Category Archives: Lessons

McCoy Tyner

It was with sadness that I heard of the passing on Friday, 6th March of the legendary pianist McCoy Tyner. I feel it an incredible privilege to have heard Mr Tyner at the Barbican back in November 2011 with Chris Potter and I’ve compiled a Vlog and playlists for you below.

Enjoy and share!

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…

#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

Dan’s Advent Saxophone Calendar #16 – Melissa Aldana

Melissa Aldana is the 16th person on our saxophone advent calendar and the youngest saxophonists on the list.

Melissa was born in Chile in 1988, starting on the Alto Sax aged just six! She moved onto the Tenor Sax in her teens after hearing the sound of Sonny Rollins, (her first tenor was her grandfather’s Selmer Mark VI.)

Destined to be one of the most important jazz saxophonists of the 21st Century, start listening to Melissa today!

 

 

Can this App tune your Sax?

Finding a good application to tune your instrument is quite difficult.

This Tonal Energy Tuner is a great little app for helping you identify which notes on your sax are in tune and which are out.  It’s not the perfect method, (you really want to train your ears to do this) – but it’s a great starting point.