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.
Are you new to the sax? Unsure of which saxophone you should be learning on? I’m here to help…
The short answer is I always recommend that people start learning on an Alto Saxophone.
“Why?” you might ask…
So, as you might have gathered I’ve been teaching for quite a few years now and during that time I have literally taught hundreds of saxophone students. I’ve taught complete beginners (both adults and children) right the way through to advanced level students studying for their performance based degrees at the London College of Music.
I’ve seen how a lot of people handle and can cope with the various types of saxophone at different stages of their advancement and have drawn some conclusions.
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.