Tuesday, October 27, 2009


On Monday I had a half hour of long tones getting the intonation of the altissimo down.

Then I had some people not show for a recital rehearsal and so I had an hour of scales. In the scales I am attempting to rectify any and all issues I have with my technical requirements that I need to get done by the end of the week. I've had a lot of troubles with scales in 4ths and 5ths, just keeping the correct interval on the descending line. In the 3rds I've had troubles only around the break of the register. The BCD region of the instrument. I've also got an issue with the Ab minors in 3rds, and the Eb minors, its a problem with the damn Gb. I've spent my whole life understanding the enharmonic spelling of notes, and always go from F# to Gb or whatever the note is very easily. But I've always seen Gb and said to myself F#, I've always seen A# and told myself to play a Bb. Which is causing some confusion when I go to play stuff that has these slight enharmonic differences. The problem being my theoretical knowledge of scales tells me immediately that an Eb harmonic minor scale is Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, D, Eb while my fingers tell me Eb, F, F#, Ab, Bb, B, D, Eb. So something to work on, getting my brain and fingers working better together.

I then had a 2 hour ensemble class when I did some playing of a great tune by Tom Fawcett and John Milton (watch those names!).

I then spent 2 hours playing through the play a longs of my 20 rep tunes. I found that some melodies I still haven't memorised, being most of them actually. I can play them fine, but not from memory. I noticed that the first couple of choruses I improvised over where a little bit sketchy, but in most cases by the end of the play a long I felt harmonically secure and having fun with the changes. Obviously this wasn't the case for some of the harder songs like Oleo, Confirmation and Miss jones.

I then looked at the troubling keys of my Hi-Fly transcription the keys of E, F# and G. Still lots of issues, for E its mostly the range, lots of Altissimo stuff.

I then spent a whole hour getting my Dexter Gordon Confirmation and Kenny's Miss Jones up to speed. Made some changes to both transcriptions. Feeling pretty steady about both songs and playing them with the CD. having a lot of fun playing Dexter's solo in the actual range getting a lot of his wicked phat vibrato tone.

I spent about 30 minutes running through some lines I'm trying to memorise in 12 keys. struggling with it all.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Long Day

Today started with a half hour of Long Tones and a half hour of Major, Harmonic and Melodic minor scales at 185bpm (and varying the bpm by very small percentile).

I then had a 2 hour rehearsal with a band that went pretty well.

I then had the first lesson in about a month with my teacher. It went ok and the determined factor that I need to look toward is to get fluidity in my improvised lines and to improve the phrasing as well. In order to achieve this he wrote out a solo over Have You Met Miss Jones and it was using a lot of chromatic movements and long flowing lines. As opposed to the intervalic and appegiatic solos I had been working on in the past weeks.

I then had a brief rehearsal with another horn player and we jammed on a single unison phrase that we are playing together in my end of year recital. It was very successful.

I have since spent some time on my transcriptions and have Dexter's Confirmation at 132bpm, Kenny Garrett's Miss Jones at 110bpm, and Cannonball's Hi-Fly at speed, in the key of Eb at 110bpm, in the key of F at 100bpm, in the key of G at 90bpm, and the keys of A and Bb they are still sitting around 80bpm. More needs to be done on those keys over the next week.

I'm now taking a break from music before going and teaching for 3 and a half hours.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back In to it

So on Friday I got my Selmer back from having what turned out to be almost an entire overhaul (Sax isn't exactly mine, its the universities, and had been played for a number of years with out a service) Thanks Dirk! It plays great. But I didn't start practice again until Monday, the finger is fine now, a little tender on the nail, but its cool, I can bear it now.

So on Monday I had an almost 2 hour rehearsal with my band for my recital. I felt a lot of ground was covered however it didn't go to well. Lots of work to be done.

This was followed by a 2 hour ensemble class, where a group plays random charts that people bring in. Which is good, and I felt my playing was really average, a bit hit and miss.

The afternoon was filled with finishing my Dexter Gordon Confirmation solo and Hank Mobley Confirmation solo and decided for my Improv exam on Wednesday I'll be learning Dexter's. Its much easier, and more practical to have it ready for Wednesday. I spent a little bit of time playing through the major, melodic minor and harmonic minor modes in 12 keys.

On Tuesday I did my long tones for an hour, I played my major, melodic, harmonic minor scales in 12 keys, and diminished and diminished dominant scales. I then had a really helpful and productive Jam session with a great young Alto player Joe Lloyd, We started with Dear Lord by Coltrane. Joe showed me some great techniques to use over that song that are often employed by Coltrane by more so by Brecker and even more so by Kenny Garrett. It was good, we then played through the Aebersold books All Bird and Sonny Rollins books. This was really good and helpful to be playing and talking through this stuff with an older player from the uni. The Jam went for around 2 hours, really good fun and I got a lot out of it.

That afternoon I went home and spent another 2 hours playing through Confirmation and Have You Met Miss Jones and Dear Lord, about 40 minutes on each tune divided into 10 minutes solo with the metronome on varying the tempos by tiny increments around a set tempo (120, 118, 122, 124, 120 etc). 10 minutes of playing transcriptions with the recording. 10 minutes of playing with the Aebersold and another 10 minutes of work shopping certain chords, or phrases or turnarounds that kind of thing, in particular Miss Jones Bridge, and the dam G#-7 chord, I don't know it just does my head in, its like the one chord that pops up in a tune and makes me flip out every time, I guess its because when I play scales I think Ab Melodic minor, Ab Harmonic, Ab Aeolian, Ab Dorian and so forth and then up pops G# in a chord progression and my mind just freaks but getting there. Confirmation is now sitting comfortable at 220bpm, and Miss Jones at 200bpm.

Wednesday involved a short stint of long tones and scales in the morning before a day of class, as did today.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Hey guys, Unfortunately the last few days have not yielded good times for me. I jammed my right index finger in a door so I have been in quite a bit of pain and have not practiced clearly as it would be a little painful.

Will post again when I get back into it

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Like a Snare Drum

Today I started with my long tone practice, I managed to get up to High B in the Altissimo today. My yamaha As-100 is wierd in that playing extremely high is very easy however from F# to A# is nearly impossible to get a reliable tone out of. I normally have a hard time hitting G and Ab but I can always hit them on my mark VI. Another weird factor is that I can almost get up to a high A, but its a lot of effort to get it, but it comes so easy on the yamaha!

On the scale front I played the major modes, major modes in 3rds, alternating 3rds, and have tried to learn the 4ths and 5ths, and scale tone 7ths. I did this alternating between 120, 118 and 122 bpm, and as Will Vinson suggested to me, I was really bad at that, I guess playing so much stuff at 120 meant that it was very natural to me. I soon learnt that I was rushing everything I played at 118 and dragging everything at 122. Something to think about! I went on to play the melodic minor scales in 3rds and alternating 3rds. That took me up to nearly 3 and a half hours with lots of small breaks in between. Hunger struck me and I needed a break and unfortunately I did not go back to scales.

I spent half an hour of playing through the Hi-Fly transcription in the keys of A, Bb, C, D, and E (Alto pitch). The key of A is awesome ok. Bb had a lot of problems and needs a lot more work. Key of C, D and E need work in the parts that go into the altissimo and the work just needs to gain more confidence in doing so. And also the 5 double time lines in the solo, actually the sequence line over the ii-7 V7 I is ok in each key as it is the diminished dominant scale so the keys use similar notes in it.

I spent 20 minutes memorising my Kenny Garrett have you met miss Jones transcription which is going well!

I spent about an hour on exersises on Confirmation and Have You Met Miss Jones, when I used the altering speed slightly technique which is hard and needs lots of work.

I spent the rest of the day transcribing Myron Walden's work on Brian Blade's "Red River Revel".

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Lesson

In Canberra We've just had a long weekend, of which it was my mother's birthday a few days before. So I have been pretty slack.

This morning I warmed up with a few minutes worth of Low Bb and then at 120bpm every scale!!! thats right every single one of them! Then I had a lesson via skype with Will Vinson, a great New York (London born) Sax player. After the lesson his greatest revelation about my playing is that my time needs to be greatly improved. So he advised me to start thinking and practicing like a Bass player. To start listening to bass players and such. Another exercise was to think of playing the song like a drummers snare pattern. So one note, select a time on the metronome and play. Another was to only have slightly changing tempos during your practice. For example 2 hours of 120, 2 hours of 122, 2 hours of 118 and so on...

I'll be working on this idea for quite a while.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Half A Day

Today I started with the usual long tone practice and with my altissimo register I had made quite some improvements. First I did my usual trying to blow the saxophone apart with my air stream, then I tried to play softly while still producing a good tone and good projection.

On the Scale front I first realised that yesterday I forgot to do the Whole Tone scales, so I did those first today. Then the major, harmonic minor and melodic minor modes over the range of the horn at 200 bpm. I found the Eb Harmonic minor modes the hardest and had a little trouble with the fingering between B and D, I don't know I kept wanting to put some form of C in the middle there. Then followed by the diminished scales.

I spent an hour on my Hi-Fly Transcription in the keys of A, C, D, and E, I was just working on ironing out any faults and building confidence on all of the lines, and in the keys of D and E I spent a lot of time getting the altissimo lines happening.

I spent 20 minutes on my Kenny Garrett Have You Met Miss Jones Transcription. mostly on the double time section.

I then spent an hour working on my lines and solos for Confirmation and Have You Met Miss Jones.

Then... I've had a stiff back and neck all day and it started getting the better of me so I stopped.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Average Day

Today started with the usual Long Tones that where fine, however I attempted to learn some slap tonguing and it is a thousand times harder than it seems, and it seems hard!

On the scale front I went very well, yet again accuracy is the goal! I performed the diminished and diminished dominant scales at around 100bm over 2 octaves, in 3rds, opposing 3rds, scale tone 7ths. Then I tried the major and minor pentatonic's in 12 keys in 4 note cells as quavers, 3 note cells as triplets and 5 note cells in 5/8 time. This proved my teachers theory of short bursts being more beneficial. After about 2 scales (keys) my brain was fried and I couldn't get into the new key. So I'd take a break and then sit down and nail the new key! I then finished with the Blues scales and the Augmented scale (C,D#,E,G,Ab,B).

I then spent a round 2 hours practicing the solos and lines that I have written out for Confirmation and Have You Met Miss Jones

I then spent half an hour on the double time section of the Kenny Garrett Have You Met Miss Jones transcription.

Before settling in to play the two songs for a couple of hours.

All evening I have been working on transcribing Brian Blade's Red River Revel and Joshua Redman's Jazz Crimes