Mar 31

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Shed Your Slow 5-2’s

Finger technique is important. We diligently practice eighth-note and sixteenth-note patterns over ii-V-I progressions, chromatic substitutions, and non-diatonic tonalities. It is not unusual to hear sixteenth-note lines at a quartet-note = 200, faster than Charlie Parker and John Coltrane played, faster than at any time in the history of the saxophone.

But, great players also develop a slower, lyrical voice. The melodies of ballads are good examples of how a few notes can be musically powerful. Stella By Starlight and Alone Together have only 4-5 notes in a two-measure phrase.

To develop your lyrical skills, try this. Improvise on a ballad using no more than 5 notes over a two-measure phrase. You might start with playing just one or two notes. Notice how comfortable you feel when you play so few notes and if your solo sounds meaningful. Notice the nuance of each note and your rhythmic feel.

So, while you are shedding your fast ii-V’s, remember also to shed your slow 5-2’s.

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