• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

Rock and Funk Licks


First off, I don't know if you play a lick or a riff on sax

Either way I want to improve my repertoir of 'phrases', let's call them. This is to improvise over rock/ funk rhythms

I'd like to know what resources others draw on

I think already know what should be doing: practice phrases in all keys using e.g Taming the Saxophone and other useful tomes, listen to and repeat what other players do. I need a bit of motivation to actually do these things (and to look properly through my pile of music instruction books)

Is there a particular resource you like? Does YouTube or other video repository have a goldmine I can open?



Well-Known Member
For many years ago I bought "100 Ultimate Blues Riffs" by Andrew D. Gordon. Charts and MP3's. Some good Funk and Rock Riffs. A riff/lick for me is "I'm A Man", "Fannie Mae", "You Never Can Tell" ......
When I started playing in 1956 we listened to the sax players who were playing solos on the Top 40 hits in R&R and R&B, both vocal hits and instrumental hits. In addition a lot of the blues sax players as well as the Vegas show bands (Prima for example featuring Sam Butera). We would play the 45rpm's and LP's over and over to learn as many of the solos (or short parts) as possible.

A lot of the "licks" in the solos could then be used in our ad lib work. As years went by we continued to listen to the key players of various styles including jazz, funk, big band and "road house honkers" as they are sometimes called.

Today we have youtube which is excellent however, since Clarence is no longer with us I have not heard any real gutsy, in your face, roof raising good blasting sax solos. There are still a few players (Sax Gordon) who are kicking the hell of solos but not (that I have heard) on recent Top 40 charts. Of course my idea of a roof raising solo might be different from others and I am partial to the ones that really have energy and excite the crowd.

At any rate, I always suggest for starters that you take a trip down history lane to the 50's then go forward and listen to as many of the classic roof raising players as possible.

I have a list of Top 40 hits from 1955-2015 that you might like to check out. Each hit features a sax solo. Many different styles. Some are laid back and easy going and some are pushing back the walls. If you hear a player that you really like then you can use Youtube to find more of his or her recordings.

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Burnley bb9 9dn
Listen to Jr Walker, BB King, Bix Beiderbecke, Johnny Hodges, Gerry Mulligan, Nile Rodgers, Hendrix, Wayne Shorter, Buddy Rich, Duke Ellington, Clapton, Lenny Kravitz, Bob Marley, AC/DC, Garbage, The Dubliners, Nirvana, Nickelback, Spyra Gyra, Mezzaforte, Miles Davis, Lois Armstrong, Louis Jordan, Louis Prima. Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Joshua Redman, Ann Peebles, Al Green, Billie Holliday, Artie Shaw, Erskine Hawkins, Glen Miller, Average White Band, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Bill Haley.......

off the top of my head, Oh and you'll find some interesting phrasing in Gregorian Chant, Bach, Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Philip Glass, Flamenco Guitar and Gypsy jazz.