Top 10 synth solos in Jazz

I always wanted to do a top 10 of synthesizer solos in Jazz/Fusion/Soul. Although the list is not strictly limited to this type of music, most of them are Jazzy/Improvised style anyway. If you have any remarks or other suggestions please let me know. This is my list:

1) Michael Brecker/Steps Ahead - In a sentimental mood
Synth: Oberheim Xpander driven by EWI
Great improvisation by Michael Brecker on EWI. Very expressive synth sound controlled by breath and usage of large note range through octave rollers on the EWI. You can also hear Mike Mainieri on Memorymoog.

2) Herbie Hancock/Chaka Khan - And the melody still lingers on/A night in Tunesia
Synth: Clavitar driving Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 rev 2
Nice screaming lead sound played on a remote keyboard called the Clavitar.

3) Joe Zawinul/Weather Report - Db waltz
Synth: Rhodes Chroma expander
Typical weird solo sound used by Zawinul played through the Chroma expander. 

4) Scott Kinsey/Tribal Tech - Sheik of Encino
Synth: Nord lead 3
Nice overdriven/filtered sound with fast lfo octave modulation.

5) Pat Metheny - Are you going with me?
Synth: Roland GR-300 guitar synth driven by G-808 guitar
Classic trumpet/brass sound used by Metheny.

6) John Mclaughlin/Mahavishnu Orchestra - Clarendon Hills
Synth: Proton guitar synth
Typical fast-riff McLaughlin style solo.

7) Joachim Kuhn/Billy Cobham - AC/DC
Synth: Minimoog
Very tasteful use of the minimoog sound.

8) Mark Gray/Brecker Brothers - Bathsheba
Synth: Sequential Circuits Prophet 5
Nice jazzy style improvised solo.

9) Gary Wright - Are you weepin'
Synth: Minimoog
One of the first to experiment with (portable) moog synths on stage in the '70s. This is a classical moog lead sound with heavy glide.

10) Jan Hammer - Miami Vice theme
Synth: Minimoog
Classic tune of Miami Vice TV series theme. Jan Hammer trying to emulate a guitar-like overdriven synth sound

Note: by no means are the above samples intended to violate any copyrights, it just serves to demonstrate (a part of) the particular synthesizer solo. If you want to support the artist, you can click the iTunes link to buy the song or buy the complete album of the artist which I strongly recommend if you don't own the music already.

About me

I like music, especially making music. I listen to a lot of different stuff, but I like soul, jazz and fusion music most. I like to develop and experiment with tools to make music performance and improvisation on the spot more exciting. It is fun when unexpected musical things happen during a performance!

In recent years I developed the MIDI real-time Harmonizer, a tool for generating harmonized chords when playing a solo line. Inspired by the work of saxophonist Michael Brecker, I started to develop this tool to run on Mac and PC. Brecker played the Electronic Wind Instrument and used the Oberheim Xpander synth to generate random chords from an EWI solo line. Now you can accomplish the same thing with the MIDI real-time Harmonizer driving your own favourite (plugin) synths.

rss twitter youtube soundcloud facebook linkedin google