Saxophone Forum


by Michael Collins
(13 posts)
7 years ago

Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

I have to say that my biggest influence would be Lester Young. I love Lester's beautiful tone and his sense of phrasing. His solos are incredibly strong on rhythm and he was one of those few players that could say so much with so little. Pres could say more with one chorus than most guys could with a dozen. And everything he played swung like mad! I started on tenor, but play alto now, so my two biggest alto influences are Charlie Parker and Johnny Hodges. l like Bird's songs and I like his phrasing as well. Bird's influence is so huge that it's practically impossible NOT to be influenced by him in some way. In my opinion, Johnny Hodges had the most beatiful sound of any alto player, hands down. He's also my favorite saxophonist on ballads and he could play the blues like no other.

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  1. by The Insomniac Saxman
    (141 posts)

    7 years ago

    Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

    For me there are two--I have a jazz side and a commercial side . . . On the jazz side is Hank Mobley . . . didn't have the fastest chops out there, but always had great ideas harmonically. Studying his solo on "Tenor Conclave" years ago gave me the tools to competently improvise over Rhythm changes. On the commercial side is Tom Scott, the whole reason I wanted to study beyond my high school years and become a professional. Musicians in the know can hear that influence in my commercial and funk playing.

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  2. by sax&sax
    (18 posts)

    7 years ago

    Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

    i like very much the grover washington jr.he have a "cool"sound specialy with the tenor, good phrasing sense and good use of harmonics.listen the "gramercy park" "just the two of us" "litlle black samba".generally i prefer the cool dark tenors(stan getz,dexter gordon ben webster)with easy going solos but smooth and non-stress solos.

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  3. by Saxyboy
    (52 posts)

    7 years ago

    Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

    What an interesting discussion you started here Michael. I was thinking about whether to try to answer with one name, but find that to be impossible. Early on, playing the tenor sax, I would try to play along with rock 'n' roll solos. So many great rock songs feature a solo sax break. The one that comes to mind right now is Woolly Bully by Sam The Sham and The Pharohs. Got to where I could nail that solo, even down to the sour note! Later on, I began to listen to older jazz and discovered Zoot Sims. Another writer spoke of his inate sense of rhythm. He even had an album called The Swinger late in his career - swinging meaning sense of rhythm. He had a very good improvisational ability and a great tone. I used to try to play along with some of my jazz records. Not just Zoot, but Stan Getz, Lester Young, The Sonnys (Stitt and Rollins), Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Al Cohn among other tenor men. Other sax guys I listened to: Charlie Parker, Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan, Paul Desmond and Johnny Hodges. And oh yeah, Ben Webster and Wayne Shorter. I have left out many fine saxophonists of the past, but they all influenced me I guess.

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  4. by barisax999
    (400 posts)

    7 years ago

    Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

    i really like michael brecker and chris potter. they both have technique that is so amazing. and breckers sound is kind of what i am incorporating into my own playing, its gorgeous. i just heard berganzi for the first time and am so intrigued by his playing, i want to work on transcribing some of his stuff when i can get a CD

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    1. by Seano
      (132 posts)

      7 years ago

      Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

      Those old dudes (Prez Hodges Bird etc) are great. My main influences are Sonny Stitt, Josh Redman, Trane and a bit of Stan Getz. Fantastic players. Sean

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  5. by Donnie The B
    (282 posts)

    7 years ago

    Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

    Michael- Since you like Young, I'm sure you must also appreciate Zoot Sims. I hope all the younger guys don't forget to listen to Zoot. His inate sense of rhythm never left him even in his later years. Improvisational phrasing and quality was outstanding and Zoot's tone was quite pleasing to me. He is the tenor guy I listened to most when I was first learning to play. Other saxophonists of early influence included: John Coltrane, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins. Johnny Hodges, Stan Getz, Lester Young, Dexter Gordon, Paul Gonsalves, Sal Nistico and even Woody Herman - among many others that I listened to and played along with (as best I could) when I was younger. I have quite a library of jazz albums that I've saved and cherished. Check out the discussion titled Who Inspired You - elsewhere in this forum. - Later.

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    1. by Michael Collins
      (13 posts)

      7 years ago

      Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

      Hey Donnie, I enjoy Zoot Sims' playing very much. I like a lot of the 'cool' toned tenors. Stan Getz, Paul Quinichette, Al Cohn, and Brew Moore are all guys I enjoy listening to and it's a shame that Pres never really got the credit he deserved as the originator of the 'cool' style. I just don't see as many references to Pres as I should when I see people talking about the greats. Even Bird said once in an interview that he could play any Lester Young solo on record. If that's not the ultimate compliment to one's playing, I don't know what is. I have always identified with the older guys more for some reason. Maybe it's because (surprisingly) I heard them first. This is unusual for somebody my age (26) to say, but it's true. I got my love of jazz from my grandparents and the jazz I was first exposed to were bands like Count Basie and Duke Ellington, so I guess that's why guys like Pres and Johnny Hodges have a special place with me.

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      1. by hightor
        (6 posts)

        7 years ago

        Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

        Hmm ... the first sax players I became aware of were Buddy Colette and Paul Desmond. When I started really listening to jazz and took up the tenor in the early Sixties my main influence was Joe Henderson. Later influences were King Curtis and Jimmy Forrest when I started playing in rock and blues bands. But now I'd say Sonny Rollins and Birdhave probably had the biggest influence on my "style", directly and indirectly.

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    2. by jazzhart
      (1 post)

      7 years ago

      Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

      As a Tenor player Lester, Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Stitt, Zoot and all are players to listen to but, my main influence is Long Tall Dexter Gordon. Dex took the bebop technique of the alto and put it on the tenor. His sense of phrasing and melodic construction are amazing. He can put a "quote" in almost any solo and make it work. Dexter's approach to ballads simply puts tears in your eyes. If you have not checked out his music, do so right away!

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      1. by swingstreet
        (315 posts)

        7 years ago

        Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

        Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges were my first influences. Benny's recording Further Definitions was the recording that made me want to play the horn. Right behind them are Paul Desmond, Cannonball Adderley and my teacher, Lee Konitz. There are others, but these players have had the largest impact on my playing.

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        1. by saxmachine777
          (57 posts)

          7 years ago

          Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

          Alright, I think someone needs to be mentioned, and since I feel so influenced by him, it seems that I should be the mentioner. Believe me, I hate to seemingly belittle anyone by not mentioning them (as I can't say I'm not influenced by any players to whom I've listened), but the closest to how I play has got to be Wayne Shorter. Wonderful sound, and his rhythmical, harmonic, and melodic senses are spellbinding. His compositions, which are landmarks unto themselves, don't end at the solo. He improvises just as if he had ideas for the piece that he didn't have room for in the form. Wonderful player amongst the ranks of several previously listed. George

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          1. by saxmachine777
            (57 posts)

            7 years ago

            Re: Which Saxophonist Has Been Your Biggest Influence On How You Play (Or Want To Play)?

            After all that about Shorter, I just listened to about six hours of Coltrane, and I have to give credit to the man. I almost forget his impact as a player and composer, especially personally. He's a force of nature, and inspiration, and a saint. Today I have to step back and give gratitude to Trane.

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