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When i'm playing classical sax, i could easily spend a few hours working through a few tough spots in a piece of music, or interpretation studies, but where do you put that time in with jazz?

Normally I run through a few scales(12 keys if i'm up to it) and than work on an etude or standard from the real book, maybe improvise a bit on the changes, after that i'm stuck.

Should i be focusing on phrasing and articulation like you would in classical studies, or just play around experimenting, both, what? It just seems to me that since jazz is very much an "in the moment" art form, it dosnt seem right to focus on a very specific thing. If that is what your suppose to do, what are effective ways of doing it?
How did John Coltrane and Bird fill up those 14 hours of practice?

Also, in particular, are there any good exercises or people to listen to help develop a nice expressive swing feel?

This is kind of just an almost productive rant, so sorry if its a silly waste of internet space

Thanks
 

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Tim Price has some pithy things to say about the 'minimum' that you should have under your fingers to 'start' playing jazz.

There are many ways to play scales and arpeggios. I never thought that I could say I was beginning to be fluent on scales unless I could:

Play all 12 scales, starting on a B or Bb (depending on the scale) all the way through the natural range, returning to the B or Bb. Also practice the scales in order chromatically, diatonically, circle of fifths, and thirds.

For flexibility, I like doing an exercises of scales of one octave up one key, down the next in Chromatic, cycle of fifths, diatonically etc.-- Like going chromatically: C ascending, C# descending, D ascending, Eb ascending etc.,etc.

That right there can be a couple of hours, and you haven't done anything except basic scales, no 'broken' thirds, fourths, etc. or arpeggios of different types. There's PLENTY of things to play.
 

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How I practice jazz depends a lot on what I'm working on at the time. There's the maintenance stuff we all do (scales and arpeggios, and patterns based on them), but I also have a tune or two I'm working on at any given time, or some particular thing I want to do better... right now, it's being able to function over diminished and altered chords. I'm also working on ear training at the piano and trying to learn interesting chord voicings.

If you're stuck, you might consider working with a teacher, or ask a player you admire what their routine is. I pick up ideas from friends like that all the time.
 

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Its not difficult to fill up 6 hours of saxophone practice,above posts,embouchure alone,is accountable for much time,of course mixing it with long tones,harmonics,patterns in all keys could on a good day absorb my practice time,creating patterns while practicing scales,in conjunction with,paper work ,writing i consider separate.tunes,form,so on.i feel that there is always work to do,all i have to do is listen to know this.an endless loop,for certain.....maintaining is one thing,moving forward is another...
 

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I practice jazz by playing tunes.

If a tune has a tough passage, I slow it down and work on the passage. If my mind hears a lick that turns out to be difficult for me to play, I stop playing the tune and practice the lick until either I can play it or I declare it unplayable (by me, at least) on the sax.

I choose tunes with non-vanilla changes to practice getting around on the horn.

I also practice scales, long tones, intervals, etc., but I don't consider them to be part of my jazz practice. Playing jazz is about playing tunes. That other stuff is about playing the saxophone.
 

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Lately I've gotten in the habit of what one teacher at my school calls "pencil practice". That is, writing anything via your instrument, and applying it to your instrument. So write tunes but make sure your horn is with you at the piano so that it makes sense from the beginning. Also write your own harmonic ideas, licks to use over certain chords, trial and error to see if they work, think about how to modify them so that they do...

A good prerequisite to this is being able to play a concept through a solo on a tune. For example decide to use chromatic approach from both sides to only the thirds of every chord throughout a given tune. A good start is always "all the things you are" since at covers so many chord functions and so many keys! It's going to start out very mechanical and forced, but that's a good thing, it means that you are training your mind to think conceptually rather than technically. Eventually you can get into more complicated concepts like finding a melodic shape and saying "i'm going to play this shape on ii and V chords only and this shape on I chords". Then think about how and where that shape can fit into the chord: what tone must it start on for the shape to fit mostly in the chord without creating so much dissonance that you can no longer hear the changes in your solo?? Ah, what fun...
 

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The Fish said:
Normally I run through a few scales(12 keys if i'm up to it)

Thanks
I think this is a very individual area here and something that we all think about. But I wonder : you ask about how to fill up all this practice time however you say that you simply run a few scales(12 keys if I'm up to it). Are you sure motivation is not the problem here?
Drop the classical and go right to a cannonball transcription(Autumn leaves from Miles somethin' else). Take every nuance, everything you can get out the solo, write out some variations, etc. transpose some things, analyze the solo, even transcribe Miles, you know. Also check out the sessions w/Love for sale and cannonball solo and the way miles plays the head. transcribe that-write it out. isolate some things and practice methodically, you know? Eventually blow along with the record as if you were on the session-record yourself.
 

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Actually, Somethin' Else is Cannonball's album; one of Mile's few late appearances as a sideman.:)


Learning tunes and doing long tones can fill up a ton of time.
 

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Tunes, tunes, tunes and tunes!

I am no expert on this sax-wise, but I have a facility to be able to improvise, mainly through 20 years playing jazz guitar

Al is right, the more tunes you learn, the more you develop your melodic side. A caveat though, I use a lot of aebersolds, but I always commit the head to memory before improvising. You need to get out of the habit of reading everything. Perhaps just glance at the chords if you have to.

Having said that, I agree that some transcriptions can really help, especially with borrowing licks and runs.

The Lennie Niehaus book/cd to go with the "Blues in all Keys" by aebersold is highly recommended.

In terms of articulation, the little Klose book does it for me. I practice my scales in order chromatically.

I only practice for an hour day. I spend 15 minutes on scales, 15 minutes on a transcription, then 30 minutes impovising over one aebersold song with absolutely no reading. This works for me.

BTW I always spend about 2 minutes (much to my family's chagrin) pushing my horn to the limit, sqealing, honking and playing stupidly fast runs and painfull slurs. I think it is like a car engine, sometimes you have to push things to keep the engine running well.
 

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Martinman said:
Actually, Somethin' Else is Cannonball's album; one of Mile's few late appearances as a sideman.:)


Learning tunes and doing long tones can fill up a ton of time.
I was going to highlight that but it does seem like a Davis date when you listen to it........ an easy mistake to make. Miles takes most of the heads, and does a very nice job too.
 

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crazydaisydoo said:
I was going to highlight that but it does seem like a Davis date when you listen to it........ an easy mistake to make. Miles takes most of the heads, and does a very nice job too.

Well, Miles was such a huge personality. When he walked into a recording studio, or a room or whatever, it was about him.
 

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crazydaisydoo said:
I was going to highlight that but it does seem like a Davis date when you listen to it........ an easy mistake to make. Miles takes most of the heads, and does a very nice job too.
It's a Miles date with Cannonball's name on it. It's due to the fact that Miles had another recording contract at the time, so he couldn't record for Blue Note. So they did the date and released it as a Cannonball record.
 

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There's an interesting book called "Harmony With Lego Bricks" in which the author states that you should never ever practise scales. While I don't necessarily agree with that I find a lot of his concepts quite interesting. Possibly the most important thing for jazz is not just understanding the harmony but being able to hear it, and play what you want in any key.

I would say that being being fluent in scales, arpeggios, patterns, licks etc. is not as important as being able to really get your mind and ears inside the harmonic structure of a tune and the rhythmic feel of jazz.

To get a good swing feel, I don't recommend you try to play quavers with what most people call a swing feel (long short long short with varying degrees of triplet feel). It's so easy to do that and still not "swing". The important thing is to lock into a groove with the other players - that is real swing and it's almost indefinable. Sometimes it means locking right onto the beat, sometimes it's pushing in front of or behind the beat. This comes from constantly listening and jamming.

But, there is a good exercise IMO, and that is to practice everything with bebop tonguing. Start off without worrying about "swinging", keep the quavers even (ie the same length) and legato, but just a very slight tongue on every alternate note of a line of quavers. You tongue the first (as it's the first) but from then on tongue the 2nd, 4th 6th, 8th and slur the 3rd, 5th and 7th etc. See example D here:



The tonguing almost forces you to play with a nice regular pulse, and very soon you will sound like you are "swinging" even with all the 8th notes played even lengths. Then gradually experiment with a triplet (or varying degrees of triplet) feel. Doing it like this will pay off big time - I've seen it happen with students. and it's great to see a sort of lightbulb switching on moment as they get a real grasp of "swing" which isn't just bouncing the quavers.
 

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It helps to compare the various approaches different players take to the lines they play. This lets you know that not only is there more than one way to play jazz, but that no one way is the right way.

Listen to Zoot Sims and Dexter Gordon, for example. Two completely different approaches to improvising from two very hard swinging tenor sax players.
 

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I think you answered your own question best. Working on phrasing and articulation is maybe the most useful thing you can do to develop your jazz playing. Try emulating Bird or Trane or Sonny by listening to and copying their exact phrasing. Good note choices delivered with tired or uncertain phrasing does not sound good at all, on the other hand you can make most lines work if you play them with enough attention to how you play them.
 

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I practice jazz a bunch of different ways. But, to me, it all boils down to listening to my heros (of which there are dozens). Then I try to figure out what the **** they're doing. Sometimes I'll make exercises out of certain passages of a solo that I really like (12 keys, etc.)Then I try to internalize it and add my own thing. This is how I learn tunes and vocabulary and come up with "my own?" stuff.
 

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Fish, it's easy -- just practice the stuff that you don't already know how to play.

If it helps to narrow it down a little bit, then, of the things that you don't know how to play, practice the stuff that you most want to play.
 

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hgiles said:
Fish, it's easy -- just practice the stuff that you don't already know how to play.

If it helps to narrow it down a little bit, then, of the things that you don't know how to play, practice the stuff that you most want to play.
Totally could not agree more with this very simple philosophy.

When I started playing sax it was becuase my hands were too small to play guitar, but I wanted to play like Jimmy Page. So I learned to play sax like it was a guitar, and by the time my hands were big enough to play guitar I liked sax too much to switch!

The point is I never bothered with "rudiments" because those don't impress girls. I wanted to learn Baker Street before I could even play a scale (go easy guys, I was eight and living in Germany).

Even if you haven't got the foggiest idea how, just put on Kind of Blue and try to copy licks by ear as they come out of the stereo. Then identify the key of the song, the accesible pools of notes, and try again.

CHEERS!!!

ZEPPELIN RULES!!!!
 
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