Joe Lovano, tenor saxophone; Isaiah J. Thompson, piano; and Kenny Washington, drums.

    The second Live from Van Gelder Studio will take place on May 15th at 9PM EDT with live re-streams on May 16th at 8:00 pm JST for Asian markets and 8:00 pm CEST for European markets. All events will stream directly from Tickets can be purchased from the site starting at $15.

    The second show will feature legendary jazz organist, Joey DeFrancesco. Since being discovered by Miles Davis as a teenager, DeFrancesco has been an important force in the industry for over 30 years, particularly known for his role in the revival of the Hammond B-3 organ. He has been featured on recordings alongside Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Henry Mancini, David Sanborn and John McLaughlin. He toured with Davis when he was only 17 years old and has released over 30 albums, nine of which were recorded at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio.

    Performing alongside DeFrancesco will be Billy Hart on drums and Peter Bernstein on guitar. Hart, who has graced the stage for over 60 years, has performed with Miles Davis, Otis Reding, Sam and Dave, Shirley Horn, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Stan Getz. Bernstein has deep experience in organ-settings with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Melvin Rhyne and Larry Goldings.

    Special guest, tenor saxophonist Houston Person, recorded almost 50 albums at the studio dating back to 1966. Many of those with organists including Don Patterson, Richard "Groove" Holmes and Johnny "Hammond" Smith.

    "We're very excited to do a show featuring the Van Gelder Studio Hammond organ. So many important albums were recorded on that very instrument. I've revisited many of those recordings in putting the show together and can't wait to bring this set to a worldwide audience," said producer and musical director, Don Sickler.

    The shows will continue to be streamed on a state-of-the-art platform that was created with Amazon technologies. The platform is engineered to accurately broadcast the unmistakable Van Gelder Studio sound live and worldwide.

    ‘Live from Van Gelder Studio’ is created and produced by a team of jazz industry veterans including:

    -- Don Sickler, producer of five Grammy award-winning albums, produced many Van Gelder-recorded artists including Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, Larry Coryell and Cindy Blackman Santana.
    -- Phil Coady, producer of John Coltrane's "Ultimate Blue Train" where he and Van Gelder first connected, as well as projects with NEA Jazz Masters & NBA athletes.
    -- Sam Kaufman, who as a talent agent represented Van Gelder-recorded artists including Ray Charles, Pharoah Sanders, and Jason Moran.
    -- Maureen Sickler, audio engineer, distinguished associate and long-time assistant engineer for Van Gelder, who now carries on the traditions forged in their 30+ year collaboration.

  • New songs for 2021: Cecil McBee

    I've known Cecil McBee for a long time, and I've always greatly admired his bass playing. In the past, Cecil was the bass player on several albums that are important to me, that I arranged and produced: Charlie Rouse's "Social Call" and Freddie Hubbard & Woody Shaw's "Double Take."

    At that time, I didn't know that composing music was Cecil's real passion. If fact, it wasn't until we had a lengthy discussion in the parking lot of the Van Gelder Recording Studio, with our masks on during covid times, waiting for the other musicians to arrive, that I discovered his devotion to composing. I immediately started checking out his music and realized that he is a major composer.

    Cecil’s compositions are extremely diverse, ranging from lyrical, romantic ballads to advanced avant-garde workouts. We’re kicking things off with three of his most accessible and most recorded songs. "D" Bass-ic Blues is just what the title says: a bass-driven blues head in D minor, which appears on recordings by pianists John Hicks, Stanley Cowell, and Larry Willis. Close To You Alone is a tender ballad that’s been recorded in a variety of settings and arrangements; we have bass transcriptions of Cecil from several versions. The second ballad, the wistful Song Of Her, is Cecil’s classic early composition, which he first recorded with saxophonist Charles Lloyd in 1966 on Lloyd's important "Forest Flower" album.

    Some of his early bass recordings already on jazzleadsheets find him in the rhythm section between Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams (Thandiwa - Grachan Moncur III) and on Dee Blues and Promise (Charles McPherson).

    Cecil’s wife, singer Verena McBee, is also a talented lyricist and has written lyrics to many of Cecil's songs. Just Close To You Alone and Thoughts Of Her are her lyric versions of Close To You Alone and Song Of Her, respectively.

    Enjoy learning and playing music by Cecil McBee. There's more to come!

    Don Sickler

  • Hank Mobley's 90th livestreamed from Van Gelder's

    Celebrate Hank Mobley's 90th birthday year with us while we re-explore the 60th anniversary of his classic recordings "Soul Station," "Roll Call" and more, in the studio where they were created.

    At 9pm on Saturday, November 14, come inside the legendary Van Gelder studio. For the first time, you can hear and see the musicians in that magnificent room, playing into Rudy's microphones, their sounds being captured by his console. Experience being in that studio as the musicians explore Hank Mobley's music.

    Enjoy the artistry of our "Soul Station" quartet: Ron Carter, Joe Lovano, Isaiah J Thompson and Kenny Washington.
    Don Sickler is the host of the evening.

    The link is:

  • New Song & Album from Charles McPherson

    September 25, 2020, was the release date of Charles McPherson’s ambitious new album, “Jazz Dance Suites.” Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio in December 2019, this album is dedicated to his daughter Camille McPherson, who is a dancer with the San Diego Ballet. Charles has written three suites for the San Diego Ballet, and this album contains two of them and an excerpt of the third. One title from the album is now available on The Gospel Truth is the final movement of Charles’ most recent suite, “Song Of Songs.” It’s a joyous, gospel-infused song with swinging rhythm section figures throughout the head. In composing for dance, Charles has put special emphasis on articulation and phrasing, with detailed parts for the rhythm section. More movements from “Jazz Dance Suites” are coming to very soon, so stay tuned!

  • Two new Minus You ballads

    Two beautiful ballads are now available on in Minus You melody formats. This is your chance to work on your own personal melodic interpretation in a ballad setting. From baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne we have Full Moonlight And Stars Made Of Silver, a song just as romantic as its title implies. Cecil originally recorded it on one of his last albums. Our Minus Melody track is only one chorus long—a great opportunity to practice embellishing and improvising around the melody, but in a different key from Cecil's. Don Sickler’s Lost In You is a duo recording with piano legend Ray Bryant. This is our first duo Minus You track; it’s a chorus and a half in length, with space to solo on the bridge after the in head. Recordings, as usual, by Rudy Van Gelder.

  • Some July fireworks from!

    We’re excited to announce that four songs by saxophonist Wardell Gray are now available on jazzleadsheets. Though often overlooked due to his sadly too brief career, Wardell was one of the most important musicians of the original bebop scene. He was among the first to develop an original voice on the tenor sax in the bebop style, and he became a mentor to many younger musicians including trumpeter Art Farmer.

    Dell’s Bells and One For Prez come from Wardell’s first recording as a leader. Both are exciting, intricate, unpredictable bebop heads based on standards - Dell’s Bells uses the changes of What Is This Thing Called Love?, and One For Prez is over How High The Moon. Also available is Southside, another uptempo bebop swinger with its own unique changes. Finally, for a much simpler example of Wardell’s elegant, swinging style, check out his riff blues head Grayhound. Our lead sheets also detail his stylististic scoops and falls.The intros of all these songs from the recordings are notated in our lead sheets.

    We also have one more Freddie Redd song available now. Nica Steps Out (written for his friend Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter) is a lively “rhythm changes” head with a pedal point intro, originally recorded on his album “San Francisco Suite.”

  • New Minus You, Ray Starling, and more new arrivals

    Just in time for Father’s Day, we have a message from Justin RobinsonLove Thy Father is a ballad with colorful harmonies, which Justin recorded both in 1997 and 2017.

    We have more new titles up on Two of them have exclusive “Further Explorations” audio available in Minus You format. The first of these is May Moon, a dreamy, lyrical 3/4 song by pianist/vocalist Dena DeRoseLost In You is a warm, impassioned ballad by’s Don Sickler. This song is available in a unique duo Minus You setting accompanied only by piano. Now’s your chance to work on your ballad playing with legendary pianist Ray Bryant!

    We’re welcoming another new composer to Ray Starling was a trumpeter, mellophonist, and pianist who played in several big bands in the ‘60s. He wrote Mellophobia and Four Of A Kind to feature the mellophone section of Stan Kenton’s big band, which he both played in and wrote for in 1961-62. Our lead sheets for these songs show the intros, codas, and a few countermelodies from the big band arrangements; both songs certainly work just as well in a small group setting.

    Also new to are two easy, laid-back blues heads in a classic hard bop style. Nice ’N Greasy is a funky riff head by Adriano Acea, originally recorded by trumpeter Lou Donaldson. The JAMFs Are Coming is a Johnny Griffin classic; Johnny recorded it many times from the ‘60s to his very last album in 2008. Not a blues but in a similar vein, The One Before This is one of Gene Ammons’ best-known compositions. We have condensed scores and horn parts for the two-horn arrangement from the classic Ammons/Sonny Stitt album “Boss Tenors,” as well as a three-horn arrangement recorded in 1995 by organist Jimmy Smith.

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