Chip in the Battle Axe

Got the new Vandoren V16 mouthpieces I ordered last week. As advertised, the Alto piece (an A7) is a breeze to play. No problem over the entire range (low Bb to high F). Very encouraging. Doesn’t alter my sound much, but it’s easy to play. The tenor (T7) piece I really can’t evaluate, because I’m having problems with my tenor embouchure. Don’t have time to work on it now, so I’m going to park the tenor for awhile and just work the soprano and alto. Too bad. The tenor was my old battle ax.

Today I thought I’d explain the musical differences from what I used to play versus what I’m trying to play now.

Though I took jazz lessons back in the 70s, it wasn’t until after I stopped playing that I became a fan of the straight-ahead jazz of the 50s and early 60s. In the 70s I was interested in what became to be known as fusion, especially groups like Weather Report and of course the stuff that Miles Davis was doing. Also a fan of the rock music of that time, I developed a style where I played comfortably in Dorien and Mixolydian modes, or with a natural minor scale. One thing I almost never did, was phrase in major mode, which is the easiest mode to pick up and follow considering that most modern western music is written that way.

Fast forward to today. Just about everything played in contemporary Christian music is major mode. So I started the Sax Project with no background to help me determine what to play. Now I’m working at coming up with new phrasing to fit the new context. It’s not hard to do tactically. Strategically it depends on the role the saxophone can and is expected to play in the genre. That’s something I’ll address next time.


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