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Discussion Starter #1
The latest live looping effort from me! "One Man Jams"

This contains two tropical songs that I've been playing for a couple of years, four "jams" that are really just sketches of melody that I've been playing since I really got into looping and one completely improvised jam that I love called "Wade in the Water."

My set-up is Wah pedal, POG 2, and delay into a loop station.

https://open.spotify.com/album/3uIcbd6VHQQnLmtXBl1N2N?si=4S7d_0eAQeCilGo6K1r2Gw
 

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Good to hear someone doing a bit of experimentation and taking the sax in a different direction. You may not get much feedback here as unfortunately it's 99% players doing "standards". You'd think at some point they would like to be in the 21 century and playing music that an audience might wan to hear. Kudos and hopefully I'm not the only one who appreciates.
 

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You can appreciate standards and other music. And you'd be surprised how many people in the 21st century still want to listen to those standards; check out the average coffee bar play list as an example! ;)
 

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The latest live looping effort from me! "One Man Jams"

This contains two tropical songs that I've been playing for a couple of years, four "jams" that are really just sketches of melody that I've been playing since I really got into looping and one completely improvised jam that I love called "Wade in the Water."

My set-up is Wah pedal, POG 2, and delay into a loop station.

https://open.spotify.com/album/3uIcbd6VHQQnLmtXBl1N2N?si=4S7d_0eAQeCilGo6K1r2Gw
Wade In The Water makes me think of a 70s car chase soundtrack, like it a lot!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hey guys!

Thanks for checking it out. I try to have some fun with it. I'm always fiddling around with some kinda thing. Every now and then I like to post stuff around and see if anybody digs it.

Noah
 

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You can appreciate standards and other music. And you'd be surprised how many people in the 21st century still want to listen to those standards; check out the average coffee bar play list as an example! ;)
You're right in that a good tune always works, even if many don't know what it is. The problem we have as sax players is thinking that an audience wants to hear us doing endless variations that are usually just technical ego trips. It worked when I was a kid (1950s) as it was a new type of music (then), and everybody knew the tunes, so could appreciate those clever variations. My bet is that you could go to places that are thought of as still mainstream jazz oriented (like NYC) and walk the streets offering $100 to anyone who could sing Donna Lee and still have the $100 in your pocket at the end of the day.

If you like statistics try this:
https://news.jazzline.com/news/jazz-least-popular-music-genre/
Jazz is the least popular form of music in the USA and rapidly becoming more so. You and others can and should play whatever you like and hopefully enjoy what you're doing. I look around this site and see that it's 99% Mainstream Jazz oriented. Why? IMHO it has a lot to do with what and how people are taught. Guitarists are not taught to all sound like Joe Pass, why are sax players being taught to sound like players from the 1950s and 60s? Would be OK if there was a "market", there obviously isn't. The arts don't stand still. Those that do are a museum piece.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Nailed it. Although I was up in NYC last year and people were loving the electro-sax. But back to your point... as I read Jazz times month after month, I kinda want to shoot myself as it's literally nothing but "The Canon." NEVER anything about the new cats, new directions, new anything.... it's an unholy worshiping of the dead. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that there's an appreciation for those who once were... but even then it's skewed. Jazz was popular in the big band era because it was stylized couples dancing. Once the cabaret law and the whole radio strike thing came in, it transformed into an art form. And the audiences went elsewhere. Which isn't a surprise. But jazz is alive and well. When you look at FM stations 50,000K watts and up, MANY of them are jazz stations. Jazz festivals everywhere, every band everywhere claims "jazz" influences.... it's a thing. And Donna Lee is a rehearsed, pre-written thing - One of my musical buddies is ethno-musicologist Dick Weissman who has a hilarious 2nd hand Charlie Parker story. One of his friends, was childhood buddies of Parker and went over to his house one day. He could hear Bird practicing clarinet and asked his mom, "Can Charlie come out and play?" His mom replied, "Charlie isn't home."
 

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Good to hear someone doing a bit of experimentation and taking the sax in a different direction. You may not get much feedback here as unfortunately it's 99% players doing "standards".
I think a bigger reason for not getting replies is that you need a Spotify account to listen to this clip (which I don't have).
 

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You're right in that a good tune always works, even if many don't know what it is. The problem we have as sax players is thinking that an audience wants to hear us doing endless variations that are usually just technical ego trips. It worked when I was a kid (1950s) as it was a new type of music (then), and everybody knew the tunes, so could appreciate those clever variations. My bet is that you could go to places that are thought of as still mainstream jazz oriented (like NYC) and walk the streets offering $100 to anyone who could sing Donna Lee and still have the $100 in your pocket at the end of the day.

If you like statistics try this:
https://news.jazzline.com/news/jazz-least-popular-music-genre/
Jazz is the least popular form of music in the USA and rapidly becoming more so. You and others can and should play whatever you like and hopefully enjoy what you're doing. I look around this site and see that it's 99% Mainstream Jazz oriented. Why? IMHO it has a lot to do with what and how people are taught. Guitarists are not taught to all sound like Joe Pass, why are sax players being taught to sound like players from the 1950s and 60s? Would be OK if there was a "market", there obviously isn't. The arts don't stand still. Those that do are a museum piece.
There is so much of this that I disagree with.

Firstly, if you want to play what the majority audience wants to listen to then get on X Factor or Pop Idol or whatever. Where there is zero innovation and it's just a glorified karaoke talent show, but hey, if you win you'll have number one hits. Alternatively, you could just sample a classic soul or jazz track and turn it into a rap song for minimal effort.

You say jazz standards have no popularity, yet crooners like Bublé, Connick Jr, Jamie Cullum and so on continue to have huge success with them. There's a huge market for "vintage style" bands for events here in the UK; most of the gigs I do that pay well are of this variety. The likes of Starbucks and other mainstream coffee chains regularly play jazz standards, and release then as compilation albums with success.

So, I totally refute your idea that there is no market.

What there really isn't a market for is cutting edge jazz, or saxophone led innovative music.

In terms of teaching, in the UK jazz is barely taught at all, if you want to learn it you have to seek it out. And from a learning point of view, as with anything, you have to start at the beginning. You don't learn string theory as the first thing in physics, you move through Newtonian mechanics, electro-magnetic fields and on to relativity and quantum physics before approaching string theory. So, in jazz, it makes sense to start back in the beginnings of the 20th century, learn the cross overs from blues, learn the tin pan alley songs and their impact on jazz harmony, through bebop, post bop, modal jazz and beyond. That grounding allows you to be able to express yourself fully in newer styles of music, but with an understanding of where it came from and a whole load of experience, knowledge and skill that comes with. When I was younger I tried to skip some of those stages; the music I played was hugely flawed. Now, I've gone back to fill in the gaps, and what I produce is far more accomplished than the younger, idealistic player that I used to be when I took all of this more seriously.

All the best saxophonists I know can nail standards, regardless of whether they choose to play them or not. They're a huge part of the jazz vocabulary, and a huge part of being able to master the instrument (and I'm a million miles away from that.)
 

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If all that Mrblackbat said was the common reality then all would be good in the world of professional sax playing. Hopefully he is gaining experience and satisfaction from his playing and filling in the gaps in his education. There is certainly nothing wrong about learning from the past and gaining experience in many different styles of playing. That's not at issue. Look around this site as an example. Almost everything is about mainstream jazz and no other style/genre. That's a problem. Hopefully Mrblackbat and others are able to find gigs and play what they love...that can only be good. How many mainstream players are required to fulfill a PROFESSIONAL demand? How many well educated excellent mainstream players are out there? The answer is obvious...not much demand and a huge number of strictly mainstream style players.

There is no doubt that Starbucks and similar sorts of places play music that fits an image that they think their clientele would like to publicly project. I'd certainly bet that if you followed those clients back to their car or checked their smart phones the music they commonly listen to will not be jazz. This was also common even in the 1950/60s when University students would feign interest in Jazz as it was "cool" to be able to pretend to be part of that scene. Dave Brubeck was able to capitalize on this and put some reality into the equation by playing music that was so much better than pop/rock of the time. But he didn't become famous by playing "standards". Neither did Miles Davis.

Once again, look around. What do you see/hear on this site. I think it's unfortunately very typical of the type of limited training and aspirations of most sax players. The 1950/60s are gone and playing strictly in a mainstream style has nowhere to go. You don't have to be playing just whatever is popular at the moment, but it's a very good idea in the arts to be striving to move forward and not be sitting wallowing in the past. Consider what those revered artist of the 1950s and 60s were about. They were NOT copying players from the 1920s. They moved forward and created a new paradigm. The challenge is to likewise move forward, not forgetting the past, but learning from it. If you or others get pleasure from sitting in circles playing standards, that's fine. If you can muster a paying audience and make a living, that's even better. Best yet is to strive to be creative and moving forward in your chosen artistic endeavor. Playing standards is the antithesis of this. Whether or not someone can play standards and the mainstream style is not the issue. I can and did, but don't now and wouldn't recommend this as a practice over any other style for any player who is trying to become a professional. There is no reason I can conceive of for continuing to train students in a strictly mainstream style. Should it be included as one of the styles suitable for sax playing...yes, obviously.

Please consider the underlying attitude that is embodied in Mainstream playing. The "standard' is a vehicle for improvisation which is generally about showing off your chops. Even the rock guitar ego solos are something of the past. Do audiences really want to watch/hear someone who is just showing off? As musicians we are entertainers. If you're not, then you will never be a professional. This means that we GIVE the audience something...we communicate. It can be a story, a feeling/emotion, it's GIVEN to them. Most mainstream players are playing in the mode of trying to TAKE recognition/praise from an audience. Do you get the difference? There may be a few players who are so outstanding that you (as a sax player) just might want to check them out...but that's those few technical gods, not us. It's a "fastest gun in the west" syndrome, and generally not of much interest to an audience.

OK, where should students be putting their concentration? Obviously you need to learn the mechanics of what playing the instrument is about. Then pick up and understand how to play various styles, develop tone, and most importantly become one with your instrument so that whatever is in your head comes out as notes on your horn. This is the opposite of much of the training we see where cut and past formulations are prescribed that fit with "the changes". What's often called "theory" is too often prescriptive cut and paste with the player not knowing or hearing in their head what they are playing. It's mechanical and the antithesis of real improvisation. If you can't hear anything to play in your head, then "theory" may be as good as it gets. We all have limitations. For the student that has talent, they need to be encouraged to play what they hear and to practice to achieve being one with their horn. This is not easily achieved, and may never be achieved if they are strictly playing mechanically. There is a distinct divide between those who can "sing" through their horn and those who play mechanically.

The challenge is for teachers to recognize talent give those students the encouragement necessary to achieve creativity. Time to wake up... it will take something other than strictly mainstream playing.
 

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If all that Mrblackbat said was the common reality then all would be good in the world of professional sax playing. Hopefully he is gaining experience and satisfaction from his playing and filling in the gaps in his education. There is certainly nothing wrong about learning from the past and gaining experience in many different styles of playing. That's not at issue. Look around this site as an example. Almost everything is about mainstream jazz and no other style/genre. That's a problem. Hopefully Mrblackbat and others are able to find gigs and play what they love...that can only be good. How many mainstream players are required to fulfill a PROFESSIONAL demand? How many well educated excellent mainstream players are out there? The answer is obvious...not much demand and a huge number of strictly mainstream style players.

There is no doubt that Starbucks and similar sorts of places play music that fits an image that they think their clientele would like to publicly project. I'd certainly bet that if you followed those clients back to their car or checked their smart phones the music they commonly listen to will not be jazz. This was also common even in the 1950/60s when University students would feign interest in Jazz as it was "cool" to be able to pretend to be part of that scene. Dave Brubeck was able to capitalize on this and put some reality into the equation by playing music that was so much better than pop/rock of the time. But he didn't become famous by playing "standards". Neither did Miles Davis.

Once again, look around. What do you see/hear on this site. I think it's unfortunately very typical of the type of limited training and aspirations of most sax players. The 1950/60s are gone and playing strictly in a mainstream style has nowhere to go. You don't have to be playing just whatever is popular at the moment, but it's a very good idea in the arts to be striving to move forward and not be sitting wallowing in the past. Consider what those revered artist of the 1950s and 60s were about. They were NOT copying players from the 1920s. They moved forward and created a new paradigm. The challenge is to likewise move forward, not forgetting the past, but learning from it. If you or others get pleasure from sitting in circles playing standards, that's fine. If you can muster a paying audience and make a living, that's even better. Best yet is to strive to be creative and moving forward in your chosen artistic endeavor. Playing standards is the antithesis of this. Whether or not someone can play standards and the mainstream style is not the issue. I can and did, but don't now and wouldn't recommend this as a practice over any other style for any player who is trying to become a professional. There is no reason I can conceive of for continuing to train students in a strictly mainstream style. Should it be included as one of the styles suitable for sax playing...yes, obviously.

Please consider the underlying attitude that is embodied in Mainstream playing. The "standard' is a vehicle for improvisation which is generally about showing off your chops. Even the rock guitar ego solos are something of the past. Do audiences really want to watch/hear someone who is just showing off? As musicians we are entertainers. If you're not, then you will never be a professional. This means that we GIVE the audience something...we communicate. It can be a story, a feeling/emotion, it's GIVEN to them. Most mainstream players are playing in the mode of trying to TAKE recognition/praise from an audience. Do you get the difference? There may be a few players who are so outstanding that you (as a sax player) just might want to check them out...but that's those few technical gods, not us. It's a "fastest gun in the west" syndrome, and generally not of much interest to an audience.

OK, where should students be putting their concentration? Obviously you need to learn the mechanics of what playing the instrument is about. Then pick up and understand how to play various styles, develop tone, and most importantly become one with your instrument so that whatever is in your head comes out as notes on your horn. This is the opposite of much of the training we see where cut and past formulations are prescribed that fit with "the changes". What's often called "theory" is too often prescriptive cut and paste with the player not knowing or hearing in their head what they are playing. It's mechanical and the antithesis of real improvisation. If you can't hear anything to play in your head, then "theory" may be as good as it gets. We all have limitations. For the student that has talent, they need to be encouraged to play what they hear and to practice to achieve being one with their horn. This is not easily achieved, and may never be achieved if they are strictly playing mechanically. There is a distinct divide between those who can "sing" through their horn and those who play mechanically.

The challenge is for teachers to recognize talent give those students the encouragement necessary to achieve creativity. Time to wake up... it will take something other than strictly mainstream playing.
You don't have to refer to me in the third person. ;)

Your point about professional players applies regardless of the style; how many aspiring hip hop artists are there? Far more than the world needs to get it's hip-hop hit. Same with the talent show stuff - look how many wannabees apply and don't make it. And that's the popular music in terms of audience. Far more people want to be musicians of any genre than there is demand for.

As for Miles becoming famous by playing standards? Well, I think he did. He wouldn't have been in the position he was to record albums such as Birth of the Cool, Kind Of Blue, ESP and Bitches Brew without first cutting his teeth sitting in with the likes of Parker, Hawkins, Roach. A huge part of his early career is playing standards in his own band: Cookin', Walkin', Relaxin' etc.

Brubeck, I know less of so I'm not going to comment. And I might also take exception to the music that was played by these guys necessarily being "better" than pop/rock at the time. Different? Yes. More difficult? Most likely. Better? Well, that's subjective. Maybe we should all go back to playing classical music, the common perception is that's "better".

As musicians, if we are entertainers, well then entertainment has little to do with art, nor creativity, nor advancement. Entertainment is Pop Idol, and also, more satisfyingly for me, stuff like the Post Modern Jukebox, who take modern songs and rework them into swing and motown styles. Which entirely matches my experience when I did flirt with playing professionally: the audiences wanted ballroom dance music on the ships, they want standards in late night jazz clubs or afternoon coffee shops where they aren't really listening. They want a background live band for their wedding. Nobody cares about the advancement of the saxophone other than saxophonists; your posts make you seem a little bitter about this, but I think if anyone needs to "wake up", it's you.
 

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More disappointed than bitter. I did live through those periods when mainstream jazz was something new, and it was (for me) exciting at the time. Maybe (as you infer) I shouldn't care. It would be nice to see the instrument we play not go down the road that the clarinet did. If you haven't noticed the clarinet pretty much died with Big Band music and Dixieland. The sax is on the same trajectory via it's attachment to mainstream jazz.

I've done the weddings, clubs, and even cruise ships. How many people were listening? Hard to know, but I was satisfied with playing (and singing) and am still striving to reach my potential as a player. It's a good quest and I can only hope and wish that new players will find a direction that takes them and the instrument into the future. The one thing I'm certain about is that it isn't going into the future via mainstream playing.

I wish you and others joy in your music making, whether it's appreciated or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
MrBlackbat and whamptoncourt: interesting points gents. I grew up in Billings, MT - not exactly a cultural hotbed for incubating musical genius, or even mediocrity for matter. Somehow I auditioned for the USMC music program and made it, I did a stint in the Marines as a Bandsman (field band 29 Palms, CA). I went to the Armed Forces School of Music and spent a lot of time practicing and playing and studying music (although zero improv training or experience - apparently there was a scheduling SNAFU with my entire class.)

My first "jazz" gig went something like this - I arrive at my unit. The Gunny says, "Want to be in the combo?" I say, "Sure!" He says, "Go to supply and get a fake book, we're on at the officer's club Friday at 7pm." I say, "Aye Aye Gunny... what's a fake book?" He says, "Just ask them, they'll give it to you." I get my book, grab my horn, go to the gig. Gunny calls "Ceora." I sight read the head perfectly (cuz I had wicked chops back then), stop playing, and look around, the Gunny looks at me and says, "****ING SOLO!!!!"

Suffice to say, I learned a lot on the bandstand back then. After the Marines, I went to college (for music) and started a jazz band. I joined a lot of other bands along the way. I was a natural at the biz side and was working a minimum of 20 gigs a month. There was one excellent and notorious sax player in town. I figured I needed to shore up some deficiencies in my playing so I took some lessons from him. I've never enjoyed playing music less than that period. Between those lessons and college - I found myself subjected to other peoples ambitions for what a sax player "should" be doing and a "career direction." I spent 15 years trying to be a jazzman, touring around the NW doing all of that kinda thing.

And then I woke up. I wasn't having any fun, I was trying to be something I wasn't and something I didn't want to be. I like rock, blues, reggae, world-beat, noise, all kinds of stuff. So I started playing all of that. I kept doing jazz as well, but started doing original music. MUCH happier times. Since moving to San Antonio, I've done MAYBE a half-dozen jazz gigs. Mostly I do rock and loop-station stuff. I'll be forever known in some circles as a jazz guy, and that's fine - but I'm really not a jazz guy. I'm just a saxophonist.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
For that recording I used the RC-300.

Although what I mostly use on gigs is the RC-300 with KP3+ (4 channel sampler) and the KAOSS Pro (4 channel looper). If I do an assisted living facility or something like that, I'll use just the RC-300, if I do a short set at a bar, I'll use just the two KAOSS pads.
 

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And then I woke up. I wasn't having any fun, I was trying to be something I wasn't and something I didn't want to be. I like rock, blues, reggae, world-beat, noise, all kinds of stuff. So I started playing all of that. I kept doing jazz as well, but started doing original music. MUCH happier times. Since moving to San Antonio, I've done MAYBE a half-dozen jazz gigs. Mostly I do rock and loop-station stuff. I'll be forever known in some circles as a jazz guy, and that's fine - but I'm really not a jazz guy. I'm just a saxophonist.
All I can hope for is that others will also "wake up". It would be a lot easier if they weren't exclusively taught in the mainstream idiom...just saying.
 
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