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It's the thought that counts. Though I don't practice as I did years ago, I can rip through several different chord patterns at lightning speed without even thinking about it.

Is it any good?

Nope.

Learn to develop ideas slowly and then play them quickly if the situation calls for it. Fast playing that is unencumbered by the thought process impresses no one.

It reminds me of when playing outside the changes was the rage. My tutor admonished me by saying, "You have to learn to play far in before you can play far out."

So slow down and think about what you're doing.
 

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My all-time favorite tenor player is Getz. He didn't shred. Occasional bursts of speed, but mostly lyrical. Turrentine is second. Favorite all-time alto player is Desmond.

I can play fast. Whenever I find myself playing too fast too often, I consciously try to back off and play more melodically. The way I figure it is if you play too fast all the time, it loses it's impact and becomes a blur to the average listener.

There are plenty of other tools in the expressive tool-box. Long tones, themes and variations, solo development, pitch deviations, dynamics, ornaments, dissonance & resolve, and even silence.

But I play for a living, and I play for a general audience. I figure I'm not there to lecture them on the cerebral points of playing, but to have a dialog with them and entertain them.

When playing solos, I like to think of my playing with the audience like playing with a cat on a toy at the end of a string. If you let the cat catch the toy too often, the cat loses interest. If the cat seldom catches the toy, it loses interest.

So I want the audience to be able to predict where I'm going for much of the time (catch the toy) but surprise them part of the time too (didn't catch the toy). I've been playing pop music since I was in high school, and I can usually size up an audience and know how far to push them. Then once the gig starts, I just pay attention to them.

I paid off the mortgage, didn't have to work day jobs as a wage slave to some faceless corporation, take vacations every year, and don't live in the upper crust by any stretch of imagination, but I'm loving life and making a living doing what I would do for free.

I wake up in the morning, go to bed at night, and in between do what I want to do. In other words, I'm successful.

If I played nothing but bebop none of this would have been available to me.

Insights and incites by Notes
Wonderful Post Notes..!!
 

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Before reading this thread, I wasn't even sure what the verb "shred" meant. I guess it means playing fast for a long time. So shredding can be part of a palette of musical approaches. For many years my favorite saxophone player was Sal Nistico. I'm sure most will agree that Sal could "shred" and he often did.
I couldn't play all of Nistico's licks, but I could play some of them. The stuff I couldn't play became inspiration for improvement in my playing. In public, I didn't try to play beyond my capabilities. That kept me from sounding bad and I sounded like myself, not Sal Nistico.
It's OK to play fast. It's OK to concentrate on melody, or to display a beautiful tone with a perfect vibrato. It's probably best to do all of these things to make your style your own. Just don't let ego or impatience push you to play above your ability, of you will sound amateurish or even foolish.
 

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I'm OK with the OP, or anyone else, not shredding. But me, I wanna shred! Or at least be able to when the situation calls for it.

I think it goes without saying that you can sound great without playing fast. Ben Webster, late in his career, rarely played anything faster than mid-tempo eighth notes. He sounded tremendous, and he's a huge inspiration.

But there are also lots of great players who did play fast. Guys like Johnny Griffin and Michael Brecker made it an integral part of their style. And I find them really inspiring, too.

So I do work on speed. To me, it's like working on altissimo: I just want to be able to do it, if the playing situation calls for it. As a 'serious amateur' player, I know I'll never come anywhere close to what guys like Webster, and Griffin, and Brecker could do. But I want to get to the point where I have some of those tools in my toolbox, so to speak.
 

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I'm fine with not shredding. I don't particularly want to, and I don't have it in me to do it in the first place. Those two things are probably related. I don't see why its a problem.

OP says "shredding is expected or you're just not a good player". Depending on your definition of good that may be technically true. If you are trying to play with people who excel at playing difficult styles of music, it might even matter. But if you don't aspire to that, then it doesn't matter at all.

My aspiration as a player is to have fun making music with my friends. In recent times I have played in a couple original bands ('modern' rock), a couple of cover bands (ween, king crimson), and a band where we play music from super mario brothers. And I played in a local production of Cabaret. On my own I will usually just play vocal lines from grunge era bands that I like. None of it requires shredding. I had a great time doing all of it. No sax police showed up to inspect my jazz chops.

The idea that you have to be great to be a sax player might seem true because so many sax players are all about jazz. But there's plenty of room for sax riff raff such as myself. A lot of the good players would probably get bored with some of the things I play anyways ;)
 

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FWIW, I attended a Dave Holland concert on his last tour, and was looking forward to hearing his new band. After the concert, I found myself more worn than energized, and I learned that I never want to hear a concert-length exposure to Chris Potter again. I respect Potter's talent and commitment to his craft. I would appreciate it more if he could rein it in. I thought that his soloing was inconsistent with the context of the band, but maybe that is why he was there.

Does a player NEED to shred to be interesting? No.
 

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"Shred". Interesting term. Anyhoo.... I don't mind at all if someone can play fast, whether it's short or extended periods. What does bother me immensely is when diarrhea fingers (I should trademark that term) take over. I *try* to practice what I preach in regards to what I tell my students. That is: I'd rather hear you play 30 notes in one chorus of blues and have all 30 mean something, than play 300 and still have only 30 mean something.
Dr. G. mentioned above hearing Potter for an entire concert and feeling worn. I get that. However, Chris Potter, Michael Brecker, Johnny Griffin (all who play/played incredibly fast at times) could make complete sense of those 300 notes in one chorus of blues. I'd still rather hear that than.....well, I already stated my trademark term. ;-)

Of course, your mileage may vary.
 

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Nope, can't do it, not like the pros. Though after a few years back at playing, I am getting slightly faster.

As a younger dude, my ear always wanted to go on runs that my fingers couldn't follow. Now I can sometimes get there (for brief spells) on pure faith that the notes will fall in place. Or maybe it's just brute force and ignorance, which amounts to the same thing.

It's ultimately my lack of theory that holds me back--I have a good ear, but don't really know what I'm doing. That said, my tone is definitely getting better, which is more satisfying than shredding. At the moment, I'm actually more interested in improving my articulation and altissimo than my speed runs.

When I eventually retire, I plan to learn how music actually works. Maybe then I'll be able to shred.
 

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"Shred". Interesting term. Anyhoo.... I don't mind at all if someone can play fast, whether it's short or extended periods. What does bother me immensely is when diarrhea fingers (I should trademark that term) take over. I *try* to practice what I preach in regards to what I tell my students. That is: I'd rather hear you play 30 notes in one chorus of blues and have all 30 mean something, than play 300 and still have only 30 mean something.
Dr. G. mentioned above hearing Potter for an entire concert and feeling worn. I get that. However, Chris Potter, Michael Brecker, Johnny Griffin (all who play/played incredibly fast at times) could make complete sense of those 300 notes in one chorus of blues. I'd still rather hear that than.....well, I already stated my trademark term. ;-)

Of course, your mileage may vary.
I think I first heard the term "shred" from snowboarders. I wonder if they made it up, or if they got it from somewhere else? I assume that when they described snowboarding as "shredding," it was a reference to tearing down the mountainside, shredding the snow, but I don't know if that's where they got it. And then somehow it transferred over the to world of electric guitar playing, where people talk about playing super fast as shredding, and players who do so as shredders. I think this thread is the first time I've heard it applied to saxophony!
 

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I'm OK with the OP, or anyone else, not shredding. But me, I wanna shred! Or at least be able to when the situation calls for it.
What kind of situation is it that actually calls for shredding?

Nope, can't do it, not like the pros..
I'm a pro and don't/can't shred.
 

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I thought only guitar players could truly shred. Rock guitar players-
 

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I continually develop running fast 8ths and 16ths so that I don't embarrass myself in fast Bebop or jazz fusion situations where it's often expected. Otherwise....I keep that tool and altissimo closed up in my bag.
 

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In my younger days I did my share of shredding, that was a result of what the gig called for, and it was a great way to relieve stress...now fast runs are very rare....I can still play them, I just prefer to be more Desmond like...I’ve had this conversation with several local pros....they all seem to be going more toward a melodic approach....as much as I admire Parker/Potter technique, I never listen to them...just seems to create a feeling of stress...
 

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....I can still play them, I just prefer to be more Desmond like...I've had this conversation with several local pros....they all seem to be going more toward a melodic approach....as much as I admire Parker/Potter technique, I never listen to them...just seems to create a feeling of stress...
Could we be entering an era of New Cool?
 
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