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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
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Discussion Starter #1
I am usually very careful to be musical when soloing/playing but if I know that there is a saxplayer out in the audiance I go into lick attack mode and play crap that I wish I hadn't . Also sitting in with a new band I tend to play more and faster than I want to. Any advice on how to chill and just play music? K
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
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Maybe you might consider a page from Martysax's book... Put your sax together then place it on the stand and go over to the bar for a few minutes before the gig starts....
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
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Yes,

You are playing to the wrong person. Instead of thinking about another sax player in the audience, pick out someone else to play to and think about them as you play. This same thing happens to me sometimes when we have special visitors in church. There's always the urge to try to impress them. But instead I usually pick out some older retired folks that enjoy good music but don't know anything about the sax. That's who I play to. And that works well because I end up pushing the music forward and not my playing ability.
 

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I can relate to this issue, not because I play like that (I can't, really - I don't know how, even if I'd wanted to) but because I've recently heard some big bands (high schoolers and adult-bands) where the saxophone and trumpet solos were non-musical technical finger-exercises. I've also heard some players in more traditional settings that played marvelous, melodic stuff that seemed to be appreciated by everyone, not just their fellow musicians. I also think of Willie Nelson in these settings - simple, melodic guitar playing that is sparse in notes, but awesome in a musical sense. Every note Willie plays says something.

Even my grandson (a high school jazz player) remarks that many times all he hears are notes from many soloists, but nothing melodic or even musical. I told him that when all else fails him, play the melody, it will sound unique in his environment. Like Enviroguy said, play to the audience as a whole and let the beautiful sound of your saxophone take over the long tones. DAVE
 

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I still do that sometimes. Most of the time I keep it simple and in context w the song. Hate players (mostly guitar) that throw in practiced "licks" to impress. Spontaneous and lyrical seem to produce the most memorable gigs.

K
44 yrs of happy sax
 

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Miles to Trane , "take the horn out of your mouth."
 

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I had the opportunity(?) to listen to a trumpet player last night that made me want to yell "ENOUGH ALREADY".
He only wanted to play a lot of notes that only dogs could hear as fast as his fingers could move.
I thought Ok, you're a 'screech' player. Is that ALL you know how to do?

Not very enjoyable.... I'm a firm believer in that 'Sometimes less is more'.
 

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Forum Contributor 2010-2016
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The player-in-the-audience syndrome is a hard one to overcome. I often remind myself not to be overly technical which can show up my deficiencies much more easily than my strenghts. Instead, I know I can swing and that things I play can make the band start to swing harder. The dancers usually notice this and the room vibe picks up. That gets noticed and I get hired more for that than when I bop myself out of a job.
 

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Check out "Effortless Mastery" by Kenny Werner.
 

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dun play to impress (though I do not always succeed in this) but rather play in such a way so that the band and other musicians can look better than myself, my solos.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
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Whenever I feel the urge to 'impress' and play licks I try to stick to just one lick for an entire chorus. When you have but one idea to last an entire chorus, you tend to slow down.
 

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I have returned to playing and practicing after a long hiatus. (I changed profession). I can relate to this. I find myself listening to my recorded practices and hearing myself playing as I did a LONG time ago: over-analyzing the chord structure and attacking it.

I remember an interview with Jimmy Heath in which he noted the differences between Coltrane's improv and Rollins' improv. Coltrane's approach to improvisation was that he regarded the harmony as a problem to be solved while Rollins improvised as if he "owned" the song. Hmmm...

How does one "own" a song? One approach is to learn not only the changes thoroughly but to learn the melody thoroughly and to reharmonize it. Rewrite the melody.

I cite two great jazz players who played this way: Stephan Grapelli (violin) and Toots Thielmans (harmonica). While these guys could play their honorable *sses off and approached improvisation differently, they never overplayed. You can usually hear the melody in their playing. When they departed from the basic harmonic structure, they didn't do it for long. They return to the melody to bring the listener back to the original message of the melody.

The average listener/non musician doesn't give a flip about how well you can use chord substitutions. He wants to be entertained.

I can identify with the tendency to play for the saxophonist and the jazz afficionde in the audience. They are in the minority in most audiences. The musician's mission is to entertain, not to educate. Give the listener something that he can relate to. That's usually the melody. Stay close to it.

Frank Pizullo, former instructor at Loyola School of Music gave me good advice: Before you can play far out, you've gotta learn to play far in. Many years later, this advice makes sense.
 

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I take the phrase I planned on playing, and reduce the amount of notes by half. then I have to say the same idea but with half the notes, and I find it is easier to remember and whistle on the way home, rather then being instantly gratified.
 
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