The legacy of Trane- intensity

In the day to day grind of making a living performing, musicians too often forget some of the more noble reasons they decided to be a musician in the first place. Even if the musicians working with you are outstanding, the very act of playing for unresponsive listeners can easily dull the higher aspirations. For most of us out here in the musical trenches it can be difficult to keep the inspiration flowing at 'cocktail enhancement/Jazz wallpaper' gigs. That does not mean that in cannot be done in these sort of situations, it just takes a bit more focus.

When I'm about to play a particularly musically demanding gig with players who are at or above my level I will mentally prepare for it the entire day, or even for several days. I become less talkative and my wife will usually notice a faraway look in my eye. The bigger the gig, the more mental preparation needed. I may even practice more before a big concert, god forbid! I really try to do my best to prepare myself to unleash all the mental, emotional and spiritual energies that I can possibly muster.

I grew up sitting in the front row of the great Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, where I watched many Jazz legends perform just a few feet away from me. I would vacuum up the club and get free tickets to every show. One of the things that always struck me was just how much these masters exerted themselves when they performed. They were often soaked with sweat and had to change shirts on the breaks. It seemed like they were having intense gut wrenching emotional upheavals onstage. They were working themselves up to a level of intensity that the average person only feels in life or death situations or in the last mile of a marathon. Inner cauldrons were boiling over onstage and the audience felt the radiation raw energy as they listened to the music.

As a teacher it's difficult for me to communicate to my students the importance of this type of intensity when playing Jazz. I can't just say," stop functioning in that ordinary mode of normal consciousness", or," this time try to have a religious experience this time and break the restricting bonds of your ego awareness". I often don't see these students making any attempt to make the leap to this higher level of intensity. If you're operating at the same level of emotional and mental intensity when you're reading the paper as when you're on the bandstand then something is dreadfully wrong. It's like beginning a triathlon with the same attitude as you have when you're about to take your dog for walk. Creative improvisation takes every ounce of energy that you can possibly muster!

If there's one thing that bothers me the most about many young players it's this, they may be highly proficient, but that 'extra gear' is just not here. I'm not interested in what someone came up with while in the wood shed while messing around with three-tonic digital patterns. I don't want to see you pick up your axe and start playing with the same flat affect that you always have. I want to see sweat dripping off you like a summer monsoon. I want to see your body tremble and your eyes roll back into your head. I want some gran mal seizures at the piano! Where are the bursting blood vessles? Where are the demonic groans?

Don't be polite, did you find god or not!?

This is life or death here people!

This thing isn't for you if you're not willing to unearth your darkest feelings in front of a room full of strangers. Didn't Trane teach us ANYTHING!?!?!


Neff's Sax Intonation Chart

Saxophonist Steve Neff just sent me his chart for mapping the intonation of each note on the saxophone. I think that this is a great idea, what sax player doesn't need help with their intonation?

Neff's graph plots pitch on the vertical, from 35 cents flat to 35 cents sharp. On the horizontal is each note from low Bb to high F sharp. The idea is to check each note with a tuner and plot a graph for the entire range of your horn. Try not to look at the tuner until your pitch is stabilized, better yet, have a friend take the readings without you looking the tuner at all.

You can also use different color pens to plot more than one mouthpiece or horn on the same graph for the sake of comparison.

After you've completed your intonation graph you'll be able to make better decisions about what you need to change to play in tune. You may find that you need to be more aware of certain notes and lip them down or vent keys to bring them up. You may decide that more drastic measures are needed, like changing the key height regulation or building up the insides of tone holes. Once you see how bad your intonation is you may even decide to trade in your horn for something that plays in tune better, or trade it in for an auto-harp or an ocarina if it looks too hopeless.

Seriously though, you can't spend too much time dialing in your intonation, plotting it out like this can help to clarify what's going on. This information may not be all that pleasant to learn, but it's better to face the hard facts- YOU SUCK! Just kidding, though that's how I felt after I bought my virtual strobe tuner.

Here's an example of a completed chart, the Meyer piece is plotted in blue and the Jody Jazz piece is in red:

Here is a link to download a blank graph: Neff's Sax Intonation Graph

You can download online lessons, on this topic and many others, from Neff's web site for a reasonable fee. Thanks Steve!

Massive Japanese collection of transcriptions!!!

Shunzo just sent me a couple volumes of Jazz saxophone transcription collections. These PDF documents are really just compilations of published material from a lot of different sources (like Charles MacNeal).

Don't tell anyone that you got these from me, ok.? ;-)

Jazz Horn I

Walter Bishop poem

Here's an entertaining poem about Be-Bop and Max Roach written and performed by the great Walter Bishop jr.

Max the Invincible Roach

Thanks Dan Gaynor!


Joe Lovano's Baker's Dozen Trane tracks

If you had to pick your thirteen favorite Coltrane tracks what would they be?

Jazz.com has an Lovano's picks, as well as a detailed explanation about each one.

My picks would have surely looked quite different than these. Not one track from Ballads or from Crescent made the list ! These albums are the pinnacles of Western civilization in my book. I guess Joe is entitled to his opinions, I'm just disappointed in him.

Lovano Selects Coltrane


Tenor Transcriptions

Shunzo sent me these transcriptions that he made of some very nice solos. He wanted me to check them over. There are a few minor things, but they look pretty close to me.

Grossman's Bye Bye Black Bird transcription

Bye Bye Blackbird MP3

Bergonzi's Surrender transcription
Bergonzi's Surrender MP3

Sonny Rollins' Strode Rode transcription
Strode Rode MP3

Berklee Arranging Course

Berklee Arranging Course


Shunzo, an old student of mine who now lives in Japan, sent me some great stuff recently. Way back almost 13 years ago I had him working out of a book by an old teacher of mine. This book has long since gone out of print and I thought that I'd never find it again. The book featured very nice Jazz phrases over several different types of chords. There were a page of different phrases for each key. What Shunzo has done is transpose every phrase to every key. This gives around 144 great phrases in every key for each type of chord, a gold mine of ideas.

Well done Shunzo san!

Half Diminished
Minor 7th

Check out Shunzo's great Saxophilia site. He has a ton of great mouthpieces for sale.

Eb Real Book PDFs

You guys requested these, so here they are:

Eb Real Book 5th edition Vol.I
Eb Real Book 5th edition Vol.II


Music Agreement

My buddy Markos just sent me a musical contract that is more detailed and more legally binding than the last contract I posted. The only thing I would take out is the part about musicians agreeing to wear ties. :-)

Musical Agreement.doc
Musical Agreement.docx

Thanks Markos!


General music contract

Here's a general contract for a musical performance that I sometimes use.

Click on the graphic for a full size version, then drag to your desktop or right clip and copy file to desktop.


Mosher Exposure- by Tim Price

It's really the commitment that matters, Jimmy Mosher was one of the most inventive and articulate sax players in jazz. He built his choruses on each other with dizzying creativity; the flow of ideas were one of a kind.

Sadly overlooked by the jazz press, and powers that should be, Mosher's incredible subtlety in addition to his astonishing sound conception, set him apart from other saxophonists. Jimmy got the listener to concentrate on how he shaped musical ideas and on the way he manipulates notes with distinctive lines and a story within. The tracks Valdez sent are pure Mosher and just the inspiration and kick in the pants I need this summer. I loved Jimmy. (can you tell ) and he had hard times,but kept playing. Creating and doing the thing. Jimmy is pure genius, and the boss!

Jimmy Mosher was one of the most adventurous, cliche-free and unpredictable of all time. No one played with more impeccable logic, executed with better technique or offered a truer sound, pure and direct and rich, warm and soulful.He is the omega of saxophonists, but he should also be considered the alpha by anyone who hopes to play the instrument. He taught lots of folks and is fondly remembered by players worldwide.

Jimmy had a big band MOSHER-FONTAINE that had the essence of big band within an ensemble that was loose and open. ( Jimmy Derba should be thought of too ) One of the more original big bands ever!

Jimmy Mosher did it all, as few others ever have, if truth be known with originality and unique brilliance. His intensity and blues heat often transcended bebop with confidence, control, kaleidoscopic yet always relevant virtuosity, and exalting soulfulness. I'll never forget Mosher nor will I ever stop praising his gifts. I was one lucky guy to have been exposed to him back in my Boston days


Jimmy Mosher- A True Voice

My first private saxophone teacher when I got to Berklee was a salty but gentle alto player by the name of Jimmy Mosher, who at that time was also head of the woodwind department. I was a bit of a know it all punk and had a lot of bad habits that needed to be corrected. When Jimmy tried to get me to change my embouchure completely I was like, "Who the hell are you? This is the way I play and it obviously is working for me." Mosher was a kind and gentle man and never took offense at these outbursts of youthful arrogance. He would just smile, knowing that I probably wouldn't find my voice for at least another twenty years.

I had already gone through my Bird phase and my Phil Woods phase and had it set in my mind that I was going to be an INNOVATOR like Trane, not and imitator. Half way through the semester I still hadn't yet heard Jimmy really play, other than just a few examples in my lessons.
As my buddy Warren Rand said," Jimmy didn't act like he was nearly the bad ass that he was". I remember telling Jimmy that I didn't want to be just another Bird imitator, not even realizing how much he idolized Bird himself. Jimmy certainly wasn't just a Bird clone, though he was firmly rooted in Bebop. He was a true stylist in his own right, one of those players who you can pick out after just a few notes. After all how could I, or anyone for that matter, really innovate at the ripe old age of nineteen?

Toward the end of our first semester together Jimmy decided that I was too stubborn to listen to him. He told me," I'm going to send you over to the old man (Joe Viola), he'll know what to do (how to deal) with you." At that time Joe V was semi-retired and never took freshman saxophone students. Jimmy pulled some strings and the next semester I began my studies with Joe Viloa. When I look back on the situation I wonder if I would have listened to him more had I known that he was one of the baddest saxophonists walking the planet.

At some point that year I got the news that Jimmy was battling cancer, which had been discovered only after it had metastasized into his bones and all throughout his body. I realized that he must have been in terrible pain while I had been studying with him, and not just grumpy.
Jimmy passed away in the summer of 1987.

Several months ago Jimmy's widow Annette emailed me, she had run across my name while Googling Jimmy. We became email buddies and have kept in touch since then. Annette now lives in Belgium and works as a hospitality trainer for an upscale hotel chain, traveling all over the world for the company. I had thought that she must have some unreleased recording of Jimmy somewhere, but alas she did not. She told me about the albums that Jimmy released under his own name and I bought them on eBay. They were good, but Jimmy really didn't stretch much.

A month or two ago I get an email from someone else who had run accross me (probably this blog) while searching for Jimmy. This guy happened to be an old friend/fan of Jimmy's and had recorded many hours of live shows of Jimmy's band with Mick Goodrick. He promised to send me the recordings after he transfered them to digital format.

Last week I this package in the mail and when I open it lo and behold, it's thirteen CDs of live Jimmy Mosher/Mick Goodrick bootlegs! I could not believe my good fortune and was totally estatic when I actually listened to them. It was some of the most killing alto playing I had ever heard in my life. Jimmy had it all, an amazing sound, fluent lines, great time, a highly advanced harmonic concept, blistering technique, and loads of SOUL.To my ear Jimmy sounded like the best parts of Bird, Charlie Mariano, Charles McPherson and Bob Mover all rolled up into one. He had a voice all of his own also, obviously a true master of the Jazz saxophone (of which there are only a handful).

Hearing these recording of Jimmy was a major shock to my system. I had been listening to a lot of Konitz and Warne Marsh, as well as reading a book of Konitz interviews. Here Jimmy was barrelling through his solos on fire and with intense wailing emotion, almost the polar opposite of Lee. Jimmy's playing just made me think to myself," That's it. That is IT!". I was as excited again about music as I was as a teenager.

I wrote some questions that I had about Jimmy Annette. Here they are:

DV: Where did Jimmy go to school?

AM: At Lynn Classical High School, Lynn, MA. He got into trouble wearing a black arm band to school on the day that Charlie Parker died. Evidently, the principal was not a jazz lover. I later taught at that same school for 20 years.

DV: What was his first big gig?

AM: Don't know for sure. He had a Big Band with Paul Fontaine while they were in high school (trumpet player also on the Buddy Rich band later on). They used to rehearse in the cellar of Mosher's Music Store, which was run by his mother after his father passed away. This is when I first met Jimmy - I used to take yoga
classes with his mother, who was a very hep lady. I thought he was a
real snob at the time.

DV: Who were some of the people he played with?

AM: Well, first big gigs were with Woody Herman (New Swingin' Herman Herd). Album recorded March 22, 1960. He was just a kid then and played baritone sax mostly. Paul Fontaine was also on that band. Of course, there were the seven years with the Buddy Rich band when he was lead alto. Many albums. The most famous for Jimmy was on the album "A Different Drummer" when he did "Chelsea Bridge" and a really wonderful thing called "Pipe Dreams", that was arranged for Jimmy by
John LaBarbara, whose brother Pat also played on that album - "Straight, No Chaser" on tenor sax. He also appeared on the Johnny Carson show with Buddy's band.

On his own first album, he dedicated "A Chick from Chelsea" to Chick Corea. He produced the album at Chick's studio in California. Jimmy knew Chick from the old days - Chick grew up in Chelsea, Ma. and Jimmy had wonderful relationship with Chick's mom and dad. Chick's dad, Armando, played trumpet and was a wonderful man. He would come often with his wife to hear Jimmy play in the clubs in Boston.

Bert Seager did an album called "Time to Burn" which featured Jimmy. One of my favorite tunes from that album was called "Mosher Exposure". Maggie Scott released an album with a beautiful solo by Jimmy on "Yesterday, I Heard the Rain."

He played for many years on the Herb Pomeroy band. (Herb recently passed away, unfortunately.) Herb taught at Berklee also, and the band was a powerhouse of Berklee faculty - ex Buddy Rich guys. Gordy Brisker wrote a fantastic high powered arrangement of the Mario Lanza tune "Be My Love" for Jimmy. This one always got him a standing ovation. Unfortunately, as far as I know it was never recorded - unless someone did this at a club.

While I dated, later married Jimmy, I heard him play in a zillion clubs (East & West Coast) - some of the people I remember were Tom Harrell, Max Roach. (I will need to go through my cassettes to see some of the others). He was always Mel Torme's choice for back up sax, whenever he played in Boston (usually at Symphony Hall).

DV:Where and when was he born?

AM: Born in Lynn, Ma. He was a Pisces. He was only 49 when he died in 1987 on May 5th. I will let you do the math. His dad died at the same age. He always told me that he would never see 50.

DV: What are the details of gig with Buddy Rich?

AM: Lots of funny. Sad stories. Not sure I can tell you most of them. They loved each other. When Jimmy was ill, so was Buddy with a brain tumor. Buddy died on 4/4 and Jimmy on 5/5 - perfect time, as always. I remember that when they were both sick, they were on the phone one day and I overheard them arguing about which of them looked more like Humphrey Bogart.

DV: When did he play with Dizzy and how did that happen?

AM: That was before me, so I am not sure. I do have a wonderful photo of Dizzy and Bill Cosby that Jimmy left me. They're sitting on a beach somewhere wonderful.

DV: How long did teach at Berklee and how long was woodwind chairman?

AM: I will have to find out the number of years - it was long time. He became chairman when Joe Viola retired, and that was very short time before he became ill in 1987. He LOVED Joe Viola and John La Porta. When we were married, they put together a classical quintet and played Jimmy's Life at the wedding. It was wonderful - sad and hysterical.

DV: What did you think when you first heard Jimmy play?

AM: I heard him on the Jazz Boat that used to cruise in Boston Harbor. It was my birthday and I took the cruise on a whim, not knowing that Herb's band was there. Jimmy gave me an autographed copy of his first album. We had known each other many years earlier, but I had not seen him in many years. I missed his drinking years, and he was six years sober that night on the boat. So, we talked a lot during the breaks.

The first tune I heard him play was "Come Rain or Come Shine". I thought it was the most sensuous, soulful thing I had ever heard. I remember crying in the dark. I had no idea that I was falling in love. The other tune I remember always is "If I should lose you".

DV: How did Jimmy pass?

AM: Jimmy died on May 5,1987. When they discovered the cancer just before Christmas, it was in the bones - so already very painful. They never discovered the primary site (evidently bone cancer is always a secondary site). Jimmy gave me two kittens just before he became ill. I still have the male, Pepe, who is now 22 years old. Pretty old for a cat - but still pretty feisty. When Pepe was tiny, he was all black except for some weird white hairs sticking out of his back. Jimmy named him
Pepe Le Pew, because his father must have been a skunk. He absolutely loved cartoons.

DV: Did Jimmy say anything that you remember about his group with Mick?

AM: Jimmy loved those gigs - especially Mick. He loved playing straight-ahead bebop and he loved playing sensitive ballads. Mick is a very subtle sensitive player, so together they were awesome. .

DV: Did Jimmy write any tunes, if so do you have any of them?

AM: Yes, one of them was on the CD set I just got - "Why did I call you?" He also wrote a lot of arrangements for Herb's band. I will look for some more and let you know.

DV: Anything that you can remember saying about his musical concept?
AM: I remember that Stan Getz told me once that he was happy that Jimmy never chose to play tenor. Jimmy had two heroes - Bird and Charlie Mariano. I once asked him how he improvised - he said that he sees the music staff stretched out in front of him horizontally and he just weaves in and out through the chord structure.

DV: Anything that you can remember saying about his students or young players in general?

AM: Sometimes his students would exasperate him when they asked him to teach them some of Bird's licks. They didn't want to practice scales, just do licks. That really upset him. Also, they wanted to play a lot of really fast stuff that involved circular breathing. He used to say that there was also music in the silences. It was about quality, not quantity.

He had some wonderful young (at the time) students who were really talented and he would use them in his local gigs. One of them was Grey Sargent, who has been playing many years now with Tony Bennett. When Jimmy was in the hospital, it was Grey who helped me move all of Jimmy's stuff to the new apartment in Boston.

DV: Do you remember Jimmy practicing much?

AM: Only with Herb's band. I am sure he practiced a lot, but never when I was home. He also played very good piano. We got to a gig at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston on a very snowy evening. Woody Herman was coming to sit in!! He had pretty much retired by then. Anyway, the piano player was caught in the storm, so Jimmy sat down and played piano for the first half of the gig. I never knew he could play piano, and he said he couldn't. But that is not what I heard.

DV: I was told that Jimmy made it out here to Portland, Oregon in the 80's.

AM: Yes, I came out with him too. We had some very good friends there - the Kinhan family. Their daughter was at Berklee. She had a fabulous voice and Jimmy played for her at her graduation concert (note: this is Lauren Kinhan of New York Voices) . Her Dad was a big jazz fan. If I can find anything from Portland, I will try to send more information. We also went to Montreal on our honeymoon. Of course, he had a gig there which Bobby Mover fixed up for him.

Jimmy also hooked up with an agent in the U.K. and one summer he did an entire tour with local rhythm sections - I was his roadie! The tour went all through England & Scotland. It was very funny because we followed Archie Shepp - coming right after him in many clubs. Club owners kept telling me how different the two of them were. Jimmy was such a gentleman. He rehearsed with the local guys during the day, while I did the tourist thing. Haven't thought of that trip in a long time. Great memories.


Here is the email I received back from David Lee, the friend of Jimmy's and Mick's that recorded all their live shows, after I thanked him for sending me the recordings:
"I'm so glad you have them in your hands. I know you don't have to even mention what it means, I'm only glad I can share this. I have known from the moment I first heard Jimmy and Mick that there were depths of understanding that would take me years to appreciate, no less understand. I have kept them all these years as my own life as a player has moved to some worthy point of convergence. Having listened to these again, quite a bit, I hear the answers to so many questions I have from phrasing to places to go when there doesn't seem to be a place to go... And then there's the relaxed camaraderie of such great musicians having a great time. There's humour, and conversation and mastery; played for the moment and caught by chance on a cassette.

I know Mick wouldn't mind your posting these, he just passed some links of European recordings he made with Tom Harrell and some with Jerry Bergonzi and it seems the Europeans a
re a lot less hung up about sharing their treasures. I'll send you the links at the end. He was happy that he could share them. Yes, put them out there. Everyone I've ever talked with remembers Jimmy fondly (for all his irascibility) and sees him as one of the criminally overlooked talents of all times. I knew him as a true conduit from "old school" to the most modern voices as they were being realized. Speaking of voices, I don't know whether I'd conveyed this story but a few months ago I was having lunch with Mick and I told him my frustration of sending some of my students to start at Berklee before they'd found their voice, how I'd hoped they wouldn't lose their fragile tendencies during their academic years. He said to me "they're not going to find their voice so don't bother. Jimmy told me "You won't find your voice until you're 40 so don't bother and don't worry about it." and I was about 35 at the time-I thought I had it pretty together. But when I reached 40 I understood that what he said was true."

I think Mick was happy to hear these again because he felt he played really strong at this time. There was a transformation that he went through playing in Jack DeJohnette's band around that time. But as you know, as much as where you are on your own, it's the company you keep that defines what you can do as a whole. Keep in touch. I'm happy to have provided you with this introduction to Jimmy Mosher again. In his element and in his living spirit. David Lee"


Blue Walls
Miss Krissy
Chick's Quartet #2
Chick's Quartet #2, part 2
Relaxin' at the Camarillo
In Your Own Sweet Way
Softly as in a Morning Sunrise
Little Dancer
Yes My Dear
Falling Grace
Why did I call you?
Our Waltz
Mosher Exposure


Urge to Burge- You are what you hear

Urge to Burge is a Jazz blog that features links to MP3s of KILLER live Jazz shows. I won't even try to list everything on there. This is a must see, must hear, must bookmark web site. You will be glad you did.