Tag Archives: Freeview lessons

Dan’s Advent Saxophone Calendar #12 – Dexter Gordon

Dexter Gordon is certainly unique, to my knowledge he’s the only serious jazz musician to ever be nominated for an acting Oscar and his incredible career marks him out as one of the true ‘Giants’ of the saxophone.

Dexter was born on February, 27th 1923.  His His father, Dr. Frank Gordon, was one of the first African American doctors in Los Angeles who arrived in 1918 after graduating from Howard Medical School in Washington, D.C. Among his patients were Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.

Gordon was one of the first tenor players to translate what Charlie Parker had done on the Alto Saxophone, but he also owes a huge debt to Lester Young.  Dexter Gordon spent time in and out of prison for drug abuse and other misdemeanours, but in the 1960s signed for Blue Note records and recorded some of the best albums on the iconic label.

A visit to England in the mid 60’s led to a 14 year stay in Europe where Dexter recorded for many small, independent European labels.  A triumphant return to New York in 1976 heralded a renaissance for Dexter Gordon that lasted until his death in 1990.

Dan’s Advent Saxophone Calendar #5 – Lester Young

Today is ‘President’s Day’ – that is we honour Lester Young.

Lester Young was nicknamed ‘Prez’ by Billie Holiday, who he nicknamed, ‘Lady Day.’ Alongside saxophonist #3, (Coleman Hawkins) Lester Young was the most significant Tenor Saxophonist of the Pre-War era.

Born in Woodville, Mississippi and raised in New Orleans, Young played drums until he noticed that, ‘all the pretty girls had left by the time I’d packed away my kit,’ so, he switched to saxophone! His relaxed, cool sound and ‘hip’ slang set him apart from his peers.  He could play for hours and often did in many of the all night jam sessions in Kansas City.

At the time his sound was considered ‘wrong’ but it was his sound that influenced Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Stan Getz and thousands of other saxophonists who came after them.


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.

Simple, like Sonny

Sonny Rollins is a living legend of the saxophone & in this Vlog I explore how he developed his trademark melodic improvisation.

Last year when I was having lunch with my mentor Branford Marsalis, we were discussing simple melodic ideas and how Sonny Rollins is such a brilliant exponent of melodic improvisation.  Branford told me why, from conversations he’s had with Sonny over the years.

Back to The Blues Scale

The Blues Scale is one of the most important scales to learn if you want to improvise with confidence.

In this episode of the Vlog I demonstrate how I go about practising the Blues Scale and just how useful it can be.