Sonny Rollins F Minor Lick from Strode Rode

I have posted a line Sonny played on this tune before, (off of Saxophone Colossus), it was a very juicy lick from the bridge of Strode Rode, and here is another equally juicy lick from the beginning of his solo.

The band drops out and it is just bass and Sonny playing over the chords, and it is basically just F minor, but not natural minor, (with an Eb) but melodic minor, with an E natural.

Here is the lick as Sonny plays it

And here it is written out, first at a slower tempo and then at a faster more Sonny-like tempo.

Slow Speed

bass lick tempo 100 4/4 |Fmin r8 e8 f ab g f e g |f e f c ab f b ab |bb ab g f e f g e |f2 r2

Insanely Fast

bass lick tempo 220 4/4 |Fmin r8 e8 f ab g f e g |f e f c ab f b ab |bb ab g f e f g e |f2 r2

There are a ton of things to learn from this lick:
  1. What chord tones does he use? (hint - all of them)
  2. How does he make those chord tones fall on strong beats?
  3. Why does the lick sound so strong and resolve so well?
  4. What non-chord tones does he use, and where do those get placed?
And this is just two measures of his solo, he goes on and on like this for two full choruses. Gonna post more licks as I decipher them.
Check out how awesome his entire solo is here via YouTube:

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