A to Z of Bebop

£25.00Add to cart

At least 85%, possibly as high as 95% of Bebop tunes are ‘heads’ written over songs from musicals and shows of the 1930’s and 40’s.

Musicians such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie did this to avoid paying royalties in the recording studio for the songs they were using in the clubs.  Popular songs such as ‘How High The Moon’ (which turned into Parker’s Ornithology) and ‘I got Rhythm’ (Anthropology) were transformed into instrumental songs, often pushing the technical demands of the player.

This course will take you through around 25, (27 if I can find a Bebop tune starting with Z and X!) Of the most popular and or useful Bebop heads.

Each lesson will include a lead sheet for Bb & Eb sax, a short passage to transcribe and some recommended recordings.  Where I can, I’ll also include a backing track for you to practice along with.

Remember to check out the playlists below, and keep your EARS OPEN.


A to Z of Bebop – Letter D ‘Donna Lee’

Donna Lee is credited to Charlie Parker, (although Miles Davis claimed it in his autobiography as one of his own, which, may or may not be true).  Donna Lee, like most Bebop heads is built over the chord changes to a popular standard of the day, this time (Back Home) in Indiana.

A to Z of Bebop – Letter F ‘Four’

Whilst it’s not strictly a ‘Bebop’ tune, Four, (possibly composed by Miles Davis in 1954, although authorship is disputed) is still a challenge and contains some great jazz language.

A to Z of Bebop – Letter G ‘Groovin’ High’

Groovin’ High is a 1945 composition by trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.

The song is a complex musical arrangement based on the chord structure of the 1920 standard originally recorded by Paul Whiteman, “Whispering”

A to Z of Bebop – Your Responses

It’s the end of the A to Z of Bebop course and you need to send me a recording of you playing it so that I can put it at the end of the course.


Dan Forshaw

I'm passionate about creating inspirational experiences through music and other arts. A life changing experience under the influence of the music of John Coltrane lead to study in New York and London. My thesis was on the Theology of John Coltrane as expressed through A Love Supreme. I perform across Europe with various jazz groups and teach through my innovative website, www.cambridgesaxophone.com. I'm a total Apple Geek, Cricket, Rugby, F1 and Football fan and I'm learning to listen opinions before giving my own!