Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tim Price Bloggin' For D' Addario Woodwinds- Remembering Bob Anram


REMEMBERING....A  GENTLE GIANT.....BOB ANRAM. 

Bob's playing and friendship meant a lot to me. His articles on the psychology of improvisation on  SOTW  (the international sax website those articles have over 50,000 reads.  Search out his youtube video or my albums on itunes. This man was a unsung master player, stood for something of great value as a improviser. His friendship was also an asset to me- Bob was a deep person.


Check out his you tube video called- 

Improvisation - A Ballad for Dee :

By Bob Anram and Leonieke Vermeer

  
Bob has quietly and consistently been making brilliant music with his tenor saxophone. His profound mastery allows him to wrap each note of his solos in its own texture. In the midst of his improvisations, he'll slide  up through a silky blue haze to a new pitch and end the phrase with a personal vibrato. I loved his emotional rawness highlighting his textural control.
But Bob Anram brings something else to his music: he imbues everything he plays with a deep sense of relaxation,like a man sure of his place in the larger scheme of things, impervious to the assault of the tempo or anything else.  This man is one of the real assets to the inner core of jazz- sadly he should of received his just props in  his lifetime.
The people who heard his CDs and playing are richer for it. I know I sure am- your not forgotten Bob- thank you for being a person who stood for something as a jazz musician.

I hear you brother- Thank you for being you. ~ Tim Price









  

Tim Price Bloggin' For D'Addario Woodwinds- Charles Lloyd Sangam NYC June 2016







~  NEW YORK CITY... JUNE 12.. There is nothing that surpasses the transcendence of a intimate, live concert by Charles Lloyd & this trio. Charles is always in the zone, and Zakir Hussain & Eric Harland are right there shoulder to sprit in the travel. Off the hook unusual/unique talent, extraordinary, and the ensemble interplay is stellar. Charles played tenor & alto saxophones ( he told me he brought the alto saxophone because of my insistence of the way he sounded on it. NOTHING - like it!!

Grateful and humbled.) he also played Tarogato, flutes, piano & percussion. Zakir gives the trio the real deal India feel/ groove with soaring horn lines with Memphis soul and blues roots mixed with a story that only Lloyd can tell on his horns. Inspiring tapestry of sounds, Eric Harland is the right drummer for this adventure as well. As I've mentioned, I've heard this trio many times and it is always beautiful and hypnotic. Charles's Tarogato playing is supremely evocative, mystical , serene and haunting. Masters at work. I've been loving Charles tenor playing since I was in Jr High school in the 60's- it blew me away when I first heard and it continues to do so, a mind-blowing tenor sound. One of the true personal sounds in tenor with deep roots.
With his expansive palette Charles Lloyd approaches his instruments in a inspirational manner and also a lesson in individuality.

Innovator and brilliant soulful human being- 
Sonic sublimity that will stay in your ears and mind always. This band takes you on a unique journey.
We are blessed to have artists like this in our midst. Charles is not only a great inspiration but someone I am proud to call a friend.
This ensemble SANGAM is extraordinary artists and very much to the fore. Incredible virtuosity and forward motion. It is entrancing and I love it.











Tim Price Bloggin' For D'Addario Woodwinds- GIVE ME 5- with saxophone master Alex Terrier



It has been my contention that the most valuable viewpoints come from those who do. Thus, it’s logical to assume that any artist who is surviving in this field, and doing it with success, is doing something right. The energies we all put into our craft; The years of apprenticeship and the intense commitment to the horn, and the pure love of playing it are paramount to the art form. This section of my D'Addario Woodwinds Blogs by Tim Price, to all intents and purposes is a sort of portable omnibus of sax / woodwind creations. Musically, verbally and spiritually. The music these players create and talk about is a privilege to be a part of. The music always has an infinite history and fertility, inexhaustible vitality, and at the same time, a seductive power of temptation - which inspires all of us who play – and offers the open-ended invitation to create as much as we can. The results, the waiting, the practicing at all hours, the talking of the music and constant study gives the music a breath of spirit, endless in motion and evolution.

This weeks blog features a player whom I hold in high regard not only as a player of world class talent but a uber-cool friend .
Please check out his CDs and you tube playing as well as this blog- Alex is a breath of fresh air musically and personally- great forward motion and ideas. The 5 questions he answered are really cool- you'll note the simpatico, state of mind and spirit that a lot of these artists have in a way that is not always suspected but a common bond is very much there, but that is also the reason why I'm doing
GIVE ME 5.





1- How have the last few years of your life affected your current music?
In the last few years I would say 3 things happened to have an impact on my playing: 
1. I recorded an album with Kenny Barron. It was truly a great experience. I remember going to his house to work on the music and because his grand piano needed to be tuned we went upstairs to his office where he has a keyboard. It was a good keyboard, but still, that's just an electric piano. The first tune we practiced was my composition "Prelude" and it starts with a C-7. While I was setting up my saxophone Kenny started looking at the chart and he played one of the most beautiful C-7 I've ever heard! I mean even though he was playing a keyboard he still had his sound and his touch that made him recognizable. Really I was amazed. We always worry about equipment to improve our sound but that's like 1% of the solution. I always say the gear is here to make your life easier in terms of comfort of playing (which is why I play Jazz Select reeds) but the sound really comes from the player. Kenny Barron played beautifully out this keyboard, but of course he prefers to play on a real grand piano!
Long story short, being in the recording studio with him for 2 days was fantastic. His musical approach and his personality are definitely an inspiration to me.
2. I've been working with the Mingus Big Band for about 2 years now. I've been learning so much sharing the stage with cats such as Alex Foster, Scott Robinson, Brandon Wright, Jason Marshall, Wayne Escoffery, Lauren Sevian, Boris Koslov, David Kikoski, Donald Edwards, Helen Sung, Frank Lacy, Earl McIntyre, Tatum Greenblatt, Philip Harper, Alex Sipiagin and so many other. These players have definitely had an impact on my playing and of course I got to get more familiar with Mingus music.
3. I've been working a lot in the past 3 years on my website www.jazzvideolessons.net and I feel this actually has had an impact on my playing. Basically I videotape lessons about jazz improvisation, composition, practicing etc... It definitely helped me to improve my ability to explain and demonstrate in a clear and convincing way, and I feel this reflects on my playing.
2. How did you choose to play the saxophone, and what players influenced you early on?
My first instrument was the piano. My grandmother had a piano and I would play simple songs when I was with her. Then my parents got a piano for me and that became my only occupation, or obstination should I say. Around age 8 I listened to a big band playing live and that was a game changer. According to my mother, that night I said "forget the piano, I want to play the saxophone and I want to play that music", I didn't even know what it was! But the sound of the saxophone moved me and the music I heard that night, I just knew I liked it a lot! Turned out my dad had a few LPs back home: Duke Ellington, Sydney Bechet, Fats Domino, Memphis Slim. These were the first jazzmen I heard and I naturally got attracted to Duke Ellington and Memphis Slim. It was really magical because I didn't know what it was and I didn't understand what it was, but these recordings really got my imagination running while I was listening to them. Sometimes I miss those days of blessed ignorance!
I got really dedicated to educate myself from then on, listening to recordings, watching documentaries, reading books, magazines etc... The list of players who influenced me is way too long! For the saxophone I would say the classics Charlie Parker, Coltrane, Rollins and Cannonball. I really dig the sound and the playing of Cannonball. I loved also Johnny Hodges. Ahmad Jamal was also a big influence. When I was 12, I bought the album "Chicago Revisited" and that album was like a slap in my face, I thought "ok this is what good music is, this is the direction I want to take". It was recorded live at the Jazz Showcase, a famous club in Chicago. I was pretty excited when I got to play there myself but I was seriously disappointed by the owner who was not cool at all, to stay polite.
Another memory is the album "No Question About It" by Bobby Watson. My dad, who was in New York on a business trip, went to see him at the Village Vanguard and bought his album for me. When I heard that album I knew I had to go to New York! I listened to that album so many times! I transcribed also most of the compositions.

3. At this point in life - What inspires you musically?
I travel quite a lot and to see all these talents around the world who are sharing a common passion for this music, I find that very inspiring. Some of the musicians I find inspiring these days are Leo Genovese, Roy Assaf, Uri Gurvich, Baptiste Herbin, John Ellis, Jaleel Shaw.
Today what inspires me is remembering the dreams and excitement I had as a child discovering jazz.

4. Your choice of notes is really inspiring- talk about how you arrive at this kind of destination as an artist. What are you thinking about in terms of your solos, and agenda.
I actually try to simplify my playing, focus on playing a nice melody with a strong rhythm. I think rhythm is the most important element in music and strangely enough this is the least discussed topic in jazz education. On my website www.jazzvideolessons.net I talk a lot about rhythm and how to be more creative rhythmically.
I come from the be bop tradition, that's really what I grew up with, so that's definitely in my playing. I also grew up listening to European classical and modern music so I incorporate techniques such as 12 tones rows but it's often disguised. I have some series that I like to play with in my improvisations but mostly in my compositions.
Mainly I try to get a nice sound, play the pretty notes and interact with the musicians I'm playing with. I like to grab something I hear from a musician in the rhythm section and explore that idea. 

5. Talk about some projects coming up in your future, ideas and agendas. Also thank you for doing this- it's a total pleasure.
Right now I'm focusing on creating content for my website students. It's really interesting and I love doing this but it's also time consuming. 
I released 3 albums as a leader and I have enough music to record two new albums so I would like to do album number 4 soon. I would love to write more for big band. I used to do that a lot when I was studying at Berklee but real life is very different from college life and big band writing takes so much energy and time for me! 
Other than that, I want to keep my passport in my pocket, my saxophone on my back and keep traveling and play with musicians around the world! 
Thank you Tim for having me on your blog!





















Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tim Price Bloggin' For D'Addario Woodwinds- GIVE ME 5- with saxophone master Emanuele Cisi.


It has been my contention that the most valuable viewpoints come from those who do. Thus, it’s logical to assume that any artist who is surviving in this field, and doing it with success, is doing something right. The energies we all put into our craft; The years of apprenticeship and the intense commitment to the horn, and the pure love of playing it are paramount to the art form. This section of my D'Addario Woodwinds Blogs by Tim Price, to all intents and purposes is a sort of portable omnibus of sax / woodwind creations. Musically, verbally and spiritually. The music these players create and talk about is a privilege to be a part of. The music always has an infinite history and fertility, inexhaustible vitality, and at the same time, a seductive power of temptation - which inspires all of us who play – and offers the open-ended invitation to create as much as we can. The results, the waiting, the practicing at all hours, the talking of the music and constant study gives the music a breath of spirit, endless in motion and evolution.

This weeks blog features a player whom I hold in high regard not only as a player of world class talent but a great friend as well. Please check out his CDs and you tube playing as well as this blog- what he plays and_how_he plays it is very inspiring. The 5 questions he answered are really cool- you'll note the simpatico, state of mind and spirit that a lot of these artists have in a way that is not always suspected but a common bond is very much there, but that is also the reason why I'm doing
GIVE ME 5.....
 



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1- How have the last few years of your life affected your current music? 2. How did you choose to play the saxophone, and what players influenced you early on?


1- I guess that the more I'm getting older, the more life and music goes really together, I mean they really have a mutual influence, I would say more than in the past. Maybe because maturity in life brings element of wisdom and depth in your music, even if you feel to have already "maturity" in your playing.






2. How did you choose to play the saxophone, and what players influenced you early on?

2- Saxophone was'nt actually my first choice, being attracted more by drums and double bass. But since my parents said I can't practice drums in the flat, and bass was too expensive... sax became the third option. Actually now I think that no other musical instrument would have been more appropriate to me than saxophone! Now is definitely clear, maybe at that time was an unconscious will... but... I just want TO SING, when I play! Also, I decided to play jazz since I discovered this music first attending to some great live concerts: the very first jazz notes I ever listened in my life was in 1976 - an older friend brought me to a jazz festival in Italy - with Art Blakey Jazz Messengers, and Max Roach Quartet the following night. I was totally shocked and I said to myself: "if one day I will ever become a musician..THIS is the music I want to play!". And in the following months and years, I had the chance to listen live to giants such as Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, James Moody, Archie Shep, Stan Getz, and many others. At the same time I started to buy and listen to records: Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, Mingus, Coltrane, Miles, and so on.




3. At this point in life - What inspires you musically?




3- Mostly Nature. And places and people. And still the "old" Masters: Trane, Lester Young, Stan Getz, Bird, Dexter, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Charles Lloyd, etc...






4. Your choice of notes is really inspiring- talk about how you arrive at this kind of destination as an artist. What are you thinking about in terms of your solos, and agenda.

4- As I said before, to sing is my real goal. I always try to pick up notes, intervals, lines that I could sing with my voice. And I try to develop those ideas always with a "singing" quality. Off course also rythm is absolutely important to me. Yes, I would say a combination of melody with rhythm is my first approach. I'm obviously talking about a very basic approach, that is heavily influenced by the kind of harmony and style I'm playing in that moment. But yes, what for instance hits me more than all the rest - which is huge, by the way! - in Coltrane's Giant Steps, is that he's ALWAYS singing. Even at that speed and playing so many notes.




5. Talk about some projects coming up in your future, ideas and agendas. Also thank you for doing this- it's a total pleasure.

5- I'm starting right now to think about my next record. I guess I would love to record again in NY, with a great American rhythmic section. Just quartet, as my last release with Eric Reed on piano. Besides of this, I'm busy with many different projects in this moment: a big studio production (released by Warner Music Italy) with an interesting mix of jazz, electronic music, hip hop; and I would like to start to write a book about my experience with saxohpone, with an educational purpose.





















Monday, June 6, 2016

Tim Price Bloggin' For D'Addario Woodwinds- Working on your reeds ; part 1.










Reed quality is important when playing and is important in its interaction with the mouthpiece. Along with breath support and embouchure, it is responsible for pitch control and the quality of the sound produced.
The fibers running through the length of a reed create the high partials in a sound. If there are excessive fibers, they may contribute to an edgy sound, or poor quality of sound. So, the pith between the fibers slightly dampens the high partials, but if excessively pithy, the sound may be somewhat "fuzzy."
Many other factors contribute to the quality of sound produced by a reed, including the maturity of the cane. This is indicated by the color of the reed. Cane is seasoned for two to three years after it is cut and must have reached maturity, but not entered its natural state of decay. The amount of seasoning of the cane and the shape and dimensions of the reed also contribute to the quality of sound.
Choosing a good reed takes practice and experience. Comparing the grain of your favorites reeds against ones that don't play as well, and looking for differences, is a good start. When purchasing reeds, check that the color of the reed is a golden yellow color. Look for obvious flaws in the reed such as chips or splits on the tip. Hold the reed up to the light and look for a reasonably well-defined heart. The grain should be relatively even throughout.
Every four to six weeks, replenish your supply of new reeds. One approach that most can afford is to buy one or two boxes every month. Get in the habit of doing this; make it a regular routine. Date the boxes when you receive them; then store them. Use your oldest reeds first; your newest reeds go to the back of your personal supply. Never again will you have to order reeds in a panic, only to discover your supplier is out of stock.
Select and prepare new reeds regularly. Many players look for a good reed only when they desperately need one. Then, panic happens. The result: you won't find one. A better approach is to be in the routine of regularly trying and adjusting new reeds. Keep six to eight working reeds on hand. Routinely eliminate those that no longer play well; add in new ones that are acceptable to you. Do this even if you have no performances scheduled--you want to be in the habit of maintaining a supply of good reeds. Once every week or so, eliminate the poorest reed, and add a new one that seems to have potential. Note: "eliminate" does not necessarily mean "throw away." You can deselect a reed from your current group of six to eight preferred reeds, and store it for later re-evaluation. It may play better in six months, when the season--and humidity--changes.
Rotate the reeds you play on. You will lose some of the flexibility of embouchure so necessary to successfully performing on a variety of reeds. Rotate your reeds in the course of a day's practice; practice on two or three reeds instead of just one.
Find a reed's best playing position on the mouthpiece. Each reed has an ideal position on the mouthpiece. Sometimes, a slight change in the positioning of a reed on the mouthpiece can have a dramatic effect on how it responds.Also try moving the tip of the reed slightly to the left, or right; this subtle angling of position can offset an imbalance in the reed and cause it to become significantly more responsive.
Storing your reeds. A storage container should do more than simply protect the reed from damage. A good storage system will minimize reed warpage by reducing variations in humidity, allowing little or no exposure to outside air. Thus, make certain the reed container has good closure. To eliminate mold, some containers have salt and/or carbon granules present. The storage device should also minimize potential warpage by allowing the air inside the reed case to contact both the top and bottom surfaces of the reed. Air naturally contacts the top surface of the reed, but what about the bottom? In many reed cases, this is accomplished through use of a grooved surface, upon which the reed rests. Thus, both the top and bottom of the reed is in contact with air, promoting a uniform drying process. If only the top surface (i.e., the vamp) of the reed contacts the air, it dries at a different rate than the bottom surface, and the reed warps.
Rejuvenating an older reed. Well-used reeds can possess a build-up of material which clogs the pores and fibers of the reed. This adversely affect reed performance. Reeds in this condition can be soaked in hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes to cleanse them.
Ray Pizzi turned me on to using POLYDENT. The denture cleaner- and it works like a charm. You'll know it's working: the foaming process is easy to see. Don't expect miracles here; the reed will not be restored to a "like-new" condition. However, you can expect a few more days of reliable use after this treatment.


Always make small adjustments. Always remember: when you adjust a reed's dimensions, you are working with extremely small tolerances. Adjustments affect thickness, contour, and balance. Thickness: removal of a seemingly small amount of cane may actually represent ten, twenty, or thirty percent of its total thickness, depending upon where you are working. Therefore, changes that seem quite small are actually quite signficant. Contour: remember that your adjustment always affects the shape of the reed in two ways: the taper of the reed from the shoulder to the tip, and the convex curve of the reed from side to side. These shapes should be smooth, and free of any sudden "dips." Even the smallest break in either curve can have a negative effect. Therefore, always work with the idea in mind to preserve these two shapes. Balance: a reed is out of balance if a point on one side of the vamp is higher or lower than the corresponding point on the opposite side. You may well have to remove some cane to bring a reed into balance. However, if a reed is already balanced, the removal of cane from one side may necessitate the same adjustment on the other side. 

Keep a light touch. No pressure, just the weight of the knife; just the weight of the hand if using sandpaper or reed rush. Never press. The material removed should resemble dust. Think twice before you scrape...once cane is removed, it cannot be restored. A great book to find is Kalman Oppermans book on adjusting reeds.


Get the bottom of the reed truly flat. If the bottom of the reed is warped, it will not create a true seal against the various elements of the mouthpiece, and the reed will not respond properly. To see if a reed is warped, wet the reed and lay it on a piece of glass. Gently tap one shoulder of the reed. Does it rock back and forth? If so, the bottom is warped. To reduce or eliminate the warpage, lightly sand the bottom of the reed on a file, or on sandpaper placed on a piece of glass (or plexiglass). Here's one reliable technique: wet your index, middle, and fourth fingers--this helps to hold the reed--and place them gently on the bark and vamp. Sand in a circular pattern, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise. Use three or four clockwise motions, followed by three or four counter-clockwise motions. This use of this circular technique is important, because if the reed is sanded only in one direction (say, using a repeating back and forth motion) there is a tendency to sand unevenly by creating additional pressure with the fingers at the end of the stroke. Important: Do not press. If you press, the result can be that you will actually exaggerate the warpage. While sanding, keep the reed tip off the file or sandpaper; the thinness of the tip prohibits this type of sanding. Sand only for a brief time, and then test for warpage again by laying the reed on the glass and trying to "rock" it by touching one side. With some reeds, you cannot totally eliminate warpage.
A balanced reed tip will vibrate fully, and thus realize its potential to produce sound. Here, the concept we work with is that the reed, in and of itself, produces no sound. It works in conjunction with a mouthpiece--your individual mouthpiece--to produce that sound. Therefore, the reed should be balanced through the use of a playing test. Set the reed on the mouthpiece; for convenience, you can hold it in place with your left thumb. Turn the clarinet to the side, so your lower lip closes the right side of the reed; then blow an "open G." The sound you hear is created by the left tip of the reed. Then, reverse the process: turn the clarinet so that your lower lip damps the left side of the reed. When you blow, you are hearing the right tip. Compare the sounds. Is one vibrant, the other stuffy? If so, lightly scrape the stuffy side, from the tip itself back about a quarter inch. Repeat the process. Continue this cycle until you get a good match (in clarity of sound) when you listen to each individual side of the reed's tip. Take your time...remove the tiniest amount of cane (remember, only "dust"), and then try it again. Your patience will pay off.
Try not be overly concerned with reproducing reeds to meet the exact dimensions of a model reed. This concept, while sound in theory, can yield disappointing results if relied upon too heavily. When adjusting reeds, remember: every reed plays differently, regardless of our best efforts at perfect duplication. Even if we use one of the many measuring, cutting, or grinding and sanding devices currently available, these devices can only attempt to reproduce a reed's dimensions. They cannot respond to the density of an individual piece of cane. The density of the cane has a direct effect on its ability to vibrate. Thus, two reeds of identical dimensions may play very differently from one another. This is one of the reasons why reeds from the same box can vary so much. When making fine adjustments, focus on achieving a smooth blend of the reed's two basic contours--the taper from shoulder to tip, and the convex curve from side to side--as opposed to trying to reproduce a set of specific dimensions. Look at the reed. Does it appear to have a high spot? If so, try to blend that spot into the overall contour. The elimination of a high spot can dramatically affect the reed's performance.

Try the reed first. If it plays, don't do anything to it! If the reed gods of chance and good fortune hand you a fine reed, my advice is to play it! Don't change it--just add it to your selection of six to eight preferred reeds, and spend the extra time practicing.
  1. Any reed work has to be practiced to experience improvement. Devote about twenty minutes a day to it; gradually, you will achieve results. And, you will still have time to get all your practicing done.
  2. Reeds are deceptive; the feel of a reed often differs from the sound of a reed. Make sure you are listening to the reed, as well as feeling its responsiveness.
  3. Do your reed work at the end of your practice session, rather than at the beginning. Remember: your main focus is to practice the music. Work on one or two reeds only, after your day's practicing has been completed. Spend the majority of your "shed time" practicing the instrument, as opposed to working on reeds.
Last but not least..some old school ideas here. Many players advocate a carefully laid out routine involving a cycle of wetting and drying the reeds prior to extended playing. Those players who recommend such programs most assuredly find them successful. For many years I followed such a routine, but no longer do so. I find that having six to eight reeds on hand, and rotating them--playing two or three in the course of a practice session--is, in and of itself, an effective "break-in" routine for my newer reeds.
 
Keep in mind. Buy new reeds routinely. Work on them regularly. Keep a set of six to eight reeds available. Rotate the reeds you play on, using two or three during a practice session. Add a new reed to the rotation every week or ten days, and eliminate the poorest one. Find the reed's best playing position on the mouthpiece. Store your reeds in a container which minimizes warp-age. If needed, give an older reed a boost by cleaning it with hydrogen peroxide.
Make small adjustments. Keep a light touch. Focus primarily on the two fundamental adjustments: make the bottom flat, and balance the tip. Devote the majority of your time to practicing ; work on reeds only about twenty minutes a day. It's what you do with those twenty minutes that can make all the difference.




















Monday, May 30, 2016

Tim Price Bloggin' For D'Addario Woodwinds- GIVE ME 5- with saxophone master Marshall McDonald.





It has been my contention that the most valuable viewpoints come from those who do. Thus, it’s logical to assume that any artist who is surviving in this field, and doing it with success, is doing something right. The energies we all put into our craft; The years of apprenticeship and the intense commitment to the horn, and the pure love of playing it are paramount to the art form. This section of my D'Addario Woodwinds Blogs by Tim Price, to all intents and purposes is a sort of portable omnibus of sax / woodwind creations. Musically, verbally and spiritually. The music these players create and talk about is a privilege to be a part of. The music always has an infinite history and fertility, inexhaustible vitality, and at the same time, a seductive power of temptation - which inspires all of us who play – and offers the open-ended invitation to create as much as we can. The results, the waiting, the practicing at all hours, the talking of the music and constant study gives the music a breath of spirit, endless in motion and evolution.

This weeks blog features a player whom I respect highly- Marshall McDonald. This is a player who I would call a master artist who's woodwind and saxophone playing, history speak for themselves. Face it, the street cred Marshall has is inspiring. Marshall began his tenure with The Count Basie Orchestra under saxophonist Danny Turner in 1994 and now holds down the Lead Alto chair famously held by the great Marshal Royal. Marshall has performed concerts and jazz festivals world wide with the orchestra directed by Frank Foster, Grover Mitchell, and Bill Hughes and Dennis Mackrel.
Marshall’s unique ability to play all of the saxophones, clarinet and flute has led to recordings and world tours with The Lionel Hampton Orchestra, Paquito D’Rivera and the United Nation Orchestra, Frank Foster and The Loud Minority Big Band, The Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Orchestra, The Illinois Jacquet Big Band, The Duke Ellington Orchestra and Charli Persip and Supersound. Marshall has played every sax chair except baritone in the Basie Band, he has played every chair including baritone sax in the Lionel Hampton Band, and played and recorded on alto, tenor and baritone sax with Paquito D’Rivera, and was often found switching from the Lead Alto chair of the Charli Persip band to the Tenor chair when needed.
Marshall has also performed with The Bobby Caldwell Orchestra as the opening act for Vanessa Williams. McDonald has performed in Broadway shows, including clarinet in JELLY’S LAST JAM, Tenor Sax, Baritone Sax, Clarinet and Flute in the 1998 production of STREETCORNER SYMPHONY and in 1999 he performed on stage in the musical KAT AND THE KINGS. He was an orchestra member of THE MEETIN’ by Pamela Baskin-Watson and Bobby Watson.
In addition, Marshall has played woodwinds behind performers such as Stephanie Mills, Aretha Franklin, Melba Moore, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Johnny Mathis, Frankie Avalon, The Dells, and Manhattan Transfer.

1-   How have the last few years of your life affected your current music?



The last few years have greatly affected my playing and music.  My wife has had a profound effect on my playing and my approach to music, and we also have been spending a great deal of time in Japan, which has also had an influence on my music choices.  I’ve begun to remember why I wanted to play music in the first place.  For the joy and the fun!  I want to tell a story when I play a solo, make people feel something, bring the experience of life onto the stage with me.  I play a feature ballad with the Basie band, one that Bobby Plater originally played, Soft as Velvet, my approach to it has completely changed.  I want to tell my story, and when I play Soft As Velvet on stage, I think that I’m playing it for my wife, it’s her favorite song!   First, I don’t want to play too loud, as Phil Woods once said, he would rather people lean into the stage to hear, than move back into their seats from the loudness of it.  And I’m singing through the horn.  Years ago, I always liked the players who sang with their horn, Charlie Parker, Miles, Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball and the pop cats like David Sanborn.  Sanborn loved Hank Crawford.   A player should be familiar with the lyrics of the tune.  There’s a great solo by Michael Brecker on James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”, I love his lyrical singing approach to the solo.   Brings it all home, you dig?


 
2. How did you choose to play the saxophone, and what players influenced you early on?

I started out at age 9 studying classical Clarinet.  I had private lessons, and I was going through Klose and Rose studies, and in a few years I was playing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto.  But some time when I was young, although my father listened to Classical music, and he also played piano himself, he had a tape of Louis Armstrong, I think the recording of Hello, Dolly and Mack the Knife.  I heard that and I was floored!  Man, I think it was Barney Bigard playing clarinet.  And found such joy in this recording, I played it all the time, it was an 8-Track tape, who remembers those?  And Louis was singing, and he was playing and the clarinet playing just knocked me out.  Then my mom got me a record of Pete Fountain.  So I asked my Pop to get me a saxophone so I could play in the school jazz band, honestly he wasn’t thrilled but he did it!   My teacher started teaching me how to play the alto, and then at school the next year I found a record in the music library.  This guy named Charlie Parker “Live at Massey Hall”.  I took that home, and played that on my turntable every single night while I lay in bed!!  I had no idea what was going on, but I knew I liked it!  It was absolutely amazing, I had never heard anything like that!  After that, a guy from college came to our school to do a jazz clinic, and he played me a record by David Sanborn, the one called Sanborn.  Man, I dug that.  I tried to also copy stuff off that record.  The sax major from college was the first guy to show me some chords and gave me something to play on a solo.  In my senior year of High School I went to see David Sanborn in concert in Pittsburgh, it was Hiram Bullock, Will Lee, Steve Jordan, Rosalinda de Leon-the band was killin!   When I saw that, I knew I wanted to be a performer.   After that my next real jazz teacher was Mark Kirk, protege of Phil Woods who told me to leave the Charlie Parker Omnibook at home, that reading solos was useless,  that I needed to learn the piano, and to learn 4 scale patterns (that had the notes numbered and told me to think in numbers) that Phil taught his students.  That took years of study from that first lesson.  At that time, I listened to a variety of music from Earth, Wind and Fire, Chicago, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Charlie Parker, Arthur Blythe, Jackie McClean,  Weather Report, Bill Chase, Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie, John Coltrane et al.  My biggest influence and favorite player was by far Charlie Parker.  All the other cats were into Cannonball at that time, I was a throwback, I loved Charlie Parker.  I also had a bunch of Michael Brecker recordings, I later got to meet Mike while on the road with Basie and speak with him on the phone.  He told me about his practice habits, playing patterns in 12 keys, in every interval he could think of, of the way he wrote them all down.  Much like what George Coleman talked about .  Funny, Mike said he was listening to Stan Getz at the time,and wished he could play less notes like Stan!   Man, dig that.  And I love Stan Getz too, one of my favorites.   Bob Berg, Bob Mintzer, Bergonzi, the post Trane cats, I lend an ear to them too. 

 Nathan Davis told me to learn all the saxophones, my first job with Lionel Hampton was on baritone sax.  Nathan had me switch from Lead Alto and play bari a little while at Pitt.  He also gave me a tenor and soprano and said learn the differences.  Each horn is a voice.  I would only listen to tenor players while practicing tenor, and I transcribed and wrote out lots of tenor solos.  Tenor has become my favorite voice.  John Williams, the great Basie bari player once told me, I was the only guy he knew who played 4 of the sax chairs in the Basie band, and all of the sax chairs in the Ellington band!   You have to be versatile! 


 I grew up in Pittsburgh so while I was at University of Pittsburgh, I was studying with Nathan Davis, and listened to Eric Kloss and Kenny Blake in town. There were some great young players there, trombonist Frank Mallah, who called Charlie Parker,  The Big Birdie.  He told me just transcribe solos and listen to The Big Birdie!


3. At this point in life - What inspires you musically?

I still enjoy a large variety of music, from Prince to Miles to Vincent Herring, to Stan Getz, and I love lyrics of good songs, I love the love songs with a story and lyrics.  I like pop music that has a love ballad to it, I think people like these songs because they tell a story about their lives.  And it’s romantic.  I think most great music has some romance in it.  My favorite songs are those with beautiful lyrics.  And then when I play a ballad or play a tune, or play Lead Alto, I want to be singing, it should sing.  That’s what inspires me now, to play some music that people will enjoy, I don’t want to try to impress the musicians with my hippest licks in 12 keys, I’ve been listening to the music that lasts.  Last forever.  Like Frank Sinatra.  Miles Davis recordings.  Bird.  Sonny Rollins.  The great Blue Note Record era.  This music reaches out to the listener.  I’m inspired to try to play some music now that the listener will tap their foot and leave with some joy in their heart!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Tim Price Blogging For D'Addario Woodwinds- Give me 5. . With tenor saxophone master Doug Lawrence.





It has been my contention that the most valuable viewpoints come from those who do. Thus, it’s logical to assume that any artist who is surviving in this field, and doing it with success, is doing something right. The energies we all put into our craft; The years of apprenticeship and the intense commitment to the horn, and the pure love of playing it are paramount to the art form. This section of my D'Addario Woodwinds Blogs by Tim Price, to all intents and purposes is a sort of portable omnibus of sax / woodwind creations. Musically, verbally and spiritually. The music these players create and talk about is a privilege to be a part of. The music always has an infinite history and fertility, inexhaustible vitality, and at the same time, a seductive power of temptation - which inspires all of us who play – and offers the open-ended invitation to create as much as we can. The results, the waiting, the practicing at all hours, the talking of the music and constant study gives the music a breath of spirit, endless in motion and evolution. This weeks blog features a player whom I respect highly- Doug Lawrence...One of today's tenor voices and a inspiration to all who hear his creativity. I'll tell you what I love about Doug's playing...EVERYTHING. This guy has the roots, the story to tell and is a master musician. Check him out- he's one of the real ones. When he plays...you feel it! Listen carefully dear reader to this Basie tenor legend- his words come from time put into the music and time on the bandstand.


1- How have the last few years of your life affected your current music?


 Doug-
1. The past few years have been some of the happiest of my life because of the birth of my daughter. Johnny Williams told me when I have a kid it would make me play better, and he was right. It's hard to describe, but it is definitely true.


  2. How did you choose to play the saxophone, and what players influenced you early on?


2. I started out as a classical clarinet player at a very young age. My father played all the reed instruments and had saxophones hidden under his bed. He told me never to touch them. (He wanted me to just play classical so I could try to get in a major orchestra and get all he benefits etc). I was home sick in 7th grade for several weeks with bronchitis. One day my mother went to the grocery store and I put an album on the stereo my dad had. "Coltrane Plays For Lovers"... I couldn't believe how great it sounded! Then I put on another record my father had "Stan Getz at the Royal Roost"..I was hooked. I went under the bed and got his tenor out (5-digit Mark VI with a Link mouthpiece Stan Getz had given my dad) and started playing. My mom came home from the grocery store and thought it was my dad playing in the back room. She almost jumped out of her skin when she walked back and saw me playing. Needless to say, I was in big trouble when my dad got home, but later that night he got the horn out and said "let's hear it". He just shook his head when I started playing and my mom started crying. A few months later he got me a Martin alto and a Conn 10M.

3. At this point in life - What inspires you musically?

DOUG-
3. I am still inspired everyday to play because I think I am getting better. I love to play the horn more than ever now. That is the great thing about music. You never stop learning. My father played up until the day he died. My mom told me he sounded great that day! The other thing that really inspires me is listening to who I call my Guru's almost daily. They are - Paul Gonsalves, Gene Ammons, Dex, Wardell, Prez, Ben, Stitt, Hawk and guys like Lucky Thompson, Billy Mitchell, Tina Brooks, Fathead, Zoot, Getz, Trane, Eddie Harris, Newk. I love a melodic approach to playing. And I love a distinctive tone. I listen everyday for years and years to the same tunes sometimes and I always hear something new. It's inspiring!



4. Your choice of notes is really inspiring- talk about how you arrive at this kind of destination as an artist. What are you thinking about in terms of your solos, and agenda.
 

DOUG - 4. When I am improvising I almost never think about the chord changes. I use my ear and I try to "sing" through the horn. I was taught the "old school" way of playing, and that is to use my ears and learn as many standards as possible. When everything is working right, I'm not thinking at all when I play. It's all just happening! Or if I am thinking at all, I might be thinking about a beautiful woman in the front row or something like that. LOL!!! Cats that really know me know this about me. I was doing a Christmas tune tenor feature ballad at Walt Disney Hall a few years ago and the arrangement wasn't really happening if you know what I mean. But I had to do the feature. So as I was walking out to the mic at the performance, Dennis Mackrel who was the MD and has known me for 30 years says to me - "play this one for your daughter"....that's all it took. We brought the house down, even with a sad arrangement. For me, music and improvisation can mean more from the heart than from the head.


5. Talk about some projects coming up in your future, ideas and agendas. Also thank you for doing this Doug- it's a total pleasure. I'm a fan and always will be!


DOUG -
5. I have a few things on the horizon that I am excited about. I have a 3 horn band (tenor, trumpet, bari) with Hammond B3, guitar and drums (band members - Bruce Harris, Lauren Sevian, Ray Macchiarola, Bobby Floyd and Dave Gibson). We have a few tunes in the can so far and hopefully we can record the remainder of the album this summer in NYC. I'm hoping to have a winter 2016 release. The other thing I'm really excited about is a new "Doug Lawrence Signature" tenor mouthpiece currently in development. My friend Bob Sheppard has a model out and it has been very successful. The same company who puts his out has approached me to put my model out too. Eric Falcon is the designer and Macsax is the company. Hopefully mine will be as successful as Shep's!