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More Confessions from Skip Spratt

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More Confessions from a BS Saxophonist

by Skip Spratt

Well, here I am again confessing my inner most secrets - not exactly. In previous columns I have written about the virtue of learning standard tunes as well as other topics related to saxophone playing for the modern saxophonist. The advice given in this article deals with style, influences and being true to your "inner saxophonist".

First let me say that I absolutely love the playing of Michael Brecker and David Sanborn. O.k. I said it. It's out there. Now that I've openly admitted that it's not difficult to tell you that early on (back in the late 70s and through the 80s) I did everything in my power to become a Brecker and Sanborn clone. What I didn't realize until much later is that I was not alone! There was and is not a shortage of BS (every pun intended) saxophonists out there.

Upon realization of how common my problem was I began to listen with a more open mind around 1990. This was coupled with going back to college and hearing a whole new breed of saxophonists, not so heavily influenced by the BS thing. (again every pun intended) Over the past 10 years or so I have gradually gotten further away from those early influences on my playing. My sound has mellowed. My equipment has changed. Most of all my appreciation for all kinds of saxophone music has grown and broadened.

When you add up all the influences you hear "me" or "you". Lately I have been allowing the old BS influence to creep out of the shadows on gigs again. I feel liberated musically and spiritually. I AM A BS INFLUENCED SAXOPHONIST and that's O.K. (thanks to Stuart Smalley) If the music allows that style of playing, it sounds completely appropriate to fall back into that old groove again. Just remember - a groove is a rut if you can't get out of it.

In conclusion, I guess what I'm trying to say is that you need to be true to yourself. Don't regret what you love or try to become who you're not. Play the music that comes from within. My music as of this writing is an equal mixture of all the influences listed above and more. Your earliest influences are valid and so is my BS saxophone playing!

Today, I love listening to Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, Shamus Blake as well as many other jazz contemporaries. Over the years my eyes have been opened to the beautiful Classical saxophone recordings of Eugene Rousseau and Vinent Abato. Studying flute awakened me to recordings by Galway, Rampal and Julius Baker. I was equally influenced by clarinet recordings by Robert Marcellus and Sabine Meyer.

Stay well and play well.
Skip Spratt

About the Author:
Skip Spratt holds a BM with honors in Jazz Saxophone and an MAT in Music Education from The University of the Arts, and a Certificate from Berklee College of Music in Boston. He is the instrumental music teacher at Berlin Community School, Secretary of the NJ-IAJE and has taught saxophone at Rowan University.

Skip is the keeper of The Saxophone Shed ( He is available for private instruction of all levels in saxophone, flute, clarinet and improvisation in the Philadelphia area. Additionally, Lessons by Mail are Cd lessons available to students in any region. Just click on the Lessons by Mail link at
Created: January 18, 2006.
©2006, HarriRautiainen and respectiveauthors

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