Telling a Story- Joel Frahm Master Class

Last week I was in the Czech Republic teaching at the Prague International Summer Jazz Workshop. It was an amazing experience all the way around- teachers staff, students, the city; everything was fantastic. The two other saxophone teachers just happened to be two of my favorite saxophonists on the planet. The first, Joel Frahm, is a rising tenor star on the NYC scene. The first thing that attracted me about Joel's playing was his sound, which to me is the ideal tenor sound. The recordings that I'd heard of Joel before the workshop sounded very good, though a little tame. I wasn't prepared for the monstrous saxophonist that I head in person. Joel really has it all; huge warm sound, ridiculous technique, hard swinging feel, total awareness of tradition, melodic sense, expressive ability, and modern post-bop facility. He's also warm, generous and entertaining guy. Hanging with Joel, and the other teachers, for a week had quite an effect on my teaching style and on my musical concept in general.

The other saxophonist was a Hungarian alto saxophonist from Budapest named Kristof Basco. I had run across Kristof's MySpace page about a year or two ago. After listening to the pages of literally hundreds saxophonists from all over the world I found Kristof to be one of the most interesting alto players I had ever heard, easily my favorite cat in all of Europe. Kristof studied at Berklee about 10 years after I did, spent some time in NYC and then moved back home to Budapest. He thinks like a composer when constructing his solos, building them thoughtfully and slowly. He's one of the few players to really have a complete awareness of motivic development. His tone is dark and rich, one of the few guys with what I consider to be a real alto sound.

I plan on doing interviews in the future for this blog with both of these saxophonists, so keep checking back.

Joel gave a very inspiring master class during the workshop called Telling a Story. I think it was definitely one of the most interesting master classes I have ever attended. Angus Grundy, one of the students in my combo class, recorded it and then made detailed notes on time markings and topics.

Telling a Story- Joel Frahm's Master Class
Notes to Joel Frahm's Master Class

Joel Frahm's home page

Czech Jazz Society
Paval Wlosok photography.


The Minutes Go Like Hours When You SIng

Here's a very funny song about that singer who always wants to sit in on the gig. This is a classic.

The Minutes Go Like Hours When You Sing


David McGillicuddy's guitar lessons on YouTube

Here are some nice guitar lessons that my buddy David just posted on YouTube:

McGillicuddy's guitar lessons


New Matt Otto album- download for donation

My old buddy Matt Otto just posted another entire album on his blog. Otto is a sideman on this project and the band leader is Josh Welchez. It's called Lost and Found.

He's doing another "download for donation" a la Radio Head. If you like the music you are invited to donate however much you feel it's worth to you, no pressure. I always love everything Matt does. I can't wait to listen to this stuff, maybe when everything calms down a little....

Lost and Found

Document for Prague International Summer Jazz Workshop

I put together a PDF document with a lot of my articles on harmony and improvisation, as well as key material from other books. This will be the material that I'll be having my students work from during the International Prague Summer Jazz Workshop, which begins this coming weekend.

I will continue to add to this document in the future, but there's a lot of useful material here already.

Casa Valdez Jazz Workshop Document


Friends, stress, moving and travelling

That's for all the great comments and friend requests on Facebook. I haven't had much time to respond to all of you because my life has been incredibly stressful lately. If you're thinking about buying or selling a house right now- DON'T. I've spent everyday on the phone over the last few months with real estate agents, mortgage brokers, roofers, painters, city planners, contractors, and window guys. It has been getting more and more insane and as we're getting closer to closing on the house we're selling and the house we're buying. All the regulations for appraisers and lenders has just recently changed and we're the first batch of people to get screwed by them. I never want to go through this hellish torture again for the rest of my life.

If everything goes as planned, and so far nothing has, I'll be signing papers and moving next Tuesday. Thursday I leave to teach at the Prague International Summer Jazz Workshop. No pressure or anything.

I've commissioned Dan Gaynor to arrange a bunch more three horn charts for me, which I'll be posting here for all of you, most of these new charts are Lawrence Williams originals. Keep checking back because I'll be posting this material soon.