The more you work at it, the more you'll relax and the less you'll rush. I find that one common cause of rushing is patting the foot in 4 at faster tempos. You'll relax more, and get a better time feel if you pat in 2 at faster tempos. Also, be sure to listen to your fellow musicians, leave space, and play a little less at times. Let the music breathe and you'll be less likely to rush. Of course, there's also metronome practice.
eighth notes. practice improvising playing only eighth notes against a metronome. a few choruses of that and your time will improve immensely. it may also allow you to think more creatively about note selection and line.
When you start working on a tune, start improvising using only whole notes. Then half notes. Then quarters. If you can play an entire chorus using consistent eighth notes (especially at a fast tempo) you have probably developed a VERY good sense of time.
Another thing you can use to hold you accountable is to borrow a drummer's hi-hat & keep time on beats 2 & 4 while improvising.
Use a metronome on 2 & 4. Practice on heads first, where you know where the melody falls in relation to the different beats. Once you get used to playing a jazz head with the metronome on 2 & 4, then start soloing.
It can take a while to get used to it, but you get used to hearing and feeling 2 & 4, your sense of time will automatically get better, you'll feel more secure, and you'll be swinging like crazy!
Practice everything in time/groove = play everything in time/groove. Scales, licks, exercises, etc. play them with a metronome, backing track, click track whatever you got. Do it every time you pick up your horn, everyday if you can, you will grow stronger rhythmically. It doesn't happen overnight, it happens very very subtly. Check this video out for a different angle: http://www.youtube.com/user/antwellington#p/a/u/0/8Sw_trDFJw8
Try singing a solo. keep in mind, we dont care about your singing tone and ability. Its a diagnostic excercise. Sing your solo. Do you rush? probably not. Do you sing alot of notes for notes sake? probably not so much. Why? Because to sing a melody or phrase, you have to hear it in your head first. Sometimes on sax we just start playing notes that we think will work, instead of playing an idea we have in our ears. bring the spirit of your phrasing when you sing to your horn.
If you have band in a box or some easy to use recording/looping device record 4 (or 8) bars of a rhthym or a rhythmic figure that you can solo over.
Loop play it with all the backing/timing until it is solidly grooved. Then play it with 3 bars sounding and the 4th bar soundless and then see if you are right on with the down beat on the repeats of the first bar. Once you have that down and you are right on the money on the downbeat of bar 1, have the last 2 bars with no sound looping through to the first two bars. Continue the process until you can groove a solo with only beat 1 of bar one. That will help your timing. Another helpful thing to do is play a lot more rests and concentrate on what the band is playing, with focussing on staying in the rythmic groove. I'd love to hear how that works for you if you give it a try.
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