Sunday, November 30, 2014

Practice Journal: 17 November 2014

Modus Vetus - I'm sticking with working with these books by Lars Edlund. I have found that this one in particular is a nice place to start a session and get the horn warmed up.
Overtones - I don't seem to get tired with working on overtones.
Modus Novas - 1 phrase in all keys.
Started learning Ornette Coleman's "Broadway Blues" - I purchased New York Is Now! last week from Reckless Records and this melody had been in my ear.

Modus Vetus - 1 phrase around the cycle of 4ths.
Overtones - Letting It Fall (descending octaves without the octave key) and then working my way up to play around on the 4/5th overtones. Played a few bugle calls too.
Modus Novas - ascending whole tones
Balkan Tune - been a couple of days and I remembered most of it (still need to work on articulation a bit)
"Broadway Blues" - working on it slow and then playing it with recordings (both takes from the album).

Modus Vetus - 1 phrase in all keys
Playing against a drone (E) - long tones (E and B) Similar to Steve Lacy's "Bugle Boy" exercise but slower.
Overtones - I was struggling with them, a new reed seemed to be the culprit! I returned to them briefly later in the session and things were a little better.
Modus Novas - 1 phrase in all keys (cycle of 4ths).
Balkan Tune.
"Broadway Blues" - working on the melody slowly and then along with the recording.

My mind was quite distracted today and I only had a 30-40 minute window to play during.
I blew a few long tones to get some air into the horn and then decided to do something a bit different - playing through some of Joe Viola's Technique of Saxophone: Vol 1 Scale Studies. I worked through a few of the "Pentads - Polytonal Variations" (see example below). I kept things nice a slow, occasionally raising the tempo a bit.
Felt like a pretty good practice session today. Just the usual stuff...
Modus Vetus
Overtones and tone matching.
"Broadway Blues"
Modus Novas
Balkan Tune - I feel like it is time to move on. I want to find some tunes similar to this one.
Finished things off with a bit of improvising.

Alternated sax and rhythm work today. Playing a bell pattern with various pulses underneath (6,4,3 and 2) from Pure Rhythm.
Modus Vetus - started the next chapter - Root to Minor 3rd.
Overtones - Letting It Fall and Top Tones (parts of page 14). A bit more luck with E off C fundamental. Still a bit unstable but I felt there was progress.
Modus Novas - 1 phrase in all keys around cycle of 4ths. Had a little bit of trouble focusing on this one, once I did it fell into place quite well.
Balkan Tune - there are just a couple of little bits that I forget.
Finished things off playing "Broadway Blues" and some improvising.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Photo by Mark Weber

My friend Mark Weber took this photo at session Carol's during Connie Crother's residency at The Stone during August. L-R: Me, Will, Carol, Eva.
For more of Mark's photography (and poetry and writings) be sure to visit Mark's website, Jazz For Mostly, hosted at Metropolis. The online store has plenty of cool stuff including Mark's poetry/writings and the recordings he produces on Zerx. And then tune in to Mark's jazz radio show on KUNM - Thursdays at 12-1.30pm MT (That's Friday at 8am NZ-time for readers back home).

Friday, November 21, 2014

Practice Journal: 10 November, 2014

I forgot to write down notes from today but it was something along the lines of the following:
Overtones from the second half of page 14 in the Rascher book.
Modus Vetus - sing and play 1 phrase in all keys (in whole steps... I think).
Modus Novas - sing and play 1 phrase (worked my way around the keys I didn't get to before when playing this phrase).
Balkan Song
Rhythm - working on bell rhythms from Pure Rhythm.

Following work, doctors and a run I decided to make today a rest day, although I did get in some rhythm work later in the evening.

Modus Vetus - sing and play 1 phrase in all keys (in major 3rds)
Modus Novas - sing and play 1 phrase in all keys (in whole steps)
Balkan Song - worked on memorisation (I'm getting there slowly).
Finished things of with some improvising. It wasn't my longest practice session of late (about an hour) but I felt like I was focused and when my mind drifted I snapped back into place quickly.

Modus Vetus - sing and play 1 phrase in all keys (in minor 3rds)
Letting It Fall into Overtones and the 2nd half of page 14 and start of page 15 from Top Tones. E3 of C fundamental is giving me some problems. 
Modus Novas - sing and play 1 phrase in all keys (ascending in whole steps). This one was a phrase in 4ths that came together pretty quickly.
Rhythm - tapped out some bell patterns later in the evening.

Balkan Tune - focused on the articulation today which is helping to bring together the rhythmic aspect. Some of the melodic shapes have them fall into place and others are less obvious
Modus Vetus - sing and play 1 phrase in all keys (in minor 2nds)
Letting It Fall into overtones - focus on the 5th and 6th (i.e. D and F from Bb fundamental). From Bb and B it was not too bad but I'm finding it hard to get E and G to speak cleanly from the C fundamental.
Modus Novas - sing and play 1 phrase in all keys (in Major 3rds).

About an hours practice today. My schedule changed at the last minute but I felt that I had quite a focussed session.
Modus Vetus - sing and play 1 phrase in all keys (in minor 2nds)
Overtones - Letting It Fall and start of page 15 from Top Tones. Mixed success up high.
Balkan Tune - memorisation is coming together and the piece is feeling more solid overall.
Improvising - finished things off with some improvising. Again, trying to not overplay and let things go were they want.


I did a few different things for this afternoon's session.
Started things off with some of the Joe Viola scale studies as a warm up.
When I was backing up my computer I came across an untitled folder containing 100 chords and decided to work with it today. Sometimes I would sing a note along with the recording and then try and play it and other times I would just play. I mixed things up - playing just a few notes or more of a line and other times working out parts of the chord. I worked through about 30 of the chords - playing each 2 or 3 times at the most. Here's one of the tracks (my first crack at uploading audio here):

I have no idea where these chord recordings came from. Drop me a line if you know the source.

Worked some more on the bell rhythms in Pure Rhythm. So far it has been a lot of fun working with this. I am a long way from being a percussionist but it is fun playing (or trying to play!) these rhythms on bongos.
Finished things off my some free improvising.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Julia Hulsmann's "Not Fast Enough" at Music Meeting

Back in June I wrote about the captivating set from Julia Hulsmann's "Not Fast Enough" at the Moers Festival. The other night I found this 25 minute clip from the June 2014 Music Meeting in Nijmegen, Holland. It features two songs from the quartet framing a brief interview with Hulsmann and Theo Bleckmann.

Hayden Chisholm Theo Bleckmann

Monday, November 10, 2014

Practice Journal: 3 November 2014

Last week I was sick so I gave playing a rest. The week before I wasn't that diligent with the note taking but now I'm back into it. Although my notes were a bit thin on detail earlier in the week, I tried to make sense of them as I wrote them up.

Terrace Dynamics
Todays lesson - find a better time to practice (not 25 minutes before your wife has a conference call!), the horn was too loud but I could work on rhythm, so I tapped out some patterns in Pure Rhythm.

Spent about 15mins on each of the below.
Letting It Fall and Overtones
Modus Vetus - sing and play 1 phrase in all keys. I noticed that my singing this week was a bit rough. Sstill feeling the effects of last weeks cold, I lost a bit of the higher range. It got better as the week progressed.
Etude - Balkan piece. Not exactly sure of the origin of this tune but it was given to me by Hayden Chisholm in Greece. I hadn't working on this for quite some time but it just popped into my mind so I decided to have a crack at it again.
Improvisation - playing 5 and 7 note phrases

Rascher's Top Tones - playing through page 12.
Modus Vetus - sing and play 1 phrase in each key.
Balkan piece - breaking it down a phrase at a time.

Long tones (F's and C's)
Letting It Fall.
Overtones and Rasher (parts of page 13).
Modus Novas - sing and play - it's been a while and I was rusty.
Modus Vetus - the tonal stuff came together better
Balkan Piece.
Improv - short phrases. To avoid compulsive playing I would put the horn down briefly after blowing a few phrases. I found it a nice way to stay relaxed and to reflect on what I had just played before moving on.

Held some long tones - used a tuner. Not something I do that often (I prefer playing against a note/drone). But I might stick with this a bit to see what happens.
Letting It Fall
Rasher book - about half of page 14.
Modus Vetus - sing and play 1 phrase in all keys (descending chromatically).
Balkan Piece - working through it slowly. Having bit of a hard to memorising it.
Improv - similar to above (shorter phrases, trying to avoid compulsive playing and then let longer phrases and more dense playing develop from there).

Today I worked on rhythm in between each of the below. Working on the the Ewe bell patterns from Pure Rhythm (playing them on bongos). Working on the first rhythm and then the 1st variation in which the quarter note pulse shifts to the middle triplet (trying not to turn the beat over!).
Long Tones with Tuner.
Letting It Fall and tone matching
Rascher book - first half of page 14.
Modus Vetus - sing and play 1 phrase in all keys (descending chromatically).
Modus Novas - sing and play 1 phrase (ascending chromatically). My focus started to drift after working through about 4 keys. So I moved on to something more casual - listening and at times playing along with the Agios Lavrentios Brass Band video from this years Music Village.
Finished things of with some improvising.

I haven't recorded myself practicing for a while so I adding that to the list.