Bach and the Intervallic Sequences of Paul Desmond Part 3

I thought I would break from the format a bit this week for the last installment of this Paul Desmond series, and give you a complete two chorus transcription of Paul’s brilliant playing on “Wintersong” from 1957’s Blues in Time, with Gerry Mulligan. I won’t break this down today, as the transcription ate up my blogging time for the week, but I think that this solo captures everything discussed in Parts One and Two of this series and is an amazing example of motivic continuity. One can find numerous sequences, along with a couple of cleverly placed quotes, in this solo based on “These Foolish Things.” Once I clean it up a bit I will post a concert version as well. Here is the recording:



And here is the transcription, starting at 1:24(click to get full pdf):


I also highly recommend checking out Doug Ramsey’s book on Desmond, Take Five, which according to this recent post on his blog, is available now as an ebook and out of print otherwise. It includes a few transcriptions and tons of photos. Thanks to Jeremy Udden, who first recommended it to me a few years back.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts, there is plenty more to come. Please do subscribe to this blog, and my mailing list for more updates regarding Bach Shapes, my new book for saxophone. Thanks!


Bach Shapes Book(PRINT): Diatonic Sequences from the Music of JS Bach

(1 customer review)


Diatonic Sequences derived from the music of J. S. Bach, for saxophone. Includes 4 jazz etudes, an explanatory introduction and the Shapes transposed into all keys. More information at

55 in stock (can be backordered)



The first Bach Shapes book of sequences derived from J.S. Bach, for saxophone and all treble clef instruments.

“Jazz musicians have naturally gravitated towards the music of JS Bach for years, so a book like this one has been a long time coming. Jon has done a wonderful job capturing various snapshots of Bach’s seemingly infinite musical language, organizing these shapes in a setting that could be very useful to improvisers. A truly interesting and enjoyable book that will hopefully lead to more volumes in the future.”

Miguel Zenon, International Touring Artist

A unique approach to scale/interval practice, Bach Shapes is the music of J.S. Bach distilled to its basic elements: beautiful melodic shapes. These can be studied as technical exercises, or used as building blocks for jazz improvisation. Suitable for any instrument and currently being used by guitarists, oboists, clarinetists and more. The studies are drawn from Bach’s violin, cello, flute and keyboard music and ordered by difficulty, transposed into all keys. Learn to stretch your range and play intervals more evenly with these musical studies. At the end are four etudes based on jazz standards. The cover and interior has been beautifully designed by Chrissy Kurpeski.

“I really dig this book, there are so many musical ideas that one can find in Bach’s music. It’s about time someone like Jon comes along to organize it to be practiced by jazz musicians. It’s good both for the chops, vocabulary and knowledge of harmony. You really have to know what you’re doing when you utilize his devices.”
Dmitry Baevsky, NYC Saxophonist

“This book is great for practicing and learning really nice sounding passages from Bach in a more focused manner. All passages are transposed as well so you can focus on a particular key that needs work. The engraving is very clear and spacing very well done, its been on my music stand for a while now and has really been fun!”
–Andrew Hadro, NYC Freelance Saxophonist


More info on

Check out the Bach Shapes Etudes now for sale too!

Bach Shapes Etudes ebook up for Preorder Now!

Additional information

Weight .8 lbs
Dimensions 9 × 12 × 2 in

1 review for Bach Shapes Book(PRINT): Diatonic Sequences from the Music of JS Bach

  1. Everette Macy Colquette

    LOVE this book. I actually use it for flute. I start every practice by turning on a drone of whatever note I’ll start with, then I run through the exercises. For fun, I practice different modes with the exercises 🙂 Great book for a beginner like me that has significantly improved my expression, my tone, and my speed.

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Bach Shapes Press Release

Below is the press release for my new book, Bach Shapes, out May 25.






May 12, 2017 New York, NY – Bach Shapes, a new method book for saxophone that utilizes baroque melodies for interval practice and jazz improvisation, will be released worldwide on May 25, 2017. The book was written by Jon De Lucia, designed by Chrissy Kurpeski, and published by Musaeum Clausum Press.

“My idea was to distill some of the iconic scale sequences in Bach’s music into patterns that one could work through all keys, and possible apply to improvisation, though the book is useful for musicians of all styles of music,” says author of Bach Shapes, Brooklyn-based saxophonist Jon De Lucia. “The etudes in the back are written over standard jazz changes to see how one could use the ‘Shapes’ that way if desired.”

Numerous arrangements of Bach’s music are currently available for saxophone and other woodwinds, but this is the first to work with this material in this manner. The foreword to the book mentions the long history of integrating jazz with Bach’s music. Jazz luminaries John Lewis, Dave Brubeck and Jacques Loussier have all released albums of Bach’s music or other fugue inspired material. De Lucia’s project, the Luce Trio, performs baroque repertoire combined with jazz improvisation on their debut release, Pieces, Vol. 1, and appeared live at the Greene Space in Tribeca as part of WQXR’s Bach 360 Festival in 2013.

The book features a repository of Bach’s more well known sequences, taken from the Violin Partitas, Flute Sonatas, Inventions, and Cello Suites. Large interval leaps, often very difficult on the saxophone, are emphasized and the introductory material explains different ways to practice this. The patterns are then organized in order of difficulty and transposed to all keys, followed by 4 etudes. While it is an especially good workout for all saxophones, the book could be practiced on any instrument, and the author finds it very useful for flute and clarinet as well.

“The book is only the beginning. I will be recording audio and video materials to supplement the book, explaining various ways to practice the material,” continues De Lucia. “I also hope to have an etude writing contest, and to continue collecting ‘shapes’ for a Volume 2. For now, I hope that this will be the kind of book people will leave out on their stand so they can flip open a page and find a challenge to work through for a few minutes a day.”

Bach Shapes has already been praised by broadway and jazz musicians in New York City, including Andrew Sterman, Sam Sadigursky, Walt Weiskopf, and Dmitry Baevsky along with woodwind faculty at Berklee College of Music, City College of New York, and New England Conservatory.

The book is officially out on May 25th, 2017 with pre-orders being taken at, while it will also be available on and at Jamey Aebersold’s online store, Blog updates regarding the book will be regularly posted at De Lucia’s Saxophone Octet will perform a baroque-themed concert on May 29th at Sir D’s Lounge in Brooklyn and November 12th at St. John’s Lutheran in Greenwich Village to celebrate the release of the book. More information at

Bach Shapes 

by Jon De Lucia
Release Date: May 25, 2017
Imprint: Musaeum Clausum Press
Soft Cover, Perfect Bound
Pages: 76
Retail Price: $18.95
ISBN: 978-0-692-84477-9

Press Contact: Jon De Lucia,

About the Author

Jon De Lucia is a woodwind performer based in Brooklyn, NY. He has released three albums as a leader, most recently As The River Sings on Fresh Sound New Talent in 2017. He holds an MA in Jazz Studies from the City College of New York and has studied with Lee Konitz, Andrew Sterman, Bill Pierce, George Garzone, Greg Osby, Joe Lovano and many more. His interest in the music of the baroque led to the forming of the Luce Trio, a new take on early music for saxophone, electric guitar and bass. This group has performed on WQXR’s Bach 360 and released Pieces, Vol. 1 on Musaeum Clausum Recordings. He can be found regularly performing in the NYC area with such musicians as Bill Crow, Michael Kanan, Putter Smith, Billy Mintz, Chris Tordini and more.

Counterpoint and Jazz

I’ve been thinking a lot about counterpoint and its application in jazz lately. In fact I’ve become obsessed with how some of the classic arrangers and players thought about counterpoint and used it in their music.

Obviously the concept is not new and it has informed a large part of my musical taste over the years, but recently, while studying 16th Century Counterpoint at City College this past fall some points have hit home. Researching Jimmy Giuffre for a school project I read about how he and many west coast jazz composers, including Shorty Rogers, studied with composer/mystic Wesley La Violette, who emphasized counterpoint in his teaching. Giuffre claimed to incorporate contrapuntal thinking into all of his work after that point, thinking of each instrument’s individual line, even down to notating specific drum parts with a melodic sensibility. The album Tangents in Jazz(1956) is a nice example of his writing for small group. Condensed arrangements for most of the tunes on this album were published in the 1960’s and have been uploaded on Scribd (Giuffre Sketch-orks).

Of course Gerry Mulligan’s work is a great example of polyphonic jazz, and you can hear him talk about it briefly in this interview:

Gerry Mulligan Interview (text)
Gerry Mulligan Interview (audio)

Today I read through arranger Bill Russo’s chapter on counterpoint in Jazz Composition and Orchestration. Russo wrote for Stan Kenton, and was a student of classical composition. He was a forerunner of the Third Stream movement. This book includes great straightforward exercises on how to use counterpoint in a jazz setting, without adhering to strict Fuxian species rules. Happily, the whole chapter is on Google Books here:

Bill Russo’s Jazz Composition and Orchestration

Russo also cites Mulligan, Giuffre, John Lewis and George Russell as the finest examples of contrapuntal jazz writing at the time and credits the books of Hindemith as inspiration for his writings on the subject. Hindemith’s book on two part writing is a great resource, though I’ve only worked through some of it and can’t fully evaluate it.

Speaking of Kenton arrangers, Bill Holman is a great example of someone who puts the line first. Listen to the first track of his first album as a leader. It’s a good example of how counterpoint permeates much of the west coast jazz sensibility.

The more I think about it, this is the way I want to look at music, and jazz in particular. My favorite players: Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Jimmy Giuffre, Gerry Mulligan, Paul Desmond, Bill Crow, Jim Hall, Ted Brown and more all emphasize the line and contrapuntal concepts. I guess it’s also no surprise that I have a project that specifically plays the music of the polyphonic golden age in the Luce Trio. I am also working away at my book of Bach melodic structures for saxophone. The current of counterpoint running through music becomes clearer to me as time goes on and I hope to dig deeper this year with more study and a potential big band arranging project on the horizon. I hope some of these materials are helpful, I encourage all jazz players to think a bit more about counterpoint in their playing and writing.