12/23/07

Adolphe Sax, Konitz & Readers sound off

I've been in a barren period lately as far as writing for this blog. I see by my site meter that my numbers are slowly dropping, which usually happens when I slow down. Even my dad commented to me today that not much was happening at Casa Valdez. I'd like to hear from you readers. Have you guys found anything interesting on the net lately? Learned anything profound from a teacher? Read any good books? Have any questions about a particular topic? Seen any good YouTube vids? Have any gear issues? Want to rant about something? You can see I'm at a loss for topics at the moment. Often I find the discussions and debates that happen in the comments sections the most interesting part of this blog, so don't be so passive and help me out here.

I am reading two very interesting books right now, The Devil's Horn and Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improviser's Art. The first book is a thorough history of the Saxophone from it's invention to the present. I've never read as much about Adolfe Sax and his trials and tribulations. He died in poverty after being persecuted by ruthless competing instrument makers used every nasty trick to ruin him. I'm still reading about the early 20th century and the meteoric rise of the sax in America. It seemed that back then there were as many sax quartets and all-sax orchestras as there are garage rock bands now. Most big companies had a sax quartet to boost morale. If you were a good saxophonist then you even had a much better chance of getting a good job. These aattb sax quartets were the precursors to the swing band sax section. It's hard for me to imagine how a sax quartet like the Brown Brothers could be what a rock stars are today. These guys were making $1000 a week almost a century ago!

Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improviser's Art is an entire book of interviews with the master. In this book Lee talks about his days with Lennie Tristano's group, opening for Bird, working with Miles Davis, his early development as an improviser, his composing, the music business, and much more. This is a great read even if you aren't a huge Konitz fan, and you'd be developmentally disabled if you weren't (see how PC I am since I was chastised by an angry reader for calling someone a retard, I really meant Lame-o). Lee is still playing his ass off in his eightieth decade and his experience as a Jazz musician is invaluable to any young player. Lee's thoughts on improvising really made my think about my entire approach to playing. He talks about how he doesn't consider himself a virtuoso, like Chris Potter, who can captivate an entire audience in rapt attention. He never tries to force any emotion into his music, he just tries to develop good melodies. Lee seems to be very concerned with musical purity and doesn't ever compromise his approach just to please an audience.

Put these books on your Amazon wish list if you want something interesting to read over the holidays. Let me hear from you guys!!!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

David,
Thanks for all the great info over the past year. I have really enjoyed seeing how a "fellow traveler" in the sax world thinks. Here's something interesting I have come across:
www.artistshousemusic.org
There are interesting interviews including one with Garzone in which he discusses the "Triadic Theory"
Cool stuf.

Thanks again and keep up the great work...
Dudz

Anonymous said...

David,
Thanks for all the great info over the past year. I have really enjoyed seeing how a "fellow traveler" in the sax world thinks. Here's something interesting I have come across:
www.artistshousemusic.org
There are interesting interviews including one with Garzone in which he discusses the "Triadic Theory"
Cool stuff.

Thanks again and keep up the great work...
Dudz

Olie Brice said...

olie brice said...

I read that Konitz book recently. I am biased, as he is probably my favourite musician, but I found it fascinating.

I often see references to Lee Konitz's best work having been in the 50s. I find that strange, although I love the early stuff I think hes got better and better. It might be blasphemous, but I reckon most of his 'steeplechase' albums are even greater than 'motion'.

David Carlos Valdez said...

Olie,
I totally agree. In the book Lee talks about the same thing. He says that today he can, for example, play over Cherokee must faster than he ever could have back in the 50's. Motion was great, but he has just kept getting better.