Can you, please tell me some pointers on how I can get that ultra smooth sound like Smooth Jazz Groove 5.
It is an interesting question you propose. Much in how I would answer would be based on your current experience and playing level.
Many things are involved. The most important thing is you and what you personally are hearing inside your "minds ear". What you hear yourself sounding like in your head depends on what and who, you are listening to, and feel are your favorite saxophone players. Those that inspire you and make you want to play the saxophone to begin with.
Listening and imitating them by playing along with their recordings helps you discover what they are doing. Listen to your favoring tracks over and over and you begin to hear it in your head even when the music is not playing. Tonal memory would be a good name for it. It may take several passes over a tune before you start finding the notes or your ear might lead there faster than think. Everyone is different and develops at their own pace so be patient, keep practicing and let your sound evolve naturally.
That is just the start, than you get into equipment, reeds mouthpieces type of horn etc. (See following posts)
The only other thing I can think of specifically to Groove #5 would be the groove's feel, a shuffle, 12/8 or triplet feel. The key there and in many other tunes of different rhythmic variations is to feel the rhythm internally as best you can, let the smallest denomination of time in that song, in this case the triplet, be the constant pulse going on in your body. Feel it as an internal dance expressing itself with your fingers instead of you feet as a dancer would do. Practice the scales in triplet variations with different tongue articulations. Check out "Time Awareness for All Musicians", by Peter Erskine. It may help you understand what I am referring to. And of course, a metronome helps to keep you in time at a regular tempo.
Thinking about getting a new Mouthpiece?
Where to turn? Let's talk.
Here is a recent chat with a Facebook friend I thought I would post.
"I want to play jazz and swing,what mouthpiece do you think I can buy?"
A lot depends on trying to satisfy the concept or sound you hear in your head, as to what think your saxophone should sound like. The same mouthpiece and horn setup will sound different with each individual player. The reason for that is: like snowflakes, everyones oral chamber, throat, tongue, roof of mouth, size of all of the above are unique. No one will be exactly the same. That results in slight differences in tone and the overall sound. Everyone's voice is different too. It has been said to me that the saxophone is the instrument that is most like the human voice. I agree, it is more flexible in allowing more variables than brass instruments for example.
Depending on where your proficiency level is as a player, also plays a part. It can be discouraging playing a mouthpiece reed combination that requires too much physical energy or has too much resistance. It should blow easily so you can relax and enjoy playing the instrument. Many players change their setup as they evolve in their growth as a musician. I played Beechler Bellite metal mouthpieces for 20 years or more on Alto, Tenor, and Soprano and was shocked to find out how much hard rubber, like I have now, worked better for me. The change for me was needed when I added high quality brass pad resonators during my last saxophone overhaul. The metal mouthpiece became much to bright. What has been consistant for me was, I always found Rico Lavoz MS to be my reed of choice on any mouthpiece. I have tried most all brands of Rico and Vandoren, only to come back to the Lavoz. Jazz Select 2H also works well but is brighter, more high frequencies. But Eric Marienthal sounds great and uses Vandoren Reeds on the same Beechler Bellite.
As to which mouthpiece? There are so many to choose from and prices can be an issue here too. For Jazz and Swing, I would first say hard rubber, Meyer maybe, Beecher has hard rubber selections, and the SR Technologies, I am using work great for me however SR Tech., has a few of each kind, you may like a different one better. Sorry I know it can get crazy.
What I recommend is that you take your time trying out different mouthpieces on your horn. The jazz mouthpieces are usually equipped with larger tip openings so a softer reed is a better choice. When you go to a music store to try them out, assuming there is a store in your area that has them available, bring a number of presoaked reeds of the brand you are using or prefer. Try each mouthpiece with several reeds a few minutes each. Don't be too concerned about finding "The One", but more so, getting one that plays easily and produces a tone you like. Play on that one for a while and experiment with different reeds and strength variations. It is always best to have recently been playing a lot and have a strong embouchure before looking around. Also, you may not want to invest too much into a mouthpiece if you are looking to replace your saxophone first. Sometimes a mouthpiece can play differently on another saxophone.
If you have access to a store with SR Technologies mouthpieces, I would recommend trying the "Legend" for alto or "Europa" for tenor. They feel good, are quite versatile and have been Reed friendly for me. They can be pricey, but I find a bit more reasonable than many brands being introduced today.
Aren't we are all looking for a way to reduce the time wasted fumbling around trying to get the dog gone things to vibrate. Or is it just me?
Ok yesterday finishing up on a session, I completed 9 of 10 lengthy examples for a book I am recording, and low and behold the final break before beginning to record #10......that damn mouthpiece cover busted my reed... well maybe my vision isn't what it used to be.
OK! Lets start a survey! Saxophonists, type in a short paragraph about how you deal with reeds, tell us your reed info, mouthpiece, and horn combination.
Well here goes: Reed Management.......
I have tried it a number of ways......from rubbing them down and keeping them on glass, to soaking for days, to the climate controlled reed boxes. I have tried various ways of breaking them in a bit a time, several days before a session or or rehearsal.
I have attempted working on reeds, sanding, trimming, filing to adjust strength or balance. I wind up going back and forth between those techniques or some combination of them. Lately, I find myself keeping the reed wet and on the mouthpiece for days, even longer than a week sometimes. (I do take it apart during that time to clean it though, it can get funky otherwise) I just play it from day to day until it wears out, then I toss it. I seem to find reeds don't play the same the next day if they are dried and then soaked again. But even this doesn't always work. It can save a lot of time though. Many practice sessions turn into a reed search, and little is accomplished. Other days, I just practice on the bad reeds figuring if I can make them sound good, then a good reed will be fantastic. This can be risky as while struggling with a reed that doesn't vibrate well or easily can cause you to develop bad habits. You adjust to try to make the reed play and force things sometimes.
So this is it.....
Find a space where you can lay out, organize and story many reeds. I was amazed to find Bob Sheppard had an entire wall and workbench committed to reeds. Several mouthpieces, different ligatures all over the place and the coolest thing, boxes and boxes of reeds as a "Rico Artist". What I basically mean is, expect many differences from one reed to the next, regardless of how it looks. Many perfect looking reeds don't play at all and reeds you would reject on appearance can play great. It is simply the condition of being a reed player.
In addition to lessons which are always helpful, I found ideas on Youtube from video clinics by name players all over the place. Seems there are quite a few schools on the subject. So far, I believe, since we are dealing with a plant, the range of consistency is fairly wide. I have a better understanding now after I was fortunate enough to receive a tour of the factory in Sylmar, CA. It is unbelievable what D'Addario is doing with Rico Reeds. I have been playing saxophone since 9th grade in high school and I learned more about reeds in that 2 hour tour, than in the last 40 years. Now there's a learning gap for you.
So what would be my recommendation? Well, unless you go with synthetic reeds such as, LeGere or Fibracell, expect reeds to be an ongoing issue. As a sax player, I have come to believe that the perfect reed is an elusive beast, almost unattainable. Rico does everything one can think of from growing their own cane on two different plantations, to having a journeyman machinist and machine shop, forging custom tools and machinery, an assembly line process, with impeccable quality control, and then some! Even with all that, all reed players are familiar with the, 2 or 3 out of ten in a box, that play well, let alone be perfect. And then why is it after pulling out old reeds you have been saving, storing out in the heat in the garage, reeds that you rejected long ago but were too expensive to throw away, and playing them, more times than not you find they play great?
Assuming one has a budget available..... find a mouthpiece and reed combination that blows easily. Try several brands, styles and strengths of reeds on your current mouthpiece first. Start with softer reeds and work up. Much of the stiffness or number 2, 2.5, 3, soft, med soft, etc. you need will depend how wide the gap between the tip of the reed and mouthpiece is. The wider the gap the softer reed you will need. Go by how you feel. If you have to work or blow too hard or there is too much resistance, continue to explore options or combinations. Having to blow too hard can increase tension that will manifest itself in your shoulders and arms and then everything tightens up. While the saxophone can require a good lung capacity and a lot of air, you should still try for a set up that allows you to stay relaxed.
It is best to wait until you have played a while and have developed a strong embouchure. For beginning students, the stock mouthpiece that comes with the saxophone is usually workable to start. When you grow as a player, you may find you want a certain type of tone or sound, maybe just to fit the style of music you play most. Before you begin, do your research, discover what your favorite saxophone players use. The type of saxophone, tone resonators on the pads, brass or silver metal, etc., all influence the tone. Take your time with it. It should be more of a slow evolutionary process. When you do try out mouthpieces, have numerous reeds wet and ready to play and try several reeds on each mouthpiece you play. Go with your gut, if it feels right you will know it. If your are at all unsure, wait and keep looking. Most music stores with quality horn departments are willing to let customers try the mouthpieces before buying. Of course you need to purchase the reeds.
One mistake not to make. Be careful not to fall into that constant search for the perfect set up. At some point you have to put in the time practicing enough to build up the muscle strength to produce a good tone and make what you do have work. (the good ol' long tones for example) You want to have that strength before shopping around. But don't do the opposite either, like I did, and continue to hammer away stubbornly, practicing with an incorrect combination. Equipment really does make a difference with the ease or difficulty of execution on a particular horn. The saxophone itself, should fit your hands well too. Many horn designs have slightly different key placement where one may fit your hands better than the other.
While that was a bit off the subject, it bears an effect on the reed situation. Embouchure is another topic. One I will address in a video lesson in the near future.
To sum up, if you have internet access, take advantage of the huge amount of information out there. Just searching "saxophone embouchure" brings up all kinds of advice on how to position your lips etc. Sigurd Racher has a good 3 part Buescher clinic on Youtube.
Another good page, I discovered: www.mindworkshop.com, excellent for beginning saxophone students and parents. Very informative. Written by Steven William Rimmer, this page is well put together, I highly recommend reading this if your new to the saxophone. Even if your just contemplating the idea of taking up the sax, or having your kids play one, a must read.
Some good links:
Selmer clinic series with David Sanborn
Michael Brecker @ Texas University, 1984
Don Menza, Tone and Emboucher
Good luck everyone.
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