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Inflection and Jazz Improvisation (Everything Saxophone)

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
No bending, no vibrato, no growling..... sheeeesh! Like an 80's keyboard saxophone synthesised sound or a classical clarinet.

Sounds like all notes and no emotion. For me the whole point of the saxophone is that it's the instrument most like the human voice. (Pauses for Violin and Trumpet players to disagree.) Not most like a piano.

Playing a slow ballad, soulfully, would seem odd without a little bending and growling and changing of the tone for expression. We don't have the words so for me it's the only way to convey the emotion of a piece. Mimicking the hook or that emotional cracking in the singers voice.

Playing a fast passage with just notes and no exploration of tonal colours seems to omit the personality of the instrument

Or am I missing something?
 
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153
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Philadelphia, PA
Well you are missing the fact that I am addressing both sides of the table, the Sonny Rollinses and the Coltranes. No matter if you love inflection or not you have to avoid its pitfalls. The best players who inflect a lot like Cannonball or Potter or even Brecker have overcome all or most of the challenges mentioned in my post.

And yeah bebop does have a lot less inflection as a style relative to its predecessor, swing.

The point of my post wasn't to tell people to not inflect. It's to help players avoid weaknesses in their approach to inflection.
 
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Philadelphia, PA
Two very interesting examples. It all depends on context. More importantly, you chose examples with great inflection, however you know there are thousands of videos of sax players with terrible inflection. Again, my personal argument is not against inflection, it's in favor of perfecting your technical and artistic approach to them!

By the way even in that example you posted of Parker, he is still inflecting relatively little compared to many other pro sax players before and after him. That was just his style.
 
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jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Thanks for that link. The 5 guidelines are very insightful and instructive. I especially relate to the last two as they apply to players just learning to improvise. It is not uncommon to hear high school saxophone students scoop up the high notes in every phrase they play whether reading music or improvising in an effort to sound more "jazzy". Once that habit is formed, it is difficult for them to stop.

Am I correct in assuming that "ghosting" notes in a phrase would not be an "inflection" that would fall under those guidelines? One of my "inflections" that I caught growing up was to start every long tone with a straight tone and then go into a vibrato toward the end. When a teacher pointed it out to me it was tough to turn off because it had become so automatic.
 
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153
Location
Philadelphia, PA
I think you are correct that "ghosting" isn't technically an inflection. It's more of a dynamic expression, however I think the point on habit can still be applied there.

I completely agree with the "jazzy" sound comment. It takes a lot of effort to really arrive at a mature jazz voice on saxophone, and there are certainly a lot of hiccups along the way.
 

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