150 silly saxophone proverbs

I found a link to these on Sax On the Web:
150 Sax quotes

If you don't already know about SOTW you need to check it out. SOTW is the web's largest saxophone forum.

Check out their marketplace forum if you're looking to buy or sell any sort of sax gear:
SOTW sax marketplace

You'll find good advice about any issue relating to the saxophone using the SOTW search.

There are great resources on the SOTW links page.

A good way to find your way around this huge site is the SOTW sitemap.


Joe Allard- A True Master

In my mind the two saxophone teachers that had the biggest impact on saxophonists on North America were Joe Allard and Joe Viola. Of course there are other great teachers who were/are also true masters of the horn, but many of them are more firmly based in the classical tradition.

If you look at the great Jazz players of the last generation or two who studied with one or even both of the Joe's, you'll find many of the most influential players in Jazz. Joe Viola and Joe Allard's peers were people like Marcel Mule' and Sigard Rascher, they were invited to the Selmer factory to help the development of the Mark VI and Joe Allard even designed his own Slant Link.

I only wish that I could just have one more lesson with Joe V. I have so many questions that I think only he could answer. Joe seemed to know exactly what was happening inside my mouth when I played.

Mary-Sue just turned me on to the Joe Allard web site, where some of his students write about his teaching methods. Allard's wisdom should be preserved for later generations of saxophonists. Someone should really put a site like this together for Joe Viola too.

This stuff is pure saxophone GOLD!
Joe Allard web site
Student interviews
The Master Speaks: Joe Allard video


On being emotionally present

I had a gig recently that really made me aware of the effect that emotional interaction has on Jazz performance. I felt like one of the musicians on the gig wasn't emotionally available. I know that this sounds like a talk that your needy girlfriend might want have with you but hear me out. A musician may physically be playing appropriately or mentally be thinking about what he/she is playing. If you're focusing more on the hot cocktail waitress than you are the music, then mental distraction is the result, this is musically crippling.

If a musician that you are playing with is emotionally withdrawn or depressed, you won't be able to converse on an emotional level with them. I don't just want the rhythm section to react to the musical ideas that I'm playing, I need them to project and respond to strong emotions. You might even call what I'm talking about emotional comping. They have to be willing and able to contribute vital feelings to the mix.

A musician depressive musician will have a hard time expressing joy and optimism in his playing. He might not be able to feel excited if the crowd isn't clapping or paying attention, if at all. I really want to feel palpable feelings of joy, sorrow and excitement emanating from the musicians I'm playing with, or else the gig feels like I'm screwing with a condom on (sorry kids). Give me something to work with please. Wake up and feel MUTHERF*#@%s+!!

You have to be willing to play like your life depended on it, like it's your last day alive, like your balls are on fire. Otherwise go get a job as a parking lot attendant or an accountant (sorry all you accountants out there). Being a Jazz musician requires intense emotional exertion. What if a pro football player didn't bother to run at full speed when he got the ball? Or a brain surgeon who didn't bother to really concentrate all his attention to the job on hand. Playing Jazz should feel like a matter of life and death! If everyone doesn't give 200% then the music will die on the operating table. If you never sweat or feel wiped out after a gig ,then I'd say you're trying hard enough. Even if your life totally sucks ass the time you spend playing Jazz needs to scream," I LOVE MY LIFE!!!!". Some band-leaders won't notice if you're phoning it in and are just trying to get through the gig, I do though.

The thing that separates the truly great players from to mediocre players is the ability to attain non-ordinary physical, mental and emotional states. When I go to a gig I know that I should be prepared to enter a higher mode of being from my everyday state. I try to be open to experiencing a level of emotional intensity that rarely happens when I'm not playing. Even if the gig is in a Yuppy bar in a Yuppy shopping center.

I don't think of myself as a particularly moody person, but I want to be as moody as an expectant mother or a rapid cycle bi-polar hypoglycemic. You must be willing to radiate waves of joy and then the deepest blackest sorrow in a split second. Clinging stubbornly to the mask of your ordinary persona will make you emotionally impotent and boring as hell to listen to. Hey, would the audience clap and hoot while you load the dishwasher or scoop the dog poop in the back yard. NO. No one is impressed with mundane personal chores, so don't make playing music one.

I sometimes refer to emotions with terms like radiate and emanate because when you strongly project feeling and emotion with your music it should make the listener feel as if they were a McChicken sandwich under a heat lamp keeping warm at McDonalds. If no emotional intensity is achieved then it feels like you're trying to catch a tan from a 50 watt light bulb. Chinese medicine sees all types of human experience as different manifestations of a life energy called Qi. This energy needs to circulate freely throughout the different energy bodies in order to maintain good health; emotionally, mentally and physically. Qi energy can become stagnant or blocked and all types of ailments start to set in.

  • According to Chinese medicine there are seven emotions that a person can experience: joy, anger, worry, pensiveness, sadness, fear, and fright. These are normal emotions that are reactions to various life circumstances. Only when they come on suddenly and intensely, or continue for a protracted period do they lead to pathological consequences. It should be remembered that diseases caused by the emotions arise from the interior and directly affect the corresponding organs. This is different from, for example, the Six Excesses, which cause disease by entering the body from the exterior. Thus, symptoms caused by emotional disturbances often manifest very soon after onset. Furthermore, the immediate result is a disturbance of the Qi mechanism, which if untreated causes further disharmonies depending on the affected organ(s).
  • "In this [western] culture, there’s this idea that if you suffer from depression, you should not talk about it. That makes it even worse. You’re suppressing emotions, and this causes energy to block.…If it’s blocked, you start to see symptoms, either physical or emotional. These are all manifestations of an imbalance of qi.…the key thing is to eliminate that blockage and promote the energy flow in the body, to help the energy flow smoothly.

In some cases one acupuncture session or just a good lay can help a musician more than a week of shedding. Others who are more seriously emotionally impaired may need to see a shrink for a script of mood stabilizers or elevators in order to regain emotional dynamics in their music.

You can't always just woodshed your way to the next level musically.
Many young players make this mistake. Spending 12 hours a day in the practice room will not bring emotional balance and vitality to your playing. Only truly experiencing life's tribulation and victories can make you more emotionally mature.

From now on I don't hire players who don't put out emotionally. They had also better have their Qi flowing freely.......



I recently found a web site that features 98 great trumpet solo transcriptions. The solos are from players like Clifford Brown, Chet Baker, Bill Chase, Claudio Roditi, Dave Douglas, Tom Harrell, Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan, Clark Terry, and Miles Davis. When you click a solo transcription link the transcription appears in a window that scrolls down in time as the original recording plays. This is a cool feature, unfortunately the scrolling audio clips don't contain the entire solos. You can download the complete solos in PDF format for free. The only thing wrong with this web site is that the Woody Shaw solos are missing. Were's the WOODY?!

Jazz Trumpet Solos.com


Bill McHenry- The Man.

I called Kenny Brooks a few days ago. He told me that he lives right around the corner from a club called Biscuit BBQ in Park Slope where Bill McHenry plays weekly. I checked out Bill's MySpace page as was mightily impressed. Bill plays the saxophone like a true master of the instrument. There's also a smoking live solo video posted.

I'm a sucker for a great sound and McHenry has one of the best sounds of anyone out there today. He plays with amazing sensitivity to subtle shadings of timbre and articulations.
The word that first comes to my mind when I think about how to describe his playing is Lyrical. He never sacrifices melody for technical prowess. His playing oozes emotion, and he sounds like himself.

Bill McHenry's MySpace page
Bill McHenry's home page
Bill playing Night and Day
Bill playing How High the Moon (more or less)
Live at Small's
Velvet Gentlemen


Dave Douglas defends the Bad Plus' Repetiore

The power Jazz trio Bad Plus plays some covers of some unexpected tunes and has come under harsh criticism from some British critics. Dave Douglas writes in defense of Bad Plus and makes a case for a more open view of what a 'Jazz Standard' should be.
ProgThese Are the VistasGive


Jazz Italia solo transcriptions

While looking for Bob Berg transcriptions I found a great Italian site called Jazz Italia. There is an entire page of solo transcriptions, which includes MP3s of the original recordings. There is also a page with a ton of links to Jazz blogs.

You can translate any page to English with Alta Vista's Babel Fish web page (I just added the translated feature to this blog, look below the Google ads in the left sidebar). Just type the web address into Babel Fish and the entire page will be translated into the language of your choice. This is great for all of those interesting looking but unintelligible European Jazz sites.

Jazz Italia
Jazz Italia solo transcriptions
Jazz Italia Blog links
Jazz Italia photo gallery

Charlie Mariano Tribute site

There isn't a lot of information on the web about Charlie Mariano, one of my favorite alto players of all time. Charlie has resided in Germany for the last few decades, so we don't haven't heard a lot about him over here.

I just found a Mariano tribute site that features a meticulous discography, complete biography, links to CD and concert reviews and some nice pictures.

The Charlie Mariano Tribute Site

Not Quite a Ballad
Blue Stone
Toshiko Mariano Quartet


The Devin Phillips Octet- Summertime

Last Sunday I played a gig with with Devin Phillips' octet. The lineup was alto, tenor, trumpet, bone, bari, piano, bass and drums. I did Summertime as a Tane-esque alto feature.

Here it is:


Casa Valdez Sells Out!- AdSense

I've been resisting selling out for a long time, but the time has finally come. Jazz clubs in town have been steadily closing or changing formats to pool tables and darts, or to titties. If I want to pay for my mouthpiece and reed habit then I need to do something drastic (that doesn't involve me going to jail). I hate to cheapen the noble and pure sharing of musical information with crass commercialism, but that's what I've decided to do. In about a week I'll be able to have some control over which ads go on the site, right now that's controlled by Google. The ads will eventually be directly related to the content on the blog itself. If all goes well this will only serve help readers to purchase materials relevant to blog post topics.

I wish it didn't come down to this, but I need to pay for the two Slant Links I just bought. If everyone pitches in and clicks an ad once in a while I can stay financially solvent and keep writing.

Hey, everything else on this site is F-R-E-E, so don't start whining......

The Very Best of Jazz Club

A way-too-hip-for-American-TV show sketch comedy TV show called The Fast Show features a brilliant parody segment called Jazz Club. This show is hilarious.

Best of Jazz Club

The Essential Casa Valdez

The blog format isn't the most ideal for finding and organizing older material. The Blogger search engine is unreliable at best and early articles get lost in the archives, never to be seen again. Over the past two and a half years I've posted a lot of didactic material, which I feel is the part of Casa Valdez that is most useful to the practicing Jazz musician. I've compiled all this material and formatted it into a Word document. Along with the articles I've written on harmony, practice ideas and the like, I've included some debates taken from the comments section and a few articles written by loyal readers.

This is the first stage of putting together a book. I plan to flesh out the book with many notated examples, footnotes, and more detailed explanations of a lot of the harmonic material.

If you find this initial compilation useful or if you have any comments, questions of suggestions please let me know at casavaldez@comcast.net

The Best of Casa Valdez

Dan Willis and Eric Satie

My old friend Chuck MacKinnon sent me an email this morning about tenor play Dan Hicks, who he plays trumpet with. Dan was going to be doing a radio interview about his new CD featuring the music of Eric Satie. I was able to tune in halfway through the interview and was blown away by the CD, especially by Dan's playing. His sound had warmth and complexity not usually found in a player of his age. I liked everything about his playing: time, lines, concept, technique, sound, material, intonation. He has it all. Dan moved to NYC after graduating with an oboe performance degree from Eastman school of music. He's supported his more creative projects by playing Broadway shows, studio recording and with gigs with people like Clay Aikin. Dan is also a member of John Holenbeck's large Grammy winning large ensemble. Here's a young conservatory trained player who has surpassed most of his contemporaries in breadth and depth.

Dan Willis' web site
All About Jazz article
Velvet Gentlemen