I Heart Playalongs
I don’t mean the Music Minus One or Aebersold type of playalong. I mean the kind with a real saxophone showing me how it’s done.
It’s taken a good while, but I’m finally getting some traction on Jazz Phrasing for Saxophone Volume 1. My control of the horn has been so poor that just getting my swing feel (accents, articulations, swing time) going took months. I don’t have the tempo yet, but the general feel is getting better.
As I was playing the Fishman pieces for the zillionth time, it occurred to me that the repetitiousness of the Niehaus etudes (Basic Jazz Conception for Saxophone Vol 1) might be helpful to me. I’ve always half hated these pieces, diatonic and whitebread as they are. Now I’m starting to really like them.
One reason is the repetition; there are lots of opportunities to get little details nailed down without backing up or starting over.
Another is the demonstration tracks that are now available. It’s a great opportunity to try to play in time and in tune with a better player. And the exercises don’t sound quite so square played with that swinging drum track. Ooops. It was operator error all along.
Now half the book is “exercises” and the other half is “tunes.” The distinction hardly matters except that the playalongs differ. The exercises are only recorded in the Eb version with sax and drum track. The tunes are recorded for Bb, Eb, and C instruments with full rhythm section.
No matter. If I play my tenor along with the Eb Exercise recording, the harmony in fourths is a little weird, but it actually makes it easier to hear little timing differences between myself and the recording. And for the tunes I get the additional boon of hearing how my intonation stacks up.