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Getting Started with Jazz

TriumphV8

New Member
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14
Bit of background, my saxophone is a relatively new purchase. I'm a first instrument clarinettist playing at around LRSM (diploma) standard. Now, I'm interested in learning Jazz with my saxophone and have started playing simple tunes (mainly out of abracadbra saxophone and james rae modern studies) then adding a section of improvisation, then going back to the theme to end.

Really enjoying it with my sax but would like to progress, tips, tricks, ideas much appreciated!

Eventually, I'd like to beable to play my sax with others (in a big band etc.) but at the moment I feel like it's a whole new thing to me!

Should I be thinking about working through something like the abrsm jazz grades as a starting point on my journey?
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
I would certainly recommend them - I did up to Grade 5 and really enjoyed them. There are also Trinity/Guildhall and Thames Valley University (London College of Music) Jazz Grades. All have downloadable syllabuses online. The latter two go up to Grade 8 and beyond, and I am familiar with the LCM jazz grades on sax and trumpet. I preferred the ABRSM Syllabus, which includes modes etc.

You can obviously start where you want and do the grades that you want - so no harm in checking out which level is appropriate.
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
Hi Triumph,

I'm sure those grades are a good thing, though I can't speak from experience.

In terms of of learning the ropes there are so many books to choose from to help you along that it's difficult to make recommendations. However, the Greg Fishman etude books/playalongs are great for learning the idiomatic phrasing of bebop, and giving you solo space. There are 3 of them, vol1 being the hardest, vol3 easiest.

Otherwise, have a look at www.jazzbooks.com - Jamey Aebersold's website. You can download his "red book" for free. Nothing to do with Chairman Mao - it's a handout for his Summer schools and it does distil a lot of wisdom and information about the craft of improvising. Like the root notes being the weakest ones to use in a solo, bla bla.

As for big bands, you can get involved in them without having to improvise a note. If you play 2nd alto or 2nd tenor you are almost never presented with a jazz solo. So if you know of a big band that's looking for saxes - just do it. You're more ready for it than you think, being an advanced clarinettist as you are.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
The only trouble you face is that Jazz is no longer cool, at least the American version, but there is a die hard following still in existence if you look hard enough...................;}
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
I would definitely second the Jamey Aebersold suggestion - I would start with some major blues and also some standards, in the front of most of the books he outlines some theory of using chords and modal scales, which you can then apply with the pieces - a good starting point. The Blues in All Keys book (volume 42) gives the blues scale on the page for each piece and appropriate scales that would be useful for improvisation for the solo chorus' - blues is a great starting point for jazz, and when playing it, if all else fails you can just improvise on a minor pentatonic or blues scale for that key.

Grades are fine but I don't think the books come with much explanation so you would probably need some information on improvising.

The other thing I would suggest is listen as much as you can as you will naturally start to pick up improvising ideas by ear. :thumb:
 

Pete C

Member
Messages
344
As you are already a good reader, I suggest getting the Charlie Parker Omnibook and start learning some bebop heads to get the phrasing and listen to as much jazz as possible. In terms of improvisation, if you are coming from a classical background, I would start learning chord arpeggios so that you can play through the common chords you see in jazz standards: maj7, 7, min7, m7b5. That would be a good start.

Pete
 

trimmy

One day i will...
Messages
10,273
The other thing I would suggest is listen as much as you can as you will naturally start to pick up improvising ideas by ear. :thumb:
I'm a beginner on sax and jazz but agree with Arty on above statement, this is also what my teacher asked me to do, i've constantly got jazz playing in my cab ( passengers like it also ) and it has helped me in improvising, it must stick in my brain (somehow)
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
One of my favourites! Lots of the pieces are Grades 6 - 8 on the Trinity Jazz Syllabus. It had CDs for Alto and Tenor Sax so the identical notes can be played in each case.
 
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