When we decide to, as saxophone players, to start the developing of our jazz playing, this becomes our lives and we will spend the rest of our lives in search of developing that perfect solo. As we start this development and concentrate on playing jazz, learning changes and developing our jazz concept, we tend to overlook the actual playing of the saxophone. We spend so much of our time & energy in playing jazz we forget how to really play the saxophone.
I hear so many jazz saxophone payers that have trouble playing the saxophone in tune, balancing the tone color of the different registers and in general forgetting the basics of playing the saxophone as an instrument.
Playing in tune, great technique and control of the saxophone comes from studying how to play the saxophone. Not from studying how to play licks!
As we develop as mature saxophone players we must never forget the basics of playing the instrument. What makes the saxophone work.
Now I am not saying you should play Mozart on your Berg Larsen mouthpiece. Studying the technique of the saxophone in classical music is how we normal saxophone players develop the concept of playing the saxophone. I’m not sure if Cannonball spent much time playing the Concertino de camera by Ibert, but he was very well educated and played the saxophone correctly. Branford has one of the great recordings of the Concertino and his classical studies shows in his intonation and control when he plays jazz. He has studied the playing of the saxophone!
Study jazz, learn patterns but don’t forget how to play the saxophone.
I’m 78 and trying to learn how to play simple jazz solos on the clarinet, but I do not change the way I play the clarinet. Now in jazz we sometimes do inflections that we might not do in classical but this should never become the only way we play the instrument. We scoop notes, bend pitches etc. these things are contrary to playing in tune.
The first thing about the saxophone is it is really very naturally out of tune. We must learn to play it in tune. This knowledge and concept come from studying classical etudes and solos.
If you don’t want to use a different mouthpiece then do what you can with the one you like. Playing a Selmer C* or a Berg Larsen 150 over 0 will certainly not feel the same. But the concept of playing the saxophone should be the same.
Don’t forget we must play the saxophone great before we can play great jazz solos.
When we feel we have are having problems playing the saxophone go back to the basics.
I am still looking for a medium good solo? But if I live until my early 90’s I might achieve my goal.
Now there are exceptions to everything. That includes great jazz saxophone players that just had natural talent. They played the saxophone right just using their gifts. I doubt that “Bird” practiced much classical music, but he understood how to play the saxophone as an instrument.
It is always important to study how to play the instrument of your choice. Never forget the basics!