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Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
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Being a musician, or musical is a way of being awake in time, your angle of perception, a tilt of the ear in the world.Being innately in tune with the universe around you.We need to always be open to be exploring our capacity for listening to sounds and for making music. By doing this, we can awaken our full creative powers.

These past few days I've been thinking- about this ;

The defining characteristic of any given jazz musician is his sound. The more control a player has over the nature of that sound, the more likely he is to project a distinctive musical personality.

For example, a saxophonist has virtually unlimited physical control of the sound that comes through his horn, and therefore a wide range of tonal expression at his command - Think- James Moody, Sonny Rollins, Hawkins, Don Byas. From the masters of masters level. Infinite sounds.

But also a deeper understanding of _WHAT_your playing is important as well.
Transcription is one aspect, dynamics within the solo is the most vital IMHO.
Expression in jazz comes from dynamics!! To just play the same volume, note to note is a dull.

REMEMBER-Being a musician, or musical is a way of being awake in time, your angle of perception, a tilt of the ear in the world.Being innately in tune with the universe around you.We need to always be open to be exploring our capacity for listening to sounds and for making music. By doing this, we can awaken our full creative powers.

These past few days I've been thinking- about this ;

The defining characteristic of any given jazz musician is his sound. The more control a player has over the nature of that sound, the more likely he is to project a distinctive musical personality.

For example, a saxophonist has virtually unlimited physical control of the sound that comes through his horn, and therefore a wide range of tonal expression at his command - Think- James Moody, Sonny Rollins, Hawkins, Don Byas. From the masters of masters level. Infinite sounds.

But also a deeper understanding of _WHAT_your playing is important as well.
Transcription is one aspect, dynamics within the solo is the most vital IMHO.
Expression in jazz comes from dynamics!! To just play the same volume, note to note is a dull.

REMEMBER- Expression in jazz comes from dynamics!!

Here's something to study/ check out for this week on this creative tip.
There is a sound Sonny Rollins gets on " The Sound Of Sonny" is one of the zeniths of melodic brilliance in saxophone sounds. Check out and transcribe his dyanmics on his unaccompanied tenor solo on "It Could Happen to You."
Then, do the same to a solo by Bird or Miles Davis. Just study the dynamics of the solo.

This will not only open your ears but develop your sound in the idiom of your expression. Check it out :)

Here's something to study/ check out for this week on this creative tip.
There is a sound Sonny Rollins gets on " The Sound Of Sonny" is one of the zeniths of melodic brilliance in saxophone sounds. Check out and transcribe his dyanmics on his unaccompanied tenor solo on "It Could Happen to You."
Then, do the same to a solo by Bird or Miles Davis. Just study the dynamics of the solo.

This will not only open your ears but develop your sound in the idiom of your expression. Check it out :)
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2007
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Couldn't agree more. But how do you manage to write with reverb ? :bluewink:
 

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Expression in jazz comes from dynamics!!
I just took a lesson from Buddy Guy Monday night - actually it was a concert but it was still a major schoolin'!

At 74, Buddy can still lay it out there and more than ever expresses himself dynamically. Buddy will back off his volume (and the microphone) to a conversational level and draws the audience into a private experience and then cranks it up to rip your head off while you're wondering what hit you. I haven't had a rush from a concert like that in my last 50+ years. Whew...

Expression in MUSIC comes from dynamics.

Here's a little taste of Buddy Guy from two years ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWvG9L1jqq0

Oh, yeah, Buddy says "Please contact your local radio station to ask them to play some blues. Not just his music - any blues will be better than the #$%* they play on there now."

The same goes for jazz. If you listen to the radio and aren't hearing enough jazz, give them a call to let them know where their audience is coming from. We can't blame the young kids for not respecting jazz if they never get a chance to hear it - even if it's by accident.
 

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Hi,

I can't agree more with you... on my area most jazz musicians, like me, started from the classic. I know some who started right on jazz and are great musicians. But i've more than once talked with i friend of mine about this subject and we do think that musicians who have came from classic explore more the dynamics than just jazz musicians...imo that's what i noticed... and not just on solos but when playing the head too!

btw i'm transcribing some don byas solos from the 40's so this thread came on a good timing for me.

Thanks
 

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Thanks Tim. Well stated. Now, if you could convince trumpet players of this, I'm sure you would have the gratitude of all saxophone players everywhere.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks Tim. Well stated. Now, if you could convince trumpet players of this, I'm sure you would have the gratitude of all saxophone players everywhere.
Belliott...Thank you. Glad you got the content. There's times when I'm very fortunate to reflect back on situations where dynamics and musicality's were a benchmark.
Not always can things be controlled, and in life as well as music things can get out of hand. But to get a mind set and a starting point is always an asset.
 

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Right on Tim. Part of the problem has been in the past 30 odd years record producers and engineers want it all at top volume all the time. Shouldn't matter but I think much has to do with dynamics not working if one is listening to music while driving in a car (where probably more music is listened to than at home).

Probably not thought about much, but just another way in which the car has changed human society. No excuse though for what should happen live and what a real musician should strive towards.
 

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I hope you'll forgive a dyed-in-the-wool reader who is solidly in the can't-improvise-won't-improvise camp for chipping into a thread contributed to by so many distinguished jazz players.

I was brought up musically here in the UK in the brass band world and right from the very first band I joined as a youth of 13 years old I've had it drummed into me that there are three things that matter: the right note - in the right place - at the right dynamic. I left the brass world for the saxophone several years ago and now, pushing three score years and ten, I run a sax quartet and play in a local concert band. Nothing has changed from my youth. Our concert band leader is always on at us about our dynamics, you say about trumpeters but trombonosts are THE absolute worst of the bunch. I mean is it possible for a trombonist to play at any other dynamic than fortissimo? An interesting tactic was for him to get the whole concert band to play a chord at what he wanted for mezo forte. Right, he said, now play that at half the volume which we did. OK he said, that's your mezo piano. Now play it at mf again which we did. Now play it at twice the volume, which we did. That's your forte. He kept doing this every rehearsal until we all had it in our heads what those little letters mp, mf, f under the score meant.

Similarly, in my quartet I'm always having to stop us in rehearsal and remind us that dynamics are the key to interesting, vibrant, attractive music. I got so frustrated with the quartet ignoring dynamics once that I got us to play a title all the way through at pianissimo. Then we played it again obeying all the written dynamics and the difference was astonishing. I think I persuaded them that dynamics are just as important as the right note in the right place.

So may I venture to suggest that dynamics are not only the key to expression in jazz, but in all music of any genre from any instrumentation.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
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Discussion Starter #11
right on tim. Part of the problem has been in the past 30 odd years record producers and engineers want it all at top volume all the time. Shouldn't matter but i think much has to do with dynamics not working if one is listening to music while driving in a car (where probably more music is listened to than at home).

Probably not thought about much, but just another way in which the car has changed human society. No excuse though for what should happen live and what a real musician should strive towards.
thank you....much appreciated.
 

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The Sound Of Sonny" is one of the zeniths of melodic brilliance in saxophone sounds.

Tim,
I could not agree more with the above statement! A friend recently hipped me to a couple of Seamus Blake recordings, I hadn't checked him out outside the Mingus Dynasty setting and the thing that struck me first was his use of dynamics. Of course this requires formidable technique which he clearly possesses.
 

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Another key to this I think (in a grou or band dynamic) is having your band mates really listening to what & how the lead is playing and to follow accordingly. that is one aspect I am working on with my jazz quartet. At least to getting the rhythm section to listen to the volume I am playing at (even the head) and follow (react?) with me.

So not only be aware of dynamics but also listen for them and react accordingly, no matter what the instrument. Sometimes on a solo it can be full steam ahead, but for me specially on slower tunes I like to change and use dynamics with my solo, I need the other players to react and move with me. that is what makes a so-so band differeent from a great band. The action and interaction between the players.

Great point Tim!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Columnist and Saxophonistic Art
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Discussion Starter #16
another key to this i think (in a grou or band dynamic) is having your band mates really listening to what & how the lead is playing and to follow accordingly. That is one aspect i am working on with my jazz quartet. At least to getting the rhythm section to listen to the volume i am playing at (even the head) and follow (react?) with me.

So not only be aware of dynamics but also listen for them and react accordingly, no matter what the instrument. Sometimes on a solo it can be full steam ahead, but for me specially on slower tunes i like to change and use dynamics with my solo, i need the other players to react and move with me. That is what makes a so-so band differeent from a great band. The action and interaction between the players.

Great point tim!
thanks....
 
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