In this video lesson, I share my system to develop a strong, consistent tone when changing from the upper register to the lower register. The video lesson focuses, especially on slurred descending octaves.
I explain a common problem of aspiring saxophonists dropping their jaw to get to the low register, which causes a pitch drop to the upper note, as well as a weak sounding lower register. I call this problem, “the donkey” because the sound reminds me of a braying donkey.
This is an essential lesson for tone development. Key elements in this lesson include a discussion of jaw positioning, throat tension, and air support. ESSENTIAL FOR ALL LEVELS.
LESSON 2: TUNES
In this video lesson, I share with you the basic bebop style blues changes that my famous Chicago teacher, Joe Daley showed be when I was studying with him in the 1980s. These are what I consider to be essential blues changes for bebop era blues heads, like Billie’s Bounce, Tenor Madness, Now’s the Time, etc.
There are many advanced options for the blues, but this video will provide you with the essentials to get started. I play the progression slowly, with the chords in all four directions. I also take you through singing the roots of the chords while playing the changes on the keyboard. Includes PDF with these changes for C, Bb, and Eb instruments. Intermediate level.
Includes detailed PDF practice notes for C, Bb, and Eb instruments.
LESSON 3: Mi(maj7) Chords with Echo Game in Four Directions
In this video lesson, I explain how to play minor(maj7) chords. This is one of my favorites. it has a kind of “film-noir” quality to the sound of the chord, with a dark minor third, a neutral perfect fifth, and a very bright major seventh. I often refer to this chord as the “Vertigo” chord because this sound was featured so prominently in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film “Vertigo,” starring Jimmy Stewart.
This chord is also featured in songs such as: Harlem Nocturne, Nica’s Dream, Chelsea Bridge, Solar, and many more. I take you through the “echo game” in all four directions, with Direction 1 at 2:16, Direction 2 at 4:00, Direction 3 at 5:36, and Direction 4 at 7:10. Starting at 8:08 I have a high-speed echo game for advanced players. At 10:48 I give suggestions for practicing with this chord.
Includes PDF for C, Bb, and Eb instruments.
LESSON 4: Addition by Subtraction
In this video lesson, I share my thoughts on transforming your playing not by adding more and more layers to what you’re doing, but by subtracting things that are holding you back. This is a very powerful concept. Who would have thought you could sound so much better by simply subtracting a few things from your playing?
In this video lesson, I explore Hip Lick #9, extending the lick with the same ii / V chords, as well as making the lick resolve to a I maj7 chord. I also demonstrate the effect of starting the lick in four different locations; beats 1,2,3 & 4. In addition, I also demonstrate the lick in 12 keys. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb & C instruments. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.
LESSON 2: Major II V I vs. minor II V I – Apples to Apples Comparison
In this video lesson, I’ll give you an “apples-to-apples” comparison of a line played over a major ii / V / I and then that same line, harmonically adapted to fit a minor ii / V / i. If you’ve ever felt unsure about the sound of the minor ii / V / I, this video will put things clearly into focus. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.
LESSON 3: Bebop line over the bridge of “I Got Rhythm” from Two Voice-leading Lines
In this video lesson, I show you how I constructed a Bebop eighth-note line over the bridge of “I Got Rhythm,” using two voice-leading lines to nail the changes. Next time you’re playing “Oleo,” play this line on the bridge, and you’ll hear how clearly this approach outlines the changes. In the lesson, first I’ll play the eight-measure line for you and then I’ll deconstruct it, going step-by-step through the process I used to construct the line. Some very good and practical information about using the Bebop scale in this lesson, as well. Includes detailed PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.
LESSON 4: Palm Key Hand Position Exercise
In this video lesson, I share my system for fixing years of poor palm key finger positioning. Most intermediate players, or even advanced players with poor left-hand palm key technique, tend to play with flat, straight fingers when it comes to playing the palm keys.
This causes a lack of fluency when switching between the palm keys and the lower range of the horn. In order to achieve fluency of technique, you will need to keep the fingers as curved as possible while pressing the palm keys. This lesson presents a three-step approach to gaining control over the palm keys.
There are no PDF notes with this lesson, as it’s best that you watch the video and imitate the moves on your horn. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.
LESSON 5: Listening Recommendation: Stan Getz – Focus
This Stan Getz masterpiece from 1961 is simply like no other record. This was Stan’s own favorite album of all of his many wonderful recordings. It’s a suite of seven pieces with a string orchestra, composed and arranged by the great Eddie Sauter.
Stan’s part is completely improvised, and the freshness and searching quality of his improvisations make this a truly unique classic. It’s not “straight-ahead,” though. Sort of a hybrid between jazz and classical. Highly recommended.
LESSON: Blue Bossa Solo – Part 1 of 4 – Mind Transcription
This is part one of a four-part video series in which I call my “Mind Transcription” series. In this series, I share my ideas and strategies for soloing over the chords of popular standards and jazz tunes.For this lesson, I’ve chosen the changes for Blue Bossa.In part one of this four-part lesson, I comp the chords at the piano, discuss the importance of hearing the chords at the piano, explore and explain voice-leading strategies from both the 7th and the 5th, and start the analysis of my original solo over the changes. I also discuss my thoughts about playing the roots of the chords over your solos.PDF practice materials to be used with all four parts of this lesson are attached to this video lesson. Materials include:
1. Three voice-leading example sheets 2. The solo I created on the changes of Blue Bossa 3. MP3 play-along tracks (short demo version and long rhythm-section only version)Includes PDFs for C, Bb, and Eb instruments.
LESSON: Blue Bossa Solo – Part 2 of 4 – Mind Transcription
Part 2 of 4 continues with an in-depth analysis of the solo, advanced voice-leading moves. This portion of the lesson ends at the half-way point in the solo (includes letters A through B).
PDF practice materials, including three voice-leading example sheets, the solo, and mp3 play-along tracks, are attached to Part 1 of this lesson. Includes music for C, Bb, and Eb instruments.
LESSON: Blue Bossa Solo – Part 3 of 4 – Mind Transcription
In part three of this lesson, the theoretical analysis continues from letter C of the solo. I discuss “high mileage” from using major second intervals in multiple harmonic settings.This portion of the lesson also includes a brief discussion of the diminished scale and diminished whole-tone scale.
PDF practice materials, including three voice-leading example sheets, the solo, and mp3 play-along tracks, are attached to Part 1 of this lesson. Includes music for C, Bb and Eb instruments.
LESSON: Blue Bossa Solo – Part 4 of 4 – Mind Transcription
In this fourth and final part of this video lesson on the chords of Blue Bossa, I discuss the harmonic minor scale as used in the solo and give some voice-leading practice assignments and suggestions.
PDF practice materials, including three voice-leading example sheets, the solo, and mp3 play-along tracks, are attached to part 1 of this lesson. Includes music for C, Bb, and Eb instruments.
LESSON: The Double Enclosure (Zig-Zag Effect)
In this video lesson, I show you what I call the “double enclosure.” I add lower and upper neighboring tones to add heightened chromaticism to the enclosure. This creates a sort of musical “zig-zag” effect which is really fun for the ear.
Includes PDF lesson notes for C, Bb and Eb instruments. INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.
LESSON: Transforming Diatonic 7ths into a Swingin’ Phrase
In this video, I’ll show you how to take a common chord exercise of diatonic 7th chords, transforming them into a swingin’ phrase full of rhythmic drive with stylized elements of dynamics, articulation, and vibrato.
This is a fun, simple exercise that can really improve your time feel. Includes detailed PDF lesson notes in C, Bb and Eb. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.
LESSON 1: There is No Greater Love – Part 1 of 2 Mind Transcription
This is part one of a two-part video lesson which I call my “Mind Transcription” series. In this series, I share my ideas and strategies for soloing over the chords of popular standards and jazz tunes.
For this lesson, I’ve chosen the changes for There is No Greater Love. In part one of the lesson, I comp the chords at the piano, discuss the importance of hearing the chords at the piano, explore and explain voice-leading strategies and start the analysis of my original solo over the changes.
PDF practice materials to be used with parts 1 and 2 of this lesson are attached to this video lesson. Materials include 1. Voice leading example sheet. 2. The solo I created on the changes of There is No Greater Love 3. MP3 play-along tracks (short demo version and long rhythm-section only version) – Includes PDFs for C, Bb, and Eb instruments.
LESSON 2: There is No Greater Love – Part 2 of 2 – Mind Transcription
This is the second part of the lesson. Includes discussion of note groupings and use of sequence.
LESSON 3: The Cycle
In this video lesson, Greg shares his unique system for teaching the Cycle (also known as “the Circle of 4ths” or “the Circle of 5ths”). Understanding the Cycle is essential for the development of all aspiring musicians. Includes Hip Lick #1 played in the Cycle in 12 keys, plus detailed PDF lesson notes for C, Bb, and Eb instruments. INTERMEDIATE / ADVANCED LEVEL.
LESSON 4: Hip Lick #10 Video Lesson
In this video lesson, I’ll show you how to work with Hip Lick #10 from my book, Hip Licks for Saxophone, Volume 1. This is a ii mi7 – V7 lick often used by Charlie Parker.
The lick starts on the 9th of the mi7 chord and it’s very easy to play. Includes tips on hearing the roots of the chords while playing the lick, working the lick in 12 keys, and a demonstration of placing the lick in the beginning, middle, or end of a longer phrase. PDF includes the lick written out in all 12 keys. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.
LESSON 5: Minor 3rds Video Lesson – Intervals in Action
This video lesson explores minor 3rd intervals in many different harmonic contexts with a particular focus given to the way that the interval is used by Jobim in his classic Bossa Nova, “The Girl From Ipanema.” Includes a PDF of page 65 from the book “Intervals in Action,” featuring 31 different harmonic applications of the minor 3rd.
Also includes a PDF of the chord arpeggios and the “Ipanema” application of the interval, as played in the video lesson. INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.
LESSON 6: Listening Recommendation: Gene Ammons – Boss Tenor
Greg discusses the classic album, Gene Ammons – Boss Tenor
LESSON 1: Double-time Passage from Ravenswood Avenue
In this video lesson, you’ll observe me working with my Skype student Ritchie Graham (in Scotland). Over the years, many students have struggled with this double-time passage that I composed for my etude “Ravenswood Avenue.”
I share some unique practice techniques for gaining control over this tricky passage. Rather than just playing the phrase myself, I felt that it would be very instructive for our group members to observe how quickly Ritchie improves his command of the phrase by simply following my unique practice approach. Includes PDF of the phrase in Bb, Eb and C.
INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED LEVEL.
LESSON 2: Confirmation Changes / Hyde Park Blvd w/Aebersold
In this video lesson, I’ll show you how to nail the changes on Confirmation through good voice-leading, demonstrated in my contrafact for Confirmation, titled “Hyde Park Boulevard.”
This video includes me playing along with the fantastic Jamey Aebersold Volume 6 “All Bird” featuring Kenny Barron, Ron Carter and Ben Riley. I also play an improvised solo, demonstrating what I call “first gear,” which is a very melodic way of navigating the changes.
The lesson includes a full PDF transcription of my improvised solo, as well as written out voice-leading lines over the chords for the A section of Confirmation. PDFs are for C, Bb, and Eb instruments. Intermediate and Advanced level.
LESSON 3: Lifting Weights – The Importance of Daily Practice
In this video, I read the first chapter of my book, “The Lobster Theory.” This chapter is called “Lifting Weights,” and it’s about the importance of practicing each day.
LESSON 4: Sonny Stitt Triplets
In this video lesson, I’ll show you a very cool Sonny Stitt triplet pattern that works great over a ii mi7 / V7 progression.
Features analysis of chord tones used in the lick, as well as ear training advice on hearing the lick over the chords. Includes detailed PDF practice notes plus the lick written out in 12 keys for Bb, Eb and C instruments. Intermediate Level.
LESSON 5: Listening Recommendation: Wes Montgomery – Tequila
In this video, I discuss one of my all-time favorite albums, guitarist Wes Montgomery’s 1966 Verve album, “Tequila.”
The album features Wes on guitar plus Ron Carter on bass and Grady Tate on drums. The album features spectacular playing by the group, plus beautiful string writing by Claus Ogerman. One of my all-time favorites.