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Hello from BigMartin

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,921
Hi Everyone.

As the name suggests I'm called Martin and I'm quite big. I'm 51 (for a few more days). I used to play the clarinet in my youth (ages 10-30ish). Took it fairly seriously, but gave up because it was too much work to keep the technique going for not enough gigs. This was all classical music and the clarinet is a somewhat over-subscribed instrument. Have always liked listening to jazz (especially pre 1950-ish, after that it seemed to get a bit hard to follow), but never took the plunge to learn to play it, partly because I'm not that keen on clarinet as a jazz instrument.

Always had a hankering to try the sax, but in my young days they were quite expensive. Then, 2 or 3 months ago, a friend lent me an alto which he'd bought and hardly played. I could'nt (and still can't) put it down. I bought the instrument from him for a couple of hundred quid---amazing that you can get a playable instrument that cheap. It's an Arbiter, if that's of any interest. They don't seem to have a great reputation, but it doesn't leak and I can play it more or less in tune, and I reckon that's all I need for now. Bought a Yamaha 4c mouthpiece after reading some advice on the net, and that's helped a lot. Have bashed trough A Tune a Day in a rather unsystematic way, and am working my way through O'Neill's Jazz Method for Saxophone.

I'm reasonably confident that with enough work I can master enough technique on the instrument to get me by (it got much better once I stopped trying to think of the sax as a big clarinet!), but I'm not so sure about learning to play jazz (I can't really afford lessons, unfortunately). My (admittedly few) attempts at improvisation ahave been quite embarrassing. I suppose that's to be expected at first, but I've always had the feeling that I'm not a very imaginative person. Advice like "play what you hear in your head" doesn't help much if all you can hear is some guy shouting "Help! Now what do we do?". Have tried picking out random notes from the scale I'm supposed to be using to see where it takes me but it just comes out, well, random. If anyone here has overcome this kind of barrier (I don't suppose I can be the only one) I'd be glad to hear how they did it.

In the meantime I've joined a local jazz band with no entry requirements. First gig on Saturday. We don't sound that great but it's a start. Am taking a solo in one number (Dr Jazz). To get round the improv issue, I transcribed a solo from a YouTube clip (I don't think the guy on the video would mind me nicking it).

I think that's enough of me for now,

Cheers,

Martin
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,664
Sounds like you've made a good start Martin so all that remains for me to do is to welcome you to the cafe.
 

MelodyMaker

New Member
Messages
25
Welcome
Milk and 2 sugars is it Martin?
Sit down and take the weight off your wallet.
Your line here "......................................"
There you go. See your improvising and you don't even know it.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi Martin and a very warm welcome to the cafe from the Skabertawe 3 Button Soprano Sax Collective. Alto is a top sax to be sure - my favourite :w00t:.

One of the best ways of approaching improvisation is to develop "Riffs" just 4, 5 or 6 note phrases which you can make up and then play - a couple of these during a line of music (4 bars or so) will sound great. Just don't play too many notes.

I look forward to keeping in touch with your sax journey, and your contributions to the forum.

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,921
Thanks for the welcomes, folks! This place seems to have a really nice e-atmosphere.

Tom: did you mean make up a few riffs in advance and then pick and choose among them when the solo comes up, or have I misunderstood? I'll give it a try anyway (actually, even 4 notes still sounds like quite a lot for me to string together in a sensible way).

Martin
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,542
Welcome to the caff, Big Mart.

Only advice that I can offer is sing or hum the tune and try improvising a chorus. If that works, try and reproduce it on the alto. Eventually you wont need the humming, except for growl effect.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,937
Welcome. Have fun, you've made a good start - sounds as if GAS won't be a problem, for a while at least!
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,434
Hi BigMartin

Welcome to the cafe looks like we might be in the same boat with the improvisation but I think mine could be sinking...john
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Welcome Martin
That's a good pedigree for taking up sax later in life - like lots of us, who've played something before. Scales, arps and a few riffs in you head wiill get you started in impro, but don't try anything clever. What you don't play is sometimes as telling as what you do play.

Now if you're playing a solo on Dr Jazz - he only one I know is the Jelly Roll composition - surely you can revert to clarinet and emulate the original Omer Simeon solo. It is beautifully simple, much of it relying on one note!
Good luck
YC
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,921
Welcome Martin
Now if you're playing a solo on Dr Jazz - he only one I know is the Jelly Roll composition - surely you can revert to clarinet and emulate the original Omer Simeon solo. It is beautifully simple, much of it relying on one note!
Good luck
YC

Interesting idea, but
a) the gig is tomorrow!
b) I think it would confuse the hell out of me to try playing the clarinet at this stage of my sax development. When I play a low-register G, my fingers are still trying to tell me it's a C.
c) after 20 years I'm not sure the clarinets would even play without some TLC, and I'd be scared of splitting the wood unless I'd oiled 'em first.

Thanks to you and everyone else for the improv tips. I'll try all the approaches you've suggested until something starts to work.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Thanks for the welcomes, folks! This place seems to have a really nice e-atmosphere.

Tom: did you mean make up a few riffs in advance and then pick and choose among them when the solo comes up, or have I misunderstood? I'll give it a try anyway (actually, even 4 notes still sounds like quite a lot for me to string together in a sensible way).

Martin

Very much so - listen to the music and make riffs in the style of the tune. Then play them later. Most musicians primarily create a series of riffs that they can use in different situations, and an improvisation is the result IMO. Once you have some riffs you then develop ways of joining the riffs, and once you have integrated these you probably find that you are able to change the riffs slightly - different notes, different rhythm etc.

Hence my theory of successful improvising would be:

1. Develop a few riffs
2. Develop links between riffs
3. Adapt/vary the riffs you have come up with
4. become a happy improviser! :w00t::w00t::w00t:;}

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

Sue

One prosecco, two prosecco, three prosecco - floor
Subscriber
Messages
2,422
Hey Martin and welcome - agree entirely re clarinet! Hope you enjoy the alto, I have a great Yamaha Custom tenor available for sale if your GAS gets the better of you :)
 

Roy Gussman

Member
Messages
47
blimey Big Martin, Just starting to play the Sax and now playing in a jazz band on a gig. How did you manage that, unless I have misunderstood anyway GOOD LUCK. Wish I could do that.

Gusev
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,921
blimey Big Martin, Just starting to play the Sax and now playing in a jazz band on a gig. How did you manage that, unless I have misunderstood anyway GOOD LUCK. Wish I could do that.

Gusev

Well, 20 years on the clarinet, including hundreds of lessons from some very good teachers has hopefully left some sort of imprint (breath control, intonation, etc)! Jazz gig was on a pretty basic level, but I must say we had a lot more laughs than at my last gig, playing Bruckner's 3rd symphony with the University of Kentucky SO. Don't get me wrong, it's great music and all, but you can't have a joke with the audience between movements.

Good luck to you, too, and keep plugging away at the practice.

Martin
 
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Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Well done for taking the risk Martin. Nice trumpet solo as well.

"Hello Central, give me Doctor Jazz;
He's got what I need, I'll say he has!".
YC
 
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