Chet Baker’s solo on For Minors Only


This recording of For Minors Only by Jimmy Heath features Chet Baker improvising for a pretty extensive solo. When I first heard it I was amazed at the length of solo, given Chet’s endurance and tendency towards shorter solos towards the end of his career. That said, this solo clocks in at over 3 minutes, with 5 total choruses of the tune. Throughout the solo Chet explores minor ii-V7(b9)s in a variety of ways and even uses some super-imposition of keys (usually with the set of ii-Vs that moves chromatically in the 9th and 10th measures of the chord changes). This tune is a cooker, with a BPM over 240 the speed and clarity that Baker plays with is impressive. His ability to explore the full range of his horn in quick bursts so fluidly is something I am trying to do more of in my own playing.

This solo was a challenge for me as it is the longest single transcription I have done. I was able to get it down in about 5 hours of work, and definitely noticed a growth in my abilities to transcribe Chet’s playing. Many of his rhythmic concepts transfer from song to song making each transcription I do by him easier.

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