Steve Neff- Nefertiti

I reconnected with Steve Neff on the Sax on the web forum (where he is know as Nefertiti) when I sold him an hard rubber Otto Link alto mouthpiece. We both went to Berklee in the late 80's and studied with many of the same teachers. After I sold Steve the Otto Link I checked out his website and was pretty impressed. The site was geared toward education and had a lot of interesting material on it. Steve has recorded himself playing a bunch of different alto and tenor mouthpieces (and posted them on his site. I think they are very helpful for players who would like to hear the differences between the top brands before they lay out the big bucks.

Steve has written some Jazz practice books that I think are some of the best of their kind. Steve's books are practical, they are meant to give the player a workout.

His first two books deal with Major ii-V7 I patterns and minor ii-V7 I patterns. Each book has about 80 different patterns in all keys (one pattern to a page). These patterns are just nice traditional sounding Bebop lines, not too bland and not too outside. These are perfect for getting students more comfortable navigating through ii-V7 progressions. They are also 'non-descript' enough to use without anyone being able to tell where you got them from.

The next two are called Approach Note Velocity- Major and Approach Note Velocity- Minor. Here Steve goes through every key and explores different chromatic approaches to chord tones . The closest thing to this book on the market is Joe Viola's Technique of the Saxophone- Chord Studies. Steve's books are much more geared toward the Be-Bop player the Joe V's book. Practicing chromatic approaches is essential to being able to create interesting Bop lines and this is the first book that I've seen that isolates this one aspect of improvisation. This stuff isn't groundbreaking in it's basic content, but it's just what students need to work on in order to master this aspect of improvising.

Steve is just now finishing his fifth book called Mastering the Dominant Be-Bop Scale. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this one when it comes out. Here is Seve's own description of his new book:
"The dominant bebop scale is an essential tool in playing jazz. It is used all over the place in jazz music. If your transcribing jazz solos you won't have to go long before you find some variation of this scale being used. In my Approach Note Books I tackled Major and Minor tonalities pretty thoroughly. In this book I focus on the dominant tonality and what to play over it. The book starts out with the basic dominant bebop scale. the next section deals with what I call "Bebop Scale Links". These are small phrases or patterns that can be inserted into the bebop line to add variation. The next section deals with "Dominant Resolution Links". These can be added to the bebop scale when the dominant chord is resolving down a fifth. The last section of the book I write about how to use and practice these scales and links over a standard blues progression. I provide a 4 chorus blues solo to demonstrate."
I'm always looking for these sorts of books for own personal practice regime (as pathetic as it is). There are several things I look for when buying a Jazz practice book.
  1. Will it be fun to play out of?
  2. Will I be able to use it without getting sick of it immediately?
  3. Will it actually help my playing in some way?
  4. Is it different the books that are already out there?
  5. Will it be something that I can use with my students?
  6. Will I actually use it?
In the case of Steve's books the answers to all these questions is yes. I'm definitely looking forward to shedding these books.

You can download PDFs of Steve's books for a reasonable price right from his website.
Steve Neff's home page
Steve's mouthpiece clips
The Best Major II-V-I Patterns
Approach Note Books

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