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Our thoughts, greatest news and professional tips and tricks!

Sax in Antartica

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!

You can read the Cambridge News Front Page article about Cambridge Saxophone students here.

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!

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.

I want to offer you FOUR free saxophone lessons – no obligation, no catch, no spam. You’ll get an occasional update about new lessons but I will NEVER pass your email on to anyone else.

Simply get in touch and I’ll email the lessons out to you today.

If you have any further questions, please just contact me.

 

Chris Potter, Joshua Redman and Chris Cheek with Dan Forshaw of Cambridge Saxophone

Chris Potter, Joshua Redman and Chris Cheek with Dan Forshaw of Cambridge Saxophone

Masterclasses

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.

 

Wynton Marsalis Chats to Cambridge Saxophone Students

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

Cambridge Sax Student is BBC Young Musician

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!

Watch via this link 

The A to Z of Bebop – 27 Essential Bebop Heads to Learn

Learning Bebop heads is a really great way to learn jazz vocabulary over ‘standards’ from the Great American Songbook.

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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.

Dan’s Sax Advent Calendar #24 – John Coltrane

We’ve come to the final day of our Sax Advent Calendar, day 24 and it could be no other person but John Coltrane.

John Coltrane was born on 23rd September 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina.  He grew up in Philadelphia and made his name alongside Miles Davis, before becoming a superstar in his own right.  Coltrane, like Charlie Parker has influenced every saxophonist who has come after them, be it in jazz or classical music.

As his career progressed, Coltrane and his music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. Coltrane influenced innumerable musicians, and remains one of the most significant saxophonists in music history. He received many posthumous awards and recognitions, including canonization by the African Orthodox Church as Saint John William Coltrane and a special Pulitzer Prize in 2007.[2] His second wife was pianist Alice Coltrane and their son, Ravi Coltrane, is also a saxophonist.

 

Dan’s Sax Advent Calendar #23 – Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker is the most important saxophonist and musicians in jazz – he’s our Mozart and he is someone you need to listen to.

Parker was a highly influential jazz soloist and a leading figure in the development of bebopa form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique and advanced harmonies. Parker was a blazingly fast virtuoso, and he introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas including rapid passing chords, new variants of altered chords, and chord substitutions.

Enjoy the Advent Vlog, a video from August celebrating Parker’s birthday and these two playlists – it’s nearly Christmas!

Dan’s Sax Advent Calendar #22 – Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter is one of the most unique saxophonists on our Advent List.

Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1933, Wayne Shorter first shot to prominence as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, becoming the bands musical director in the later 1950’s.  When John Coltrane left Miles Davis’ band, it was Wayne Shorter that he recommended to Miles, but Miles couldn’t get Shorter to leave Art Blakey until 1964.  Wayne joined Miles’ ‘second quintet’ alongside Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums.

Wayne also made some significant recordings as a band leader on Blue Note records during this time, before leaving Miles to form the fusion group Weather Report in 1971.

Shorter remains one of the greatest composers and most important saxophonists as he continues to perform in his ninth decade.

2017 Student Christmas Project – We Three Kings

Here is our 2017 Cambridge Saxophone Student’s Christmas Project!

I’m so thrilled for those of you who have put the hard work in for this years project. I started it a good two weeks earlier this year, hoping that We Three Kings, which is a REAL challenge for many of us would motivate you into action and give you a target to aim for. ]

I have to say that each one of you exceeded my expectations – over twenty students in ten different time zones, in seven countries, AMAZING.

So sit back, enjoy and share with your friends and family this Christmas, you’ve worked hard for it and enjoy it.

We Three Kinds – Cambridge Saxophone from Dan Forshaw on Vimeo.