It’s recently been the 100th birthday of the legendary saxophonist Charlie Parker. Most musicians, and jazz enthusiasts know that he was (and still is) a huge influence on the music, but don’t necessarily understand why. I therefore decided to not only post a transcription of one of his solos, but take a closer look at what he actually plays so we can try and understand his genius (even if it’s just a little bit)!
Sonny Stitt’s Solo On “Elora” (Take 2) by J. J. Johnson
This is how I discovered the music of the great jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt…
When I was fresh out of the Royal College, very young, and so very naive I arranged to have a sax lesson with the legendary American saxophonist Bob Mintzer whilst he was over in the UK on tour with his band the “Yellow Jackets”.
Back then I was still finding my feet with my jazz playing and if I think back to that lesson it makes me shudder! What on earth was I thinking?! Anyway, Bob was very kind to me in that lesson and actually he gave me some invaluable pointers.
10% Off Blocks of 10 Lessons Booked In August (& Now September) 2020!
UPDATE – I’ve had an awesome response with this offer and I’m thrilled with just how popular it has been with new and existing students, so I’ve decided to keep it running for another month!
I’m offering a 10% discount for any student who books and starts a block of 10 lessons in August (or now September) 2020. That’s up to a £40 saving if taking 60 min lessons, or basically you’ll be receiving one lesson free!
The summer holidays are upon us and yet with most of us staying at home, there couldn’t be a better time to take up a new hobby, or get cracking on your new goal for your saxophone playing.
Dexter Gordon’s Solo on “Blue Bossa” by Kenny Dorham
Dexter Gordon is undoubtedly one of the all time great jazz tenor saxophonists. His performing and recording career spanned some 40+ years, winning a Grammy, and even earning an Oscar nomination in the Best Lead Actor category for his role in the 1986 film “Round Midnight”.
From a learning perspective his solos can be a dream to transcribe thanks to their clarity, therefore making them ideal for the intermediate player. Dexter’s phrasing, use of space, and sense of time often give his playing an unhurried feel, and so his solos are great examples to try and emulate.
Having a good technique on the saxophone is vital in so many ways whether we play in a jazz, pop or classical context. For example, when we improvise a jazz solo we want the freedom to express what we want to say through the saxophone at that very moment. It’s having command of our instrument that allows us to do this. I’ll therefore try and answer how you can improve your saxophone technique in this article below with some useful tips and advice.
In this post I’m going to go over the key area of how to add licks to your improvised jazz solos. It’s a great way to start building your jazz vocabulary for improvisation, plus it’s great ear training too!
For this I’m going to be using my “Top 5 Bebop Licks” introduced in one of my earlier posts. Please check that out or just grab the PDF download from the resources section below.
There is an absolutely crazy amount of content on the internet with saxophone lessons aimed at beginners, but from a lot of the videos I’ve seen they either get the basics wrong or they don’t explain things particularly well. I thought I’d therefore do a post providing some useful tips aimed at beginner saxophonists. That way you can get off to the best of starts!!
Here are 5 top tips for beginner saxophonists everywhere: –
With the Coronavirus, Covid-19 currently bring life as we know it to a standstill I thought it would be a good time to write a post focusing on teaching music lessons online.
Having music lessons of any any nature online is nothing new. With the development of broadband and platforms such Skype people have taken music lessons via the internet for years.
If you think about it there are some serious benefits to having online lessons. Arguably the biggest one is that you can take saxophone lessons with whoever you want to as there are no physical requirements to be in the same place. With only a good broadband connection and a webcam you can benefit from lessons with some of the best professional saxophonists working today, and not be limited to those who lives close by to you. (ed. As a professional saxophonist with (usually) a busy performing schedule as well as my teaching and lecturing positions at both the London College of Music and Royal College of Music, I hope that does include me! – modest I know!!)
Are you looking to strengthen your jazz improvisation?
Building a “language” is invaluable if you want to become a convincing improviser, whatever the genre that you are interested in.
Bebop is undoubtedly the building blocks of jazz as we know it today and so at the bottom of this blog post is a pdf file for you to download and keep of 5 of my favourite jazz licks. They are by four of the greatest exponents of the idiom, namely Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins, and Clifford Brown (Yes, a trumpet player. It’s extremely useful to transcribe solos by the masters that didn’t just play your instrument!).
I’ve been meaning to set up this website for a while.
I started teaching the saxophone all the way back in 2002 when I was a student at the Royal College of Music. I took a Saturday morning job teaching at Wimbledon School of Performing Arts (or WiSPA as it was known) basically because I was a broke student and needed the money. Very quickly though I realised something….I love teaching.
There’s absolutely nothing like the buzz you get when a student is also so enthusiastic about the thing you hold so dear. Music.