Category Archives: How To Listen

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)

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1959 The Year Jazz Changed Playlist

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!

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Honest Introspection

I frequently mention to students that YOU can be your best teacher if you learn to listen.

In this episode of #DansVlog I show you how I create a Honest Introspection from a gig I did at the Hot Numbers Jazz Cafe in Cambridge.

 

My Summer Playlists

I realise that getting your practice in during the summer can be tough, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some useful music related activities if you’re at the beach right now!

I’ve put together some playlists on Apple Music & Spotify to share with you over the holidays. One of them is a playlist of all the transcription projects that you can find on the Cambridge Saxophone website, the other is a mammoth Blue Note playlist with over 3 days worth of albums!

If you have other playlists then this app (Songshift) can help you transfer playlists between different streaming services!

Apple Music Playlists
(click on the link to open in iTunes, you can get 3 months free)

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/playlist/cambridge-saxophone-transcription-projects/idpl.u-7Dm0yFW4o2Ng

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/playlist/blue-note/idpl.84a62de323464fc3a8ee59a7f66f669e

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/playlist/best-of-prestige-records/idpl.9b77a66e2ffe4d2686e7f85d6f2bf56b

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/playlist/coltrane-standards-book/idpl.u-mPD8tzGveBo

Spotify (you can listen to Spotify for free, but with adverts)

I hope you will enjoy these playlists! Music streaming is an incredible resource for any music student and I urge you to take advantage of these whilst you’re away.

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