One of the most exciting things about Cambridge Saxophone is getting to know my students. At the moment I have Research Professors, Brain Surgeons, CEO’s, fellow Professional Musicians and even a South Pole Research Scientist!
Pictured is my student Ali practicing her sax in Antartica. As a Cambridge Saxophone student you are part of a group that has members on all seven continents!
At Cambridge Saxophone I have subscribers from Brazil, North America, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Ukraine, North Africa, India and China. Cambridge is known throughout the world as a premier education brand, and that is what you find at Cambridge Saxophone.
If you want to find out more about Cambridge Saxophone, I would love to hear from you. Simply click this link to drop me an email, give me a call on 01223 8360997 or start one of our courses today!
Four FREE Saxophone Lessons – Improve Your Saxophone Playing NOW!
Taking lessons with a new teacher is always a big call.
How will they inspire you?
How will you get better?
Will you get on together?
Can they explain things clearly?
Because of my VERY strong track record (click here to watch what some of my current students think) I believe that here at Cambridge Saxophone I can do all the above, and more.
I’m the current saxophone teacher for Cambridge University; I also have students of all ages and abilities. I’m willing to teach anyone provided they have the desire to learn more, are happy to work and have a passion for music.
Quite possibly the greatest gig ever for a saxophone player – four of the modern day greats all playing together.
I was delighted to hear Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, Mark Turner and Chris Cheek performing at the Wigmore Hall, London, as part of the Axis Saxophone Quartet. They all played tenor at some point (check out this video from their gig in Moscow playing ‘Tenor Madness’, just as they did in London), but then they also divided duties across the three other main saxophones. Chris Potter and Josh played soprano and alto (Potter is a beast on the alto, even though he doesn’t really play it much any more), Mark stayed mostly on tenor, whilst Chris Cheek kept the low end going on baritone.
Chris Potter told me his alto mouthpiece was an exact copy of Charlie Parker’s Brilhart and had been moulded from the original, now in the possession of Parker’s daughter.
I was thrilled to meet all of the guys backstage afterwards courtesy of Yanagisawa UK, who lent Chris Potter and Joshua a 991 alto and soprano (watch my reviews of these horns here).
Some of their words of wisdom that I wanted to pass on to you:
‘Keep working on your sound as much as you can’ – Chris Potter
‘What you do outside of your music has as much effect on your music as practice’ – Mark Turner
‘Wow, is that the new iPhone?’ – Joshua Redman (seriously, we spent ten minutes chatting about my new phone before we got near any saxophone talk!)
‘Don’t just play digital patterns in 4s, work on them in 3s, 5s and even 7s’ – Chris Potter
It was a great thrill to hear all these guys in one place, in a fully acoustic setting. I had a long chat with Josh about bringing the event to Cambridge at some point in 2015/16 – let’s hope we can.
On Saturday, 21st June I was delighted that Wynton Marsalis brought the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to the Cambridge Corn Exchange. It was a particularly special date for me as it was exactly fifteen years ago to the day since I performed on the same stage with a Blues Brothers band.
I had been in touch with LCJO saxophone players Sherman Irby and Victor Goines to arrange a backstage meeting, but they both escaped to The Eagle for some fish’n’chips! I met up with them later on, but it was a real thrill to introduce some of my students – in particular 14-year-old Rob Burton, who, maybe one day, will be playing with LCJO – to … Wynton Marsalis.
Some of the great pearls of wisdom that Wynton shared with us are outlined below.
Don’t just learn the notes, learn why those notes were played.
Many of you may know that Wynton is quite a jazz conservative. His excellent book Moving to a Higher Ground is a must-read for any student of music, jazz fan or not. We’re going to read his book and have a Google hangout on it over the summer. But he surprised me a great deal by encouraging Rob (and all of us) to learn the music of Ornette Coleman:
The avant-garde is what youngsters should learn. They need to appreciate the freedom that is found in the music of Ornette Coleman.
I later met up with Sherman Irby, Victor Goines and other members of the saxophone section for a few beers. I’ll say more about this over the next few weeks, but these are some of the key points they wanted to share:
If you want to be a musician, be like a stockbroker. Spread your portfolio as widely as you can: be an arranger, clarinet player, teacher, composer – but work hard at all of them.
Vocabulary is everything – if you want to be a better musician, learn the vocabulary to express it.
Work hard on your sound. (Where have you heard that before?)
Spend time each day listening to music – really.
It was such a great thrill to have these guys in Cambridge. I’m in touch with a few interested parties about getting a Cambridge International Jazz Festival and I’d love to welcome Wynton and the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra back to this town.
Just before the guys came to Cambridge they recorded this in Harrogate
I’ve always loved finding out what makes great musicians ‘tick’. I often find some of the best interviews can be hosted by fellow musicians as they often have insights into the right questions.
This article that I found years ago on the JazzWise website contains an interview that Joshua Redman did with the legendary Sonny Rollins back in 2005. It was based around Sonny’s release of his Without A Song the 9/11 concert – recorded just days after the tragic events of the 11th September 2001 in New York and Washington. Sonny lived just a few blocks from the World Trade Centre site and has suffered in recent years from lung issues, thought to be from the toxic fumes released in NYC during and after the attacks.
You can read the full interview here, and of course please do watch my #DansVlog episode. I’ve also put together an exclusive Sonny Rollins playlist which compliments the interview.
Some of my favourite quotes from the interview..
When I was a little kid I tried to sing in front of one of these places on 133rd Street, which years ago used to be a real haven for clubs when people used to come uptown. And Buddy Johnson said he really dug my playing-I was about 12 years old; that was a great feeling. As I grew older, all the great people were living uptown: Coleman Hawkins, Don Redman, Erskine Hawkins, Duke Ellington.
JR: One thing that’s completely astounding to me is I’ve heard recordings that you did when you weren’t even 20, and some of your first recordings you did in your early 20s, and you had been playing the saxophone for less than 10 years. You were an absolute prodigy, you were playing on the highest level imaginable. It’s kind of intimidating and almost depressing for a musician like me to hear that. Did it feel like it came naturally?
SR: You’re very, very kind. I just practiced a lot; I practiced a lot because I loved playing. I’d be practicing all day long. My mother used to have to call me to come and eat dinner because I was in there practicing all the time. I guess some of that came through. I was also lucky to be around some of these great people. I was able to record with a genius like Bud Powell when I was very young, and so I always try to get myself up as close as I can to that level.
You can’t spend too much time thinking about what you’re going to play, it comes out so fast.
But right now, Joshua, I still have hopes of improving and sounding better and making a better record. Hope burns eternal. I’m going to put off going into the vaults and trying to find something I’ve done before. This [new CD] was a special occasion and we’ll see what happens in the future.
If Spotify (below) isn’t showing in Safari, then use Chrome
As part of my goal to get my students to do more listening, here is my 2019 Cambridge Saxophone Playlist.
There is a good mixture of old classics and new players, so get listening and GET SHARING!
Naturally as I’m a jazzer and primarily a tenor player, it’s going to be biased towards those, but please feel free to add your own and share your playlists back with me via the forum.
If ‘Something went wrong, please try again later’ is displayed by Spotify – head over to Chrome and it will work there, or simply follow me on Spotify and you can view it! (Safari doesn’t like the way Spotify wants to track you and I)
2019 marks 60 years since the most important year in jazz history, 1959.
In 1959 Miles Davis released Kind of Blue (the best selling jazz album of all time), John Coltrane (who plays tenor sax on Kind of Blue) recorded his seminal Giant Steps album and Ornette Coleman pointed to the direction of jazz in the 1960’s with The Shape of Jazz to Come. One also must not forget the contributions of Dave Brubeck and his Time Out album, (featuring Paul Desmond’s ‘Take Five’), Charles Mingus with his amazing Ah Um & amazing contributions by Cannonball Adderley, Coleman Hawkins, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Oscar Peterson, (who released 8 albums in this year!)
1959 also saw the death of two of the most important artists in the development of jazz both before the Second World War and after it, Billie Holliday and Lester Young, great friends off the band stand, an amazing partnership on it and died within weeks of each other.
So listen to the playlists below and be sure to come along to one of our concerts celebrating this amazing year in jazz history. We’re at the Cambridge Arts Theatre on Sunday, 3rd March and the Cockpit London on Monday, 15th April with more dates to come!
Getting the ‘something went wrong’ message for Spotify? It’s not us, it’s Safari, (or the web browser you’re using.) We know it works in Google Chrome.
We were all delighted to hear former Cambridge Saxophone student Rob Burton in the BBC Young Musician final on Sunday, 13th May 2018.
Rob now studies Classical Saxophone at the Royal Academy of Music in London, but studied with Dan Forshaw and Cambridge Saxophone from 2012 – 2015. Rob won the Woodwind final and played with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for the final (watch from about 48 minutes) – sadly the BBC will remove this programme after 31 days, we will hunt for another recording!
At least 85%, possibly as high as 95% of Bebop tunes are ‘heads’ written over songs from musicals and shows of the 1930’s and 40’s. Musicians such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie did this to avoid paying royalties in the recording studio for the songs they were using in the clubs. Popular songs such as ‘How High The Moon’ (which turned into Parker’s Ornithology) and ‘I got Rhythm’ (Anthropology) were transformed into instrumental songs, often pushing the technical demands of the player.
This playlist is meant to give you a starting off point. There’s no doubt that if you want to get better at improvising, then learning these songs, (and I mean learning, that’s NO PRINTED MUSIC,) will give you a greater vocabulary to work with.