Charlie Parker: A Closer Look

Improvisation, Jazz, online lessons, saxophone lessons

Analysing Charlie Parker’s Solo on “Au Privave”

Analysing Charlie Parker's solo on "Au Privave".
The Legendary Charlie Parker, Photo Credit: William P Gottlieb

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)!

What To Practise: Transcription II

Improvisation, Jazz, online lessons, saxophone lessons

Sonny Stitt’s Solo On “Elora” (Take 2) by J. J. Johnson

Sonny Stitt
Sonny Stitt in 1971. Photo Credit: JPRoche

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.

What To Practise: Transcription

Improvisation, Jazz, online lessons, saxophone lessons

Dexter Gordon’s Solo on “Blue Bossa” by Kenny Dorham

Dexter Gordon - Master Jazz Tenor Saxophone Player
Dexter Gordon in Amsterdam. Photo Credit: Albert Kok

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.

How Can I Improve My Saxophone Technique?

classical saxophone, general, Jazz, online lessons, saxophone lessons
How Can I Improve My Saxophone Technique?
Working on exercises and etudes can be a great way to improve your technique!

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.

An Introduction to the Saxophone Quartet

classical saxophone, general, Jazz, Uncategorized
Nathan Hassall's Java Saxophone Quartet performing at a garden party in north London, in May 2018.
The Java Saxophone Quartet, performing in 2018

Ensemble playing of any nature is one of the great joys of music making. There is something uniquely special about working as a collective whole to create something of beauty (or, something that swings your socks off!) in the concert environment, or just for fun!

The saxophone quartet is arguably the most similar ensemble to that of a string quartet, with it’s blendable combination of soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. However, it is an ensemble that is often wrongly overlooked by classical music composers and enthusiasts.

Online Music Lessons

general, online lessons, saxophone lessons
Take online music lessons with professional saxophonist Nathan Hassall.  Saxophone, Jazz, Improvisation and Music Theory Lessons available.
Nathan’s Online Music Lessons Set-up!

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!!)

Favourite Jazz Saxophonists – Contemporary Stars!

general, Improvisation, Jazz
Contemporary Jazz Saxophone Heavyweight: Joshua Redman
Saxophonist: Joshua Redman – Photo Credit: Tore Sætre (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Following on from my previous “Favourite Jazz Saxophonists – The Greats” post here’s part two as promised focusing on contemporary artists. Hopefully it will provide you with a useful introduction to some fantastic and inspiring musicians, all of whom are well worth checking out.

With this playlist I’ve tried to create a selection that covers a wide range of players and styles, and if you listen carefully you will hear that all of them have learnt from the Past Masters like the ones featured in my previous “Favourites” post.