Posts tagged “jazz”

March 9, 2017

Review: D’Addario Select Jazz tenor saxophone mouthpieces

I’ve already done thorough reviews of the D’Addario clarinet mouthpieces (twice) and alto saxophone jazz mouthpieces, both of which immediately replaced the competing Vandoren products I was previously using. So, naturally I’ve been very anxious for the release of the hard rubber tenor saxophone jazz mouthpiece, and I got my hands on some samples earlier ...

June 8, 2015

Review: D’Addario Select Jazz alto saxophone mouthpieces

I like mouthpieces that are easy to play, especially in terms of response and tuning. But I also really like something easy to replace; I don’t like the idea of a mouthpiece that is so expensive, variable, or rare that if I drop it I can’t just order a new one, have it in a ...

November 8, 2014

Jazz swing notation

The issue with each of these bad notational approaches is that they try to approximate characteristic jazz rhythms with symbols that are rooted in the rather different rhythms of classical music. But real jazz swing rhythms aren't dotted or 12/8 or triplets, or least they aren't necessarily any of those. This leads to problems both for composers and performers.

March 13, 2014

Improvisation and doubling

If you double on multiple instruments, the improvisational vocabulary pool isn't really portable. You can bring your ideas with you from instrument to instrument, but you won't be able to execute them smoothly unless you have put in the practice hours on each instrument separately.

January 15, 2014

Creativity, hard work, and beginning jazz improvisation

I occasionally teach a university course in jazz improvisation, geared toward beginning improvisers. Sometimes I think prospective students are afraid to sign up because they don’t consider themselves already to be musically creative. On the other hand, I have some students enroll in the class with unrealistic expectations about the results, thinking that they will ...

December 26, 2013

Farewell: Yusef Lateef

Earlier this week jazz musician Yusef Lateef passed away at age 93. Lateef was known for his adventurous woodwind doubling, playing saxophone and flute, plus the oboe and a number of woodwinds from non-Western cultures. Here he is playing some tasty flute: I’ve seen oboists look a bit uncomfortable when the topic of Yusef Lateef ...

November 5, 2013

Farewell: Frank Wess

Last week Frank Wess, one of the great woodwind doublers in jazz, passed away at age 91. He was best known for his years with the Count Basie band, and for being an influential figure in bringing the flute into its own as a jazz instrument. If you’re not familiar with his playing, definitely check ...

September 29, 2012

Things that aren’t jazz

Okay, first of all: what I’m talking about here is the “mainstream” jazz tradition, insofar as such a thing exists (you can make a good argument that it doesn’t, really). “Jazz” is a wide net to cast. To flip it around, if I were going to list things that aren’t “classical” music, I might say ...

September 5, 2012

Which instrument should I learn next?

One of the questions I get most frequently from aspiring woodwind doublers is “Which instrument should I learn next?” The short answer is “Whichever you want.” Woodwind doublers’ motivations (career, artistic, or personal) are varied, and your interests and goals should override any advice I (or anyone) can offer. If you really want to learn ...

January 16, 2012

Jazz chord symbols: a primer for the classically-trained

Printed jazz music often uses chord symbols to indicate the music’s underlying harmony. As with the Roman numeral system used in classical music theory, jazz chord symbols may be used as a tool for analysis. But they are also used for performance, like Baroque figured bass notation, with the musicians using the symbols as a framework ...