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At age 52, I am now involved with a group that is putting together a full length 8-9 tune CD of original jazz material. I've been involved with recording parts or solos here and there but never this involved. I've spent most of my life in horn bands, wedding bands, society bands, etc. Never as the only sax player in a quarter - Bass, Drums, Guitar, Sax. Here's what I'm learning (even at my ancient age):

1) My recorded sound wasn't the sound I had in my head.
We're recording in the bass players home study. Since we have plenty of time and we want to socially distance, I play in the recording booth and we record all the rehearsals to gain experience. It took a couple months to get the right reed combo to get the sound I thought I already had. Altissimo still isn't there but everyday - I feel like I'm heading in the right direction.

2) Pitch Pitch Pitch and More Pitch
This is by far the MOST frustrating part. I'm having difficulty hearing 'in-tune' in the studio. I always thought I played fairly in tune but maybe not. Put on the headphones and stick me in a booth and I seem to lose the center. Definitely a learning experience. I hear ALL the issue during playback but not while actually playing. So Bizzare.

3) Simple solos seem to sound best.
I really want to crush something and prove to the world that I not terrible. Here's the problem. When I try to play something complicated and fast, it just doesn't work. Clearly a case of trying to hard.

Any advice from you pros out there. I know recording more always helps.
Having 30 years of studio experience (owning, performing, writing, arranging and engineering) I understand all of these issues. On tuning/pitch, probably of UTMOST importance. although sometimes fixable in these troubling times :) It is never advisable. Being out of tune (particularly stringed instruments) is unforgivable. It always amazed me to have a guitar player come in, spending big bucks, and pick up their instrument and start playing without tuning. First indication of a poor musician. The most amazing take is useless on a poorly tuned instrument. That and an instrument in such poor shape beyond even tuning it is unplayable.

The quality of the studio and gear goes a long way in capturing the sound in your head. Mics and acoustics being predominant followed by preamps. Keep in mind how most of us are surprised by the sound of our own voices on recordings; I still am. Also high gain guitars, or for that matter any instrument, always sound way more distorted once layed down. You can always add more but it is harder to subtract.

Simple is ALWAYS the best. Follow melody. Many solos are simply self gratifying, ego driven, nonsense. Following melodic ideals, construction of an intro, theme/motif, variation, ending. First takes (before getting all wound up and self conscious) are overwhelmingly the best. As much as I enjoy "soloing" I'll often question the need of a solo from writer/arranger ears. If it doesn't support or have the song foremost in it's concern it is useless.

"When the trout are gone, smash the state" :)
 
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