#75 Learn The Jr. Walker Sax Solo On "Urgent" by Foreigner

sax hall of fame Jun 21, 2020

Boy oh boy, are we in for a treat this week - you're gonna learn the extraordinary stratospheric saxophone solo from Motown star Jr. Walker, on Foreigner's 1981 hit "Urgent". Be sure to get your free PDF sheet music for Urgent and follow it along as you learn the solo. It's transcribed for alto AND tenor sax, and all the phrases from the lesson are marked as well. Plus, you can play along with the Urgent backing track here.

 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 at the bottom of the blog. 


Who plays saxophone on Urgent by Foreigner? (0:57)

  • the main saxophone solo is by tenor saxophonist Jr. Walker
  • I'm not 100% sure, but Mark Rivera might also be on the track playing the rhythmic sax parts


What type of saxophone is used on Urgent by Foreigner?

  • tenor sax is used on Urgent by American saxophonist Jr. Walker


Who is Jr. Walker? (0:57)

  • Jr. Walker is an American R&B saxophonist and singer from Michigan, most famous for his 60s Motown band Jr. Walker And The All Stars
  • his most famous hits include Shotgun, Roadrunner and How Sweet It Is
  • he continued to record into the 1980s and died in 1996
  • you can find my full profile of Jr. Walker here


What are the chords for Urgent by Foreigner?

  • in concert pitch, the chords for the sax solo intro are: |Em  D  |Am  C D | 
  • in concert pitch, the chords for the main sax solo are: | Em |    |C  |   |Am   |    |C |    |


What are the notes for the sax solo on Urgent by Foreigner? 

  • phrase 1 - tenor (3:01): F#*  C#*  F#*  E*  C#*  E*  F#*  B  C#*  E*  F#*  D*  E*  A*  B*
  • phrase 2 - tenor (3:33): F#*  C#*  F#*  E*  C#*  E*  F#*  [G#*  A*  G#*  A*] x4
  • phrase 3 - tenor (5:04): (D**  E**) F#***____C#*  C#*  A*  F#*__
  • phrase 4 - tenor (5:37): C#*___C*  A*  B*  B*  B*  A*  C#*  A*__
  • phrase 5 - tenor (5:54): C#*  C#*  C#*__C#*__A*  B*  A*  F#*  E*  A*  F#*__
  • phrase 6 - tenor (6:36): F#*  F#*  A*  B*  C#*  C#*  C#*  F#*  F#*  A*  B*
  • phrase 7 - tenor (6:51): C#*____F#**  C#*  C#*  C#*  B*  B*  A*  F#*
  • phrase 8 - tenor (7:39): A*  A*  B*  C#*  C#*  C#*  G#***____F#***____
  • phrase 9 - tenor (7:59): E***  F#***  E***  F#***____E**  C#*  A*  F#*


  • phrase 1 - alto (3:01): C#  G#*  C#  B  G#*  B  C#  F#  G#*  B  C#  A  B  E*  F#*
  • phrase 2 - alto (3:33): F#*  C#*  F#*  E*  C#*  E*  F#*  [G#*  A*  G#*  A*] x4
  • phrase 3 - alto (5:04): (A**  B**) C#**____G#*  G#*  E*  C#__
  • phrase 4 - alto (5:37): G#*___G*  E*  F#*  F#*  F#*  E*  G#*  E*__
  • phrase 5 - alto (5:54): G#*  G#*  G#*__G#*__E*  F#*  E*  C#  B  E*  C#__
  • phrase 6 - alto (6:36): C#  C#  E*  F#*  G#*  G#*  G#*  C#  C#  E*  F#*
  • phrase 7 - alto (6:51): G#*____C#*  G#*  G#*  G#*  F#*  F#*  E*  C#
  • phrase 8 - alto (7:39): E*  E*  F#*  G#*  G#*  G#*  D#**____C#**____
  • phrase 9 - alto (7:59): B**  C#**  B**  C#**____B*  G#*  E*  C#


So that's it for this week. Let it be said - this is an extremely difficult solo to play. Not so much the funky pentatonic sections, but those high notes are super hard. After practicing loads I think I need a lower lip transplant! lol

Don't forget to get your free PDF sheet music for Urgent, and I'll see you next week for an introduction to playing jazz on saxophone. See ya!

Jamie :-)


Video Timestamps


0:33 - brief intro and titles

0:57 - about Urgent and Jr. Walker

1:22 - is Mark Rivera also on the track?

1:56 - it’s bloody hard!

2:36 - how to get your free PDF sheet music for Urgent

2:45 - how to get the backing track for Urgent


3:16 - different intro lengths 


3:55 - FREE one hour Saxophone Success Masterclass








8:32 - how to use YouTube to practice



10:22 - sign off

11:04 - end music and bloopers


Video Transcript

Hi, I’m pro saxophonist Jamie Anderson, and this is Get Your Sax Together - saxing up your Sunday in the most delightful way with another free online saxophone lesson for alto AND tenor sax. And what could be more delightful than Jr. Walker’s epic, career defining tenor solo on Urgent by Foreigner.


Urgent is from Foreigner’s 1981 album “4” and features the screaming tenor sax of legendary R&B saxophonist Jr Walker. Walker was in a bit of a career slump from 1979 and this big hit totally got his career back on track, leading to him re-signing with Motown in the same year. If you wanna know more about this extraordinary saxophonist you can go to the card linked above to watch my Jr Walker Sax Legend profile.

Billy Joel’s saxophonist Mark Rivera is also credited on the track, so if that’s right maybe he does the staccato, choppy riff in the song that comes just before the main solo, I dunno. If you know the full story please comment below. Also, if you’ve got a favourite solo you want me to cover, leave me a comment, but remember I don’t do sax cover songs at the moment - just bona fide lines that were originally played on sax. This track has been much requested by you guys, including Ian Page, so shout out to you Ian, hope you enjoy this one. I’m not gonna lie - I couldn’t play this when I started this lesson and I even thought I was gonna have to abandon it. It’s insanely high, going up to fourth octave F sharp and G sharp for tenor. Typically for Jr Walker, there’s nothing in-between, without warning he suddenly shoots up two octaves. Anyway, I’ve eventually worked out how to do it, and apart from the minor surgical procedure needed on my bottom lip after all this the show can go on! lol However, it goes without saying, this is definitely not one for the faint of heart. Then again, if you take the screamers out of the equation the rest of it is ok, and you’re left with some memorable and funky pentatonic licks.

If you go down into the description and click the link you can pick up your free PDF sheet music for Urgent, carefully transcribed for tenor AND alto, plus - as requested by you guys - after I’ve played it, the backing track runs for YOU to play along with at the end of the lesson. I’ve broken the solo into nine phrases - lets start by breaking first phrase, which acts as a rhythmic intro to the main solo.


I found a couple of different versions of Urgent, and sometimes this solo lead in section is twice as long. I went for the radio edit length as the real action gets going in phrase three. Also, as I said earlier, I’m not a hundred percent sure this bit is even played by Junior Walker. Anyway, here’s phrase two…


Okay, that’s the warm up, now it’s about to kick into high gear. But! Just before the fireworks start - if you’re frustrated with your progress on sax and you wanna take your playing to the next level, I can help you get super clear about how and what to practice in my Saxophone Success Masterclass. This is an hour long, in-depth lesson, suitable for saxophonists of any standard, that will help you with everything from embouchure to improvising, and best of all, the price is zero pounds and zero pence! Just click the link in the description or go to double-u double-u double-u dot get your sax together dot com, forward slash masterclass.

Okay, getting back to the solo then, here’s the third phrase. This is insanely high for tenor AND alto. I’ll be doing a video soon on altissimo, and in the meantime you can check out Sir Valor on YouTube, who’s the man for all things altissimo! The fingerings here are the ones I experimented with and used for this video, but you’ll have to find something that works well for you. Don’t be disheartened if you use these fingerings and just get a damp squib - it’s super difficult, and most of it is in the embouchure not the fingerings. You might just wanna take it all down an octave, or even down two octaves! lol


Man, Jr Walker plays that double F sharp so beautifully. Clear as a bell and perfectly in tune. Unbelievable. 

Phrase four has another hallmark of Jr Walker’s style, and that’s this tongue roll growl. If you wanna learn to do this go to the card linked above now, but basically you have to roll your tongue at the same time as you blow, giving this raspy effect.


Here’s phrase five in slow motion now - some funky pentatonic stuff…


Phrase six continues with the funky pentatonic stuff. If you wanna get to grips with pentatonics and blues, go to the card linked above now, where I give you a clear and simple explanation of what pentatonics are and why they’re so important. If you go down into the description and get your free PDF transcription for this solo you’ll see that, apart from one dog whistle note near the end, this whole solo is on an F sharp minor blues scale for tenor, or a C sharp minor blues scale for alto.


More tongue roll action in phrase seven…


Phrase 8 really is one of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever heard on sax. The phrase starts off just funking out on the pentatonic as you’d expect, but then suddenly - without warning - he instantly leaps up an octave and a fifth to a fourth octave G sharp on tenor. Now I know Jr Walker was the man, but even for him this seems like a stretch to get up there with no chance no set his embouchure. I’ve suspect it’s an edit, but if it isn’t it just makes Junior even more incredible! Insane. Here we go, let’s get our dog whistle on! lol


The final phrase is still well and truly upstairs, here it is broken down. You’re neighbours are gonna love you for this one! lol



So there we have it, that’s all the pieces you need to play this classic solo. I’ve had a go at making a backing track for this one, but my guitar skills are a bit limited, and the production on this one is hard to replicate, but it should give you the basic idea. After I’ve played it through, the backing track will run without sax for YOU to practice with. By the way, in case you didn’t know, if you wanna quickly find specific places in the video you can click on the time stamps listed in the description, and remember, you can slow down YouTube videos if you need to work at a slower tempo. Fingers crossed, here we go!



So that’s it for this week - I’m off to give my bottom lip an ice bath! lol

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to go and check out my Saxophone Success Masterclass - I literally give away everything I know about sax that I could fit in an hour! lol You can get your free PDF for Urgent using the link in the description and if you wanna help me out you can subscribe, click the bell to be notified when new lessons come out, follow my socials - Insta and Facebook - and give me a nice thumbs up and a comment. Thanks for watching, I really do appreciate it, keep practicing smart and I’ll see you next week for a great lesson where I lay out the basics of how to play jazz. See ya!

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