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so i began at uni around 7 weeks ago now, studying jazz performance. and ive noticed something very interesting.

first of all, at high school, pretty much any professional player is considered great to listen to. i got very much into brecker, brecker brothers, steps ahead, bob berg etc. my setup and style soon began to reflect this. selmer series iii, jody jazz dv and a guardala mbII at times, and i began playing in alot of pop/fusion bands.

when i got to uni, i began to get alot of dirty looks for my setup and style. my teacher said to me in our 2nd lesson "i dont think your sound is compatible with this course"

after some discussion with other students and lecturers, i began see the reason why. these people believe that brecker ruined jazz, and think that he's not really a jazz saxophonist at all.

also noted was the fact that all these players (that told me they hated brecker) had revolting tones. very airy, no body to the sound, and very squeaky. which completely contradicted my concept of a big full, but still bright edgy tone.

i want to know what you guys think of brecker, and if u've had any experiences like this yourself??
 

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To traditionalists i guess, mike breckers sound is not always what they are listening for, it would be more stan getz ben webster,parker,on and on!..but anyone who dismisses!..him really has no idea what they are on about!,he was one of the few musicians[saxophonist]..who crossed so many genres/styles and did so with no problem at all, he was an awesome jazz player!, and won several downbeat awards.
The course you are on is set up for more traditional/standard jazz i would think and i would think the tutor is a litte old fashioned,i love listening to brecker, bob berg etc!!..there ideas are inspiring,and thats jazz not contemporary!!.
 

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bottom line... PLAY WHAT YOU HEAR!! you might, eventually, start going for a darker tone, but don't let them sway you from what you are hearing.. ALL of those players you mentioned are GREAT JAZZ Musicians!!

You could line up 10 of those university player AND teachers and Brecker would play circles around them!!!
 

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Heavens no, Michael was the Coltrane of the modern era. He broke rules and made his own path.

I'd transfer out of this "university"
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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On the face of it, your post is pretty shocking, given you're at university. I think it's at least possible that you're making some assumptions here that could be ironed out through a longer chat with your personal tutor or mentor (do you have something like that?) Is it possible that your "edgy" tone doesn't blend well in an ensemble??

If you're on a jazz performance course where the teachers quite seriously and straightforwardly advance the view that "Mike Brecker ruined jazz" you need to change course. Seriously.
 

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I'm not really a brecker fan myself (i love bob berg btw) but if you like it and want to play like that, who are they to tell you? F... them. Live life you want it!
 

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I don't think that your lecturers have the authority to say Brecker was not a jazz player. He was one of the greatest ever. Any so-called jazz lecturer who disagrees should consider resignation.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I'm not really a brecker fan myself (i love bob berg btw) but if you like it and want to play like that, who are they to tell you? F... them. Live life you want it!
All of this does imply that the OP is doing the wrong course.

Any university can have a course in whatever style of jazz they choose, if the course was more oriented to a modern or Brecker style, and if somebody turned up playing with a Sidney Bechet or Rudi Wiedoft sound, I think it might be fair for the tutor to say "i dont think your sound is compatible with this course".

So IMO the university is not doing anything wrong, it's up to them what genres and styles they teach in their programs. It's up to the students to decided if that is the course for them.
 

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many consider Brecker to be THE greatest of all time.....

In the music world ,you have to play with ALL kinds of musicians

One can only perform to their true potential when surrounded with simiar or like minded colleagues

this can be RARE in the professional world and even harder in school


the biggest ,and possibly rewarding experience of your young career would be to learn how to make music with your program

having an aim,goal,sound is great...... but fitting in is MORE important (unless you are so obviously different and incredible that people want to bend over backwards for you)

read some stories about famous trend-setters and the hardships they endured until they had success....

University is generally more about conforming than setting a path...and I've known some VERY talented and now famous musicians who had great difficulty fitting in in school...

what I'm telling you is THAT IS WHAT SCHOOL IS FOR....you can't lose what you already have...... so if you want to learn something ...go with the program
if you want to tell yourself you know better,and everyone else is wrong....what did you learn????

is it possible your in the wrong school?possibly...but this problem exists everywhere!!!!
 

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You have a couple of options.
first of all you don't need to be in any course or university to learn how to play IMHO
but if you want to go there you can comply with the rules, views etc and change your setup and idea of sound, who knows you'll disvover something attractive in that.
Or you can find yourself another course or school which is more open minded about these things and let's you find your way on your own a bit more.
Brecker and his sound stirred up things all the time, there's a video somewhere where he gives a masterclass and tells that his fomer profesors are using him an example of how NOT to play the saxophone and that every sax player told him to stay away from dukoff mouthpieces. he went out and sounded great on a dukoff piece and a lot of the players who warned him before went and got dukoff pieces...
My point is that you need to decide what you value the most. If you really get inspired by the sounds of Brecker, Bob Berg etc then go for it, study their playing and sound.
Everyone is different, it's about what YOU want to do/ sound like. Hopefully you'll find youw OWN sound someday, IMO the best way of getting there is following your inspiration.
 

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I've seen Brecker live 4 or 5 times over the years, and he visited my University for a week once and I heard him in different rooms and in rehearsals with no microphone. He sounded incredible every time, and his tone was never too bright for the hard-bop and jazz that he was playing. I don't think anyone would have suggested that his tone was not fit for playing jazz.

Having said that, I've heard plenty of players who get a high baffle mouthpiece because they like Brecker, and then sound terribly bright on these pieces.

Michael Brecker changed his sound throughout his carer to match the styles he was playing. I hear he used a hard rubber mouthpiece on his ballads album. His sound changes to match different musical situations, but he still maintains his individual approach.

As you said in your post, you have been playing a lot of pop and fusion. You might consider changing your set up for the sake of being versatile and fitting-in at university. You might like what you hear!
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I don't think anyone would have suggested that his tone was not fit for playing jazz.
I totally agree.

However somebody (the teacher at uni) told the OP that his sound is not suitable for that course. We can't assume he has the same sound as Brecker, but if it's a pop/fusion sound then I can clearly understand how it may not be comatible.

I used to run a university jazz performance course and teach university students. And while I don't think anyone can call me narrow minded (my teaching of saxophone covered jazz, fusion, pop, blues, rock, ska, klezmer ....) due to the constraints of time and fair assessment, I had to gear the performance/impro course to just one quite narrow genre, that of mainstream/bebop jazz.

That was not my choice, just the way it had to be or else it would have been impossible to teach and assess that course. The fusion and ska students understood this and the keen ones adapted accordingly and learnt a lot from the course, even though it wasn't exactly their bag.

What I find a bit disturbing is a relatively inexperienced player dismissing every other player as having "revolting tones", as if this is not just a personal opinion but a fact.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
theres alot of great replies here. thanks everyone :)

and pete, i should have probably clarified what i meant when i said they have bad tones. what i actually meant is that they dont look or sound comfortable on their gear (similar to when your teaching a beginner for the first time, their very tense and struggle with basic embouchure skills for a little while) to me, as you develop as a player, you become more comfortable with your gear, and are able to play the full horn with a great sound, no matter what volume.

however, ive never been into more vintage sounds like coleman or ben webster, so theres also the (highly likely) possibility that this is who these younger players are trying to imitate. which is why they sound like their struggling. (especially when their playing size 10 links!!!)

as for the actual uni itself, ive always been a firm believer that uni is a place you go to get the piece of paper to prove your qualified to work. i feel that you can learn just as much as you can at uni by playing every day (and seriously playing, not just the bare minimum) and listening to as much as you can. some (most) of the players hailed as the greatest of all time didnt study at a university, they learnt from the greats before them. the benefit with going to uni is that you get to spend 4 years with like minded players of similar intention, and will feel driven to practice more
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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the benefit with going to uni is that you get to spend 4 years with like minded players of similar intention, and will feel driven to practice more
I agree totally with that. Even if the course and teachers are not that great, there you are (hopefully) surrounded by lots of keen musicians, practice rooms, equipment, possibly recording studio. Make the very most of it.
 

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I'm not a jazz expert but I didn't like the Brecker Brothers. I thought some of his last solo videos were good. I generally like a soft tone. He said he was very influenced by John Coltrane, also not my favorite artist.
 

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Get a link in a tip size you like and play that in class. Play anything else when out of class. You should be able to get a brecker sound on a link if you spend some time on it. I have played a DV on tenor and it is a decent piece but not even close to a link in fullness of sound and flexibility. No reason to get a 10* just get something comfy like a 7*. No one back in the Ben Webster days played a 10*. They were on small tips like 4 and 5. I play a Barone Hollywood which is a great vintage link mixed with a great vintage dukoff. I get a sound that is very close to Brecker and Mintzer on the Jaco Birthday album. I can also mellow the sound out very easily if I want.
 

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If you play or try to play the saxophone let alone jazz saxophone and don't like or at least really, really appreciate Brecker you're either a liar or you haven't been listening.
 

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One way around this is to find a nice warm MP and keep that for more traditional jazz sound. That's why I carry two MP with all the time (and to always have a backup), one my preferred metal and a warm sounding hard rubber.

Remember Mike Brecker adapted to suit his musical environment, that why he changed MP over the years. You could do the same. Don't worry in four years or so you'll be on your own path anyways. Your sound is your sound no matter what. Adapt for now and it will probably enrich your playing experience, it certainly would not take away from it.

I remember having a number of opioniated idiot professors in college, but I still learned something from them anyways. Right now all knowledge is good knowledge, you will sort it out later.

Good luck.
 

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You sure it's because you sound like Brecker? Or that you are trying too hard to sound like Brecker, and actually sound nothing like him, but your mannerisms are limitting your growth?
Are you playing inappropriately in ensembles? Playing Brecker licks over 1930's danceband tune?
There is a basic premise between teacher and student: They know how to do stuff that you don't. You ask them to direct you towards getting there too. If you dont like what they tell you, dont shoot the messenger. Do what they say. Not blindly. But as a means to an end. If you can play the way they ask you, and you choose to go back an play like Brecker, then you do so out of strength. Joe Viola never demanded I play any sort of way, but he did insist I show him proficiency at the techniques he wanted tosee me master. Funny thing, once I got myself to be able to play what he wanted me to, I almost always "saw the light" and incorporated that into my playing. Before then I was sure I could understand the concept, kind of like being sure you knew what the view fro the mountain top looked like before actually climbing to the summit. So if you are the student, work on what they suggest you work on. You can always change up later, and probably be better for having the commitment to master what they want you to learn.

Of course everyones comments in this thread assume you actually sound like Mike Brecker. If you did, I would suspect your professors would be wanting to study with you.
 
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