Saxophone Forum


by apoc7k
(20 posts)
10 years ago

I need your help!!!

Okay, this post is truly going to sound silly, but please bear with me. Alright, so I am a high school student (alto sax player) who slacked off for a year, and in neglecting to practice my jazz skills (what limited i have) i feel like i am slowly getting... 'behind the curve' of things. What I suppose I am really asking is what kinda stuff I should be looking into for serious jazz work. I plan to practice almost every day this summer, working myself up to 2 hours a day. All I have right now as far as good jazz literature is the Real Book (the real one, not any of them fakebooks). I've been thinking about investing in the Omnibook as well, but outside those two books I have no idea what I should be looking into. What literature should I be looking into? One other note is simply this... Is anyone familiar with the song "A Smith Named Greg" (also called 'Baltazar Named Gabe')? I would like to find a book, or maybe even simply the sheet music/score for the song. I really do appreciate any help you can give me on this!

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  1. by Jim Keith
    (20 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: I need your help!!!

    Hey man i feel ya. My favorite jazz book is by JAMEY ABERSOLD (www.jazzbooks.com) called How to play jazz and improvise. Truelly great to tone up those jazz skills and learn a few more. CHECK IT OUT (only 2 hours aday? lol you kiddin) lol i play at least 4 but im going for jazz for a career! Good luck

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  2. by johnsonfromwisconsin
    (767 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: I need your help!!!

    Learn all the jazz scales. Learn to improvise by practicing some improvisational licks and phrases in those scales. I never learned to do that, and I wish I did! That will definitely put you ahead of the curve in a Highschool Jazz ensemble. Other than that, I dont' see why any book that would help you with finger technique and tone wouldn't help you become better.

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  3. by peter090
    (155 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: I need your help!!!

    If you are working on jazz spend some time every day playing along actual CD's. Don't worry too much about not hearing all the changes. Just try to maintain the time and get the same phrasing as who you are playing with. Eventually you will want to start to steal some licks. I think it is helpful to practice your scales by ear and not write them down. Learning to play jazz is about training your ears and your mind as much as your fingers. There is no fast way to learn it right. "A Smith Named Greg" is a bari feature from (I think) Maynard Fergusons band in the 70's. It is a really nice but I'm not sure where you would get a lead sheet. It would be GREAT jazz practice to get the CD and transcribe the melody.

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  4. by knorter
    (205 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: I need your help!!!

    Your question is a very common and important one. The study of Jazz is a lifetime pursuit. It's great that you've decided to become more focused. There are 4 catagories that I use to help students learn more efficiently: scales, chords, tunes (this includes chord progressions), and language. 1. Every practice session should include working on a type of scale. Don't forget to work on these scales at many different tempos and in 12 keys. I know this sounds basic but you'd be surprised how many auditions I've heard where the player can't play a scale steadily from root to root without making a mistake. Speed is not as important as accuracy. Start with major then include mixolydian, dorian, locrian, lydian, whole-tone, diminished, and diminished-wholetone. There are many other scales that exist but these few scales that I listed are seen more frequently in the beginning. 2. Chords--learn to play chord tones in 12 keys to the following chords: Maj 7, Dominant 7, Minor 7, half-diminished, and fully diminished. Again, these are the basic chords found in the beginning. Students too often make the mistake of not learning the basics and moving on to things that they think are unique. Arppegiate these chords from the root up to the 7th. You should also practice them from 7th to the root but do this as a separate exercise not 1-3-5-7-7-5-3-1. This doesn't teach you to be able to find the 7th by itself. 3. Tunes. Learn about chords progression. David Baker has a great book called "How to Learn Tunes" It is important to understand the common ground within certain chord progressions. Then try to learn a new tune. In my opinion if you really "know a tune" you should be able to play the melody from memory in at least one key, preferably 12 keys, and you should be able to list the chords, again as a progression not just reciting the actual chords. Pretend that you have to explain the song to a rhythm section that is backing you up. In order to reinforce a progression I usually pick a slow tempo on my metronome and practice playing all of the chords tones from memory. I will go through several choruses of a tunes with the following exercise: 1st chorus: just roots 2nd chorus: roots and 3rds 3rd: 3rd then roots 4th: root-3rd-5th 5th: 5th-3rd-root 6th: root-3rd-5th-7th 7th: 7th-5th-3rd-root This exercise really enforces the sound of the bass line and chord types in your ears. Finally, Jazz is a languauge. The best way to learn a language is to learn basic words and phrases through imitation. Jazz is no different. Transcriptions are the best way to learn jazz. Working on scales, chords, and progressions, will help develop your ears and understanding of the material that you hear from professional players. Find a solo that speaks to you and learn it by ear. You should pick a tune to which you can find the chord progression. The end goal is to learn a solo and be able to play along with the original recording. This will help your sound and style. The bi-product is to remove small portions or words from this solo and to figure out what chord or progression the idea was used over. Then you can take these "licks" or patterns and use them for yourself in a similar tune. Imitation is the fastest way for you to learn jazz. Then you can work on being original. Transcription books are ok but they don't teach you as quickly as doing it yourself. If you are going to use a book make sure that you have to original recording of the solo and still play along. It doesn't matter how much time you spend. We all learn at different levels. Just pick a goal from each of those topics and get started. Good Luck, Kristy

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  5. by don marco
    (8 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: I need your help!!!

    Transcription is the key. Some people like to do it by ear, but i liked to write them down so i can refer to it later. But everyone is different. Also, don't neglect the old guys. Check out some Coleman Hawkins, Leater Young, Count Basie, Sidney Bechet etc. I know a lot of guys who started on Coltrane and can't play old standards convincingly. And if you're looking for "A Smith Named Greg" i suggest learning it by ear first. If it's to difficult, the book is a second option

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