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Module 58

LESSON 1: The Maj7b5 Chord Echo Game – Part 1 of 2

In this video lesson, I introduce you to the maj7b5 chord structure in the form of an echo game. This is one of my favorite chord structures. It has a fresh, clean sound because of the intervals created by the flatted fifth.

I first became aware of the structure when listening to Joe Henderson, but I’ve also heard many jazz pianists use it to create melodies and left-hand chord voicings. This chord structure is a musical breath of fresh air for your ear, which is used to hearing only major or minor thirds in arpeggios.

You might be tempted to write these chords out, but I recommend that you learn this by ear to really internalize this new sound on a deep level.

LESSON 2: The Maj7b5 Chord Echo Game – Part 2 of 2

In this video lesson, I take a concert Cmaj7b5 chord structure and show you how to place it over multiple harmonic settings.

I explain how to use the maj7b5 structure as upper extensions when practicing your chords on the saxophone. Be sure to check out the “Dr. Jeckyll / Mr. Hyde” analogy with the chord at the 5:30 mark in the video.

LESSON 3: The Maj7b5 Chord – Piano Perspective

In this video lesson, I work with the maj7b5 chord at the piano to help you hear the structure clearly in terms of piano voicings over six different chords.

I explore the intervals used in the structure and also explain the piano voicings commonly used with this chord structure.

Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, C and Eb instruments.

LESSON 4: Trading Choruses and Fours on Satin Doll with Greg

When I grew up in Chicago, I learned so much by sitting in at clubs and trading choruses and fours with the more seasoned players in town. I would try and pick up on the older player’s “vibe” and sometimes continue his idea. It was like we were having a musical conversation.

I wanted to share some of that old-school approach with you in this video lesson. I’m accompanied by world-class pianist Judy Roberts. We play Satin Doll and you can trade choruses and 4’s with me. This is a really fun one! Don’t look at any chords. Use your ear. Watch me and listen and trade with me when it’s your turn. Try to really stay in the moment with me and Judy as we play this classic tune.

LESSON 5: Lessons from the Bandstand – John Young

In this video lesson, I share a story about working with the legendary Chicago pianist, John Young. This is a valuable real-world lesson about listening and interacting with the players on the bandstand.

approx 32 min

Module 55

LESSON 1: Moving 5ths

In this video lesson, I share a concept that I call “Moving 5ths.” This is a great way to add some voice-leading to a static chord.

For example. with a tune like “I’ll Remember April,” a soloist has four measures of a major seventh chord, followed four measures of a minor seventh chord. With the “Moving 5ths” strategy, it’s very easy to create a melodic change of color by highlighting the moving 5ths in the chords.

Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 2: Joe Henderson High D and Eb False Fingerings

Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I was so fortunate to have studied with Joe Henderson. I’ve always been a fan of his music and his approach. I used to hear him play every time he’d visit Chicago.

In this video lesson, I share two fingerings that I learned from intensive listening and study. While much of Joe’s technique is technically challenging, these two fingerings are very manageable, and they provide a very cool change of texture for these two palm key notes. Be sure to have your horn out to follow along with me in this lesson!

LESSON 3: Exploring Hip Lick #51

In this video lesson, I’ll explore Hip Lick #51 from my book, “Hip Licks for Saxophone, Volume 1.”

This is a Bbmi7 lick (tenor key) that is primarily based an an arpeggio that utilizes what I call “Direction 3,” which is a descending arpeggio followed by an ascending arpeggio. The lick highlights one of my favorite harmonic choices for a minor chord — the 11th.

Includes the “Echo Game” (by ear) for the lick in 12 keys, as well as twelve new endings for the lick — a new ending for the lick in each new key.

LESSON 4: 3D Dynamics – Decoupling Finger Pressure from Dynamics

In this video lesson, I share a technique that I developed to improve my technique by decoupling finger pressure from the dynamics being played on the horn. In my 20’s, I was playing a quiet background gig and I noticed that I had nice, smooth technique on that gig. Lots of effortless facility on the horn.

The next night, I had a very different type of gig. Jazz gig in a noisy club with a loud drummer and no microphone. I found that my technical facility on the horn seemed to have dropped overnight! I was struggling with technical passages that were easy the night before.

There was tension in my hands and arms. After the gig, I thought about it and made a startling realization. When I was playing softly, I was relaxed, pressing the keys lightly. On the loud gig, I was tense and pounding the keys down very hard as I was struggling to hear myself.

I realized that I needed to be able to separate my finger pressure from my dynamics. For the benefit of a visual reminder — this is the 3D part — I hold my mouthpiece cap close and far away from the camera as I demonstrate the concept.

This lesson will improve both your technique and your attention to dynamics!

approx 21 min

Module 56

LESSON 1: How to Hear Melodies in Harmonic Context

One of the biggest challenges facing the aspiring saxophonist is learning how to hear a melody as it relates to the underlying chord progression. In particular, the relationship of the melody notes to the underlying root movement (bass notes) is essential for successfully hearing whether a melody note is a 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.

For example, if the melody is playing a “B” natural, and no chord is heard underneath the note, that “B” is undefined, harmonically speaking. However, if you hear an E in the bass, that “B” now has a clear identity as the 5th of the chord.

In this video lesson, I share a technique for adding the bass notes to the melody and combining these two elements to help players hear this important relationship. I also share some additional strategies for memorizing chord progressions, though singing the bass notes while singing the chord names.

Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 2: Coltrane & Stitt Highlight Major 2nds over V7b9 Chords Category: Elements of Style / Interval Studies

In this video lesson, I explore the way that both Coltrane and Stitt highlight major second intervals in the diminished scale when playing over a V7b9 chord.

In addition to Coltrane and Stitt, many of the old-school jazz players preferred to highlight this particular interval when playing over a V7b9 chord, because this interval is pleasing to the ear, highlighting a sort of musical “sweet and sour sauce,” with the following note combinations: 13 & 5 / #11 & 3 / #9 & b9 / and Root & b7. This approach will help you to dial in very specific color combinations as you solo over the V7b9 chord.

Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 3: Exploring Hip Lick #59

In this video lesson, I’ll explore Hip Lick #59 from my book, “Hip Licks for Saxophone, Volume 1.” This is a Dmi7 lick (tenor key) that combines three common elements to form the two-measure phrase. I break the lick down into each of these component parts and conclude the video lesson with the “Echo Game” (by ear) in 12 keys.

LESSON 4: The Car Analogy – Sounds vs Theory 

In this video lesson, I share a new analogy that has been resonating with many of my Skype students. Although I’ve so often mentioned the importance of playing by ear and not just relying on music theory, this analogy, describing theory as license plates and sounds as cars will really help you to get the big picture on the differences between the ear approach and the theoretical approach to music.

approx 26 min

Module 54

LESSON 1: The Pivot

In this video lesson, I use Hip Lick #1 to demonstrate an essential device for creating many variations from a very small amount of musical material.

This device is commonly known as “The Pivot.” The pivot involves the use of octave displacement applied to one or more notes in a phrase. I call this concept “high mileage,” because you get so much more from each musical idea when you apply the pivot.

Sometimes the pivot is used to simply modify a phrase in order to make it fit within the range of an instrument. Other times, the pivot is used simply to the benefit of musical variety with the same group of notes in a phrase. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 2: Neighboring Diatonic Seventh Chord/Scale System (Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4)

In this series of four video lessons, I share a new system that I have developed for the creation of scales. The system uses two neighboring diatonic seventh chords to create any mode of any scale.

In the first three videos, I demonstrate the system using the vibraphone, for both the visual presentation of the instrument, as well as the fact that I can let the notes ring into each other, providing a combined sound of all notes from both chords.

In part 4, I demonstrate the system on tenor saxophone.
This is a completely different approach to scale construction, and it’s fantastic for ear training, as it gives your ear an overview of the sound of the scale with the chord arpeggios.

In addition, I break down the system to groupings of four notes, six notes, and eight notes, which provides not only a graduated system for your ear to absorb the sounds but also gives you incredible fluency of technique.

Part 1: Overview and explanation of the system.
Part 2: How to practice with the system to create the major scale.
Part 3: Chord combination formulas for all modes of the major scale system.
Part 4: Demonstration of the system on tenor saxophone.

Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments. Also includes PDF with chord formulas for both major and melodic minor modes.

LESSON 3: Continuous Tone – Keeping the Air Moving

In this video lesson, I share a strategy that has helped so many aspiring students struggling with playing their chords in a smooth way. Many students tend to stop blowing whenever they are unsure of the next note in a chord to play. When working with one of my skype students, this approach immediately made him sound smoother and more expressive.

approx 35 min

Module 45

LESSON 1: Tools of the Composer – Jerome Kern’s “I’m Old Fashioned”

In this video lesson, I share my interpretation of a very powerful editing device used by Jerome Kern on the bridge of his famous standard, “I’m Old Fashioned.”

Kern takes something that would have been a very ordinary scale two-note pattern in thirds and transforms it into a memorable melody by editing out one of the notes in the pattern. T

his lesson explores this editing technique and shows you how to apply the concept in your own playing. Includes PDF practice notes for C, Bb and Eb instruments.

LESSON 2: Tools of the Composer – Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “One Note Samba”

In this video lesson, I share my interpretation of Jobim’s use of common tones in the melody over the first four measures of his hit song, “One Note Samba.”

Jobim uses what I call “dual citizen notes” (common tones) to bring out four different flavors from the same repeated note. He achieves this effect by maintaining a repeated pitch in the melody while the chords move downward in half-steps.

I explore this sound and share my approach to transfer this very cool sound to the saxophone. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 3: Maj7#5 Chords w/Echo Game

In this video lesson, I share my strategy to help a student to the first two chords on the bridge of the popular Brazilian tune, The Girl From Ipanema. I use two upper structures to bring out the sound of the progression.

The first is the very familiar mi7 chord. I use the mi7 chord over the maj7, acting as a 3-5-7-9. Then, I simply lower the root of the mi7 chord to achieve a maj7#5 chord shape. I use the maj7#5 chord shape as 7-9-#11-13 over a dominant chord.

While this may sound complex, it’s very easy for your ear to hear the musical logic of this approach. Includes PDF practice notes for C, Bb and Eb instruments. Echo Game starts at 7:48 into the video lesson.

LESSON 4: If You Can Hear It You Can Have It

In this video lesson, I share a story about a new Skype student who has a music degree and great reading skills, but his ability to play what he hears is not yet fully developed.

After speaking with him about his training, he revealed to me that his former teacher told him to never listen to the sounds in his head and instead, to play by memorizing numbers for the notes. This is contrary to what I learned from Joe Henderson, James Moody, Mark Colby, and all of the many incredible teachers who shared their knowledge with me.

I explain in the video that it’s not just about hearing the sounds, but developing your musical memory and improving your ability to focus on the music.

approx 30 min

Module 44

LESSON 1: Six Essential Items for Daily Practice 

In this video lesson, I discuss the importance of practicing each item on my practice planner. I developed this approach in my 20’s when I was practicing many hours each day. I experimented with many different approaches to practicing and found that these six items yielded the best results.

Many people get stuck practicing only scales or chords and never seem to get to other items like vocabulary, transcriptions, etudes, and tunes.

Includes PDF practice planner.

LESSON 2: Secret Applications for the Bebop Scale

In this video lesson, I share what I call the “secret” applications for the bebop scale. These are not the types of applications that you learn in school. In both my undergrad and graduate studies, there was no mention of these applications of the scale.

And yet, when I transcribed the masters, I found that they routinely applied the scale in this way when they wanted to get more harmonic flavor from the scale.

If you’ve ever been at a loss for how to use the bebop scale over a minor ii / V situation, this video will show you how to apply the scale like a seasoned professional.

Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 3: Creative Scale Practice

In this video lesson, I share a story about one of my Skype students who was very bored with his scale practice. He was in a rut, always playing his scales like a technical exercise, rather than finding the music hidden within the scales.

I showed him these creative practice strategies that I use in my own practice and he was instantly playing with more energy and creativity while also improving his musical memory and his instrumental technique.

Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 4: C.E.S.H. – What it is and How to Use it.

In this video lesson, I explore and explain C.E.S.H. The term was coined by one of my former teachers, the great Jerry Coker. It stands for “Contrapuntal Elaboration of Static Harmony.” Basically, it means that you apply voice leading to a chord within itself by moving the sevenths (and sometimes the fifths).

This is a common harmonic device used by all pro players. You’ll recognize it as soon as you hear it. I explain the device and break it down in a way that makes it easy for all levels of players to immediately use this in their solos. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 4: Thumb Position for the Octave Key

In this video lesson, I discuss and demonstrate the importance of good thumb position on the saxophone. This topic is often overlooked. Over the years, I’ve taught many students who needed to correct bad habits with their thumb position. In some cases, students were experiencing pain from using the wrong position or from using too much pressure.

The left hand cannot operate with efficiency without an excellent thumb position, combined with a light touch. If you’ve ever had issues with left-hand technique problems or pain in your left hand or arm due to the octave key, this video will address all of those issues and provide a clear strategy to fix the problem.

approx 33 min

Module 38

LESSON 1: Scale Junction Navigation

In this video lesson, I share my method for connecting various types of scales through a ii V I progression. This is a critical skill for all improvisers, as it gives you the flexibility to switch smoothly from the scale of the current chord to the scale for a new chord Many players are limited in their approach with scales because they think that they need to start each new scale from the root.

This is how scales are often taught in academic settings, but my system shows you how to easily connect the scales through voice-leading, from any note, highlighting the strongest notes in every chord. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 2: Charlie Parker – Use of Bebop Ornamentation

In this video lesson, I analyze Parker’s use and application of bebop ornamentation. Bebop is an ornate style of jazz, sharing some similarities to baroque classical music in its use of ornamentation. Ornamental notes are what I describe as “sudden sixteenths” which are placed within an eighth-note line to add extra detail and sophistication to the line. In this lesson, I take a Parker phrase and break it down, removing all of the ornaments and then showing you how to use these concepts in your own lines, demonstrating with a line that I composed and then enhanced with the application of bebop ornaments in the Parker style.

INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb, and C instruments.

LESSON 3: Locating the 13th of a Chord

The thirteenth is one of the most colorful notes in a chord, and yet, many aspiring players have a difficult time locating and hearing the note. In this video lesson, I show you my system for easily hearing and locating the thirteenth of any chord.

This lesson includes hearing thirteenths over: Maj7, dom7, mi7, mi7b5 and dim7 chords. Intermediate level. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 4: Listening Recommendation: Mel Torme Swings Shubert Alley

One of my favorite albums! Mel Torme at the height of his powers with beautiful pitch, tone, phrasing, taste, and humor. Marty Paich, one of my favorite arrangers, has created an amazing collection of arrangements of popular standards.

I love his instrumentation and the inclusion of the tuba in this ensemble. The engineering is also incredible on this album. It’s like you’re right there in the studio with the guys. Paich is also quite humorous, having the band slyly quoting “Who’s Sorry Now” and “Easy Living” while Mel is singing the tune “Just in Time.”

The band is an all-star cast of top West Coast players at the time — Jack Sheldon on Trumpet, Frank Rosolino on trombone, Art Pepper on alto, Mel Lewis on drums…A must-have for any collection.

approx 38 min

Module 41

The Echo Game with Lick #1 Variations

In this video lesson, we’ll play the echo game, in which you will imitate or “echo” whatever I play. I have the metronome at 160BPM and play many variations on Hip Lick #1. Each of my demonstration phrases is one measure in length. You’ll have one measure to play the echo, by ear.

The video is divided into two parts. The first part of the video is intermediate level, with all variations on the lick remaining in the same key. The second half of the video takes all of the variations for the echo and puts the lick into the cycle, playing different variations in each of the twelve keys. This is an ear-training video designed to improve your musical memory. So, by intent, there are no PDF notes for this lesson. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.

LESSON 2: Stop Scooping Your Notes!

I think of this video lesson like a public service announcement for all intermediate level aspiring player. In my earliest playing days, I was a guilty of this as anyone. I thought it sounded “jazzy” so scoop into my notes. Wrong! Thanks to my old teacher Joe Daley, who told me in quite harsh terms, but really cured me of doing this, I found a better way, through Sonny Stitt, to get the effect of sliding into a note while maintaining the pitch center of the note.

This video demonstrates how it sounds when scooping and then how it sounds when applying the Sonny Stitt way of using a grace note from a 1/2 step below, to slide into a note. Totally hip. This is designed to be an ear-training lesson, as well, so there are no PDF notes with this one. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.
No PDF materials for this lesson

LESSON 3: The Bad Toupee Theory – How to Blend Licks into a Solo

In this video lesson, I share what I call my “Bad Toupee Theory.” The basic idea is this: Nobody points to a guy and says, “what a great looking toupee!” They only say “look at that bad toupee on that guy!” If it’s a great looking toupee, you can’t even tell that the guy is wearing a toupee. It’s similar with licks.

You don’t want to make it obvious that you’re using licks. They need to blend into the musical surroundings. In this video, I demonstrate an obvious usage of a lick (bad toupee) and I also demonstrate a subtle way to use a lick, blending it into the development of the solo. Includes PDF lesson notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.

LESSON 4: Dealing with Practice Anxiety – How to Have Fun While You Practice

Recently, I’ve been hearing more and more from students of all levels who tell me that they’re constantly stressed out about practicing. They feel overwhelmed and anxious about the amount of musical material they need to master in order to move forward. I used to have these feelings, and it took me a long time to change my attitude and approach turn my practice sessions into really fun experiences. I

n this video lesson, I share my personal journey with you and give you some suggestions that, to this day really help me have fun in every practice session. BEGINNING, INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVELS.


approx 32 min

Module 39

LESSON 1: Locating the 9th of a Chord

The ninth is one of my favorite notes in a chord. To me, it always feels and sounds elegant and luxurious. And yet, many aspiring players have a difficult time locating and hearing the note. In this video lesson, I show you my system for easily hearing and locating the ninth of any chord.

This lesson includes hearing ninths over: Maj7, dom7, mi7, mi7b5, and dim7 chords. Intermediate & advanced level. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb, and C instruments.


LESSON 2: Hearing a Hidden Melody within an Eighth-Note Line

In this video lesson, I will take phrase of all eighth-notes and reveal to you the hidden melody within that line. I use a short phrase from my etude, “Broadway Street” and deconstruct the line, revealing the melody that I had in mind. From there, I rebuild the phrase, adding an enclosure, approach notes to reconstruct the line.

This lesson provides insights into the compositional process involved in creating melodic eighth-note lines.

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 3: High Speed Articulation with Halsted Street

In this video lesson, I share my strategies for increasing the speed and smoothness of your articulation when playing fast, consecutive eighth-notes. I use a short phrase from my etude, “Halsted Street” to demonstrate many different approaches to articulation.

The video also includes some discussion of extended articulation techniques, such as the “dooden” tongue and a demonstration of integrating the “dooden” tongue with the “ah-tah,” and staccato tonguing, all while keeping the phrase in tempo. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED level. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.

LESSON 4: Listening Recommendation: Oscar Peterson Trio: The Sound of the Trio

This is one of my all-time favorite recordings of the legendary Oscar Peterson trio, featuring Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen. This was recorded in the late 1950s in Chicago at the famous “London House,” a jazz supper club in downtown Chicago.

Artists would be “in residence” for their gig from one to three weeks at a time, playing between five and seven nights a week. This led to a wonderfully relaxed situation, where the artists could focus on the music, well-rested, without the fatigue of playing one-niters around the country.

I can hear the energy and communication present in every note of the album. You’ll even hear glasses clinking in the background. It’s like you’re right there in the room with the group. The record is also beautifully engineered by Val Valentin, for the Verve record label. A must-have for any serious collection.

approx 36 min