Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I’ve never really played much jazz, or listened to it for that matter. I really like it though. I’m from south/central Kentucky and haven’t been around it that much. I played saxophone through school and my director wasn’t really a sax player… I also took piano lessons and learned a lot of classical stuff… so I focused primarily on classical saxophone. I decided to major in music education in college because I truly love it and I’m a college sophomore now. I was in the jazz band last year, and I’m going to be this year as well. I can do the music and make it sound good, my main concern/problem is improvisation. Our jazz director lets everyone play a solo every now and then, and I’m never prepared. I was wondering if anyone could give me any pointers or practice tips/techniques for better improve. Blues scales? Pentatonic scales? 7th chords? It’s all so confusing. Please help!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009-
Joined
·
2,759 Posts
There are just so many resources available on this site, let alone on the web, that it's hard to know where to begin. One thing you might try is playing along with transcribed, recorded solos. First play the melody over the solo, over every chorus of the tune. Then play arpeggiated chords over the changes in every chorus. Then try to play along with the soloist. What you're trying to develop here is a feel for jazz phrasing and how it relates to the melodic line of the tune by referencing the appropriate chords and scales. Twelve bar blues tunes are a great place to start. And listen to as much as possible, actively following the soloist's line and humming or singing the licks which really appeal to you. It takes time but you just have to jump in at some point and trust that with work it will get easier and sound better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,525 Posts
Listening will help, and the Miles Davis album "Kind of Blue" is a good one to include at the start. It has some of the finest jazz playing ever done, but is also highly listenable to those who don't know much about jazz. And the song "Freddie the Freeloader" is based on blues changes, so it is a fairly good one to try playing along with the recording.

Playing blues scales, arpeggios, and 1-2-3-5 and 1-3-4-5 patterns (major and minor) are all good exercises. but don't forget that good improv is about melody and not technical proficiency. Getting the sound and feel of the chord changes into your brain is essential, and as a sax player I find that playing the chords on the piano is a big help for this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks so much, this will help a lot. About the chords though, could you give me a typical blues chord progression that is used in many songs? Do jazz chord progressions resemble that of conventional theory [tonic, predominant, dominant, tonic]? Are they different or are they one and the same? How does it work?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009-
Joined
·
2,759 Posts
There are a number SOTW members who have websites where plenty of good information can be found. Pete Thomas comes to mind right away. Randy Hunter and Tim Price are good resources as well.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
4,881 Posts
Biscuit, seems like yesterday that I was in school learning a bunch of the same stuff you're talking about and trying to apply it to jazz improvisation. Yes, they really are the same fundamentally.

As with anything else you will encounter in life, creating comes easy when you have the right tools for the job. In improvisation, you are going to need to know where all the notes are on your instrument. Scales, Chords (triads), Intervals, etc. Have these things accessible and improvisation will come much easier.

I will tell you, if you're coming from a classical theory background the blues will not be an easy place to start. I would suggest a simpler tune like "Take the A Train". Blues chord progressions aren't diatonic due to the lowered sevenths, but here is the progression:

I I I I
IV IV I I
V V I I

Three phrases:

Tonic || Tonic
Predominant || Tonic
Dominant || Tonic

GO FOR IT!
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top