Vincent Herring’s Solo On Folklore is nothing short of genius. Folklore is coming straight out of the bebop era, it is a rhythm changes tune in F (The transcription however is transposed for alto saxophone). Herring always plays with a lot of forward momentum which drives both the tune and his solo. Throughout the solo herring goes back and forth between the bebop era and the hard bop era through the use of his phrasing and vocabulary. Let’s dig in shall we?
On the break Herring simply outlines V-I-V resolves to I on the downbeat. Bar 5 starts a great iii-VI-ii-V7 that can easily be played in twelve keys and contains a lot of great conceptual information. Herring uses a basic tritone substitution over the B7 and then in the next bar uses an augmented dominant over the A7. In bar 10 Herring plays a quote from Sonny Rollins (I think?). Bar 26 uses the D major bebop scale and starts some motific development. Bar 31 there is a great Charlie Parker Quote that is commonly used.
Herring starts out a great motif to get him through the first two bars. Even the greatest of the greats repeat themselves (quite often too) Herring does so in bar 37. In bar 45 Herring plays another tritone sub over the B7 but this time very reminiscent of John Coltrane, and then repeats an earlier A7 idea. On the resolution Herring brings back the Bird quote as well as adding a blues lick to seal the deal. On the first ii-V of the bridge Herring plays two dominants over the D7. The first dominant is a tritone substitution which he blatantly outlines followed by an altered Dominant resolution. On the ii-V leading back to the last A Herring uses another altered Dominant, this solo is very organized and still very organic. On the last A the D major triad is repeatedly outlined and the Bird quote rears its head one more time.
This chorus starts out more bluesy. By bar 72 we are back into the bebop tradition. On the bridge there is a very simple diminished scale pattern that fits very appropriately over the dominant. On the end of the bridge Herring brings back a bebop motif that was used earlier to tie everything together. He keeps this motif going over through the last A and begins a tension and release experience. Herring simple takes the same idea and moves it down a half step. He moves it down one more time leading into bar 94 and reuses some old material to end the solo quite gracefully.
This solo is great because there is a lot of repetition yet the ideas remain fresh. I’ve found this solo opened up my playing a lot with just simple using a few of the simple melodic concepts in other contexts. Check it for yourself and see what it does for you.