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Home Blog St. Thomas Sonny Rollins Solo Transcription

St. Thomas Sonny Rollins Solo Transcription

This is one of the greatest solos of all time!  I’ve always loved this solo, but when I started transcribing it I noticed how perfect it is.  Each idea logically flows into the next, and the development of motives is genius.  The first lick in bar one, for instance, is developed for entire rest of the chorus and into the next, changing every time a little bit so that it is always fresh.  This is a great solo to learn, and every jazz musician should learn to play it.

Sonny Rollins solo transcription of St. Thomas pdf

Sonny Rollins St. Thomas-C Instruments

Sonny Rollins St. Thomas-Bb Instruments

This classic solo would be very difficult, if not impossible, to play on alto, trombone, or bass.  Many ideas are written down or up an octave to fit the range of the instruments to make it easier to play for someone who isn’t Bill Watrous, for instance.

Sonny Rollins St. Thomas-Eb Instruments

Sonny Rollins St. Thomas-Bass Clef

Camden Hughes
Camden is a working jazz pianist, multi-instrumentalist, and music educator currently living near Boise, ID. He teaches music at the Idaho Arts Charter School, and is the jazz adjunct professor at Northwest Nazarene University. Check out his music at


  1. These ideas would be much more efficiently digested were you to include chord symbols above them. Also, many of the syncopated rhythms are represented in a very convoluted way. For example, measures 6 and 15 are made to look way more complicated than they really are.

  2. I’m currently studying Sonny’s St Thomas solo and was looking for the concert transciption. Wow its here! Great website thanks ever so much. As Sonny said, on his 80th Birthday concert “Jazz the umbrella of all music” And at 80 his playing fantastic! Errol Thomas.

    • Thanks for your support, Errol! I’m glad you like the chart. I love this solo-Sonny is such a genius! He really DEVELOPS his ideas and motifs. It’s amazing to me how well he develops a solo-it’s perfect, like he sat down and composed it, only he improvised it! Sonny blows my mind.


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