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LJS 30: 5 Jazz Solos You Should Learn and Why

Welcome to episode 30 of the LJS Podcast where today we are talking about 5 jazz solos you should learn and why. Learning jazz solos by ear is a practice that all jazz musicians should be doing and is incredibly important for becoming a better jazz musician. If you are having trouble finding good solos to learn, these are definitely some to consider. Listen in!

Listen to episode 30

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In this episode

1. Miles Davis’ solo on Freddie Freeloader.

Solo starts at 2:12

2. John Coltrane’s solo on My Shining Hour

Solo starts at 0:40

3. Hank Mobley’s solo on Someday My Prince Will Come

Solo starts at 3:10

4. Sonny Rollins’ solo on St. Thomas

Solo starts at 0:55

5. Dexter Gordon’s solo on Apple Jump

Solo starts at 0:58

What solos do you suggest to learn? Leave us a comment below.

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. Kind of Blue has always been one of my favorite (jazz) records and for some reason after hearing this podcast, I really set out to learn Miles' solo in Freddie Freeloader. I've got a decent ear, but i've never picked out a jazz solo like this before. I figured a basic blues tune would be a great start. It was an incredibly rewarding and challenging process, not unlike figuring out a jigsaw or crossword puzzle – the more you figure out, the more easy it becomes to keep going. 6 months, a year, or two years ago – i never thought i'd ever be capable of picking out an entire solo by ear, but here i am. I'm gonna take a stab at some more, from the list and maybe from Kind of Blue. What kills me though is this: being able to stop and rewind a youtube video or mp3 is so easy, if i had to pick it out any other way, it would have taken considerably longer and been way more difficult. can you imagine picking up the needle over and over and over again on a record? jeeeeez. this podcast rules, by the way, kudos.

  2. In an effort to follow Brent's advice to RELAX and have FUN while learning Jazz I took a major short cut this evening and found a note for note transcription of Mile's solo Freddie Freeloader. I could have manually done this myself but I was anxious to sit and LISTEN and work out the notes on my own. If I get stuck I can read the music. I don't know if this is a cheap shortcut but my thoughts are that if I can play this solo within a week's time … who cares how I learned it, right? Brent, I really appreciated the 32nd podcast with the advice. I needed to hear that. I"m coming to Jazz guitar from a long Classical guitar background. It feels nice to just play guitar and to know that it's okay to sound different. By the way, enjoying your Jazz Etudes ebook. Great stuff and the recordings with space to fill in with improv …. gosh … life is good!


  3. I think there's a lot of mileage in learning from a player you really admire on a different instrument to your own. I play harmonica, so I've been listening to Chet Baker, especially his trumpet solo on "I Fall In Love Too Easily" which is absolutely heart-rending.

  4. Loving the podcast, and really enjoying the 30 days improv course. 🙂

    Question about transcribing: Do you write down the transcription as you're learning it, or do you memorize it as you go? I'm asking because I can write down what I hear pretty quickly, but it's the memorization that takes time.

    I guess the question is if there's any value in writing the solo down at all, or do you just memorize it by ear for the entire solo? Is it worth writing it down first and then memorizing from the written transcription?



  5. Cool episode as always!
    My all time favorite solos are Cannonball's on Autumn Leaves(Something Else album) and Lee Morgan's on Moanin'. Bird's solo on Just Friends and All The Things(youtube version, i don't know what record that from).

  6. Great topic and excellent podcast. Among my favorites are Hank Mobley on "Remember" on the SOUL STATION album, Stan Getz – "Yesterdays" from VOYAGE, and Clifford Brown on "Pent Up House" – Sonny Rollins +4. I work on transcribing…it's pretty slow going, but worth it.


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