Transcribe Mo Better Blues

Mo Better Blues is a Spike Lee film from 1990. Mo Better Blues follows the life and musical career of fictional musician, ‘Bleek Gillian’ played by Denzel Washington.

The Theme from Mo Better Blues was written by Bill Lee, Spike Lee’s father and features on the ABRSM Grade 1 Jazz syllabus.

We are going to transcribe Branford Marsalis’ sax part from this recording and I have, as usual placed the transcription project into six, easy to digest ‘Clips’


Mo Better Blues – Introduction

What you should do today is watch this video, download the track and check the Dropbox folder for the Mo Better Blues ‘Clips’. You can then get started and in the next lesson I will guide you through Clips 1&2.

Mo Better Blues – Clips 1 – 4

There is a lot of repetition here – a great musical skill that we all should take more notice of. Developing ideas is a craft that all great composers and improvisors have, and here, with Branford, we have one of the great improvisors on the saxophone!

Mo Better Blues – Clip 5

Not only does Branford deploy ‘The Lick’, he keeps well within the Gb Pentatonic Scale, (concert key) – showing you just what you can do with five notes!


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, I'm a total Apple Geek, Cricket, Rugby, F1 and Football fan and I'm learning to listen opinions before giving my own!