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.


  1. Eddie Rich

    I read the full article and I definitely go through periods where I just want to drop everything and focus on one horn, but I don’t think that’s a practical option for most people.

    Recent blog post: Transcribed: Charlie Parker – Score of 4 Relaxin’ At Camarillo Solos (January 28, 2011)


  2. Gertjan

    Reminds me of Steve Lacy’s answer on why he didn’t double:
    It’s too difficult, it would be like having two wives.


  3. John Malmstrom

    @Eddie Rich: Yes. How does the old song go? “Nice work if you can get it….”

    Recent blog post: A Real Life Jazz Noir Adventure (February 26, 2011)


  4. joseph

    I wish… i just wish it was this easy! You have to work hard to double, and you have to double to get somewhere. Maybe then I’ll have the chance to “settle down” with just one horn. Until then, it is oboe reeds on the table, a bassoon in the corner, clarinet parts on the floor, a flute in my hands, and saxophone on my mind. Of course… I did pick this life, and I do enjoy it. Who’s really complaining :)

    Recent blog post: Onyx Saxophone Quartet to perform for Marion Chamber Music Society (October 25, 2010)


Leave a comment

Commenting policy

If you are a new commenter, please check your email after submitting, and use the verification link to complete the commenting process.