Tag Archives: Improvising

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.


Chasing the Trane

Chasing the Trane is a new documentary film by critically-acclaimed documentary filmmaker John Scheinfeld.

The film is produced with the full participation of the Coltrane family and the support of the record labels that collectively own the Coltrane catalog. Scheinfeld brings his strong story-telling skills to the creation of a rich, textured and compelling narrative that takes the audience to unexpected places.

Set against the social, political and cultural landscape of the times, CHASING TRANE brings John Coltrane to life as a fully dimensional being, inviting the audience to engage with Coltrane the man, Coltrane the artist.

Here’s my video review of the film.

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.

What is a Lydian Dominant Scale?

There are lots of Jazz Scales that have great names and the Lydian Dominant is one of them.

But what is a Lydian Dominant and how do you practice it?

Watch this video to find out how I work out on my Lydian Dominant Scales and what they have in common with a Melodic Minor and Altered Scale.

Sax On The Bridge

Back in 2005 I was invited to New York by my mentor Branford Marsalis.  In order to get warmed up before I hit the jam sessions, I followed in the footsteps of the great Sonny Rollins.

Sonny used to practice on Williamsburg Bridge during his sabbatical years and in this episode of #DansVlog I tell you the story of why I went to practice on the bridge and how I ended up with this AMAZING picture!