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Becoming a well rounded player

Wade Cornell

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New Zealand and Australia
It's obvious that the majority of tracks practiced and offered for players to play are where the sax is the lead instrument. However is this an accurate reflection of what sax players are more often wanted for in playing with a group for audiences or recording? The sax is just another instrument requiring as many different modes of playing as others, yet sax sites ignore this for the most part and just encourage players as soloists. The skills required for accompaniment (especially without written music) are just as demanding. If you haven't mastered them you're going to be useless in many instances where a band needs players but you need to work up your own part. If you are mostly a reader you may know how to play your part, but can you improvise a part without the dots?

The major bits to learn are call and response, counterpoint, counter-melodies, harmony and rhythmic accents. Being able to hear and play these takes as much practice (or possibly more) since you're no longer in "jazz theory" territory where you're often "playing the changes" by using practiced (finger memory) riffs and arpeggios that are supposed to be a solo. Playing backing as an improvisor is more similar to melodic improvisation. You need to hear the possibilities that can enhance what others are playing. There is also a difference in attitude as you're inside the music instead of standing on the outside as "the soloist".

I'd love to hear Player here taking on tunes with singers or other lead instruments where there is an opportunity to play as part of the backing. You'll find that not standing in front of those other players and instead making their solos more relevant is indeed a difficult exercise, but very worthwhile. IMHO there is even more to learn musically in doing that than soloing.

So there is the challenge. Anyone wish to post a tune with a strong (non sax) soloist/lead and backing that could use a boost?

Anyone disagree that it's an area of playing that's mostly absent but worth knowing?

Cheers saxers and have at it.
 
Last edited:

thomsax

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You mean to play the boring and "same same but different" all the time? You just catch the basic groove and don't care about the key. Feel the changes. Steady as a heart? Just make the song bigger. Something like ....

.... Fannie Mae (Buster Benton)

View: https://youtu.be/ZmxCQU1rHUY
 

jbtsax

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Ballymenaboy

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Ballymena.Co.Antrim
This is my favourite type of playing where one can intersperce sax lines between,above or below singer's phrases.Just recently did this on my Zoomr8 with Adele's Lovesong and Paul Weller's Wildwood..both songs lend them selves to nice sax phrasing and space for solos.Copyright et al prevents me from posting on soundcloud.
 

Wade Cornell

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New Zealand and Australia
This is my favourite type of playing where one can intersperce sax lines between,above or below singer's phrases.Just recently did this on my Zoomr8 with Adele's Lovesong and Paul Weller's Wildwood..both songs lend them selves to nice sax phrasing and space for solos.Copyright et al prevents me from posting on soundcloud.

If I recall correctly you can post on youtube which takes care of the copyright via their ads.
 

taiwanpaul

Member
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174
Here is something from me, which I hope fits in with what Wade was describing, although it certainly doesn't highlight me as being a well-rounded player. It's from 2003, more at the start, or restart of my sax playing. (I started sax at school for a few years and then restarted 12 years later.) We had no notes, none of us had studied music and really had no idea, but loads of fun. The song was composed by the singer and guitarist and the rest of us jammed around until we had something that we were pleased with. The band disbanded in 2004 and we have never played again. I have since been practising and am better than I was back then! The video was made by the drummer and shows us as well as other bits of Taiwan. Hope you enjoy it!
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex2cGgKfHl8
 

Wade Cornell

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New Zealand and Australia
OK, may as well throw out a few examples with tracks for practice. These are a just a few that from a resource located on this site: Wikiloops Backing Tracks There's probably around 100 tracks (out of 300) there which call for backing with sax as well as lead or solos. They are all improvised and there are no standards or covers. The exercise is about hearing a line (backing or otherwise) and playing it. The object is to fit with what's there. It's a challenge to leave behind patterns that won't fit and learn how to make music with others. That's what music is about.

It should be obvious that you don't play over singers, but likewise you don't play over others who are soloing or playing the melody. You play backing and behind. There are also tracks (the second one below) where you are playing a duet, which takes a lot of listening and skill to be in sync with the other player in feel, line, harmony, timing, etc.

Here's a few to get you started where the first track is with sax and the second is without sax for you to have a go.

Rock & Pop - The Other Sax #11
Jazz - #55
Jazz - #104
 

MaxSax88

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Helsinki, Finland
My advice would be make your daily routines as efficient as possible, I mean stuff like taking out garbage, food, cleaning your home, etc. Waste as little time as possible, don't watch TV if you can avoid it, don't waste time on social media or with other low-value activities. Spend as much time on the horn as possible.

Work on scales, arpeggios, tone exercises, etudes, chromatic approach phrases, 251 licks etc. Keep it broad and varied. Always stay focused and relaxed. Respect every note. Try your best every session and never stop working.
 

Ballymenaboy

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Ballymena.Co.Antrim
My advice would be make your daily routines as efficient as possible, I mean stuff like taking out garbage, food, cleaning your home, etc. Waste as little time as possible, don't watch TV if you can avoid it, don't waste time on social media or with other low-value activities. Spend as much time on the horn as possible.

Work on scales, arpeggios, tone exercises, etudes, chromatic approach phrases, 251 licks etc. Keep it broad and varied. Always stay focused and relaxed. Respect every note. Try your best every session and never stop working.
No fun in that regime ..much prefer working with tracks to develop
improvisation across a plethora(some word that isnt it??) of keys ...also find that a few glasses of vino tinto helps immensely (Jeanette our resident wine afficionado may agree on this)
 

MaxSax88

New Member
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Helsinki, Finland
Also, go to youtube, search "motivation video". Apply those principles of duty, humility, hard work to the horn. Play when you don't feel like it. Push yourself. Go hard, stay hard. Focus, keep going. Then greatness will be yours.
 

MaxSax88

New Member
Messages
7
Locality
Helsinki, Finland
No fun in that regime ..much prefer working with tracks to develop
improvisation across a plethora(some word that isnt it??) of keys ...also find that a few glasses of vino tinto helps immensely (Jeanette our resident wine afficionado may agree on this)

Guess I'm not looking primarily for fun from the horn, but meaning, purpose. But I suppose my situation is different. I'm unemployed and my life is centered on the sax.

But ironically enough, when I stop caring about my feelings, when I don't care if I have fun or not and just work on the horn, I end up accidentally having tons of fun. Playing fourths in all 12 keys can bring me to a state of absolute bliss. Playing scales for hours on end can lead to a deep meditative state of happiness.
 

Pete Thomas

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St. Mary's
Play when you don't feel like it. Push yourself. Go hard, stay hard. Focus, keep going. Then greatness will be yours.
I tried that once, but it didn’t work for me. Sure I got good at technique but I only became satisfied with my musicality when I got out a bit more, learned to live a life away from the saxophone and try to have more fun.
 

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