Category Archives: 2019 Advent Calendar

Sax Advent Calendar 2019 #4 – Ornette Coleman

Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman is a saxophone player who can certainly divide opinion! Born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1930 he was one of the pioneers of the Free Jazz movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. His album The Shape of Jazz to Come still sounds modern and hip some sixty years after it was recorded and released.

One thing I didn’t mention in the video was how Wynton Marsalis urged me to teach more Ornette transcriptions to solos – I found this odd given what a ‘conservative’ reputation Wynton has in jazz circles.

Sax Advent Calendar 2019 #3 – Hank Mobley

‘Middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone’

Hank Mobley was born in Eastman, Georgia in 1930, but grew up in Newark, New Jersey. He started playing professionally aged 19 with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach, but it is with Horace Silver, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers that he made his name.

In 1961 he briefly replaced John Coltrane in Miles Davis’ band, but it was as a leader and sideman on the Blue Note album that Mobley’s sound came to be synonymous. Recording over 20 albums with Blue Note Records, arguably Mobley’s finest work was his ‘Soul Station’ album in 1960.

Mobley had to retire from playing full time in the mid 1970s, but he did continue to occasionally play live until his death from pneumonia in 1986.

Sax Advent Calendar 2019 #2 – Gregory Tardy

Gregory Tardy was born in New Orleans in 1966. He has played with the likes of Elvin Jones, Ravi Coltrane, Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau. Gregory now teaches at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville having spent decades on the New York scene.

Born into a musical family, Gregory Tardy began his musical career studying classical clarinet. In high school, Gregory excelled in music, winning many awards and scholarships offers. While studying with renowned clarinetists Russell Dagon and Jack Snavely, Tardy began preparing for a symphony career. Over time, he began to be asked to play saxophone, to fill in missing gaps in various ensembles. Although he never practiced the saxophone seriously, Tardy began getting calls to play local funk gigs in the Milwaukee area. At the prodding of his older brother, Tardy finally listened to the duo recording of John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk playing “Monk’s Mood”, and then immediately determined to be a jazz musician.

In 1992, he started playing with the legendary drummer, Elvin Jones, and he recorded his first CD, Crazy Love. As a sought after sideman he has played with many prominent jazz artists including: Andrew Hill, Tom Harrell, Dave Douglas, Wynton Marsalis, Jay McShann, Nicholas Payton, Roy Hargrove, Steve Coleman, Betty Carter, Don Byron, Bill Frisell, Rashied Ali, Ellis Marsalis, Brian Lynch, John Patitucci, and many more. He has also performed and/or recorded along with many other notable saxophonists, such as Joe Lovano, Mark Turner, Chris Potter, Dewey Redman, Ravi Coltrane, and others. In more recent years, Tardy has gone full circle, by focusing on his clarinets more, using them on recordings by Tom Harrell, Ohad Talmor/Steve Swallow, Stefan Harris, Chris Potter and Andrew Hill.   

His performance schedule has taken him all over the world, playing at all of the major jazz festivals and on some of the biggest stages in jazz.  As a sideman, he has been featured on several Downbeat Albums of the Year and also several Grammy nominated recordings; including a Grammy winning CD with Brian Lynch in 2006.  He also has recorded fourteen CDs under his own name featuring his unique compositions, blending his love of traditional jazz with a more modern seeking style. His latest release “Chasing After The Wind” was released in the fall of 2016.

Sax Advent Calendar 2019 #1 – George Garzone

George Garzone was born in Boston, MA, USA in 1950. He has a prolific output and is one of the most highly regarded saxophonists of his generation. Garzone has taught some of the most famous saxophonists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Musicians such as Branford Marsalis, Mark Turner, Joshua Redman and Melissa Aldana have all studied with Mr Garzone during their careers.

Garzone is well-known as a sought-after jazz educator, who, in addition to teaching at Berklee, has taught at the New England Conservatory, Longy School of Music, New York University, and the Manhattan School of Music. He is a member of the Grammy-winning Joe Lovano Nonet, and performed and recorded with this group at the Village Vanguard in September 2002.

In his own words…

“I think tradition is something I learned here at Berklee when I was a student. I think the tradition is responsible for how you play, no matter how far out you go. But at the same time, my job is to get the kids to stretch out. I want to take them away from the tradition.”

Avant-garde is still a dirty word among a lot of academics. Their attitude is, ‘How can you teach the kids all the crazy stuff, when they don’t even know bebop?’ Well, I give them the tunes sometimes, but then I ask them to go beyond that. I also expose them to something that’s a little different.”

“If you’re going to play free, it’s up to you. You got it. I’m not going to yell directions to the ensemble or the soloists as they play. You got it. If the music stops and you’re flailing, that’s your problem. It’s up to you to pick it up and make it happen. That happens to everyone; the music comes to a settling point and now it’s up to someone to pick the ball up and go with it. You can’t leave it there. So one thing they’re learning is how to keep the momentum going. They’re learning how to keep the music in motion, and it doesn’t have to be with a lot of notes, either. It’s something that transcends paper, the staff, the lines, the key. It’s stuff that a lot of people don’t learn in school. My ensemble gives them an opportunity to do that.”

His Music…