Jazz Corner's Jazz Vision- Streaming Videos

Bill Mithoefer (Monk'sDream) hipped me to a cool streaming Jazz video site called JazzVision.com, which is part of the Jazz Corner network. It's the first dedicated video sharing and video networking site dedicated to Jazz. It's nice not to have to filter through all the swearing baby, nervous hamster and gnad cruncher videos like on YouTube. Thanks Bill.


Ellington on the web-"I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Links"

David Palmquist has put together the most comprehensive set of Duke Ellington web links on the planet. He has hundreds of links in categories like- On Ellington Himself, Strayhorn, Female Vocalists, Male Vocalists, Reedmen, Trumpets, Trombones, Multiple Ellintonians, Arrangers/Producers, Sites Focused On the Music of Ellington or Strayhorn, Ellington Societies or Newsletters, Ellington Recordings, Online Ellington Recordings and Books, Scores and Sheet Music, and Miscellaneous.

Ya' think David Palmquist likes Ellington?

Ellington on the web


Garzone video interview- Arthouse Music

Casa Valdez reader Dudz sent me thins link of a George Garzone video on the great Arthouse Music web site talking about the triadic system that he teaches his students to enhance their improvisation skills. He describes some practice techniques for improving improvisation skills. He also discusses technique for playing more relaxed so a student can open up the sound that is produced and how he teaches his students to develop a melody without over-articulating.

I hear many talented young players these days who over-articulate. This makes even the hippest lines sound corny, stiff and white. There's sax teacher here in Portland who's students all sound like this. The Sufis say that every teacher has a fatal flaw that is there for their students to learn from. I still haven't figured out what George's fatal flaw is yet. I love his 8th note feel because he swings so f*$%@g hard while sounding totally relaxed and fluid.

"Don't use your tongue...stop that tonguing!"- George Garzone

Garzone video clip
Arthouse Music

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!!!


Stefan Kac's 'My Fickle Ears Dig It' website

One of my readers, tuba player Stefan Kac, is hosting a great blog called My Fickle Ears Dig It. Stefan has written some fascinating articles about the philosophy of music. His latest post is called The Art of Socializing and talks about music as a social art. Some of Stefan's other posts are The Abstract is Real, Arnold Schoenberg and Stan Kenton, Identity, and The Case Against Audience Tampering. Keep up the great work Stefan!

Sax pornography

Monk'sDream sent me a link to a SBA alto from Ralph Morgan's personal collection that was make especially for the Selmer's head designer. Dave the Junk Dude is selling this horn on his site. This horn was a unique prototype for the Mark VI and is about the most beautiful alto I've even seen. Before you look at the pics you may want to put a towel over your keyboard so you don't get drool all over it.

Ralph Morgan's SBA alto

Larry's Improv Page

Sammy Epstein turned me on to Larry's Improv Page today. This page is put together by Tony Micelli and named after his teacher the great tenor player Larry McKenna. This site is LOADED with great material. There's podcast interviews with great players, tons of interesting PDF lessons, a Lick of the Day page, blog, great Jazz links, funny page and a lot more. Who is this guy Tony Micelli!? His site makes Casa Valdez look like a tiny hole in the wall Jazz taqueria. Jeeeesh!
Overachievers like Tony suck, they make underachievers like me look and feel bad.


A pain in the neck!

I apologize to my regular readers for slacking off recently. I've been having problems with my tenor and I'm about to take drastic measures to resolve them. First of all the Rigotti reeds I use were out of stock for a long time. Roberto's finally got some in and I ordered three boxes, thinking that would hold me for a little while. I immediately went though all 30 reeds without finding a single good reed. This is something that has never happened to me with this brand. I was so looking forward to feeling good about playing tenor and this was a major blow to my little feeling. Sometimes it does seem like in order to be truly happy I need to have at least one good reed. I know that this is not a healthy way to react to this relatively small problem (in the grand scheme of things). It would be like if an opera singer would sometimes wake up one day and, lo and behold, she sounded like Rachel Ray and Mose Allison's lovechild.

For some reason a good tenor reed is much harder for me to find than a good alto reed is. Does Riggoti use all their best cane on the smaller reeds? It sure seems that way. Even worse than my reed problems are the problems that I'm having with my neck (sax neck that is). It took me a little while after first getting my horn to notice, but at some point my neck was pulled down. You see slightly feel a small crease on the side and some of the lacquer on the sides has also come off. I feel that this causes my horn to have less centered intonation that it should have. The overtones don't match, meaning that the overtones are out of tune with the corresponding regularly fingered notes. The horn has a warn, fat and beefy sound but it's too hard to play it in tune. At first I thought it was just me (which of course is partially is) because I hadn't been playing tenor as long as I had played alto. After having other people try it with other necks I accepted the fact that some of my problems are due to the neck.

A couple of weeks ago I brought my horn in to a local sax tech and had him try to pull the neck back to where it originally was. It moved up a half an inch and the result was even more unstable intonation than before. While looking at a tuner I could play every note right in tune, but it didn't feel as centered as I would have liked. New Mark VI neck go for as high as $1700, no kidding. It's insane. I might be able to get lucky and find a beater for $600, but I wouldn't be able to try it first to see if it's any better than mine. Besides, I don't really have an extra $600 to drop on a neck.

I've experienced neck problems with other horns in the past and found that a different neck can change everything about the way a horn sounds and feels. Changing necks can make your horn brighter or darker, stuffier or more free-blowing. They can change the response, intonation and timbre. Now days there are a lot of after market necks being. I've tried several different brands and most seemed to be worse than the original necks. Oleg's necks for instance are pretty awful. There are even some wood necks being made now by a few different companies. I have yet to try one of these.

There are guys who say that you can made a neck better by super-freezing it. This changes the molecular structure of the neck. There are other more woo-woo techs who think that they can make a neck better by making tiny scraping on the inside on the neck. One of the first thing to try if you're having problem that you think are related to your neck is to have someone who knows what they're doing refit your neck so that it makes a tight and even seal in your horn. A loose neck can cause some major problems over the entire range of the horn, so can one that isn't even fitting.

I'm now looking to trade my whole horn in for a different Mark VI. I may have found one. What a pain in the neck.