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I am trained to a high level classically but now want to try my hand at some jazz. I have no idea where to start! Can anyone help??
 

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Do you listen to jazz? Who do you listen to?
I would also recommend the jazz etudes vol1-3 by greg fishman, so you can get a feel for the music. If you are already a good classical player you probably wont need the phrasing books. (beginner level)
http://www.gregfishmanjazzstudios.com/
Try to imitate someone who you like to listen to.

This all greatly depends on how serious you are about it because it takes time.
 

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The first thing to do is listen to jazz obsessively and maniacally.

Find a saxophonist you swoon over and are dumbfounded by. (If you can't find any jazz that you swoon over, you will never become a jazz saxophonist, of course!)

Pore over that person's recordings with a minute attention to detail.

Start seeing if you can emulate any of what you like about it.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Good luck, and have fun!
 

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I was a heavy classical player before I started to shift all my time to jazz and I have some controversial advice for you. Books are your friend. Not saying you learn like this, but for me, as a classical player used to learning from the page, I found that I was already pre-trained to find motivation in the technique building of books. Eventually, I did learn the tremendous value of transcription, but for me, my technique needed to advance before I could hear the vocabulary of jazz well enough to transcribe with any efficiency whatsoever. Books that helped me were the Omnibook (first mastering the tune, then analyzing note choice against the chords, then taking 1-2 measures around the cycle), the Fishman etudes (same strategy as the Omnibook), Patterns for Jazz (just take a couple a day to get up to the suggested speed), David Baker Bebop 1, and of course running Aebersolds through guide tone melodies, basslines, and simple motivic ideas before I worked any kind of "soloing."
My college prof at FSU, really helped in making me drill the all chord/scale relationships. And once I could apply just about any conceivable pattern to any conceivable scale, my transcription work became much easier.
Finally, listen and transcribe. Don't get discouraged, it gets much easier with repetition. Believe me, no one was slower than me. Download some software to your computer that allows you to slow the music down. That helped me.
 

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Listen to as much jazz as you can. I'd start with things like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Jazz Messengers, Horace Silver. A lot of key stuff there. Swing and Bebop. Real "meat and potatoes" jazz. Maybe some Stan Getz.

If you have access to any of the Jamey Aebersold stuff, try playing along with some of the basic ones like Major/Minor, Vol 1, ii/V/I, Vol. 15 Payin' Dues, Vol 54 Maiden Voyage. You could start playing by ear, not to many notes, just really trying to fit in and sound good.

But, I'd really listen a lot to Parker, Miles, Jazz Messengers/Silver. It's all in there.

Besides the good info in the books with those play alongs (Jamey's scale syllabus is helpful, but use your ears and don't be afraid of adding in chromatic notes), you could definitely try a few of the basic solos in the Omnibook and work at playing them in the bebop style. But, spend some time just playing along with the backing tracks, CDs, whatever just using your ears. No music.

If your trying to learn a tune, try playing choruses of just working the bass lines, then some apreggios, then resolving guide tones (e.g. 7th of chord into the 3rd of the next chord). Play the melody multiple choruses, and loosen up and play it in different ways. Mix it up, but stay close enough to be recognizable. These are always good exercises.
 

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First and foremost don't overwhelm yourself. I think with the availability of so much information in our times, this is a real tendency and trap. I think it's counterproductive to go out and get a ton of books and play-alongs and other materials and put on top of that a ton of listening and other related activities.

Jazz is and always was, first and foremost, an AURAL art and the further away from that you get the worse for it you are, especially if you have no foundation to begin with.

As suggested above, it begins with voracious listening. We could likely give you a good listening list. Listen very closely, not necessarily with an analytical ear, at first, but to absorb.

Also, very important, begin singing along with the melodies you are hearing. As you get comfortable with that, you will start to absorb the phrasing and articulations that are characteristic of jazz phrasing.

I have no problem with any of the above suggestions, but I swear, just the listening and memorising the tunes, singing along, should take up enough time at first.

Add to that the Omnibook and that should give a good head start.

I also like the etude books by Lenny Niehaus because he organises the etudes traditionally, e.g. they get more complex as they go along. But the first book is easy. He works mainly with very characteristic jazz rhythmic patterns, the fundamental to jazz phrasing. There is a CD with examples of how it is supposed to sound so that you can listen to them, sing along and then play along, IMO worth their weight in gold.

Oh, BTW. You have to start changing how you dress as well as your attitude. Now would be a good time to start introducing snarky little jabs into your conversations about how Kenny G sucks the life's blood right out of more deserving artists.
 

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The only thing to add to all this excellent advice is that it's the feel that you want to pay attention to during all that listening, rather than the notes or whatever else.

Without a cup of coffee, I'd be sitting here for hours trying to put into words exactly what that means, but swinging jazz has an organic, living pulse at the note level, running throughout each bar and also shaping complete phrases. Maybe you could think about the difference between someone giving a dry lecture and someone making an inspiring political speech, or performing an emotional role in the theatre to imagine what I'm hinting at.

Anyway, the point is that you don't want to be analysing too much while you're listening, because you could end up obscuring the really important thing, which is the feel. As several people have said, it will take a lot of time and a lot of listening to soak that up.

Of course, in classical playing, you play with feel as well, and know what I'm talking about - it's just that the feel in jazz is very different, so you need to open your ears to that difference. You'll be talking with a classical accent at first!

Also, take advantage of any opportunities you can to actually play with experienced jazz musicians. Try to get to a jam session and get up and play, even if it feels awkward for a while. Once you turn up a few weeks in a row, you'll be part of the scene and it will be much more comfortable.
 

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Also, take advantage of any opportunities you can to actually play with experienced jazz musicians. Try to get to a jam session and get up and play, even if it feels awkward for a while. Once you turn up a few weeks in a row, you'll be part of the scene and it will be much more comfortable.
. . . as well as getting out and listening to groups live.

I don't know how we missed that. That's brilliant. There's is, or at least should be, an ambience that goes along with public jazz gatherings that help give a physical and emotional dimension that goes along with the aural part of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
This is all great stuff - thank you!

How important do you think it is to have one-on-one lessons? This has been the main way I've learnt so far, but do you think it's more useful to listen and study alone, and then get into a group environment and just start getting involved?
 

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My opinion is that one-on-one lessons are incredibly valuable. I think with any kind of music, but perhaps even more so with jazz which has a strong aural tradition, you want to spend as much time playing with other people as possible, and to my mind one-on-one lessons fit the bill.

Be open to the idea that you don't necessarily need to be having lessons from a saxophone player, either, particularly since your technique is obviously already good. You could learn plenty of what you need to from a pianist or bassist. Really, the instrument is not the most important thing, but having someone who can accompany you could be helpful.

I'm certainly not recommending against a saxophone teacher! Just pointing out that it's not your only option.
 

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It's a bit of a cop-out to answer by posting someone else's video, but Victor Wooten (on YouTube) also has something worthwhile to say on this topic. The most relevant part is from 6 minutes onwards, in case the link doesn't jump there automatically.

I was in the audience for an opera masterclass a couple of years ago and one of the singers was criticised for imitating a recording rather than finding his own interpretation from the score. In jazz, I think it's the other way around. Has that been your experience in your classical training?

With all of that in mind, it's also worth seeking out playing opportunities where you feel a bit out of your depth. If you're completely comfortable, it might be that you don't stand to learn much. You want to make sure that you're playing with musicians with rock-solid time and a good groove!
 

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With all of that in mind, it's also worth seeking out playing opportunities where you feel a bit out of your depth. If you're completely comfortable, it might be that you don't stand to learn much. You want to make sure that you're playing with musicians with rock-solid time and a good groove!
Just don't try to get too far in over your head and get frustrated to the point where you want to quit. Maybe have a conversation with some of those players and tell them what you're trying to accomplish. There are a lot of very friendly musicians open to helping others get better, but there are also some people who would rather you spend that time learning elsewhere. In my opinion, it's best to know that because as fantastic and fulfilling as one scenario is, the other is equally strong in the opposite direction. I know that from experience.

But what ever you do, remember to have FUN!! GOOD LUCK!!!
 

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Just to poke a stick in the monkey cage: I say forget books!!! Get a CD; say Dex's Daddy Plays the Horn, and learn every note of every tune. That's the way it's been done since acetate...
 
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