SYOS

Vibrato

jbtsax

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I heard a saxophone professor say that a fast, constant vibrato which was used in French classical playing has now come "full circle" and can be heard in the sound of some "New Age" or "Smooth Jazz" players. It is just not as wide or pronounced.
 

Pete Effamy

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I heard a saxophone professor say that a fast, constant vibrato which was used in French classical playing has now come "full circle" and can be heard in the sound of some "New Age" or "Smooth Jazz" players. It is just not as wide or pronounced.
Yeah I agree. It's deceptive for some reason - well it was for me when I was young. Coming from British Revivalist Trad clarinet, I thought that Sanborn and others like him used less vibrato - not so of course. As I've said before, I've yet to hear any pro sax player play completely without vibrato. I've never said that it needs to be on 100%, or whatever, merely that everyone in any style uses it as a tool somewhere. Each player will use it differently depending upon the style of music, type of song, people that their playing alongside, speed of song, feel of song... it's organic and the choice is a musical one to make.
 

Pete Effamy

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Talking of vibrato, and talking of the baritone sax, is anyone familiar with the album 2:AM Paradise Cafe by Barry Manilow? It has Gerry Mulligan on it, along with Mundell Lowe and Shelly Mann and others. It's a remarkable piece of work, apparently it recorded straight through like a concert. The writing and performances are all fabulous. Manilow's singing is quite incredible in days before autotune, especially as the melodies frequently employ some tricky intervals for singers, and it moves all over the place harmonically.

Manilow was a successful Jingle writer, composer and MD long before his pop career.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hXsvDs9oaI&list=PLb72gFQdbjPkIXrhYpSY14CM7QvUtDlmM
 

Pete Effamy

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I forgot to add earlier that I learned a lot about vibrato in the context smooth/pop jazz from Everette Harp. It's really obvious how he's using it (I think). It really helped me with my pop alto sound. Along with Eric Marienthal.

This was the track below. Yes, it's really smooooth, so many might loathe it but it's really educational I think. Another player that's easy to dismiss, until you hear that he's got quite a bit left under the bonnet.

View: https://youtu.be/rV9qu5YkT28
 

Pete Effamy

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If we are going to get into "true confessions" to clear the soul. I used to practice vibrato playing along with these guys who were quite popular when I was growing up. :)

It all has its place though, and if you find yourself on a gig and a tune like this comes up, that's the sound. This begs another question - when does the music demand that you play differently to your preferred playing style?
 

Pete Effamy

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nigeld

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If we are going to get into "true confessions" to clear the soul. I used to practice vibrato playing along with these guys who were quite popular when I was growing up. :)

Unfortunately, I don’t have the right sort of toupee to play vibrato like that. ;)
 

tenorviol

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For a different view, on cello you don't touch vibrato until you're reasonably experienced. The technique for introducing vibrato is quite complex and involves more than just wiggling your fingers. I only add it on longer notes in generally slower pieces, or where celli are marked 'soli' and obviously if solo.
 

Guenne

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But, personally I'd rather hear all the other members of the woodwind family playing classical repertoire.
To freely quote Chet Baker...If I could play like Arno, I wouldn't play like Arno :)
Well, to be honest: This is one legit player that does not sound "classical" to me. Or "classical" in a very positive way.

I'm also a big a big fan of his vibrato, almost sounding like a diaphragm vibrato:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPymZ1Odd_o&t=337s


reminds me a bit of his vibrato:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_4sneGIJwE
 
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rhysonsax

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I've realised that none of the groups/ensembles I play with have ever had a proper discussion about vibrato as a group.

Are there any rules/guidelines/suggestions for vibrato on the saxophone when playing as part of a (for example):
  • Big band saxophone section
  • Saxophone quartet
  • Horn section in a soul, R&B or funk band

Rhys
 

Pete Effamy

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Some of it is era-specific. Miller is a matched vibrato - all going at the same rate and width and more or less constant. It's quite hard as it's quite wide but also fast. Maybe easiest to hear on Moonlight Serenade.

Soli sections are generally expected to be straight, as would backing figures. It should be that the section follows the lead alto though, so long as they are experienced enough.

Horn section. Trumpet is the leader, follow his inflections. Majority probably delivered straight. 'Straight down the pipe.' Colour for long notes - but there may not be many in lead lines. Backing lines play straight unless you feel a reason to colour. Will depend on instrumentation too. Brass-led sections can use less vib than reed-led. Trumpet/Alto/Tenor/Bari or Trumpet/Alto/Trom/Bari - the alto will invariably function as a 2nd trumpet and should be blown as such - big and brassy. Stick to the trumpet like glue, they'll love you for it as it provides them with something to blow against.

Sax quartet will depend on what you are playing, but should come from the soprano player. They will have the top line most often. Not too big unless playing jazz as jazz. Classically, just colour the longer notes - not sure about the inner parts though, if not a lead line. Maybe not, unless a harmony to melodic line.
 

Pete Thomas

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My simple rule for big band playing tradional repertoire: if a passge is voiced in harmony use vibrato. If it is uniosn or octaves, no vibrato.

Vibrato warms up harmony and blurs the edges of any inotnation issues (not there should be of course!) but with unisons it can sound very ragged. But can work when you want that sort of effect.

With horn sections same can apply to older stuff (e.g. jump blues etc, but maybe soul funk it needs to be either a case of do what it sounded like on the record (for covers) or whatever you decide among yourselves bearing in mind vibrato (depending on the style of it re: speed/depth) can obviously sound dated sometimes.
 

Pete Effamy

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My simple rule for big band playing tradional repertoire: if a passge is voiced in harmony use vibrato. If it is uniosn or octaves, no vibrato.
That's an interesting one. I think I like it - trouble is, so much is intuitive at this point I won't know what I do until I'm doing it. Interesting rule. Logical.
 
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rhysonsax

rhysonsax

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My simple rule for big band playing traditional repertoire: if a passage is voiced in harmony use vibrato. If it is unison or octaves, no vibrato.

Vibrato warms up harmony and blurs the edges of any inotnation issues (not there should be of course!) but with unisons it can sound very ragged. But can work when you want that sort of effect.
Maybe that explains why some of our big band charts have "Unis." and "Divis." (or similar) marked on some of the sax lines - providing clues about vibrato or not. Or does the unison/harmony also affect the dynamic we should be using ?

Rhys
 

Pete Effamy

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Agree with Pete (no not me... well, I do agree with me too) that the older stuff will use vibrato. The blues stuff will use lots.
 
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rhysonsax

rhysonsax

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I have a vague recollection of someone suggesting that the lead voice (e.g. lead alto in big band) could use vibrato whilst the others play without. I'm not sure when that might apply or if it would sound tasteful or not.

Rhys
 
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