I played alto from fifth grade up until my sophmore year in college in various concert/symphonic setups as a hobby, but never got all that serious about it. Now, two years later, I'd like to pick it back up so I can jam a bit with my guitarist friends.
My first question: how can I teach myself to play improv - specifically with guitarist friends? Are there any good guides online that you can recommend?
My second question: I'm currently playing on a selmer series III alto with a C* mouthpiece with the standard vandoren 3 reeds. Would you recommend getting a new mouth piece? What reed would you recommend?
If you're planning on jamming with guitarists, then work on your guitar keys (E, A, D, and G) which for you on alto would be (C#, F#, B, and E) . . . guitarists LOVE playing in those keys (because of open strings).
Best of luck!
Nothing wrong with a C* mouthpiece. If you push enough air, you can still be heard amongst guitars. It's easier - and more required - to push more air with a more open facing. But on alto sax, what many players use might correspond to a D-F mouthpiece, so not much difference. There is a chart at the Denver University website relating to what different pros use. The link is shown under the discussion titled What The Pros Use here, under Sax Equipment. Type in:
This might be of interest to you. I mean Ace Cannon used a Berg Larsen rubber piece with a .080 tip and he got a very cutting-through or edgy sound. Good Luck.