Eric Daniel and Friends's Blog

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Style and Interpretation for Sax Players: Some Quick Tips

Posted by ericdanielandfriends on February 25, 2009

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Style and Interpretation: Some Quick Tips

Style and interpretation can be studied by listening to and analyzing performances by Sax players or ensembles of different styles or time periods.

Note items like the rhythmic interpretation of phrases, presence, velocity and wideness of
vibrato, timbre (darkness or brightness of the sound), and any types of effects (bending up
to notes, embellishments like trills, shakes, glissandos, short upward or downward “rips”,
long, slow downward “falls”, or “growling”, etc) that seem to characterize a given style.

Knowledge of styles is particularly important in Studio, TV, or Theatre work.

If a musical or a film is set in another time period, you will be expected to play in that style. Make it your business to check out representative players from various time periods.

Here’s a quickstory to give you an idea what I ‘m talking about….

In the theater scene in Boston, in the late 70’s I actually began subbing regularly and eventually getting “first calls” of my own thanks to some successful “sub” dates I did at the Wilbur Theater on a show called “Eubie”, a musical about the life of composer Eubie Blake. It was set in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.

I’ll never forget it; there was an improvised soprano solo right on the Overture! I tried to
get into it “in character” with some Sidney Bichet-like phrases and got through it okay!
That “broke the ice” for me mentally and the rest of the show went well, with a couple more
solos here and there. After those gigs, I began to work regularly in the theaters around
town.

I REALLY had a chance to check this out again in the late 80’s when I played 2nd alto
on the sessions for the film “Bix”, Italian film director Pupi Avati’s film about the life of Bix
Beiderbeck. The music was recorded in Rome with an all star group of soloists..

Bob Wilbur was the Musical Director and “Authenticity Controller” on those sessions and did not want to even hear any “out of character” warming up in the studio!
Bob played a vintage soprano with just the right sound for the gig. I darkened up my sound, got onto his vibrato concept and stayed on him like glue with my phrasing and articulation! I was already familiar with the rhythmic concept of the 30’s so we really had fun trying to recreate the sound of those original arrangements. It was really a lot of fun in the end. Knowledge of styles….a very interesting area.

This is another item that will contribute greatly to enhancing your chances for Saxophone Survival.

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Eric Daniel plays sax and flute and is the ringleader of Eric Daniel & Friends. Their CD “Old Sax Nu Soul” is on the Quatro Miglio Quality Music label and can be purchased online from iTunes Store and CDBaby.com

His new book “The Saxophone Survival Kit, A Guide for Aspiring Professional Saxophonists…or just anyone!” can be ordered or downloaded here: www.lulu.com

Follow Me on Twitter!

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