Sunny, a song written by Bobby Hebb in 1963, is one of the most performed and recorded pop songs. It was written as a tribute to John F. Kennedy, but also to Bobby Hebb’s brother, who was killed during a mugging on the same day Kennedy was murdered (November 22, 1963).
Sunny was performed and recorded by hundreds of artists, including Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Shirley Bassey, …
The song also found its way into jazz repertoire, played by jazz greats such as Frank Sinatra (with Duke Ellington), Wes Montgomery, Ella Fitzgerald, Stanley Jordan, Jimmy Smith and Oscar Peterson (with Joe Pass and Ray Brown).
A famous Sunny version among jazz guitarists (besides Wes Montgomery’s) is Pat Martino’s recording on his album Live! (1972) because of the amazing solo that spans nearly 5 minutes.
In this lesson you’ll learn 5 licks transcribed from Pat’s solo.
Pat Martino Sunny Lick 1 [starts at 1:05 in the video]
In this first Pat Martino lick, you’ll see a number of quintessential Martino concepts throughout the phrase:
- The first concept to explore is the opening four notes of the line, A-B-G#-A. These four notes come from the A Melodic Minor scale, which is a sound Martino often explores over m7 chords in his solos.
- From there, you’ll see a Bb passing tone in the second beat of the Am7 bar, which is inserted into the Dorian scale used to outline that chord in the line.
- You’ll also see the G melodic minor scale used to outline the Gm7 chord, with the F# note highlighting that scale choice.
- Lastly, check out the Bb-C-D-F notes over C7, which is a 1235 pattern from the b7 of that chord.
This pattern is not only found in Martino’s playing, but is a favorite of John Coltrane, heard most famously in his solo on the jazz classic “Giant Steps.”
Pat Martino Sunny Lick 2 [starts at 2:53 in the video]
Apart from the bebop influence at the end of this Pat Martino lick, you’ll see a repeated melodic phrase repeated throughout the first five and a half bars of the line.
Repeated a short phrase such as this is not only a characteristic of Martino’s soloing concept, it’s a great way for you to increase the intensity level of your own solos.
Practice taking this melodic pattern, heard in the second half of the Am7 bar at the start of the line, and repeat it when soloing in your practice routine. From there, come up with your own melodic phrase to repeat in your solos.
The key is to use the repeated phrase to build energy, but know when to move on in your lines so that the lick doesn’t become overdone. This is a tough line to walk, but if you can do it then any repeated line such as this becomes a powerful tool in your improvisational tool belt.
Pat Martino Sunny Lick 3 [starts at 4:19 in the video]
Apart from studying single-notes when digging into Martino’s soloing concepts, you’ll also want to dig into his use of doublestops and chords in his soloing phrases.
You can see two and three-note shapes being used in this line to create energy throughout the phrase.
As well, there is a repeated melodic phrase used in this line, combining two of Martino’s favorite concepts for building energy in his improvised lines.
When working on double stops on your own, you can take them from arpeggios, minor pentatonic scales, or modes in your solos.
Pat Martino Sunny Lick 4 [starts at 4:48 in the video]
Here’s another repeated Pat Martino lick, though this time the line is not based on arpeggios or pentatonic scales, as you saw in the first two repeated lines in this lesson.
Instead, the line is highly chromatic, running six chromatic notes in a row during the repeated phrase, from F down to C.
When doing so, Martino starts the lick on the 2nd 16th note of the phrase, which also gives it a syncopated feel as you repeat the phrase over a series of measures, as you can hear in the lick below.
Pat Martino Sunny Lick 5 [starts at 5:18 in the video]
In this final Pat Martino lick, you’ll work on a mixture of arpeggios and scale notes as you outline the changes over the tune Sunny.
You’ll notice diatonic arpeggios being used in the following ways:
- F#m7b5 over Am7
- Gm7 over Gm7
- Edim Triad over c7
- Fmaj7 over Fmaj7