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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

2019 Cambridge Saxophone Students Concert

I was delighted to present a concert on Saturday, 8th June 2019 at Whittlesford Parish Church which featured students from Cambridge Saxophone and the Advanced Jazz Ensemble from the SCYM.

The concert was organised to raise funds for the refurbishment of the church roof, (raising over £1200) and to students, (especially adults) who wouldn’t normally get the chance to perform, the chance to do so.

Michael Brecker’s Pop Sax

The late, great Mike Brecker is regarded by many, (including myself) as probably the greatest virtuoso on the saxophone. Brecker’s contribution to the jazz cannon is well noted, but it was his work as a session musician throughout the 1970’s and 80’s the arguably allowed him to explore jazz saxophone later in his career.

Mike didn’t release a solo album under his own name until he was 37, (Charlie Parker was dead at 35 and Coltrane died at 40) and whilst we also lost Brecker too young, (Mike died aged just 57 in 2007) – his over 700 recording credits are a testament to his outstanding skill as a musician. We’ve briefly covered Brecker’s music in this Vlog post from my ‘Sax Advent Calendar‘ but here is a more focused pop music playlist.

Enjoy the playlists, share them and be inspired!

John Coltrane ’58

1958 was a pivotal year in John Coltrane’s development as one of the most important ‘voices’ in jazz. In 1957 he had undergone what was in his own words a ‘spiritual awakening’ which had led him to getting REALLY serious about his music and saxophone playing.

In March this year, all of Coltrane’s Prestige recordings were collected into a new 8 x LP set – click here to purchase (watch Ashley Kahn’s unboxing video below). The box-set is set out in chronological order from January to December 1958, so you can really hear Coltrane’s development during the year. 1959 was a year when Coltrane made two of the most seminal albums in jazz, his own Giant Steps and Kind of Blue for Miles Davis.

Coltrane ’58 features 37 tracks, all of which have been remastered from the original tapes, such as ‘Lush Life’, ‘Lover Come Back to Me’, ‘Stardust’, ‘Good Bait’, and ‘Little Melonae’, plus first recordings of ‘Nakatini Serenade’, ‘The Believer’, ‘Black Pearls’, ‘Theme for Ernie’, ‘Russian Lullaby’, ‘Sweet Sapphire Blues’ and ‘I Want to Talk About You’.

All of the recordings took place in New Jersey at Rudy Van Gelder’s home studio, created during a series of 3-hour sessions…

Enjoy!

#DFBlues Challenge 2 – Minor Blues

So the second of my #DFBlues Challenge is now upon us!

It’s really simple to do and open for EVERYONE to enter. All you have to do is video yourself playing, (or singing) a Minor Blues, (with my backing track if you can, but hey as long as it’s a Minor Blues, you do what you want!) & then post it to Social Media using the hashtag #DFBlues

I’ll then pick my favourites at the end of May and do a follow up Vlog episode then. Make sure you are subscribing to my YouTube channel!

Why Transcribing Is So Important

If you ran through this website you would notice that there is one type of course that keeps popping up – transcription.

Transcribing in its strictest sense is the art of musical dictation, that is writing down what is played – but I don’t want you to do that, (at least most of the time.)

Why? Well music is sound. I’ll say it again MUSIC IS SOUND! So often we spend far too much time using our eyes when we play music rather than our ears.   If you truly want to understand how a musician, especially a saxophonist sounds then you need to learn the art of imitation.

But I thought jazz was all about self expression, being unique? Self-expression is a real important part of jazz, but you’d be very much mistaken if you thought jazz was all about making it up on the spot etc.  Jazz is a language, like French and if you really want to become fluent in a language, to communicate with others in that language, to express yourself in that language then you need to learn how to converse in that language.

There is no better way of understanding how Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Paul Desmond, Miles Davis (not a sax player, but worth transcribing,) John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and many others construct their solos than listening intently and learning how they play by USING YOUR EARS!!

Here’s one of my students Simon playing a transcription project he’s been studying on Sonny Rollins’ version of ‘Three Little Words’ (there’s no course for this, Simon’s been working on this by himself.)

You can listen to our transcription projects below


If you want to start learning how to transcribe, or how you can apply it to your playing, then click here

100 Jazz Standards you HAVE to know

The Great American Song Book has formed the backbone of the jazz repertoire for the past one hundred years.

Whilst many of the songs are approaching the 100th anniversary of their composition, that is no reason not to play close attention to them.  Jazz standards have played an important role in the development of jazz during the 20th and into the 21st century. I regularly get asked by students which jazz standards they should know, and whilst this list is not exhaustive, these are the top 100 that you should know, and in the Vlog episode below I explain how you should go about learning them, (tip start with the playlists below…)

Cambridge Saxophone 100 Essential Jazz Standards  (click to download)

(If you’re reading this and Spotify isn’t showing correctly, please either view this page in Chrome or click here)