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


Gregory Dudzienski said...

Glad you dug the link...

David Carlos Valdez said...

Yes, thanks Greg.

chicken little said...

George's fatal flaw is the sax harness he wears. He looks like he works at Sam's Club or Costco.

Anonymous said...

Hi David this is just a trial to see if I can post on this site

Cheers from rural New Zealand
Ps Love your blog been enjoying it for the last 3 months.

From a real player for real players, good on Ya!

Love to know your thoughts on sound and sax playing in relation to health and well being, going by your previous posts, including your favourite books this would make a great topic for your blog.


MonksDream said...

I loved that Garzone clip. Watched all 17 minutes of it. It reminded me of a couple things that I know of to loosen up the embouchure.
1) Just blow a low note in a relaxed fashion into the horn.

2) Pick a "note of the day" each day. Let's suppose that it's "A" Then you would play your lowest A finger G# (while playing it) and then play the A and lip down to G# and back up to A. This helps relax your embouchure. One would typically continue up to whichever altissimo A's that you can play.

3) Closed tube harmonics. David's talked about these in other posts. Excellent for working on "keeping it loose."

4) The other one that I like, that's not necessarily an embouchure loosener, but more like a way to rapidly warm up is a 5-minute warm up. You start with the middle D, play "air-tone" up to the loudest possible and then back down in dynamics <>. You then work up to the second G on the saxophone chromatically. Works great!!

To cgconn - it's great to hear that people are playing some saxophone down in the land of the Kiwis. There's a lot of information on saxophone and health. Some fairly well known players started playing because of respiratory problems, and I know for a fact, that if you don't keep your mouthpiece clean and practice while sick, you can continually reinfect yourself. The Tibetan Buddhists believe that we each have a limited number of breaths in life, so one might also surmise, that, if this is true, saxophone playing, and wind instrument playing in general, should extend one's life.
Oops, another verbose posting.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jakub,

I just mean that you start with an airy tone (pp) and play up to ff for 8 counts and then bring it back down to pp for 8 counts. I found it somewhere on the net, basically a 3 to 5 minute warm-up. The guy (who I can't recall) suggests starting on second octave D and taking it up to second octave G. I've taken it a little further. I always focus on a different key each day, to try and even out my technique.

So, if I were on D or G I'd use that same excercise. For C or F, I'd start with my middle C and work up to F, C# or F#, same deal. Second Eb to second Ab. You get the picture. Keep it in that similar range as it's a very sweet part of the saxophone to warm up and set your embouchure.

Anonymous said...

Dude, the whole point is to NOT have a "set embouchure"

A sax "warm-up" aint like a trumpet or flute one--its not about the mouth, its about the throat & vocal cord-area.

You'd get more out of doing a few harmonic matching exercises & the A-G# thing "monksdream" describes-

BUT-its not for relaxing the embouchure, its for opening up your throat & relaxing the cough muscle.

If your bending the pitch with the embouchure, your doing this WRONG.

Anonymous said...

Anon, again,

Flexibilty is within the cough-muscle/throat, not the lips like flute or trumpet.

The throat is where it all happens, in saxophone, the embouchure is essentially, just a seal & shouldn't be a factor in pitch, or tone production, expt for allowing the reed to vibrate freely & un-encumbered.

I think this is what Garzone means when he talks about his young guys playing to tight.

If you embochure is too tight, you are not only stopping the reed from vibrating, but also hampering the air-throat-reed thing & adding an unecessary variable to the mix.

my 2 cents

MonksDream said...

Anonymous, another one of those people who's too scared to post their names is missing the point. If he read more closely, he'd notice that I posted both excercises.

If he doesn't think that saxophone players should warm up their embouchure in some way, fine, but everyone I know who can play their way out of a paper bag, has a method of doing so. "Setting the embouchure" is simply a manner of speaking. I'm certainly not advocating a "Set embouchure."

Anonymous needs to get a little less literal minded. Since I posted all of these excercises, I'm well aware that tone is produced with an open larynx. I'm sure that people will start arguing about this too. It's just a friggin' excercise that works for me to rapidly accustom my mouth to playing for an extended period of time.

Don't play any excercise that causes you to play too tight. If Anonymous thinks that any of these excercises are meant to be played with a tight embouchure, than he's got some serious problems.

cheers, Bill

David Carlos Valdez said...

Monk's pitch bend exercise is definitely good for loosening up the chops, and that's always a good thing.

Anonymous said...

The pitch bending exercise comes from Joe Allard & its done with the throat, not the lips.

There's a nice little video of Mr. Jerry Bergonzi, on the Rico Reeds site, were he talks of the "no embouchure" embouchure & the lip only being a factor as it is a seal & nothing else.

At my age, Im starting to think, all warm-ups can be done in the mind, before opening the case, (my goal) but that might be a little too zen.

David Carlos Valdez said...

I must publicly admit that I haven't done any sort of overtone or warm-up exercises in many years. My sound or control doesn't seem to suffer from it, though maybe it would help my less developed tenor chops. I just don't have the time or energy for this sort of thing. Maybe these sorts of exercises help you to learn how to get a good sound on the saxophone, then once you have it down they aren't needed. Maybe I would need these exercises more if I didn't play as much as I do.

I really put some serious time in on overtone exercises at one point in my life. I heartily recommend them to my students.

Nowadays I warm up on the gig. I find now that the thing that takes time for me to warm up is just getting loose with my ideas.

David Carlos Valdez said...

OK no more anon comments from now on.

If you want to throw in your two cents then we want to know who's throwing.

MonksDream said...

Well, I have to say, that, seeing as I sometimes go a few days without practicing, the warm-ups are helpful to prevent me from blowing my chops out too fast. Overtone excercises can cause a rough tone, but if you're trying to extend your altissimo higher, I'd say it's the best way to go. Throat, lip, whatever works, I say.