David Liebman on not doubling

Living jazz icon and soprano saxophonist David Liebman discusses his decision to abandon his doubles, even other saxophones:

There comes a point in an artist’s life that he or she must be objective and identify the strongest aspects of their work. After the first flush of talent and success with all the dreams and desires accompanying that stage, there naturally comes a point in development where concentration of energy becomes necessary and one can see that with increased focus greater gains may be realized. … I realized that in a given set of an hour when I played all three instruments it resulted in very few actual moments spent on each horn. It had always been clear to me that one of the most important aspects for attaining a high level was achieved by pure and simple instrumental virtuosity. The only way that is accomplished is by the sheer amount of man hours spent with the horn in your mouth. And that means ONE horn, because though the tenor and soprano belong to the same family of instruments, they are different in many ways. It was clear that the only way for me to advance further was to concentrate energy on one or the other horn.

Read the whole thing at Mr. Liebman’s website.

More free reeds from Rico

Rico seems to be continuing their push to get their reeds into players’ cases for an audition. I wrote a couple of years ago about their “Make the Switch” promotion, in which I scored some free Rico Jazz Select tenor reeds.

With their current promotion, through the Woodwind and the Brasswind, you order a box of your favorite non-Rico clarinet or alto saxophone reeds, and get a free box of the comparable Rico offering. The deal is good through March 7 or while supplies last, so I suggest putting in your monthly (weekly?) reed order today and scoring a free box.

I’m more than happy to try out some new reeds for free, and won’t hesitate to switch if I find them better than what I’m currently using. (*wink*)

How to make a bad fingering chart

The fingering diagrams I’ve provided in the Fingering diagram builder came into existence gradually over the last several years. As part of the process of developing them, I’ve looked at a great many fingering charts.

I’d like to share a few of the most horrifying examples, and tell you why I’ve tried to make mine the opposite of these. I’m not naming names on the sources, but many of them are well-known and recognizable. Many come from players and pedagogues who I deeply respect for reasons other than their fingering-chart-making skill. (Please don’t identify them in the comments. I’ll edit you if you do.)

Case study no. 1

Here’s a partial saxophone fingering chart from my collection:

Commentary: Continue reading “How to make a bad fingering chart”

Fingering diagram builder, version 0.2

Two months ago I introduced the Fingering diagram builder, something that I hoped people would find useful for quickly and easily creating fingering diagrams for woodwind instruments. Since then, something over 1,000 fingering diagrams have been downloaded, which I think is a nice start.

Many of those have been saxophone fingerings, and I attribute this to some kind mentions among the saxophone-blogger community (thanks Doron, Eric, David, Neal, Alistair, and Anton!).

Now I’m pleased to announce the new-and-of-course-improved version 0.2. Go take it for a spin, or read on about the new goodies:

Continue reading “Fingering diagram builder, version 0.2”

Jazz opportunities for woodwind players: learn the saxophone

Jazz clarinetist (and saxophonist!) Eddie Daniels. Photo, Professor Bop

I’ve been having a great time directing the university jazz band this year (alas, a temporary assignment). The group performed recently for some talented high school musicians from around the state, the kind of students I would like to recruit. After the performance, I was approached by no less than three of them, each expressing an interest in playing in the group in the future. None of them play instruments typical of jazz big band arrangements.

I’ve had this happen with private students, too. I once met with a very young and enthusiastic clarinetist and her mother. They explained to me that the young clarinetist was being excluded from her middle school jazz band because she didn’t play a “jazz” instrument. Their plan was for her to study clarinet with me, and to get so good that the jazz band director would “just have to” accept her into the group.

The clarinet, of course, does have a noble history in jazz music (even big bands), as does the flute, and, less frequently, the double reeds. And don’t get me wrong here—I love playing and listening to jazz on all those instruments, and would love to see every young woodwind player, regardless of instrument, get the chance to participate. But there are some practical barriers. Continue reading “Jazz opportunities for woodwind players: learn the saxophone”