Intermediate level: Bob Mintzer Etudes (Blues and Funk)

randulo

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#1
(Edit) I don't mean for this to be only about me. What is your experience with methods like this? Did you go through in order or cherry pick? Did it help your sight reading skills?

My "review": I just got this book and 2 CD set and I am of two minds. First, I'm blown away by how valuable it will be to my alto studies. Second, I'm afraid I won't have the strength to get through it. Remember the old joke, "How do you get the guitar player to turn his amp down?" Put a piece of sheet music in front of him. Ok, thatrisn't as true as it once was, but I came up not learning to read and that's gonna be a problem. Oh, I studied music theory in books, I can decipher the written music. That's what I'm doing now with the first étude. I hope this will improve my reading. I'm sure it will get a little better, at least.

Anyway, I wanted to post this as a suggestion for beginners who may not know about it. This is brilliant stuff, the very first phrase has made me play low notes I wouldn't often play on my own, except for effect. The third note of the first phrase of the first etude is a low B, and I can see I don't have the strength in my LH little finger to hit it at tempo with the funk articulation. I listened to the second tune briefly, but I'm going to try to be disciplined enough to follow the etudes in order. Although challenging, the work doesn't seem impossible.
"What doesn't kill us..."

I highly recommend this book (I'm sure the whole series is excellent). This would be especially valuable if you want to play funkier, are a good sight reader and you are coming from another style and need this kind of exercise and guidance. I bought it from Amazon UK because France didn't list it.

14 Blues and Funk Etudes (Amazon UK link) (Amazon USA link)

By the way, I have additional challenges, I barely know the notes in Eb, I think in concert. In other words, when practicing what is for you the C major scale, it's Eb in my mind. It's a long-standing habit I need to fix and start thinking and reading for Eb (and maybe Bb some day).
 
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hedgehog

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#2
I am with you @randulo

Last week I had my first lesson in 45 years. My teacher asked questions about my goals, listened to my answers, listened to me play and based on that recommended "Patterns for Jazz" by Jerry Coker, et al. (That book is now 48 years old, so when I had my last lesson it was nearly new!)

On opening it, I was excited and a little worried. I can see how it can help fingering and what they call "pre-hearing": hearing notes while improvising and playing them without ever translating them into words. The worrying part is there are hundreds of exercises. It'll take some strength, patience, time, and determination to make progress. So I've decided not to worry about how many exercises I've mastered but to record and listen to my impro as proof of progress. Mastering all the exercises is not my goal. Being able to play with more fluency is my goal. Plus, impro consisting solely of patterns strung together would be pretty boring.

One interesting feature: each pattern is written out for two or four keys. Working out how to play it in the remaining keys is the ever-popular "exercise left to the student."
 

randulo

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#3
I have a counter suggestion that is even more daunting! Patterns for Jazz is a great book, always will be. But have you ever seen Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns by Slonimsky? A couple of bad things, it's all written in C and is the most frightening thing to look at. Now the good: it's all generated by match and you can open it to almost any page and learn something. After a time, I kind of groked how it works and made up similar patterns on the guitar, which has the ease of moving chromatically in visible patterns.

Man I have so much exercise waiting for me with the materials I have, I'm not sure I will live long enough! But The journey is worth it. Also, I just now found the 15 Easy Jazz Blues Funk Etudes in my mailbox. I'm set for many years, I think.
 

randulo

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#4
Here's a quote, a comment on a YouTube video of guitar playing one of the Slonimsky patterns:

“John Coltrane would leave for a road trip with the Quartet carrying nothing but his horn case and the Slonimsky book.” -McCoy Tyner Nicolas Slonimsky's Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns was published in 1947 as a “reference” book for musicians. After a few years of not selling many copies, John Coltrane popularized it as a practice tool among jazz artists; then other musicians and composers began employing it in their compositions, and now it's somewhat famous in musical circles. For many people, the Thesaurus provided a glimpse into areas beyond common scales used in Western music and into places rarely explored. However, many musicians today are still puzzled by Slonimsky's book, due to him providing no explicit advice on how to apply the patterns and ideas, while only giving basic clues on harmonization; and simultaneously employing a bizarre naming convention that uses phrases such as: “symmetric interpolation,” “infra-inter-ultrapolation,” “diatessaron and diapente notes,” “sesquitone and quinquetone” progressions, etc. Fortunately Dave Celentano published a guitar version of the Thesaurus with tablature, plucking out selections that were more applicable to guitar (he left out over 1000 patterns from the original text). Consult the original Slonimsky book if you want to work on improving your music reading skills, while also giving your brain a good workout by puzzling over Slonimsky's bizarre nomenclature.
 

spike

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#5
With Regards Bob Mintzer A good book to check out is
"The Music of Bob Mintzer"
Solo transcriptions and performing artist master class CD
by Miles Osland.

The interview style CD is fascinating - I've got a lot've mileage out've it over the years.

And a for good example of Bob playing Funky check out The Chicken with Jaco Pastorious, Randy Brecker et. al.
 
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#6
I do have the book, but must admit haven't looked at it in quite a few years. Here's the thing: It's not for "beginners". I'm not sure why this thread is marked beginners, and I certainly don't know your playing experience or skill, but I certainly wouldn't be showing it to my beginning students.

It is a book that is best used by intermediate students at least. Starting that book--or any of a similar vein--before you're actually ready, can be counter-productive, since it can lead to a player feeling like they have no hope in achieving their goals.

With regards to your question about do you go in order or to cherry pick, I generally always cherry pick stuff in books. Why not? Unless it's something like a method book that builds skills on the lessons taught in the previous ones, cherry picking is fine.

Song books are a good example of where playing any of them is fine. Often times some tunes in books are harder than others, in those cases, I start working on the easier ones first. Once my student (or me) has figured those out, then we work seriously at getting the harder ones under their fingers.
 

randulo

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#7
I do have the book, but must admit haven't looked at it in quite a few years. Here's the thing: It's not for "beginners". I'm not sure why this thread is marked beginners, and I certainly don't know your playing experience or skill, but I certainly wouldn't be showing it to my beginning students.
Thanks for chiming in, Helen. I actually thought about this on my walk earlier, this is NOT a book for the average beginner learning an instrument for the first time. However, the Blues and Funk one I review is a good book for me. I've only played saxophone for less than a year, but I've played music for over 50. I can play a lot of what's in the first etude, the one thing that's a problem is that low B! I think my teacher would also place me as intermediate if I'm in something comfortable, like three chords, but I say "beginner" because there's plenty of things I can't play that an intermediate player probably can. I don't know if that makes any sense, but it certainly won't hurt anyone to at least listen to the etudes and maybe try some of the phrases. They are definitely playable by ear for me. Except that damned low B. I haven't worked on that note much and now I will. I was under the impression those very low notes weren't useful on the alto except for honking effects. All my practicing began in Cn again I am changing this and playing from B locrian. I know there's a Coltrane tune on that oddball mode, but I can't remember the name at the moment.

So yes, mea culpa, warning to beginners, this isn't something to start with. It's still inspiring to hear and examine the charts though.
And I edited the post title.

Also, some books are made to be leafed through, like Chord Chemistry (guitar). A beginner or an advanced guitarist can open that book to any page and learn something. I should read the intro to Mintzer's book, I haven't yet, maybe he sternly wars we shouldl follow the order. I dubt that, though. :)
I read Bob's intro and the essential thing is that the book is about learning to "play melodically and simply over a variety of funk & blues settings". That's music to my ears. By the way, this is not his first etudes book which was much harder and jazz-based.
 
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randulo

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Right now it looks to be valuable. I think it's we'll done, I can feel it's in the right vein, I can't explain it better. It'll make me go places I wouldn't alone. I'll talk to me teacher about working in it.
 
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Jazzaferri

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#10
If you are really into alto...I would suggest you find an alto player who really resonates with you and see what they have to offer as far as learning stuff goes. Many high level pro's augment their income with published books of their own or other players material.
 

randulo

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#11
I have a teacher who understands me. He plays all the saxes and has an electric one, too. He's a great player, I evseen him twice live. Last time I saw him he mentioned the etudes and is familiar with them. I schedule lessons when I feel I've digested stuff we worked on. The way I see this book is that it's the very definition of saxophone playing, where I'm coming from a more general, non-wind background. In the very first simple etude I can hear months of studying the nuances of the instrument. Scary in a way, but also inspiring!

Edit: definition of a certain style of playing, executed by a master.
 
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randulo

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#12
Why?
Alto is only transposed Bob on Tenor.
So you are always out of a good range. Ok, maybe that‘s of value.....

Cheers
I wondered about that. But I'm assuming mastering the low notes is a coming of age ritual. I don't have trouble from D up, C# is necessary to play the blues in concert E with my guitar friends. I was already working on that. B seems unobtainable for these old fingers. Still, I'm trying.
 

randulo

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This is funny. My reading isn't good at all, so I misread the bottom notes of the first tune. I talked to my teacher about the song and he showed me that I was in the wrong octave! I knew as written is was higher, but I just thought that was some kind of implied 8ve (or is it va? I am a veteran). I'm reworking the song, but I hate that sound and wanted the sound Bob gets. So @Guenne, your comment is interesting, because this one song (so far) is simply written to be played in the upper octave and doesn't sound the same, obviously, when compared to Bob's playing. So far, the three other tunes I'm working on are not like that. I'd be disappointed if I had to sound an octave higher than the recording. Bottom line, I got an extensive workout on my low register keys!
 
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I am with you @randulo

“Last week I had my first lesson in 45 years.”

(I’m 61 now, and a self taught guitar, Mandolin, ukulele, etc. since I was twelve. The last official “lesson” I had was around 1966, when I was learning the Trombone. Next week I’ll have an official “lesson” in Saxophone after two weeks of practicing daily whatever I could).

“It’ll take some strength, patience, time, and determination to make progress.”Being able to play with more fluency is my goal.”

(Yep! Sure glad I finally quit smoking on August 26th of this year!!)

“Working out how to play it in the remaining keys is the ever-popular "exercise left to the student."
(took piano when I was a kid, but I never got out of the Key of C, in all the years of playing that instrument. I can tell you what the notes are that are within the two clefts, but not above them or below them. I play quite well by ear.

So, like you, the emphasis for me THIS time, is to learn correctly, with no shortcuts that will cheat me out of a chance to REALLY know what I’m doing! I know I will never be a Grover Washington Jr., or a Clarence Clemens and that’s ok. I just want to be able to improv some smooth easy Jazz that someone will enjoy hearing. Especially ME!!)
 
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