#97 Learn The Sax Riff From "The Dude" by Quincy Jones

sax hall of fame Nov 22, 2020

In this week's free online saxophone lesson you'll be learning the funkiest sax riff I've ever heard - Quincy Jones' The Dude, which features the killer tenor sax of LA session legend Ernie Watts. The song was originally released on Quincy's 1981 album "The Dude" and features a whole host of famous session musicians. This one should be quite manageable if you're a beginner on sax, although the high F# might be a bit high on tenor! 

Be sure to pick up your free PDF sheet music transcription for The Dude here, which has got the sax hook written out for alto AND tenor. Here are the Q&A topics covered in this lesson, with video time stamps (min:sec). Clicking on the time stamp will take you straight to that portion of the video on YouTube (in a separate tab). Full Time stamps for the video and a complete transcript are available at the bottom of the blog.


Who plays the sax solo on The Dude by Quincy Jones? (0:49)

  • the sax solo on The Dude is played by American tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts
  • Ernie Watts is one of the most famous LA session players of his generation
  • Ernie Watts is on countless famous records and plays on the theme for Cagney and Lacey


Is it hard to play the sax hook on The Dude? (3:00)

  • the sax hook on Who Can It Be Now is quite easy to play if you're a beginner on alto sax
  • it's a bit harder on tenor sax as it goes up to a high F#


What are the notes for the sax hook on The Dude by Quincy Jones? (3:00)

For full fingerings, get your free PDF sheet music transcription for The Dude here. These are the notes for each phrase.


  • phrase 1 - tenor (3:11): A*  A*  A*  A*  F#*  E*  A*  B*  C#*
  • phrase 2 - tenor (3:31): C#*  C#*  C#*  C#*  F#**  E**  C#*  B*  F#*
  • phrase 3 - tenor (3:43): C#*  C#*  C#*  C#*  F#**  E**__F**__F#**____


  • phrase 1 - alto (3:11): E*  E*  E*  E*  C#  B  E*  F#*  G#*
  • phrase 2 - alto (3:31): G#*  G#*  G#*  G#*  C#*  B*  G#*  F#*  C#
  • phrase 3 - alto (3:43): G#*  G#*  G#*  G#*  C#*  B*__C*__C#*____

[* = second octave, ** = third octave, __ = a longer note]


Where can I find a backing track for the sax riff on The Dude? (5:22)

  • there's a backing track that you can play along to, here!


So that's it for this week, I hope you enjoy learning this famous sax hook. Don't forget to get your free PDF sheet music transcription for The Dude here, lovingly transcribed as always for tenor and alto. Until next week, keep practicing smart and I'll see you later! 

Jamie :-)


Video Timestamps

0:00 - intro performance

0:20 - intro and titles

0:49 - about Quincy Jones The Dude

2:09 - how to get your free PDF transcription of The Dude

2:18 - how to get your free one hour masterclass




4:06 - the dude (structure)

4:19 - guest musicians on the backing track



5:51 - sign off

7:05 - outro music and bloopers


Video Transcript

Hi, I’m pro saxophonist Jamie Anderson and you’re watching Get Your Sax Together. I sax up your Sunday every week, with free online saxophone lessons bringing you great technique tips, player profiles and breakdowns of your favourite sax solos. On today’s free lesson - one of my favourite funky sax breaks of all time - oh my god this is so good! - it’s Ernie Watts’ hook from “The Dude” by Quincy Jones.


I swear to god, the sax break in The Dude is one of the grooviest things I’ve ever heard. I almost don’t wanna touch it cos I love it so much, but it’s my sacred duty to bring you guys the world’s greatest sax moments, so here we are. The Dude is from Quincy Jones’ 1981 album of the same name, and features a star studded line up of some of the world’s greatest musicians, including, amongst many others, Herbie Hancock, Louis Jordan, Jerry Hey, Stevie Wonder and Patti Austin. The song itself was written by Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton and Patti Austin, and somewhere in there you can even hear Michael Jackson on backing vocals. Not a name that creates universally good vibes these days, but that’s how good this track is - one of the biggest stars of the era was on BACKING vocals! The horns are by Jerry Hey and his crew, and that funky tenor sax hook is handled by the one and only Ernie Watts. Ernie was, and is, one of the most in demand jazz and session saxophonists of all time, and you can hear him on record with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Frankie Valli, Marvin Gaye and James Taylor, as well as countless others. He’s ON the Dude and he IS the Dude! And if that wasn’t enough, he also plays the theme from Cagney And Lacey. So…

If you like these Hall Of Fame breakdown videos, go to the card linked above now, cos believe me, there’s a bunch more of them, and hit the link in the description to get your free PDF transcription for The Dude, for alto OR tenor - you know the drill by now - plus there’s more free goodies in the description, including my new Deluxe Saxophone Fingering Chart and my FREE one hour saxophone success masterclass. Ok, without further ado, let’s start learning this riff. If you’re a beginner on sax this one is gonna be quite easy for you. Well, on alto anyway. If you play tenor you’ve gotta work out that pesky top F#! Keep watching to the end, cos after I play it through I let the backing track run for YOU to play along with. I’ve got a couple of special guests on this backing track as well, and I’ll tell you about them after we’ve learned the phrases.

[STING: The Notes]

There’s only three phrases to learn for this one, and apart from one chromatic note, at the end it’s all on a concert G major pentatonic. The card above links to my video on pentatonics if you don’t know what I’m talking about. So it’s gonna be an A pentatonic for tenor and an E pentatonic for alto. Here’s the first phrase in slow motion.

[phrase 1 slow]

Here’s the second phrase now. If you need help with the top F# on tenor, be sure to check out my Altissimo video linked on the card above now. If you play alto you’ll be fine as it only goes up to C#.

[phrase 2 slow]

The third phrase starts off like phrase 2, but has a different ending.

[phrase 3 slow]

[STING: Putting It All Together]

So you’ve now got all the phrases you need to assemble the whole 8 bars. If you go and get your free PDF transcription for The Dude, you’ll see how the structure works. You play phrases 1 and 2, three times, then finish with phrases 1 and 3. Each phrase is one bar long, so that makes up the 8 bars. One-two, one-two, one-two, one-three. Sounds like a sound check! I’ve put together my own backing track for this one, and a special thank you and shout out goes to my two guest musicians. Greg Hagger from Greg’s Bass Shed is on, surprise surprise, bass. You might remember he played bass on the Forget Me Nots video, and my bestest buddy Simon Finch makes his Get Your Sax Together debut on trumpet. Go and check out Finchy’s twisted trumpet and beat making, on his self titled YouTube Channel. I’ll put links for Greg and Simon Finch in and the description. Right, there’s a one bar count in then we’re in. After I’ve run it down you can play along with the backing track yourself. Have fun!



[STING: Before You Go]

So that’s it for this week, consider your Sunday well and truly saxed up. I hope you enjoyed learning Ernie Watts’ iconic tenor riff on The Dude by Quincy Jones. I know I say it all the time, but this really is one of my favourite sax moments of all time. Don’t forget to pick up your free PDF using the link in the description, and if you wanna learn some more in-depth sax stuff go to Get Your Sax Together dot com, forward slash masterclass, to get your free one hour lesson with me. You can help me out my subscribing, click the bell icon for notifications when I upload or go live, and give me a thumbs up and a comment. Until such time as my subs go ballistic I read EVERY comment, so I WILL see your remarks. And of course, you can keep up to date with my Insta and Facebook pages. If you wanna contribute even more, you can buy me a coffee using the link in the description, and thank you SO much if you’ve already done that. It’s much appreciated, and your generosity always blows me away. I read every comment on Buy Me A Coffee, but I’m a bit behind replying to them all at the moment, so apologies for that. Once again, I’ve got no idea what next week’s lesson is gonna be, but until then, practice hard, practice smart, and enjoy your music. See ya later!


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