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Transcribed: The GO! Album (Part 5 of 6) Dexter Gordon – Where Are You?

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That sound! From the first note, Dexter pulls you in with that big, beautiful sound.  This is romantic jazz tenor ballad playing at its finest.

The tune, Where Are You? was written in 1937 by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson for the film, “Top of the Town.” Dexter Gordon recorded this version in August 1962. It’s worth noting that Sonny Rollins also recorded this tune in February of that year for his “The Bridge” album.

One more solo to go on the Go! album. Coming up soon with be Part 6 of 6 – “Three O’Clock In The Morning.”

Where’s Eddie???

I haven’t written a post in a LONG time. I suppose there are a number of reasons for that.

I’ve been practicing a lot. I’m taking lessons and my teacher has been giving me a lot of work that takes a lot of time to get through (at least at first). I’ve had a really great time studying and I’m getting a better idea of where I am and what I have to do to get to where I want to be. Although, it’s frustrating at times, overall it’s a joyful experience and I feel like I’m making progress.

I’ve been in physical therapy. My back is jacked from years of playing with poor posture and also from tweaking my back while moving a king bed up a flight of stairs when I moved into my current place. That’s been going well and I’m learning a lot about the bad postural habits I have while playing, how to be aware of them, and what to do to help correct those habits.

I’ve been thinking a lot about music, but haven’t gotten to the point where I can really clearly articulate those thoughts (although that hasn’t stopped me in the past!). Being a freelance musician puts you in a lot of different playing situations and has the benefit of helping you be more versatile, but it can also obscure your ideas of what you’re trying to achieve as a musician (and human being).

I feel like the blog has been kind of pedantic and when stepping back from it, I feel like I need to do a LOT more work before I can even think of being an authority, expert, master, guru about anything. With that said, I have some exercises I’ve written for students I might share in the future if there’s any interest.

Hopefully, I can get back into the groove of writing more regularly and sharing my musical journey with you.


Technique notebooks – another way to get over the hump

Identify. Isolate. Repeat. – Joe Allard

That very profound quote from Joe Allard contains almost all of the information you need to become a great musician, or a great anything for that matter. For about the last week or so, I have been manifesting this quote by starting up some technique notebooks – one each for flute, clarinet, and saxophone. When I practice, if I have any kind of technical problems while working on scales, patterns, etudes, etc., I first try to pinpoint exactly where I’m having the problem (Identify). Next, I extract the problem area and write it down in my notebook (Isolate). Finally, I work on it daily until I get to a level of speed and ease that I think is acceptable (Repeat).

Here is an example in practice. A few days ago I was going through the Bozza Douze Etudes-Caprices for saxophone just to do a little sight reading. While reading through Etude 11, I come across this little passage:

I was chugging along through the rest of the etude and feeling good about my reading. I got to this section and could not play it. That can only mean one thing – it has to go in the notebook. I did not put the exact, literal passage in the notebook. My overall problem with the passage is jumping between the octaves so I wrote an exercise that would address that problem. It’s number 3 in the picture.

There’s a little note at the end of the exercise that reads “Iso Ab-D.” In working through the exercise, I found that I was having the most problems between Ab and D so I isolate those and spend more time on them that the other parts of the exercise. I don’t have any articulation marked, but have usually only been tonguing the first note of each 4-note group. I do that so I can working on slurring both the ascending and descending octaves. I have also been working on this super, super slow. I’m more worried about doing it well slowly than doing it fast poorly.

There it is. This is a good way to stay focused on improving technical issues with your playing that are giving you trouble.