Tenor Madness - Chord Melody, Single-Note Solo & More

chord melody jazz guitar standards Feb 11, 2015

Composed by Sonny Rollins

Tune's History

Tenor Madness is one of the most popular blues tunes in jazz. In fact, if you've ever taken any jazz guitar courses in college, it's probably one of the very first tunes you learn.

Sonny Rollins wrote and recorded this tune for the first time in 1956 on the album with the same name.

The Nuts and Bolts

There is nothing too crazy about this tune. It is a simple jazz blues in Bb and yes, sax players often call it at jam sessions!

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The tune can be played at different tempos. Normally, players will take it at a medium-up tempo, but you can learn it slower and add your own chordal ornamentation.

As a rule of thumb with any tune, make sure you are ready to play it in a variety of tempos and settings. Also, be prepared to cover all the bases: comping, walking, melody and soloing.

Tenor Madness: Comping Ideas

Here are some very basic shapes that you can use to begin comping over Tenor Madness. As always, it’s highly recommended that you take these into the different sets of strings and all over the neck.

Tenor Madness: Chord Melody

This isn't a chord melody so much as it is the melody with little chord stabs here and there. This is a nice thing to practice over melodies and your own improvisations as well. Check out our lesson on Straight, No Chaser for a nice comping etude over a blues.

Tenor Madness: Single-Note Solo

Here's a quick chorus over the blues. The important thing to note is the use of the #9 to the 3rd of the chord. More simply, we are making use of going from the b3 to the 3 of the chord. This is common in blues language.

Tenor Madness: Backing Track

Here is a nice little backing track for you to practice some of the material covered here! We'll use the same track as Blue Monk since it's a blues as well.

Tenor Madness: Chord Reference Sheet

As always, we've included a chord reference sheet with some voicings using extensions for you to further your comping ability over this tune.

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Suggested Listening

-Sonny Rollins' Tenor Madness album recorded and released in 1956. This is the original recording and always a good reference.

-John Coltrane's Birth of a Genius collection released in 2011. Trane is totally burning on this version. Great licks for transcribing here!

-Toots Thielemans' Toots Thielemans Live album released in 1987. The legend himself. If you are unfamiliar with his work, this is a great introduction! What a player!




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