So, a little digging reveals the Victor Morosco exercise that Phil Barone described to me has been posted online with more detailed explanation. (Presumably posted by another of Morosco’s students?) Or, at least, it’s an exercise that very, very closely resembles the one Phil reccomended to me, and which seems to teach the same essential things.
Since I’ve only been doing the Morosco exercise a couple of days, I can see what I’ve been doing wrong in terms of the articulations, and it helps me understand parts of the exercise I didn’t get from Phil’s explanation. It’s also pretty in depths in terms of mistakes and problems to watch for, so I figured I’d share it in case anyone else is returning to sax playing after a long time, and following along with my posts here… or in case I ever need to find the exercise posted again.
My playing is progressing well: my tone is a lot more full and powerful, my chops are slowing returning (I can do 90 minutes now, though the last ten minutes of playing, my embouchure unravels unless I’m very attentive). I’m having fun running Aebersold-type charts but I know that what I need to be doing is getting into transcriptions, and working more scales, arpeggios/7th chords, some work on patterns I find interesting, and then still more transcriptions.
This instinct was supported by comments in a recent email from Phil Barone, too: he recommended I get into transcriptions and playing along with albums I like, and weirdly enough, he even recommended I try a solo by Miles Davis from Kind of Blue as an easy start. About an hour before I got his email, I’d been playing (from memory) Miles Davis’ solo from the tune “So What” on that album:
… which was kind of an eerie coincidence, since I haven’t played it for years and years now.
Barone recommends careful transposition and playing along with sax players and other musicians I admire, which is a good idea. I’ve been getting back into listening to more jazz saxophonists–like, really broadening my horizons in terms of whose work I put on at times when I can just listen to anything. Johnny Griffin, Hank Mobley, Chris Potter, Charlie Rouse, Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Yusef Lateef… and most especially, Sonny Rollins. Because, damn, man. Damn. you’ll notice most of these saxophonists who are a lot less, er, “free” than the guys I often mention around here, like Coltrane and Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy and Rahssan Roland Kirk and so on.
For the moment, I’m going to do a mixture of working through others’ transpositions (those available online) and making my own. That’ll take some energy and time, but I should be able to do a few new transpositions and do them up and contribute them to the transpositions goldmine that is the internet. I
I’ve still managed to keep things to a low boil, so that I am actually getting some other stuff done–work on this site, reading, writing, and so on. But I am definitely back to the sax now… and working it almost daily. (I took break today having spent most of the day dealing with the air conditioner issues in our room, which left me too sweaty and exhausted to want to go to the roof and sweat and get more exhausted. But I’m up there almost every day!)
Anyway, it’s going well, though there are some things I need to get my hands on soon:
- Some kind of portable music stand that is sturdy enough to support a MacBook Air, since most of my sheet music and fakebooks are on that
- A pair of computer speakers with some power, for play-along stuff
- A small fan I can set up on the terrace, because practicing anytime but nighttime is hot, and nighttime can be a little inconsiderate.
- A large-facing Otto Link mouthpiece in hard rubber–something Barone recommends for warmups and specifically for the Morosco exercise I mentioned above, mainly to help with training on breathing and on maintaining a loose embouchure. These mouthpieces are, as it turns out, really hard to find on ebay these days… or maybe I’m doing something wrong.
That’s the report on the current state of things. More later…