the jazz authority; random dubiously zappy rants about 'the musicians music'.: May 2005

Monday, May 30, 2005

Saxophone Maintenance & Care

Below is a list of things to do, things not to do, and stuff about saxophone maintenance and care. Pay attention!

If you value your sax and it has it's lacquer still on it, then wipe it clean with a dry cotton cloth after every playing session. Use damp Q-tips to clean out the crap in between mechanisms. For those less anal, just clean the easily accessible areas with a damp cloth once a week or so.

Pads are a great invention. You can clean and/or condition your pads once every two or three months, but either you do it or you don't. If it's a new pad job and you intend to keep it clean, then do it. If your horn has old pads and you aren't gonna clean them regularly, then stay the hell away from them. The worst thing you can do is dislodge some hairs or a speck of dirt on the pad that's creating a seal with the tone hole. This is sage advice. Your horn will play like a sieve if you do this.

To clean your pads first cut/tear strips of paper the size of your tone holes, place them between the pad and the tone hole, press down the key and wiggle the paer side to side and out. Then, swipe damp Q-tips around the pads. At this point you can either stop or go on to protect and condition your pads.

There are two products you can use – neatsfoot oil, and liquid silicone. The neatsfoot oil should be applied sparingly with Q-tips. Same goes for the silicone. Be sure that the pads are dry before applying the neatsfoot oil, and wait a couple of weeks before applying the silicone. The neatsfoot oil conditions and softens the pads, while the silicone will semi-waterproof them and keep them from sticking.

ONLY ATTEMPT THE ABOVE CLEANING IF YOU'RE CONFIDENT THAT YOU WANT TO. Don't be afraid to do more research before you get into it.

Apply oil to the rods and keys at least once a month. One time i took my horn in for a check up and the tech asked when the last time was that I oiled my mechanisms. It had been about a year, and he could actually see ground metal mixed in with the thick oily goo that was left. No wonder my action seemed sluggish and stiff!

Learn to put cork and felt on your horn. All you need is sheet cork, contact cement, sandpaper, sheet felt (good quality) and scisssors. Tweezers help too. I looked for months for good felt and never found it. All you can do is buy it from the repair shop or music store. Same goes for sheet cork 9unless you drink wine and you're willing to settle for crappy cork). Anyways, learn to do this because any serious musician should be able to fix their own instrument.

NEVER USE A STUFF-IT ROD. Those things have ruined so many horns pads. I'm refering to the long fuzzy rods that one stuffs down the length of their horn. They hold the moisture in, leave hairs stuck to the pads, and just plain suck eggs. Use a pull through swab. There are chamois ones that are great if you can find them. Once it's dirty throw it away and buy a new one.

If you hold your sax by the bell, hold it so that the horn is above the bell, not below. It is possible over time to weaken or even snap the soldered bell brace. It happened on my '71 Selmer tenor. Of course this isn't an issue for alto players, and I really doubt you're gonna try it with a bari. Also avoid holding by the neck. One great way to hold your horn is with you fingers on the keys like you're playing. Think about the rods and keys you're liable to bend if you aren't carefull.

That's about it for now. If anyone has suggestions go ahead and post them.


Thursday, May 26, 2005


I was studying with Pat LaBarbera in a class at Humber College in Toronto a few years back. One day he was talking about improvisational theory when out of the blue he said, “and maybe that's the secret to jazz.” He was referring to the use of triplets, and he was kidding around, of course.

I took this comment a little more seriously though, and directed my usual doodling in my notebook to creating a sketch of eighth note triplets majestically mounted on a pedestal shining and glowing. I gave it even further thought, and that class has been stuck with me ever since.

How many lines do you play that don't have one triplet in them? How many lines do the real cats play that don't contain triplets? Yes, there is a discrepancy. Sometimes guys like Dexter, Trane, Rollins, Bird, etc, etc, only implied triplets through the use of space and their heavy swing, but they were there.

I've made it a point to modify the riffs/licks/patterns I've learned over the years to include triplets. Doing this makes for a way more swinging flowing line. I strongly suggest that you give this 'secret' some thought.

It pays to listen closely to the heavies, even if they're just telling a joke.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Real Book Free Online!

These links should take you to all charts in the real book. As I remember you can download individual charts by clicking the title and saving a .GIF image of it. These charts are O.K. and hopefully you can print them at the proper size. Good luck!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Why We Woodshed


Can anyone tell me why we do this to ourselves?!? I've sat in my basement for hours upon hours with my bluenote records lifting solos of the greats and acquainting myself with every little nuance of their style. I've practiced the same riff for two hours straight day after day. I've done a lot of things in the name of great music that most people would say was either crazy or just a plain old waste of time. But I don't regret it of course. I continue to dig deeper into this world of music and am constantly satisfied yet never satisfied. The drive to better my skills is insatiable. Some of us can relate; for the others, I need to ask you... why are you doing this to yourselves?

We play because we enjoy it. If you're not enjoying making music, what the heck are you doing playing? I can only really speak for myself, and I know that I just plain love to play music. It doesn't matter if there's a crowd or not. Some cats really dig the performing, often crashing after a big show. Studies have shown that some people experience a vivid endorphin high from performing, and they also show that after this endorphin rush some of those people come crashing down into depression right after. Recognize this? I have a friend who lives to play shows and is in his glory on stage, but when the show ends, he always goes home mopey, and the next day he's always depressed.

When I was about 10 years old I had a crush on a girl in my class. I found out that she was joining band one day, so I raced home to ask my father if I could play trumpet in the band (I thought it was the coolest instrument – now I know it's a distant third, after the bass and of course the sax, he he). Fortunately for me he had a sax in the basement that he used to play, and I was set. I practiced that sax every chance I got, and after two years I was the best in my school. There was this other kid who always just fooled around in class – a real joker – and years later he ended up dating this girl I liked. The funny thing is that by then I had forgotten all about her and had become immersed in the world of music. I no longer played to be recognized – I played because I liked the challenge, I liked the creative control, and I liked the ability to make a lot of noise.

Today is no different – I'm still a noisy bum. And I still play for myself. I used to busk (perform on the street for money) and at times I enjoyed it, but mostly it really sucked. I had to play things like the Pink Panther theme over and over again, and sometimes all I'd get was a few cents. I got soured on music for a while. I was bitter about playing for tourists, but then I realized that music is what I make of it. If I go busking now I'll go for myself – not for the money. Sometimes I'll make a lot of dough, sometimes I won't, but I'll always enjoy it, and that's what counts.

Let me know if anyone out there can relate. If you have anything to say on this just click on the 'comments' link and post away.


Desktop Image 4 U !!!

What do you do when you have a Selmer MK VI sax, a website, and a good graphic design program? You make a desktop image! Note that "mark six" is written on the bell to the left.
Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 19, 2005



You asked for it. Now I'm gonna bring it. Below are some more advanced insights, but hey, anyone can use this info.

Let's assume that you are already solid on a number of subjects; scales in all keys (major & minor), basic chord progressions (see below)...
II- / V7 / I Maj
III- / VI7 / II- / V7 / I Maj
III- / bIII7 / II- / bII7 / I Maj
Also blues progressions, rhythm changes, various standards, cycle of fourths, etc.

Now, you should be able to play some basic patterns over these progressions. For example, on each chord play the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th degree notes of that chord/scale ( over C Maj, play C D E G ) in eighth notes. Hopefully you have worked out some more advanced patterns – like 1st, 6th, 3rd, 2nd, or 2nd, 1st, 5th, 3rd or various arpeggios– and applied them to specific changes over some of your favorite songs.

Above are just a couple of basic improvisatory techniques and with them under your fingers you can actually go a long way. See, most people are too lazy to sit down and work that stuff out. Rarely do we see a cat that's so dedicated that he's gobbled up everything he can regarding improv techniques. Of course, there is such a thing as practicing something TOO much, and we should get into that now.

With patterns and scales we can tend to lose sight of the main objective – good technique and good solos. While we want to have this stuff down, only a small fraction of our practice routine should be devoted to it (unless of course we don't know this stuff at all – then it's time to play catch up and really focus on it for a few months). If you are a classical player you should still learn the above exercises, as it's important for any musician to know the ins and outs of chord/scale relationships. If you're an improviser you will need to learn this stuff and promptly forget it. Yes, you need to memorize it, be able to fly through it at lightning fast tempos, and then stop practicing it. Why? Because if you don't, you'll just be another mechanical soloist, spouting scales and patterns on stage with no logic or flow, and you'll die old and alone.
Seriously, this is where a lot of cats go wrong – young and old alike. What do you think you'll play on stage if you've been practicing patterns like this over and over for years? That's right – you'll play patterns. Of course this is no excuse to skip this material. I've known guys to say, “hey, I don't want to sound mechanical, so I ain't gonna learn that garbage. I want my music to flow.” Unfortunately, they usually sound like they're lost when blowing, as if they're ill prepared to cope with the realities of improvising. Like I said before; learn the stuff inside out, and promptly forget it.


You were wondering when I was going to get to the good stuff, eh? Well you won't believe how simple it is. There are only three things you need to do to greatly improve your playing, and you have probably already heard of all of them. The trick is to know how to practice them right. Ready for it?

Transcriptions, long tones and overtones. No, I'm not kidding. Mastering these three things will put you at the top of your game, and people will actually want to listen to you. Below is how you can do it right...

Transcriptions. Let's sum it up first. You listen to a solo over and over until your ears bleed, memorizing every little nuance to the point that you can sing it when you aren't listening to it. Then you get out your horn and try to play along with it, messing up along the way, but getting a rough idea of what they're doing so you can more easily map it out. At this stage it's important to isolate a few key points and lift them by ear, memorizing them. This is the secret to transcriptions. Any one of us can sit down and cop a solo note for note on paper, but then what do we have? A solo on paper – not in our heads. In order to really learn a solo, we need to memorize it first – then write it down.

So here you are with some of your solo memorized, and the remainder firmly etched in you mind. Now sit down with your paper and write the whole thing out. You've got it on paper now, so you can actually play along note for note with the recording. Do this a few times to get the timing down right. That's the first part. Now memorize the whole thing if you haven't already (if you don't want to that's fine). Next, you should pick one or two riffs and learn them in a few keys. That's how to transcribe, and you can be more or less thorough, depending on how much you want to get out of it.

Long Tones. I'm not joking around here. How do you rate your sound? Great tone quality, eh? Well, record yourself much? You should. After getting over the initial shock and residual depression of hearing yourself recorded, you should start practicing your long tones. When I was a teenager my sax teacher hipped me to this and I never looked back. He said, “you can fly through changes like a stunt plane, but if your tone is crap, no one will hear it- all they'll hear is lousy sound.” He was right. Now you know WHY you should do it, so let's look at HOW to do it.
Take a deep breathe and blow a note in your middle register at a steady volume for as long as you can keep it steady. Now do the same on a bell tone, and up high too. These are basic long tones that will steady your sound. Next, play low, mid range and high notes with dynamics. Start quiet, gradually increase your volume, and taper off at the end back to the volume you started at. The length of time it takes to get to maximum volume should be the same as the time it takes to get quiet. This is harder than it sounds. Steady your tone! Do long tones at the end of your practice, not the start – you'll blow out your embouchure right away if you don't save it for the end. Seriously gang, this doesn't need to be a pain in the butt – you can have fun with this stuff, It's important to do, and your ability to play for longer periods will improve.

Overtones. There's more to this than you think. Try to plaY a low Bb, and then tighten your mouth so the note skips up an octave. Get the note to skip up to the F above, then the high Bb. If you can, get it all the way up to palm F. Now start with the low Bb fingering but blow a high Bb of the top. Can't? Then just the F. Try tone matching, where you blow the mid F with proper fingering and without articulating or stopping switch to the low Bb fingering. Do this on low Bb, B, C, and C# – all the bell tones. Try to get the pitch and tone to match with the actual notes on your horn. Your sound will open up and your ability to really nail your notes in all registers confidently will improve. You can make up your own exercises eventually, but that's beyond what I'm giving you here.

So there you go. That should keep you busy for a few months.

Any questions?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New Miles Davis Book

For all of you Miles Davis fans out there I recently had a new book brought to my attention. I've read his autobiography (if you haven't you should, it's great reading) and may just try to hunt this one down. Anyways, some basic about it are found here.


Monday, May 16, 2005

Stan Getz Interview

Here are excerpts of a great interview with Stan Getz. If you're not familiar with Stan, You should be. Some thing the interviewer doesn't go into here is Stans drug problem. As I understant it, Stan Getz was frequently loaded at big shows, arriving late and out of his tree. Sad that that happened to some of those cats. It's strange how his music was so beautiful, but that he dealt with drug and alcohol abuse for much of his life.

The one question that is most important to me when I think of you and your music is your sound. Could you fill us in on how you conceived your sound and how you actually developed this concept?

I never consciously tried to conceive of what my sound should be. I never said, ' I want this kind of sound!' I believe it was because of the bands I played with from the ages of 15 to 22. The first one was Jack Teagarden, who we all know played trombone, but his sound was so great, so...(pause) sort of legitimate, and effortless. I never tried to imitate anybody, but when you love somebody's music, you're influenced. Then I was with Benny Goodman when I was 18 and I believe his sound had an influence on me; such a good sound that he had in those days, you know? And, in-between I heard Lester Young of course, and it was a special kind of trip to hear someone like Lester, who sounded so good and almost classical in a warm way. He took so much of the reed out of the sound. I really don't know how I developed my sound, but it comes from a combination of my musical conception and no doubt the basic shape of the oral cavity. I did always try to get as much of the reed out of the sound as I could.

You mean, hear more of the reed ?

No, just the opposite. I always wanted to take as much reediness out of the sound as I could and hear more of the breath. I came from an era when we didn't use electronic instruments. The bass wasn't even amplified. The sound was the sound that you got, and I discovered that my dark sound could be heard across a room clearer than somebody with a reedy sound. It had more projection. My sound always seemed to fill a room. I also did a lot of practice in the Hollywood hills in the open air. That's God's sound! I appreciate men like Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins very much, but I just don't like a reedy sound. I have to work hard to get my sound because I use a harder reed (med-hard Van Doren). People think that I play effortlessly. I remember doing a record date with Bill Evans and afterwards he said to me, you make it sound so easy but when I get right up next to you you're working hard and making it sound easy! '

Your sound just seems to float, especially on a ballad. Could you clarify how you go about working out a tune or song and how you find them to play, as well as develop them for performances?

I practiced saxophone eight hours a day for the first two years I played. But, I never practiced after that because I was always out on the road working. The only time I take out the horn, other than work, is to find a new reed. But, in my mind, I'm always hearing things. Jane (Stan's lady) sees my fingers moving in meditation and she knows not to talk or disturb me. That's what I call the 'alpha state.' That's a state of relaxed concentration and effortless creativity. It's not like an accountant that just adds, it comes off the top of my head. As far as choosing songs and tunes, I don't write music so I just choose what I like to play.

Does not composing your own music sort of free you as a performer? I often think it's a bit of a curse to have to play one's own compositions and especially at times when that particular selection might not be appropriate but it's your's and there is a commitment to perform them.

I've always regretted the fact that I've never formally studied and learned the mechanics of writing music. I don't know if it frees me, but it's a pain in the neck to have to depend on others to write things, or if I have something in mind and am barely able to tell someone what to play behind me. Most musicians seem to be able to follow me because I've learned enough chords to be able to play them without even knowing their names.

I've heard you play some very complex stuff like Chic Corea heavy duty changes. Are you saying you don't analyze chords, but instead simply play them by ear?

I try to throw the changes away after I've looked at them and play by ear. I don't believe in playing over the changes, which I may do a lot, but I don't like it. When I'm really free, I like to play totally by ear, knowing the basic structure of course.

It's like forcing yourself to let go so you don't use a chart as a crutch. It's the biggest single problem I encounter with private students on saxophone, at workshops, and for that matter, at jam sessions.

In the jazz program at Stanford, students won't be taught just from a book. They're going to play with other good musicians and will have to use their ears and memorize songs. They don't have the foundation we had. Life is too full of distractions nowadays. When I was a kid we had a little Emerson radio and that was it. We were more dedicated. We didn't have a choice and we didn't have big allowances. I got out of the Bronx by taking that saxophone in a room eight hours a day and playing it! Now there's more distractions like movies, video, and sports. Early on we made records to document ourselves, not to sell a lot of records. I still feel that way. I put out a record because I think it's beautiful, but not necessarily commercial. I remember being assailed by the wife of a famous trombonist after receiving eight Grammies for a record that I thought was just beautiful. She screamed, 'you turncoat, you went commercial.' I thought the Bossa Nova music was just beautiful music. I didn't care if anybody thought it was commercial. Commercial can be a good word too. It means getting to a larger number of people. Records used to be documents but now record companies want 'product.' They want to sell a lot of records and guys want to get famous. I never thought about being famous or having a band. I just wanted to play music.

Your bands have always had outstanding young musicians in them.. How do you go about finding these players?

I used to go out and hear players but after I got a reputation for giving a lot of solo space to developing young players, such as Horace Silver, then people would come to me. Plus, when you have a good band, if somebody leaves, you ask who the others would like to play with and if our tastes agree, I tend to go with that.

What classical music do you listen to?

I find something good in just about all classical music. I just heard Bernstein do Mahler's Ninth Symphony at Davies Hall. It's so great. I just like all the classical composers. I don't listen to much jazz, mostly classical music. There's only a few so-called classics in jazz that I want to go back and listen to.

What would those be?

Miles. Those classic Miles dates like Kind of Blue, and Round Midnight with Philly Joe Jones. They're just tremendous jazz classics! And of course, I've listened to Duke Ellington a lot. But there is something refreshing about so-called "classical music." You can play a classical record in the morning and it purifies your soul (laughs). It's almost religious.

What combination of mouthpiece and reed are you currently using? I believe you mentioned using a med-hard Vandoren reed.

I'm using an old Otto Link rubber mouthpiece. It was a 5 * but it was worked on by Ben Harrod. Otto Link had sold the company to him and some of the best Links ever made were made by Ben. He's retired and now lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He's very good and is also a musician and an honest man. He's refaced it for me. I'm uncomfortable with a rubber mouthpiece. It's too big. Every time I try a metal mouthpiece I wish it could work for what I want. But I use rubber mouthpieces because they afford me what I need. I like to hear the brass vibrate in the sound, not the reed. Like I mentioned earlier, I like a dark sound, which is contrary to what just about everybody else is looking for. One of the drummers I was working with (Billy Hart) had also worked with Joe Henderson. We were working in Chicago and I wasn't using a mike. He said, "I thought Joe would have a big sound and you wouldn't, but it's just the opposite. Your sound is much bigger." So what is miked is not necessarily the sound.

When you recorded the ''Poetry" album with Albert Dailey, did you use a minimal number of microphones?

We only used two mikes. It was recorded in my studio, which I had built on my estate in New York. It is built of all wood, with window views out in the country. It has a high ceiling and we used two B & K calibrated mics, one on me and one on the piano, which went directly into a modified Studer two-track. No mixing board was involved. I guess that's why engineers and boards came into being because musicians forgot how to blend themselves. That's why so many use monitors now. We used to play so that you had to listen to each other and mix your own thing on the spot. You had to hear everybody more than yourself. Then vocalists would need some reinforcement and that's when sound boards came in. Symphonies are recorded with two mikes and Benny Goodman made all those great records with one or two mikes. Musicians used to mix themselves!

That has become a lost art!

It is and it's a reflection of their musicianship. Maybe it's a combination of the use of electrical instruments and playing larger venues. When you record, if you use two mikes properly positioned, it will sound like your two ears are in the room with the musicians.

There are some engineers who don't understand how to record acoustic instruments because they want everything to sound as if it's in your face. Do you generally mike your horn from a distance?

I stand far from the mike and I try not to use one if it's at all possible. Sometimes we mike the piano a little and of course there's the bass amp. I have to use mikes to balance with where the drummer is at. You start with the drums. There are lots of places, however, where I don't use a mike like Fat Tuesday's, Blues Alley, and the Old Keystone Korner. You learn how to project your instrument and think projection, try to see the corners of the room. You don't have to play louder, it's just a certain center to the sound that you can get going through the room. It' s not loudness but sound, and brass vibrating, or resonance without reediness.

I've walked around the room when you've played and your sound does indeed permeate every corner.

You get it from playing outdoors a lot. I heartily endorse playing in the open air. When I was a kid in the Bronx, we lived in a tenement building, where all the houses were right next to each other. In the summer I would to into the bathroom to practice with the windows open and it was all tiles and echo. Then somebody would yell, "shut that kid up !, " and my mother would say, "play louder Stanley." (laughter) When I left Jack Teagarden I moved to Hollywood and would go up into the hills with bass and drums and we would play for hours. It was a ball! I don't think there is the same kind of dedication among younger musicians that we had. I was married at nineteen and had a kid at twenty, and then two more, and I had to work a lot. But I always went to the jam sessions afterwards. I played in rhumba bands, mickey mouse bands; all kinds of bands. But after the job we would jam all night. We just had a different kind of dedication than kids do today. Although, they have records to jam with, but it's not the same thing. Interaction is what jazz music is all about. That's what I'd like to see happen with the jazz program at Stanford. You can read all the textbooks and listen to all the records, but you have to play with musicians that are better than you. What needs to be done is to simulate the atmosphere of a club. Maybe a place in Palo Alto where four nights a week, under supervision of the teachers, the students can play under actual conditions. That, plus take the big band on tour to Montreaux and other festivals. There's a way to train young jazz musicians without having to go on the road. In the traveling academies I was with, I learned many things, more than playing music, some of which I regret (laughs). But there's a way to get kids interested. But every teacher must be a great player.

Would you like to say something about your very famous saxophone repairman, Emilio Lyons?

We were talking about musicians that came from a different era, people that were craftsmen and artisians. I met such a man in Boston years ago who is a good clarinetist. Somebody asked him to repair my horn in an emergency. He was so nervous at the time that he was trembling. Since then, he's become the finest saxophone repairman in the world. They call him the "Saxophone Doctor. " When he overhauls your horn you won't have to see him again for at least three years. He coats the pads with something and they never waterlog or split or leak. He just spends hours at it. See this flower on my horn, it's not just a cork, it serves a practical purpose with style. He's a guythat cares and he comes up with things like the cork extensions on the palm keys. I would have never thought of that.

What would you like to say to all the saxophone players reading this interview?

Switch to piano! No; really, if you like an instrument that sings, play the saxophone. At its best it's like the human voice. Of course, it would be best if you could actually sing with your own voice. The saxophone is an imperfect instrument, especially the tenor and soprano, as far as intonation goes. Therefore, the challenge is to sing on an imperfect instrument or "voice" that is outside of your body. I love that challenge and have for over forty-five years. As far as playing jazz, no other art form, other than conversation, can give the satisfaction of spontaneous interaction. A good quartet, listening closely to each other, is like a good conversation among friends interacting to each other's ideas.

Top Ten Jazz CDs

Of course this is only my opinion, but the fact is that every one should have these albums. There is historical significance attached to some of these, and some solos recorded here represent the artists at their very best. The list is in no particular order. There are link provided (I had to hunt them down, and I'm NOT affilliated with the linked sites in any way) that will give you a description, reviews, and even sound clips. Go buy these now. You won't regret it.

There are so many more albums, but this is a top ten list, not a top 100. Dexter Gordon, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Clifford Brown, Basie, Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Larry young, and others should all be in there, not to mention the current jazz artists that are out there laying it down. You can probably tell that I'm a fan of the Blue Note label, and I really go for the hard-bop stuff from the late 50's to to late 60's.
Anyways, dig these records. If you don't, no one will respect you. Ever. How's that for social pressure?


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Saxophone Reed Work

Well, I have a lot to say on this subject. At this point I'm going to post a little article on how to balance a reed. We all know the woes of sax reeds. This may help you salvage some of your throwaways or practice reeds.

I find that only 1/4 of the reeds I buy are free blowing right out of the box. Of the others, maybe half can be adjusted to a proper responding point. The rest I use for altissimo practice (as theose high tones will frap your reeds fast) and for kindling.

It has taken me many years of trial and error to learn how to do it right, and in most cases less is more. There is a great book that covers the subject, 'the art of saxophone playing by Larry Teal'.

Hope this helps - post your comment if you want more info on specifics.

Adjusting Saxophone Reeds
More unpredicatable than the weather, reeds remain a constant problem for most saxophone players. How many times have you gone to the local music store, purchased a new box of reeds, gone home, tried them out, and to your amazement and frustration found that the whole box was unplayable.The tips below are based on personal trial and error and as a result of studying with the great master teacher, Joe Allard, who could magically transform the worst reed ever into a good playable reed.

Balancing The Reed
The problem with many reeds is that they are not balanced. In other words, one side of the reed may be thicker than the other causing an imbalance, and making the reed respond poorly in various registers. The first thing to do is test the sides of the reed.Placing the instrument into your mouth as normal, tilt or rotate the mouthpiece to the left closing off the left side and exposing the right side which will vibrate. Blow a note (middle C Sharp for example), tilt the mouthpiece to the right closing off the right side and exposing the left side to vibrate. Blow a note---compare the two sounds, if one side sounds dull, airy, or is just harder to blow, that will be the side we want to adjust. After testing the reed by playing both sides, you can do a further test, by feeling underneath either side of the the reed, going towards the tip area and bending the reed up SLIGHTLY with one finger, one side at a time. The side that bends the least is the side that has more wood on it, and is the side that you will adjust. Using either, medium sand paper, a one sided razer blade, or a reed knife, scrape the side to be adjusted. Start in about 1/16" of an inch, and at the vamp, where the slope of the reed ends. Start at the vamp and work slowly towards the tip. Stop about 1/16" from the tip. Take very little wood as you get towards the tip, take more from the vamp to about 1/2 way down the reed. Test the reed, blowing both sides as before, and adjust until both sides of the reed are equal in sound and response. Avoid touching the heart of the reed, as this may result in the reed sounding unfocused and difficult to play in tune.

Reed Too Soft
If a reed is too soft, you can either:

1. Place the reed further over the tip of the mouthpiece.
2. Clip the reed using a reed clipper.
3. Burn the tip of the reed.
Clipping the reed usually makes the reed sound a little dull - burning the reed however seems to retain and in some cases brighten the sound of the reed. As in clipping, take the smallest amount possible, test and repeat, until the desired strength is achieved.

Polishing The Back Of The Reed
Using a flat surface, (table, bench top etc.) place a white piece of A4 paper on the table---holding the paper so it will not move, place the reed in the center of the page, using your strong hand, press the 1st two fingers ( index and 2nd ) of your hand onto the reed. Going clockwise or anticlockwise, rotate the reed in a circular motion, fast, and about 100 turns, this will polish, the flat side of the reed and make sure it forms a perfect "seal" to the mouthpiece.

This is especially helpeful when the reed has been played for a few days, as with moisture on it the fibres of the back of the reed may swell. Buying another box of reeds may help you find the 'magic reed', but you may end up spending more that day on reeds than your gig is worth. Feeling comfortable with the strength and sound quality of the reed, is a must if you wish to play well and to be creative. We can not be creative, if we are struggling to play poor equipment or a bad reed. I hope these tips on reed adjusting may help you as they have me. Happy reed adjusting.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Audio Compression & you

Let's make this quick and simple. The more you compress your audio, the more you degrade the audio quality. The bit rate refers to the amount of audio info in an audio file. If a tune has a bitrate of 96, it's at about FM radio quality. At 120 Kbps, it's said to have CD quality audio by some, but I say that's a bunch of crap. Most tunes are ripped at 120, but I can definately tell the difference between that and 160Kbps, whick is my standard. 196 isn't too much (the higher the number, the less compression, the larger the audio file and the better the sound). At 200+ it's basically pointless to compress it anyway, but to each their own.

Great Music Apps 4 U...

Wouldn't it be nice to have a list of great music applications tested and confirmed usefull by a musician? Even better; to have links for all of those programs! Well, here you go. I'll give a brief review and description of each. Hooray for free software!!!

In a previous post I mentioned AUDACITY, a great music editing program. You can save projects in MP3 format by downloading the LAME plugin. With audacity you can multitrack, import audio, loop, and edit/alter tracks as you see fit. Created by SOURCEFORGE, it's free.

Need to convert your audio files to another format? try the CHEETAH audio converter. Convert your audio files fast to WMA, MP3, MP2, WAV, and OGG formats. Just drag files into the program window and click Convert. Cheetah Audio Converter also can convert your audio files to different bit rates ranging from 11,025Hz to 48,000Hz and will rip CD's too...

Now, I prefer to rip my CDs with FREERIP. It's a simple user friendly program that I've used over and over. Freerip is . . . free.

I never did like Windows media player much. Just too bogged down with frills and gimmicks. I try to never use it. If I want to listen to tunes or watch a quick mpeg video, I always use WINAMP. Just go get it and use it.

Wanna share and download tunes? Use LIMEWIRE. Again, I've tried the others; Kazaa, bearshare, eMule, fileDonkey, etc., and LIMEWIRE is just out and out great.

Now I've checked these programs out, used them, and confirmed their usefullness in my arsenall of music apps. If you want other info on these or other programs let me know.

By the way, These are all free. I'd review programs like Finale, Sibelius, or BandInABox, but they cost $$$, and can usualy be found shared on Limewire (possibly corrupt of course, but that's your call).


Monday, May 09, 2005

Brief, but a 'solid meal' nonetheless...

Jon Stewart reffered to a rant on polotics by Dennis Miller as 'a solid meal' one time, and I thought one day I had to use that.
Man, I totally lost the whole theme of my post suddenly! Ha! Well I'm here now, so this is what we get. Not even a subject or an opinion, just some words about not much at all.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Joe Henderson Interview & Discography

I found this great interview on the net. If you don't know, Joe Henderson was a very amazing Tenor Sax player. My old sax teacher on the west coast told me he was a very accomplished pianist too. Sadly Joe passed way a few years ago, but his music will always live on. Before you read the interview (of which I have only a portion), here's a good list of most of his records...

Discography (by the way, I painstakingly removed all of the cheezy advertising links that were originally connected to each album listed. Who needs that?!?)

Porgy and Bess, Double Rainbow: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles), Big Band, The Standard Joe, Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn, Punjab, The State of the Tenor Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1, The State of the Tenor Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 2, Mirror, Mirror, Black Narcissus, The Elements, Black Is the Color, If You're Not Part of the Problem...., In Pursuit of Blackness, Power to the People, Straight, No Chaser, Four, Tetragon, The Kicker, Mode for Joe, In 'n Out, Inner Urge, Page One, Our Thing, The Milestone Years, The Blue Note Years, The Best of the Blue Note Years, Joe Henderson: Inner Urge
Joe Henderson is proof that jazz can sell without watering down the music; it just takes creative marketing. Although his sound and style were virtually unchanged from the mid-'60s, Joe Henderson's signing with Verve in 1992 was treated as a major news event by the label (even though he had already recorded many memorable sessions for other companies). His Verve recordings had easy-to-market themes (tributes to Billy Strayhorn, Miles Davis, and Antonio Carlos Jobim) and, as a result, he became a national celebrity and a constant poll winner while still sounding the same as when he was in obscurity in the 1970s. The general feeling is that it couldn't have happened to a more deserving jazz musician. After studying at Kentucky State College and Wayne State University, Joe Henderson played locally in Detroit before spending time in the military (1960-1962). He played briefly with Jack McDuff and then gained recognition for his work with Kenny Dorham (1962-1963), a veteran bop trumpeter who championed him and helped Henderson get signed to Blue Note. Henderson appeared on many Blue Note sessions both as a leader and as a sideman, spent 1964-1966 with Horace Silver's Quintet, and during 1969-1970 was in Herbie Hancock's band. From the start, he had a very distinctive sound and style which, although influenced a bit by both Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, also contained a lot of brand new phrases and ideas. Henderson had long been able to improvise in both inside and outside settings, from hard bop to freeform. In the 1970s, he recorded frequently for Milestone and lived in San Francisco, but was somewhat taken for granted. The second half of the 1980s found him continuing his freelancing and teaching while recording for Blue Note, but it was when he hooked up with Verve that he suddenly became famous. Virtually all of his recordings are currently in print on CD, including a massive collection of his neglected (but generally rewarding) Milestone dates. On June 30, 2001, Joe Henderson passed away due to heart failure after a long battle with emphysema. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

Member Of
Blood, Sweat & Tears , etc.
Born:1937 in Lima, Ohio Died:2001 in San Francisco, CA
Roots and Influences
Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane
Paul Abler, Ralph Bowen, Hadley Caliman, Ravi Coltrane, Pat La Barbera, Ode for Joe, Patrice Rushen, Grover Washington, Jr., Pete Yellin
Performed Songs By
Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Vinícius de Moraes, Kenny Dorham, Duke Ellington, Ira Gershwin, Dubose Heyward, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bronislaw Kaper, Mark Levine, Thelonious Monk, Lee Morgan, Duke Pearson, Cole Porter, Horace Silver, Billy Strayhorn, Cedar Walton
So, here's some of the interview. Enjoy!

To me you're one of the last of the great saxophone innovators. You have a style that many have tried to emulate, but there's not been anybody as original as you in succeeding generations. These things don't just fall out of the sky and hit people over the head, it comes from somewhere. I would be interested in knowing who your influences were. I know you've been playing like this since you were a youngster.
That's very interesting. It's difficult for me to blow my own horn (no pun intended). I got out of the military in August of 1962 and moved to New York in September or October. I started making records in the latter part of 1963. Prior to that I was born in a little town called Lima Ohio, which is about 125 miles from Detroit. I have nine brothers and five sisters, which is really a huge family. I remember one of my brothers, in particular, who is a scientist, had this Jazz At The Philharmonic collection. He was a jazz buff and it was very important and good for me to have been around that early on, because before I started to play the saxophone, I knew what the saxophone was a supposed to sound like. I heard a bunch of people like Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet, Coleman Hawkins, and Wardell Gray. Lester was probably the first influence that I could single out. There may have been others that are not clear, it's hard to know where and when these influences start. But I do remember taking some Lester Young solos off a record with the help of my brother. This was around age nine. Well, I wasn't doing it myself, my brother was helping me, having the kind of mind he had. It used to amaze me later how he was able to do that at that time. We had those 78 rpm records, so he'd take the needle, set it down on the record, and say, "Joe, play these notes," and he'd let about four or five notes go by, and I'd find them on the horn. You know, the one that Prez called D.B. Blues, it became very famous later. So, I learned that and I tried to imitate that sound. Pretty soon I could keep this in my mind and my fingers could remember where they should be. I remember that as being the first solo I was able to take off a record.
So, Prez, as it turns out, was probably the first person that I was conscious of influencing me. I had been listening to Rhythm and Blues, and I had gone through that generation. I was always around Country and Western music as well. I know as much about Johnny Cash as I do about Charlie Parker, because I grew up in that area. This was all we heard on the radio. Sometimes I could dial in these far off stations, like in Chicago, where I would hear something just a little more musical. A little more similar to the records that my brother had in his collection, and I liked this. I knew that this was bebop, and I could differentiate that. I spent most of my time listening to bebop, and that was what I appreciated most, so this is what I gravitated toward when I started developing and getting a few things together about playing the saxophone. I was still quite innocent, it was like a toy at that point...

...So, my information and my knowledge is growing because I'm starting to buy records and starting to hear people like Stan Getz, Herbie Steward, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, and Duke Ellington. All this stuff was having more meaning. And all at the same time I was listening to Bartok, Stravinsky, and Hindemith because of my one sister's tastes. I didn't know who Stravinsky was, but I knew I liked the music that I heard.
Later I started meeting other musicians in town, who started showing me things. I'm learning tunes, my vocabulary is growing in terms of tunes that I had memorized, and I'm playing dances around town. So, I'm getting into it very innocently. If I made a couple of bucks playing a dance, that was big money for me. But the information that I was gathering at that time was the thing that served me well later. I was getting a chance to play the saxophone at a time when this was what I should be doing. Nobody had to tell me "Joe, go in and practice your saxophone." I just did this.
Earlier on, I started writing tunes. When I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, I wrote my first composition. That tune was recorded on a Bluenote record, the very first record I did. It's one of the tunes that I get the most recognition for and it's called Recordame. When I first wrote it, it had a Latin flavor to it. But when the Bossa Nova came out I changed it to fit that rhythm, which meant that I changed a couple of phrases around.
I don't know where it all came from, but I've always personally suspected that I don't have an identifiable sound as a player. I shouldn't be allowed an opinion of my own stuff, I realize that.
It's hard to appraise your own work. To hear this come from you is very important to me, as I'm sure to the people reading this article. And to learn that, wow, you mean he doesn't know that either? You just don't know because you can't be a critic and a player at the same time.
It really is hard to appraise your own work! Earlier on I wanted to be one of the greatest interpreters of music that the world has ever seen. If somebody put music down in front of me, I wanted to be able to interpret this music better than the writer. I also wanted to be a player of ballads. I really liked to play ballads, as ironic as that might be. Many times when I play it's kind of a frantic situation.
You made your mark in what was called the 'hard bebop' post-bop era. It was a harder style to play, the Bluenote style. The whole gang of East Coast players that were really putting that style down. That's what I came up with. I'm about five years younger that you, so I came up behind that listening to you, and a whole bunch of other folks out of that era.
That was a great era. There was a bunch of musical people around during the time that I was fortunate enough to have been associated with in the studios and on some gigs...
...I'm curious, did you study with Larry Teal?

I sure did, for about three years. I also went to Wayne University for about five years. The year I got drafted I changed to Wayne State University. A lot of musicians went through that school. Yusef Lateef was there, Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, Hugh Lawson (we were in some classes together). Yusef and I were also in classes together. He was much older than I, going back to school, and taking a couple of courses as a non-matriculated student. We used to study together. Yusef was zooming and he was light years ahead of me in terms of understanding it all. In the next semester it dawned on me what the teacher was trying to run down in the first semester.
From about that point on I understood things in the present instead of it being a delayed situation. There's a point where you understand the information as they're running it down to you, and there's a point where you've got to do a little research and then you understand it. Then when Yusef and I studied together I was ahead of him. I remember feeling good about that, but I also felt good about being able to help him understand the things he didn't understand. Therein lies the genesis of me understanding myself as a teacher. I was in this environment that was about bebop. We learned every Charlie Parker tune that was every written. There was so much music that came through at that time. Fortunately, my radar was working and I was absorbing everything. I started understanding things like chord inversions where you don't have to play chords from the root up all the time. You can start from the 5th or the 6th or the 7th. As long as you know what the root feel is about you can turn things inside out taking this combination of notes and stack them up any number of ways.

What I hear in your playing is that you play intervals that go beyond the 13th...When you're not playing bebop kinds of lines, I hear you play some heavy arpeggios running through and across and around, sideways, all kinds of ways, but it seems to me you're playing intervals that go beyond the 13th.

I've heard things in that zone. This stems back from some of the non conventional sounds and combinations of notes that I first heard through Bartok and Stravinsky. I started to understand chords, chord movement, and chord classification in one set of chords; where it all came from and where it goes from there. Having a sense of composition has served me well, and also having a rich sense of rhythm, and a desire not to repeat stuff. I consider it one of the worst sins a musician could possibly commit, to play an idea more than one time. You've got to keep changing things around, keep inventing, and especially when you're making records. I came into it thinking of change being a constant thing. I can remember going onto the bandstand after being around Detroit for a few years, and consciously getting my brain to start phrases on different notes of the bar, with a different combination of notes, and a different rhythm. I developed the ability to start anywhere in the bar and it lent to a whole new attitude of constant variation. I would start with the first bar, not starting it on one but starting it on the 'and' of four or the 'and' of three, with a series of sixteenth notes with several triplets. I would let the first four bars take care of themselves until we got to the fifth bar, and start that at a certain point of the rhythmic structure of the bar. Then I'd start something in the seventh bar. What I was developing was a sense of not falling into that habit of playing the same things all the time. We are creatures of habit anyway so its easy to fall into them. You practice early on so that habits don't form which have to be dealt with later, like bad fingerings that you have to clean up later.

Those are technical processes, but you're also talking about creative musical processes. Instead of always following the same mental path you can evoke a different process whenever you want to. Everybody wants your formula. How many students have come to you and said, 'Joe, what are those patterns?'

And those are the kind of students I don't take. I want to effect the part of their brain to create these things. When you think about this in a certain way, there is no formula.
What they hear as a formula is actually something you created spontaneously out of all of the resources that you have at your command.
The way I teach is memory plus improvisation. I generally don't allow tape recorders at the lesson, although I will bend on that as it's so much a part of things now. In terms of them understanding what their creative faculty is supposed to be about, they don't need a tape recorder. We'll travel as far as their brain can go during a lesson. There's so much printed material around, fake books, etc., and I don't remember using those kinds of things. These things tend to become crutches. I learned the tunes. I've seen people come up on the bandstand and before I call count the tune off I'm hearing people turning these pages (laughter). Night after night they're still trying to find this song. I really wish they would understand that the mind will absorb the music in its time. You can't overload it.
There's so much that can enter into learning songs. Your emotional state and why you like a particular song.
One can get involved in all those aspects and make it more meaningful when they play. Teaching allows us to plant some trees, and to keep the art form alive. The information that was passed on to us helped us to enjoy the planet a little more through our music...

...At this point in our conversation we got into a discussion about vintage Selmer saxophones, sparked by Joe's recent purchases of a 56,000 series Mark VI This was necessitated by the loss, by theft, of one of his saxophones which was later returned by one of his students. Also, the ultimate destruction, by fire in an automobile accident, of his original 54,000 series.
A guy called me from Dallas who knew I would be coming through with the George Gruntz big band. I called him back and he said he had two Selmers to show me. When I got there he had them laid out in the dressing room. I had no idea that this was the vintage horn I'd been looking for. When I picked one up and played it, I couldn't believe how well it played. When my previous horn was destroyed, after twenty-six years, I thought it could never be replaced.
It's such a great story how that horn came back to you through Hafez Modir, who we were both teaching at that time. I'll never forget him coming into his lesson and telling me about it.
Hafez was totally innocent. He simply came over for a lesson. About half an hour into the lesson he asked me to try his horn and check his low B. Usually I play piano and assign lines, a more "here and now approach." I really didn't want to do what he was asking, so I tried to steer him away from that by giving him more demanding material. But, he had the right kind of persistence. So, after hanging on the ropes about another half an hour I said, 'look man, give me the horn.' I went upstairs and got my mouthpiece and soaked up my reed, and started to play this horn. There were some thing that only I knew about that identified the horn. There was a screw right next to the octave key that would work its way out from time to time and would jab me in the finger. I had it filled down. As I was playing, these things began to come through. I was sitting there talking to myself and thinking, 'man, this is my horn!' I didn't want to give the student the impression that I had flipped out. But, after about fifteen more minutes he wanted it to be my horn. He called it a case of "the son coming back to the father." I exchanged another Selmer with him for my original horn. Apparently it had been purchased a year and a half earlier by a young lady in New York, and I had neglected to keep track of the serial number. If I had known approximately what the number was I could have gotten to a similar horn sooner. Someone once asked me whether or not I felt there was something "magical" about Selmers. I had to say there certainly was something magical about this particular vintage, but I feel their more recent horns have lost that quality. After my original horn was stolen I needed a new one. I was speaking with Selmer's engineers and discussing what I felt were problems with the Mark VII, which was the horn that no one knew I was playing.
Johnny Griffin told me he had one for awhile but took it back because his clothes kept getting caught in the keys.
Their answer was, "the kids want it." I realize these people are busy in their labs trying to develop new ideas, but please keep making that original product which so many people were happy with. They had Super 80's for me to try and that's what I've been playing until now. I'm sure it would be profitable for them to put out an instrument that sounds and feels good to the player. The Japanese are becoming very competitive in the musical instrument business. I talk to saxophonists all over the world, like myself, who are seriously questioning the quality of the new instruments. After all, our survival is depended on this.
Do you have any final comments?
I'm in constant search of new information and ideas, and I want to make the best of this short time that we're out here on this planet living this nebulous thing called life. And I want to plant a few trees along the way and nurture some minds and watch them grow, as people did for me.
End of interview. Well, there is a great interview man! Soon I'll post one with Wayne Shorter, and another with Stan Getz.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Pissing you off so you post / Stupid music industry...

No one is posting here so far. I do want some feedback, but if you just want to scan the page, maybe download some stuff and leave, that's up to you. But maybe if I get upset and write some inflamitory garbage y'all will post comments here. Here goes, you ignorant wankers....

Ha ha! This is fun, you slobbering wanna-be hacks. What does everyone like that I can say something nasty about? Hmmm..... CHARLIE PARKER WAS A NO GOOD WHINER!!!!!!!! Well, that was difficult to write 'cuz I dig Bird. Man, this is harder than I thought.

The music industry really missed the boad with the internet and file sharing. For the last few years they could have been doing what they are now - selling music tune-by-tune on the net legally. Instead they fought in vain against the filesharing programs that have caused the rich music stars and big music companies to take a hit in the wallet. They said it was a question of morals, not to "steal music from people illegally and cause them to suffer." How can one industry expect to hold back the moral degradation of modern society? People are doing worse things than sharing and downloading music with out permission from the artist. But I'm not trying to justifiy the act, I'm just saying that if they had been less greedy and full of fear, they would have hopped on the internet gravy train and set up 'legal' music download/upload sites years ago.

Well, I got off topic. I guess I'm just not inspired to be mean right now. We'll have to just accept that for now this is a small site with a small audience and I'm doing this mostly just for the fun of it.


Dexter Gordon solo on Cheesecake Pg 1

So, I found this on the net. Gotta love the newer music software that lets you write and print your own music in jazz fonts. Sibelius, finale, etc. are great programs. You can try to find them shared on a p2p, but for reliability go buy the program. Anyways, below are the other pages for this transcription. I put this up here because anyone playing any instruments can go through this and learn something. Dexter lays down some n-i-c-e patterns over the changes, and if you haven't looked closely at any of his solos b4, do so now. Click on the image to get the full size version, download all three, and get to work. Happy woodshedding!

Posted by Hello

Dexter Cheesecake solo Pg 2

The second page. Again, his lines are very usefull if you're just figuring out II-/V7 navigation, or if you're simply a big fan of dexter and wanna cop a riff.

Posted by Hello

The third page. Dig Dexter Gordons' smooth lines - very usefull if you want to cop a lick in all keys. Look at how he runs his lines over the changes. Download all three pages, print, and get practicing!

Posted by Hello

Monday, May 02, 2005

Musicians & Drugs... cleaning up our act.

Musicians and drugs. Everybody knows the stereotype: too cool for their own good, ultra night owl, always with a drink in their hand, and always looking for the next party. Not every musician is an irresponsible delinquent, but some are. I used to be. A few years ago I cleaned up my act and quit drinking and drugging. I didn't stop having fun though. I used to wonder why anyone would want to live life without getting loaded all the time. I played all my gigs so out of my mind that by the end I was often left worshiping the porcelain god. Now I play a mean sax, and I got away with that for a few years, but the reputation and the lifestyle caught up and eventually people came to see this party animal as unreliable. That's where the stereotype comes in again.

So like I said, I cleaned up my act just over four years ago, and I gotta tell you that for this musician life is way better this way. I'm not suggesting that everyone out there should quit drinking and whatnot (I don't care if you like to get high... it's none of my business) but if you have had problems in the past and are thinking about cleaning up your act, it might be a good idea. I didn't think it could be done; play gigs, go to after parties and keep my nose clean? I really didn't think that someone could do it. Clifford Brown did it. Today I know a few cats that don't drink and life didn't end for them either. In fact, for some people out there, learning to be a musician 'sans dope' is the best thing we could have done for ourselves. I've played with bands where everyone gets high before the show, during the show, and after the show. I just go for a walk when they go for a 'band conference' in the van. My band mates know not to offer me a beer and it's no big deal. But the rewards are huge. I've saved a whack of cash staying clean and sober. I'm known as a reliable sideman and hard worker. I get to shows early, stay on my game all night, and leave with cash in my pocket.

So yeah, the whole reason that I chose to stop drinking and getting high was because it was blowing my whole life. I pretended for a few years that it was no big deal, but everyone knew that I was getting worse and worse. By writing this post I'm hoping that maybe someone who wants to quit will find the inspiration to do so. Also, I'm not too proud to share a little bit of my sordid past for the sake of entertainment. Dance monkey dance...

One time I was playing a show with a ska band and we were in a club with a stage 3 feet off the floor. By the time the second set finished I had so much to drink that I couldn't see straight. Well, I went to walk out into the crowd, with my sax hanging off of my neck, and stepped straight off the stage without knowing I was up on it. Fortunately my foot was directly under me and my knee was locked so I didn't fall over after I walked/fell off the stage. I was embarrassed and I don't know how many people noticed this, but it's not like it was a big secret that I was drinking like a fish that night.

Now that's not the dumbest thing I've ever done, but it's a good example of how I operated. We can glamourize the lifestyle that big artists are portrayed to be living, but at the top those cats have their stuff together. In Miles' autobiography he talked about how the drugs didn't do anything except screw up his life. Bird died young from living hard, and we all know it was the obsessive woodsheding that made him an amazing musician – not living on the streets, skipping out on gigs, pawning his saxophone or going through withdrawls in the studio. Trane fought long and hard to quit using junk after Hank Mobley got him hooked at a fatefull recording session. When he did quit, he became a heavy drinker and later experimented with hallucinogens and psychedelic drugs. He died of liver failure too. Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Stan Getz, and on and on – they confused a lot of people regarding the role drugs played in their music. All of them went on record to say that the drugs did nothing for their music. Period.
To get to the top it would do one well to sort out ones' priorities. If you skip out on band practices because it gets in the way of your high, or if you are more concerned about the free drinks at shows than the pay, or how to find the potheads but not how to get the crowd dancing, then I have some tough truths for you.
  1. You're gonna go on in your life to be a great party animal – not a great musician.
  2. There's room at the top for hard workers who a better than average players, but no room for amazing musicians that let their drugs get in the way.
  3. Believe it or not, the great musicians who are really working and bringing in some cash are almost universally kind, patient and hard working artists that keep their noses clean and stay focussed on their music.

Well I guess it's time to get off of my soapbox and let y'all just work it out for yourselves. If you like to get loaded once in a while and it really doesn't get in the way of the rest of your life then go ahead and do your thing. If you are sick of 'coming too' in the morning instead of waking up like the rest of the world then know that you can get your life back on track if you want to.

Feedback is welcome on this post.