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Rock plus . .

2494 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Grumps
I don't know if this is the right forum for this question, but since there's no "Anti-rock Sax" sub-forum, I'm gonna start here, anyway.

Most of my long-ago pro playing was in rock and the blues. So I got away with what I will charitably call a "primitive" approach. I'm not proud of it, but it served our ultimate ends.

I'm currently working up an act that will certainly be "rock" of various sorts, but will, I hope, appeal to somewhat more sophisticated ears. So I need to make my playing sound more contemporary, and a degree more musically advanced.

I got my scales and chords down pretty well (though never well enough, lord knows). I am working on mixing in major and minor pentatonics and chromatic with regular maj and min scales. But when I record what I do, it still sounds rather crude.

So 2 questions:

1. Who can I listen to that plays what could be called contemporary pop / rock / blues / jazz sax?

2. Can anyone suggest any technical things I can begin working on to make my playing more modern and (musically) sophisticated?

Thanks for any suggestions.
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I'd be interested in your practical definition of "sophisticated ears" and what constituted a " 'primitive' approach" but aside from that, as we know, no matter what styles of music we are playing, tone is tone and sound is sound.

When you speak of "rock" and "blues", as JL has noted, many of the great tones and sounds are found in artists from the 1940's-60's who played jump and swing, "rock n' roll", r&b, blues, and soul. SOTW's "Blues, R&B, Rock n' Roll Teaching Resource" reviews the "technical things" that can help you build a distinctive tone and sound that will cut through any style of music. The "Recommended Resources" section also reviews earlier threads that discuss these issues including equipment setups.

In terms of getting gigs and calls, it certainly helps to be versatile, however rock and jazz don't mix well. As Jon R. Smith (who has played with a wide variety of artists) noted:
"...remember, you don't have to say a lot to say something! A great sax player may be capable of riffing off a whole ton of notes, but they also know that sometimes a very few notes is all that needs to be said.

When I go into a session for jazz, I'm going to play a solo that fits the music, sometimes a more modern sound with straight tones and sometimes no vibrato. But, if it's blues gospel, I'll use techniques like vibrato and growl. This approach has led to recordings with a wide array of musical artists such as Sarah Vaughn, Randy Newman, Peter Maffay, Rick Derringer, Junior Wells, and Sonny Landreth. And that's another thing. Know your limitations. Great r&b players don't try to be jazz players and vice versa. I've seen some jazz players come in and play bebop riffs over r&b and rock n' roll. They're playing way outside the music and not fitting into it. It's a mess. Fit yourself into the music and get the ego out of the way."
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