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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

If you're reading this, maybe you could help! I'm getting really bored with my playing, especially over a blues. I feel like I often play the same ideas over and over again, each chorus I take, and I was wondering if there was a better way of approaching a blues. I attached a small video of me playing over "Billie's Bounce," the same recording I used for my Manhattan School of Music prescreening tape.

Thanks!
-Nick

 

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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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Hello,

If you're reading this, maybe you could help! I'm getting really bored with my playing, especially over a blues. I feel like I often play the same ideas over and over again, each chorus I take, and I was wondering if there was a better way of approaching a blues. I attached a small video of me playing over "Billie's Bounce," the same recording I used for my Manhattan School of Music prescreening tape.

Thanks!
-Nick
I hope you didn't send Manhattan School of Music a blank tape..............
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Just updated, hopefully this one works
 

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I'm always blown away by the level vocabulary that a lot of high school students in the states have. High school jazz education in Canada is nowhere near the same level. Probably because we don't have an equivalent to all state competitions that you guys have.

You've got a really good handle on the vocabulary. But with such a simple form it might be nice to hear a little bit of playing outside the changes. Substitutions, patterns etc. The playing feels calculated. Which is great but it feels like you are staying in your comfort zone. Gotta try and break that if you want to "stop playing the same thing over and over."

Tiny flub in the head out. But you nailed the first head and the solo.
 

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I'm always blown away by the level vocabulary that a lot of high school students in the states have. High school jazz education in Canada is nowhere near the same level. Probably because we don't have an equivalent to all state competitions that you guys have.

You've got a really good handle on the vocabulary. But with such a simple form it might be nice to hear a little bit of playing outside the changes. Substitutions, patterns etc. The playing feels calculated. Which is great but it feels like you are staying in your comfort zone. Gotta try and break that if you want to "stop playing the same thing over and over."

Tiny flub in the head out. But you nailed the first head and the solo.
Actually, I would keep the "flub" and just clean it up. Properly managed it would be a neat little rhythmic variation and melodic detour. I don't know whether you meant to do something like that, but it could be of good use. Was the shout of "Yeah" in the background a response to trying a rhythmic variation and melodic detour, which didn't quite come out clearly?

Try to build a solo. There are a number of ways to do that, not just starting with lots of space and then moving to double time and ending up with a "shout chorus", but that's a good place to start. What I hear is that the intensity level of the clip you showed remains similar throughout.

I think you could use some more space in the solo.

My personal taste would call for clipping the short notes more definitively short. First phrase: ba-da-ba-da-ba da-ba-da-ba doodleya DOT. Doodleya DOT.

Nothing there a few years on the bandstand, preferably playing for dancers, wouldn't fix.
 

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Listen to different players and not just sax players. Learn the tunes and solos that grab you. Sing melodies and try to not play any of your favorite licks. Work whole choruses limiting yourself to only a small range like a prefect fifth and slide your group of notes up and down the horn so you're focused on building lines using some colorful tones you might not usually go to. Similarly, you can work "out" scales for new color: most simply like playing an A or D minor pentatonic or blues scale-based solo over a C blues. Playing with other people is always a great way to cop new ideas. working with only a metronome also breaks the boring monotony of using Aebersolds or other backing tracks.
 

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You can play the saxophone, no question. Try playing this tune in a different key (don't know if you can raise or lower the pitch of the Aebersold tracks enough - maybe use iRealPro or Band-in-a-Box?). Like, say Gb instead of F...

turf3's comment about building a solo is a good one, you need an arc. Remember this is music, not an etude, give it some artistic shape.
 

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If you're reading this, maybe you could help! I'm getting really bored with my playing, especially over a blues. I feel like I often play the same ideas over and over again, each chorus I take, and I was wondering if there was a better way of approaching a blues.
Nick, that's some solid playing. I like your tone, and your occasional use of space, and where you tend to stay in the pocket. Great stuff.

I'd suggest you look for more vocabulary, and that you find other ideas to explore in your double time lines. If you've never heard of "The Serious Jazz Practice Book" by Barry Finnerty, let me commend it to you now. The other book would be "Building a Jazz Vocabulary" by Mike Steinel. Those two book will open your ears to ideas that explore what you already know, and provide shedding material for many productive years to come.
 
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