To me sound is one of the most important things to focus on when playing and practicing the saxophone. The sound is the first thing the listener hears of a performance and it is the one element that differentiates one player from the other.
But what is the sound? It is a combination of many different elements: the actual tone of an individual note, the tonguing, vibrato, tonal nuances and a little bit more ethereal: the sound imagination.
While the first ones need to be trained and practiced, the latter one is learned by listening. Learning about the history of the saxophone, studying and eventually transcribing the great masters is essential. Without this step everything else is nothing but theory. In this day and age it is though easy to gain access to this knowledge: online music stores and streaming services there are plenty and there’s literally no excuse.
If you are looking for some inspiration who to listen to here is a list of recommended saxophone players which I found very inspiring (in no particular order whatsoever):
- Charlie Parker
- Joel Frahm
- Dexter Gordon
- Stan Getz
- John Coltrane
- Sonny Stitt
- Sonny Rollins
- Art Pepper
- Paul Desmond
- Cannonball Adderley
- David Sanborn
- Dick Oatts
- Kenny Garrett
- Bob Mintzer
- Stanley Turrentine
I could go on with this list for quite some time, but for the time being this should do. Now to the actual work that needs to be done.
There are quite a few books and videos on sound or the creation thereof available, and frankly I don’t think all are equally good. Maybe I’m the wrong person to judge, but my personal favourites are:
- Ben Britton: A Complete Approach to SoundThis book is a fairly recent addition to my library, but has quickly become my favourite and go-to book. Very good explanations and exercises and highly recommended.
- Sigurd Rasher: _Top Tones for the Saxophone_A classic and still worth practicing out of.
During my studies I purchased the Joe Allard teaching video, but I find Harvey Pittel’s videos on You Tube even more informative. Those video’s are a must watch in my opinion. Actually I would have loved to have them when I studied, but then again, aren’t we always students one way or the other?
The latest video/DVD by Jerry Bergonzi is equally full of valuable information and should be definitely checked out.
So, for the time being this will do. I will update this post once I find new materials which are worth mentioning.Posted in: Article • Saxophone