It has been called some of the most riveting 59 seconds of music ever recorded for Japanese animation; the cornerstone representative of jazz in anime. Brutally bald-faced in its dense complexity and awe-inspiring in its effortless virtuosity, these 68 measures have become nigh-legendary in the tangential overlap of the jazz and anime communities. I’m talking, of course, about Masato Honda’s venerated alto saxophone solo in Cowboy Bebop’s “Tank!”
It was Mark Levine that wrote that a great jazz solo is “1% magic [and] 99% stuff that is explainable, analyzable, categorizeable, doable.” Here, I’m going to try to give you a peek at this 99%. Basically, I will attempt a measure for measure, chord for chord harmonic analysis of this solo. With this I hope you will deepen your appreciation for this hallmark performance and, hey, you may even learn something!