String Theory: A Harmonically Intriguing, Saxophone-Like Solo Played Over a Familiar Rock Ballad Chord Progression

The following content is related to the October 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

In the February 2013 issue, I mentioned that the chord progression to the jazz standard “Autumn Leaves” is structurally identical to that used in “Still Got the Blues (For You)” and the instrumental “Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile),” two classic rock guitar ballads penned by the great Gary Moore and Carlos Santana, respectively.

Following on the heels of last month’s tribute to jazz sax legend Michael Brecker, I got to thinking, What if Brecker took a sax solo on this same chord progression, played over Santana’s slow 4/4 groove and in Moore’s guitar-friendly key of A minor? I ended up composing a tasty little original solo that I titled “Americana.” (“Europa,” incidentally, was covered in the mid-Seventies by another fine tenor saxophonist, Gato Barbieri, and that arrangement of the tune has become a favorite showcase piece for jazz saxophonists.)

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Over the past 30 years, Jimmy Brown has built a reputation as one of the world's finest music educators, through his work as a transcriber and Senior Music Editor for Guitar World magazine and Lessons Editor for its sister publication, Guitar Player. In addition to these roles, Jimmy is also a busy working musician, performing regularly in the greater New York City area. Jimmy earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Performance and Music Management from William Paterson University in 1989. He is also an experienced private guitar teacher and an accomplished writer.