To be honest, I’m mostly angry at the moment and don’t feel like sitting down to write or publish something. That I’m constantly running behind my todo-list isn’t much of a help either. Still I took a few minutes after my first student in the morning and improvised a bit on a blues with my soprano. It’s nothing special, only a short un-accompanied jam. I planned to publish, or post things like these for a while already (needless to say I never did), but I might as well start now.
A transcription of Richie Cannata’s tenor solo on Billy Joel’s New State Of Mind A student needed to play the solo and I tried to find a transcription. Since I couldn’t find a transcription online and had a little downtime I quickly made one myself. It’s a rather slow tune, which makes the rhythmical notation somewhat cryptic, and in a few spots I’m not entirely sure if everything is correct.
It’s that time of the year when I am trying a couple of mouthpieces for the alto again. I grew a bit tired off my Meyer #8 which I have used now for about 3 years and it was time for a change. The mouthpiece simply doesn’t have the qualities that I was looking for and now I was starting to look for something new and, most importantly, different. A couple of emails and a few days later I received a bunch of new mouthpieces and was ready to give them a try.
“Learn to BeBop on changes like Hank Mobley first. It tells you when to stop.” Those were roughly the words one of my all-time heroes Rick Margitza said to me when I had the chance to have a lesson with him in New York. And even though more than twenty years ago, it hasn’t told me when to stop. Up to this day I enjoy working on lines. Hank is without any doubt one of the most precise players that I have heard.
Some of my favourite etudes that I ran into over the years are the Kröpsch Clarinet etudes, especially the first volume. The exercises are short, almost easy to remember and overall effective, challenging and fun to play. I always wished there would be something like that for Jazz saxophone studies. Last year Eric Alexander published a book with similar exercises which are fun to play and easily to be used in improvisations.
Recently I shared some thoughts about the saxophone sound and some of the materials that I use for my own practicing and teachings. Overtone exercises have been for years at the centre of my practice routines and I consider them crucial for my own (ongoing) development. In that post I mentioned a rather new book that, even though being a rather recent acquisition of mine, had become my go-to-book for all things sound, embouchure and, naturally, overtone exercises: Ben Britton’s A Complete Approach to Sound
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.