Category Archives: Lessons

2021 Student Christmas Project – Silent Night

Here is our 2021 Student Christmas Project from the ‘A Jazzy Christmas’ book from Wise Music. Thank you to all of you who got involved with this and sent in a recording. The Christmas project is a great way to gauge your progress from year to year and it thrills me each year when individual students can offer me more ‘bars’ and some can even get through the whole solo, when just a few years ago the melody would have been a challenge.

Keep up the amazing work, and here’s to 2022!

2020 Christmas Project – Your Contributions

So here it is – in honour of the ‘Lockdown Christmas’ we have our 2020 Student’s Christmas Project. It was so thrilling to see all of you not only mastering the music but also the technology as this was the first year that everyone has sent in contributions from home. We’ve had contributions from the USA, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Thailand, Liverpool and even Royston!

Please do share and well done. Each year our Christmas project gives you a chance to measure your progress from last year. I’m already looking forward to hearing what you will have in Christmas 2021!

2020 Christmas Project

2020 is going to be a very different Christmas from what all of us have known before, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get together and do our traditional students Christmas Project.

All our pieces are taken from this book

A Jazzy Christmas Alto Sax

A Jazzy Christmas Tenor Sax

Sadly, this years can’t be found in the latest edition of the book so PLEASE DO GET THE BOOK, but download the files here

On your recoding you SHOULD PLAY WITH HEADPHONES so I can only hear you!

Submit your file to [email protected] by 5pm (GMT) Friday, 18th December 2020

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!