Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello Saxophonists/Jazz Aficionados,
I just recently started becoming interested in Jazz music and was wondering if you guys could help me out.
For a little background I am talentless when it comes to Jazz. Whenever I was put in a Jazz band I would never take a solo because whenever I tried it sounded like mush compared to my peers who could play much better solos than me. Thus I have been impartial to the genre until a friend of mine gave me some recordings and inspired me to try harder at it.

So I am ambitious to get better at this but for the past few weeks when I have been in the practice rooms I have not really found much progress whatsoever. My solos sound mundane/uncreative when I play with Jamey and I come out feeling unproductive. I feel this way because when I practice Classical Saxophone I know what I'm doing, what I want, and how to get there. But when I practice Jazz I know that I am trying to be a better improviser but I don't really know how.

Not to say I am completely in the dark. My friends tell me to just transcribe recordings but I don't really know how to apply the licks I learn to the solos I play, when I do play them.

Anyhow Thanks In Advance Guys!!
-AP
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
PS - Another problem I find is that I can never incorporate what I learn in solos without directly quoting them, how can i fix this?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
575 Posts
While I think you could find the bulk of the info you need already on this forum, I would have one suggestion given your initial post. I would venture to say that no one will learn to improvise starting with the books, you must start with improvising and then use the books to refine what you already have going for you. This means sign up for jazz band and volunteer for every solo you can. You can't be serious about learning to improvise until you are willing to sound like a buffoon in front of a bunch of people. That's the first step. Most of the rest has already been said (study the books, the recordings, know the patterns, forget the patterns, transcribe, ear train, play standards on piano experimenting with voicings, etc.).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,566 Posts
LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN! Just listening to great players will really help your playing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
386 Posts
Get some solo transcription books. I started with the Charlie Parker Omnibook and played the solos slowly to get the notes under my fingers. I then started playing some of the solos over Aebersold records to hep me understand feel and style. I look at this like a baby imitating the sounds it hears to learn words. Sure, you are not improvising, but you are playing jazz.

Also pick up the Lennie Neihaus series of Jazz Etude books to work on articulation and more patterns/ideas.

Of course, play as much as you can and take lots of solos. Listen to players you like and try to emulate what they play. Play along with the records you like and try to copy the occasional lick.

It takes time, all of the suggestions in this thread will certainly help. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
504 Posts
Imitate. Assimilate. Innovate.

That's your order. You asked how to avoid copying things you learn from solos directly into your playing -- as a beginner in improv, you should not avoid that at all. Imitation of the masters through transcription and listening will give you the jazz vocabulary that you need to develop. You need to know what came first before you can become a better improviser.

When you find some vocabulary that you like, assimilate it into your playing. Learn that ii-V-I lick in 6, 8, or 12 keys and practice using it in different environments. After that, elaborate on the lick and make it more your own.

Innovation comes way later on. I think you've reached that stage when you see a chart, and are able to see how Bird would have played it, Stitt would have played it, Woods, Trane, whoever. Maybe you decide to duplicate that sound, and maybe you just decide to do your own thing. Know what I mean?

Anyway, if you're transcribing, look for players who really played changes with very functional harmony. Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Cannonball Adderly, even Dizzy Gillespie (tpt) or Oscar Peterson (pno) would be great listening/transcribing choices. I'm not saying don't transcribe what you like and are attracted to, but maybe just don't tackle Brecker right away, for instance.

Think about when you prepare a classical solo -- you're using the same process. Imitate the style and phrasing of a recording you like, assimilate some of the player's nuances, and then re-work what you've learned to make the performance one of your own and not a carbon copy of someone else's. Just keep it up -- jazz is a heck of a lot of fun and very educational.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,051 Posts
Start with the blues. I don't think anyone could ever become a jazz improvisor without learning the blues. Listen to the blues influence in all the greats like Dex,Lockjaw,Turrentine, etc. Don't beat yourself up. It takes some time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
54 Posts
Start rhythm

This may seem a bit academic when you first start rehearsing this way, but it is very helpful to build your jazz vocabulary. Pick a note and work with rhythms you have noticed in your book. For example: eighth note, quarter note, eighth note,eighth note, quarter note, eighth note. Play it on one note of any scale. Phonetically, think du dit, da du dit,da du dit,da du dit as you are articulating (tonguing). Then alternate between two or three notes using the same rhythm. Use a rhythm you choose while practicing scales and intervals. The rhythm mentioined above done with an interval of a fourth can sound pretty neat. Rhythm is very important part of the jazz language.

Know your major and minor scales. Boring right? Not at all if you rehearse using rhythm tracks. I spend 45 minutes running scales and chords against rhythm loops I have programmed before I start rehearsin charts. Acid Loops is the easiest of the programs to develop cd tracks with. I will program 5 minutes of a hiphop beat at 85 beats per minute, 5 minutes of rock at 90 bpm, and move up in beats per minute. Even with rhythm tracks that don't swing, you will start to hear patterns that may work for other solo styles you may want to improvise.

Learn how to read and play chords. Most chords in jazz have extensions, and it is important you know how to figure them out. For example C7 means c,e,g, b flat.

Acid Loops, Cakewalk, Band in Box, offer very inexpensive software for programming rhythm sections. Keep it simple when programming. So if you know all your major scales, program some rhythm sections using major chords. Start off with 8 bars of each chord. Then start mixing it up. Use scale patterns that you have developed in the first part.

You may have heard 'The right note is only a half step away." Chromatic notes are a big part of jazz music. If you are practicing and something sounds strange, move to the note a half step up or down.

Listening to what others have played is good for learning what the jazz language sounds like. Pick out what sounds good to you. You will start to notice the different rhythms and patterns that you should put into your own solos.

What is important is be true to yourself and develop your own style. You don't have to play a lot of notes and you don't have to play double time swing. Much of the learning process is about making a few mistakes until you get it right. Those mistakes can actually teach you to work your way out of trouble. Remember, half step away
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,529 Posts
Great advice here from the others, especially "Imitate. Assimilate. Innovate.", the bit about not being afraid to look like a buffoon in front of others, and don't forget the rhythms. Some SOTWers have suggested in other threads that one should sometimes try to sit on one note for a few measures, and improvise based on different rhythms.

You wrote that you are "talentless when it comes to jazz", but I doubt that this is the case. The really good news (this may sound odd) is that you don't like the sound of the the improvising you have done so far. If you had a bad ear, you would think you sound fine.

It takes some time to get comfortable with improvising - I struggled with this all through high school and college, when I always felt that my improvising skills fell well short of all my other abilities on the sax.

One approach I have not seen mentioned explicitly in this thread is to play along with some pre-recorded music. My favorite jazz recording of all time to improvise with is "Freddie the Freeloader" on the Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" album. It's basically a blues progression (although the musicians on the recording give it a more complex treatment). Don't get all twisted up over what Coltrane does (tenor solos). Cannonball's alto solo is a lot of fun to imitate. There's also a good chance you will enjoy the album just for listening, even if you do not consider yourself someone who knows alot about jazz.

Give yourself some time, allow yourself to make mistakes along the way, and I'll bet you'll find yourself getting more comfortable with improvising.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
222 Posts
Bluelight,

Jazz improvisation is a learned skill. It is a rare individual who can improvise well without a great deal of study and practice.

What you need is a starting point. I would recommend a book called "The Jazz Theory Book" by Mark Levine. In it you will learn some basic info. about scales, chords and how tunes are constructed. Then you will see how to apply scales, arpegios, patterns (licks) etc. over the chord changes of a given tune.

Again, this is just a starting point. Don't be discouraged or think you have no talent. Learn what you can, listen to/emulate the Jazz greats, and enjoy the process.

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
93 Posts
The above suggestions will get you started, and more.when i started studying improvisation not many,if any transcriptions of the masters were available to me,1958 or so.my teacher told me to sing the solo off the record.one measure at a time,if need be.over and over and over.than notate it,one measure,than play it,slowly,and of course,increase to tempo.salt peanuts,charlie parker tune took me 6 months to get it down,its worth the effort,its like a guide tour of the time and changes,helps develop the ear,discipline.records would get ruined.you get used to this process,than giant steps came out,never mind that.doping off solos as it was called, was the only method of getting the transcription.at that time most of us did not share .using our ear was key,the connection.i cant believe how many transcriptions are out there for the taking today,and i dont know if it actually helps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
904 Posts
I have a method based on a solo by Wardell Gray that I'm working on and will be available as a CD Rom with many mp3 examples of how to practice and detailed lessons for transcribing a solo and studying it. I will post on here when it is done.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
That may sound foolish, but at first learn a simple blues scale... I think for the begining that will help alot, and i guess everyone of us started like this.
Try a real simple one like G or D-blues. You will see that nomatter what exactly you play it will somehow fit.
Once you feel comfortable with it, try to imitate stuff you heard before and so on. Also add some notes to your scale to let it sound more interesting.
Ah, and dont forget to listen to all the greats... and what i think is most important: Dont force yourself to play the "super fast mega licks", which everyone wants to hear, i´d take it slow, most important is that you have fun and enjoy playing a chorus/solo!:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
Psycodelic said:
That may sound foolish, but at first learn a simple blues scale... I think for the begining that will help alot, and i guess everyone of us started like this.
Try a real simple one like G or D-blues. You will see that nomatter what exactly you play it will somehow fit.
Once you feel comfortable with it, try to imitate stuff you heard before and so on. Also add some notes to your scale to let it sound more interesting.
I hope I'm not derailing this thread too much...

I'm also interested in learning to improvise on the sax, and I'm learning the blues scales on the 12 keys, plus the major scales and soon the minor scales too. What players do you think are a good to lift blues-based phrases and licks from?

In a previous life I used to play latin/rock/pop guitar (not so much anymore due to tendinitis). Back then, I noticed that my soloing became more focused after I stopped just running up and down the scales and started adding some simple licks lifted from players like Albert King and Robert Cray. Albert King in particular has been a source of inspiration for guitarists of all styles (blues, rock, jazz) for decades.

What sax players would be similar sources of simple but effective blues licks?

Oh and BTW, is it me, or a minor scale sounds much sadder on sax than on guitar? (Actually, I think everything sounds more intense on sax for some reason. You can fiddle around with a major scale and it can sound like the bluesiest thing ever. But that's a topic for another thread I think...)

Thanks,

Hernan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Seeing everyone has their own way (in basically, a complete article, not that that's bad), I offer you only a few lines. Listen to any recording you can get your hands one (even the ones where they sounded a bit drunk), and just get the notes and grooves in you. Give it some time, and while your waiting, learn those odd scales and arpeggios. After a while, it'll all just come out of you. You'll feel it. Also, Aebersold's are merely a tool for practicing when you have no band to play with/off of. Also, that imitate, assimilated, improvise (?) is a good way to start breaking down those recordings you get your hands on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
504 Posts
Hernan123 said:
What sax players would be similar sources of simple but effective blues licks?


Hernan
Hernan, check out a more modern tenor player named Joshua Redman. Though there are some great older blues players to look for (people will name some) I really like what he does with his compositions.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top