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Four Celebrated Sax Solos that Enriched the Jazz Music Landscape

Four Celebrated Sax Solos that Enriched the Jazz Music Landscape

During the heyday of jazz, saxophone solos were remarkably popular. Alto and tenor sax artists still rock the stage with solo performances. But the legacy started by some of the maestro jazz saxophonists is somewhat lost.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the famous sax solos. The most astounding solo and instrumental performances came from jazz musicians like John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and their likes. The jazz instrumentals still receive a lot of praises, but solo performances by saxophonists are not as popular as the instrumentals.

Why such a disparity exists?

There are some reasons behind this. Jazz instrumentals are often used in movies as background scores, which makes audiences more familiar with them than with sax solos. Besides, they instrumentals are available in different formats; you can download them from the web, buy a music CD, etc.

The popularity of sax solos, however, depends largely on the performer and the jazz artists of the present can be hardly be compared with the legendary artists of the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Some of the most celebrated sax solos are below;

Body and Soul by Coleman Hawkins

Coleman recorded this solo in 1939. Later, in 1956, he released an album with the same name. The 1956 album contains some famous recordings of Coleman such as My Blue Heaven, Say It Isn’t So, I Love Paris, The Sheik of Araby, etc.

The solo wasn’t only popular for its artistic appeals, but also for being a must study transcription for the saxophonists. At the time of reviewing the solo, the critics focused on two elements; the stepwise resolutions and the repetitive figures. The solo as a whole has been regarded as one of the most straightforward solos of all time.

Technicalities apart, there are some emotive elements that make this solo one of a kind. Hawkins put so much emotion into the mix that the solo virtually interacts with the listeners.

All the Things You Are by Charlie Parker

The song was originally composed by two musicians called Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. Charlie Parker’s adoption of this song made it incredibly popular. A jazz critic name Gary Giddins praised Parker’s adoption of the song and remarked that Parker turned “All the Things You Are” into a jazz standard in his 1947 composition “Birds of Paradise”.

Parker was one of the most influential soloists of his time. He successfully overcame the challenge that the harmonic elements of Kern and Hammerstein II posed. His short, introductory passages easily made peace with the harmonics of the two musicians. The jazz historians and critics are of the opinion that such a perfect combo of harmonic sequences and melody is a rarity.

The melody in “All the Things You Are” is stupendous. As mentioned already the changes are harmonically challenging, jazz musicians find it fun to improvise on them. The tune has a AABA chord structure, a common standard in jazz. The first and second A sections (8 bars) are same, barring a little difference; the first A section moves through the AB and C-Major keys whereas the second A section moves through the keys of Eb and G-Major.

Giant Steps by John Coltrane

Coltrane released on his album of the same name in the year 1959. Critics and audiences alike were totally mesmerized by the solo. The solo was regarded by them as one the most colorful solos of all time.

The solo has been identified by some critics as a stupendous piece of music. According to them, the aesthetic energy that this solo contains can virtually numb the listeners. The solo has a final version and an alternate take, which lacks the musical energy that the final version contains.

Autumn Leaves by Cannonball Adderley and Stan Getz

The solo by Getz perfectly brings the essence of a calm autumn day. Imagine the sun is out on the sky and the leaves are falling from the Maple trees. The birds are tweeting as if they are bidding farewell to someone. When listening to the solo, your mind is definite to visualize all these imageries. The melodic elements are so refined in the solo that it maintains a calm and composed tone from the beginning to the end.

Adderley’s recording of a solo of the same name saw Miles Davis participating in it.

The solo is not so gentle like that of Getz, it is more personified and has a wildness in it that often takes the listeners to a roller-coaster ride.

The four sax solos, discussed in this article are unmatched when it comes to popularity and artistic appeal. They are celebrated solos and will always remain so. If you are a music lover and never listened to these solos before, then don’t wait anymore.

Adolphe Sax and the Saxophone Revisited

Adolphe Sax and the Saxophone Revisited

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The sound of a saxophone playing should be music to the ears of any jazz lover throughout the world. That’s because the saxophone has been one of the key instruments used in almost all major variations of jazz that are prevalent as of now, apart from also being a key accompaniment in Western classical music concerts. Commonly referred to as the Sax, this musical instrument that has been classified under the ‘Woodwind instruments’ category was originally designed for military and concert bands. It continues to be highly popular among these groups to this very day. Coming back to jazz, the saxophone attained prominence as a must-have instrument for the Big Bands that were responsible for a distinct form of jazz known as Swing.

The man who started it all

The saxophone was invented in the year 1840 by Adolphe Sax (1814-1894) who was of Belgian origin and a maker of musical instruments. Incidentally, Sax was also an accomplished clarinetist and flautist, apart from being the inventor of the once-popular ophicleide that basically resembled a woodwind musical instrument. Developing the saxophone was part of his constant effort to make a number of improvements to the bass clarinet. These improvements mainly centered on keywork and acoustics and efforts to extend the instrument’s lower range.That again led him to develop the required skills and technological expertise that went into making the first batch of saxophones. At the time Adolphe Sax created the saxophone, it had a conical brass body which was similar to that of an ophicliede while having acoustic properties that were similar to that of the clarinet and the French horn.

Adolphe Sax developed saxophones in a variety of sizes and even went ahead to secure a patent covering them in 1846 that was applicable for 15 years. The patent encompassed as many as 14 versions of the basic design of the saxophone under the contrabass and sopranino categories. Once Sax’s patent expired at the end of its term, however, a number of instrument makers and saxophonists made their own improvements and modifications based on the design and the keywork itself. One of the popular modifications to this effect and one that is prevalent in all modern designs of the saxophone involved slightly extending the bell and adding an extra key to it. Other modifications included adding extra keys to enable musicians to play the saxophone easily using alternate fingerings. These alternate fingerlings have since then proved to be effective for various functions while playing such as big interval jumps and trilling.

The advancements and modifications in saxophone keywork continued to happen over a significant period of time after its invention and some of them have been incorporated in all modern varieties of the instrument. Out of these revisions, a particular one worth mentioning was made by a certain M. Houvenaghel in the 1950s that completely changed the mechanics of the saxophone keywork.

A multifaceted instrument indeed

The saxophone is an instrument that is available in diverse varieties with the alto and tenor variations being in highest demand among music composers worldwide. However, other varieties of saxophones continue to be used, particularly in Western classical music. At the same time, the saxophone has remained as an ever-popular accompaniment for military bands all over the world which anyway was the category it was originally designed for. Here again, the alto and the tenor varieties of saxophones tended to gain prominence. The military bands were later followed by concert bands that also made extensive use of saxophones. Chamber music comprised another area where saxophones became a universal favorite and where the concept of the saxophone quartet comes into focus.

In the realm of classical music, the saxophone quartet comprises the alto, tenor, soprano and baritone varieties of saxophones. The h2 quartet, Aurelia Saxophone Quartet, New Century Saxophone Quartet and the Mana Quartet are just some of the notable classical saxophone quartets. But when we talk about it as a musical instrument, the saxophone actually belongs to the reed quintet. This typically comprises a clarinet, a saxophone, an oboe, a bassoon and a bass clarinet.

No matter whether you love it or not, the saxophone has been a quintessential favorite for musicians and music lovers all over the world. It can truly be called a mascot of American music and its sound seems to have a sophisticated yet erotic tone that has helped it to attain a prominent place in modern nightclub circles and jazz clubs globally.

Key Instruments in Jazz Music

Key Instruments in Jazz Music

Jazz is a uniquely American form of music and one that provides a lot of scope for originality and innovation to musicians around the world. With its origins linked to the brass band tradition prevalent in the US in the early 1900s, jazz as a genre of music makes use of a large number of musical instruments, all of which can be categorized under different sections. These include the rhythm section, woodwind section, brass section and the string section.

While there are a number of instruments that are used in the different sections that are a part of jazz music, here’s a brief introduction of some of the more prominent ones that are used:

Piano

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The name ‘piano’ originated from an Italian term ‘pianoforte’ which means ‘soft’ and ‘strong’. The piano is one of the most versatile instruments used in jazz music and continues to play a leading role in the evolution of this genre over the years. As a musical instrument, the piano has 88 keys that allow a person to play a high or a low note and also create a percussion effect by pressing on the keys in a rapid manner. The piano is a favorite of jazz musicians because of its capability to create a seamless mix of melody and harmony together at the same time while playing.

Jazz musicians have a lot of scope to improvise using the piano and tend to often focus on the chord extensions. This includes adding the sixth and the thirteenth scale degrees to the piano’s chord. The scales, arpeggios and the modes that are related to the piano’s chords are also used by jazz musicians in an attempt to improvise as a tune’s chord progresses. Both jazz musicians and composers use the piano extensively for coaching sessions on theory and set arrangements in the world of jazz.

Bass

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Technically known as the upright bass, this is a four-stringed instrument made of wood that lays the foundation for creating a musical harmony within jazz music. However, what we understand by the term ‘jazz bass’ is the double bass or the bass guitar which come into prominence during a solo performance in a jazz band. In the beginning, the double bass was the prominent instrument of choice till around the 1960s for a range of players involved in small jazz based combos to bigger jazz groups. Alongside, however, some jazz musicians started to replace the use of the double bass with that of the electric bass guitar sometime around the 1950s. Since then, it’s largely been a question of choice among jazz musicians to either specialize in the electric bass or the double bass.

Saxophone

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Undoubtedly one of the most popular instruments among jazz musicians, the saxophone produces a unique sound that is typically identifiable with the jazz music genre. Made out of brass, the saxophone falls under the category of woodwind instruments and musicians have to actually blow into the mouthpiece to produce the sound while vibrating the reed alongside. However, the saxophone is capable of playing only one reed at any point of time which can be said to be the only limitation of this otherwise versatile instrument.

Trumpet

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This is another key musical accompaniment in jazz and one that is a hot favorite of jazz musicians down the ages, including the likes of Louis Armstrong. Like the saxophone, the trumpet too is made of brass and the musician has to blow into the mouthpiece while vibrating his lips to produce the sound. The sound of the trumpet can be changed by altering the shape of your lips while pressing down on any one among the three valves that are located at the top of the instrument.

Apart from the ones mentioned above, jazz music is also marked by a number of other instruments that include the drum, guitar, clarinet, trombone, violin and the cello. Each of these instruments adds its own unique sounds and melodies that together magnify the intensity and richness of jazz music. However, with improvisation being perhaps the only constant factor in this otherwise highly diverse form of music, each of these instruments are used in a variety of ways by jazz musicians; whether it is as part of a jazz band or in the realm of solo performances.

4 Essential Musical Instruments to Facilitate Jazz Compositions

4 Essential Musical Instruments to Facilitate Jazz Compositions

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Jazz is a musical goldmine, the deeper one delves down into it, the more artistic treasures he excavates. Jazz never ceases to surprise us; just when we are convinced we have had it all from jazz, it proves us wrong by enriching itself and by offering us more attractive and rewarding musical experiences.

Innovative musical instruments emerged out of creative experiments; such instruments were the saxophone, the flugelhorn, the bass drum, etc; many of those instruments were designed independently, putting aside considerations for jazz. The saxophone, for example, was designed by Alfred Sax when jazz was in its nascent form and confined to the military barracks.

But their usage enriched the entire jazz landscape. The instruments could play complex chord structures with extra ease and facilitate the procedure of composing tracks. Many jazz compositions have sharp or flat notations, which were difficult for conventional instruments to render. Another benefit of innovative jazz instruments such as the saxophone was switching between octaves simply by changing the keys.

In this article we’ll discuss some of the musical instruments, without which jazz is pretty much incomplete. The list begins with

Upright bass

Harmony and melody are two integral aspects of jazz. Musical instruments in jazz enhance harmonic and melodic elements. Upright bass is a wooden instrument with four strings. The strings were originally made of horsehair and used to render notes that are long and low. When upright bass began to be used in jazz music, plucked strings replaced the horsehair strings and eliminated the need for bow.

The technique of playing upright bass is called pizzicato. Upright bass comes with a stool, which is put on its back side. The instrument is positioned in a slanting manner and the musician sits on the stool.

Piano

Among all the instruments that are used to play jazz tracks, the most versatile is undoubtedly piano. A piano has a total of 88 keys; such a huge collection of keys works in the musician’s favor by allowing him to play high or low notes with ease. The keys render full and half notes, they can generate percussion effects as well as soft and slow effects.

Learning a piano is very easy. All you need is a keyboard and you’ll rock the practice sessions. During the heyday of jazz, piano happened to accompany the soloists when they played improvisations. Since those improvisations are mostly on melodic chord structures, listening to them regularly could male practicing effortless. If you are learning piano because you aim to set up a jazz band in the future, then it’s essential for you to learn playing major scales.

Saxophone

Saxophone belongs to the horn section. Instruments that are structurally similar to it are trombone, clarinet, flugelhorn, etc. Saxophone is a brass made woodwind instrument that comes with a mouthpiece and a reed. The use of saxophone offers so many advantages; it has flat and sharp buttons and musicians could render the high and flat notes directly by pressing them. Another advantage is various combinations of buttons; through which different combinations of holes are covered and allow wide chromatic ranges to pass.

When a saxophone is used to play solo, audiences virtually start to crave for accompanying sounds. As a result, the musicians look for ways to stretch their sound palette. Playing saxophone also teaches the musicians better utilization of space. If the solo lasts for 40 minutes, and they don’t pay proper attention to every resulting space, then after 10 minutes, it’ll be hard for him to pace themselves.

Drum

Jazz drum is a percussion instrument. Drumming accompanies solo performance. Jazz drum, alongside other instruments such as guitar and piano heighten the excitement of a solo performance. The importance of drumming kept on increasing through the swing era and it became a mainstay by the time bebop has set its foot.

Bass and snare drum are played simultaneously. The bass drum has a large diameter and produces a resonant sound. At the time of playing it, the drummer hits a pedal with his right foot. The snare drum produces back-beat, which is compensated by 4/4 time signature on the bass beat.

There are many other instruments, used in jazz, apart from the ones mentioned above. However, the four instruments discussed above, are essential in jazz music. If are a jazz aspirant, then master the skills of playing the instruments above.

The History and Structure of Cool Jazz as a Celebrated Jazz Genre

The History and Structure of Cool Jazz as a Celebrated Jazz Genre

Jazz carries a distinctive legacy that’s second to none. Thanks to the talented pianists, composers, saxophonists, guitarists and drummers, jazz music today doesn’t refer to any unified form of music, but various families of music, all of whom are coexisting under the umbrella term – Jazz.

One such family is cool jazz. It’s a standalone genre that we are going to discuss in this article at length. Let’s begin with the two signature characteristics of cool jazz; they are gentle and composed tempos, unlike in bebop and lighter tone.

Like bebop music, cool jazz also originated after the second world war. But while bebop owes its genesis to the smaller ensembles, cool jazz owes it to classical music and formal arrangements. The era when cool jazz successfully rode up to growth and prominence lasted from late 1940s to late 1950s.

Some key features of cool jazz

Cool jazz stands in stark contrast to bebop. Ensembles that were playing bebop were mostly quartet or quintet. For fast tempo, they would use trumpet and bass drums. Saxophonists had full freedom to experiment with harmonic oddities and rhythmic complexities. Instruments were often played at the highest pitch.

Unlike bebop, cool jazz never had any fixed line to follow. Diversity was one of its observable characteristics. Cool jazz groups were of different sizes; some bands were trio, while many others had nine members. A great variety of instruments such as French horn, flute, tuba, etc was used by those bands. The classical elements were so widespread in cool jazz that it had often been labeled as a mix between jazz and classical music.

Melody and improvisations

Cool jazz had a unique approach to melody. It often relied on counterpoints. A counterpoint refers to simultaneous occurrence of more than one melodic line. This characteristic of cool jazz was corroborated by classical music. Other contemporary jazz genres such as bebop played up one melodic line at a time.

Cool jazz never undervalued arrangements. Bebop sacrificed arrangements for improvised solos. But in cool jazz, both were given their due importance.

Cool jazz and swing

This would be an interesting comparison because bebop originated downplaying swing, but cool jazz never went into any confrontation with swing music, yet always maintained a difference. The difference would be easily graspable if we bring a pinch of technicalities into the discussion.

The inward difference between cool jazz and swing are more important than outward differences such as swing bands being big in size while cool jazz groups being of all types of sizes. The eccentric differences had to do with duration and texture. Swing charts were much longer than cool jazz. Cool jazz always emphasized on complex chord progressions while swing always had simpler chord progressions.

The difference in texture between swing and cool jazz helps understand both genres with clarity. In swing textures, riffs were too common. Riffs are short passages, played over and over by different segments of the ensemble. Normally, a riff played by one segment was countered by another.

Cool jazz had a completely different structure. Riffs were replaced by melodies and pitches were light. The instruments used were trumpet, piano, tenor saxophone and drum. Since made of solos, cool jazz had thinner texture. Complex chord progressions were given priority and rhythmic intensities were dropped.

Cool jazz artists

Jazz musicians can’t be pigeonholed into any particular genre because that would mean locking them into it. Normally when a musician is associated with any jazz sub-genre, it’s because of his contribution to the development of that sub-genre.

In this light, the most celebrated cool jazz artists are;

Chet Baker – If you delve deeper into Baker’s works, then you’d sense the presence of intuition. In the early 1950s, when Baker performed alongside baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, the two developed an idiosyncratic style. They never played similar melody lines, but one always sufficed the melody line played by the other. The bond between them was almost telepathic and requires the measure of surreal to be explained.

Originally a trumpeter and a vocalist, Baker will always be remember by jazz aficionados. His drug addiction and gradual decline in later stages of life fail to dent his image as a musician and a contributor to cool jazz.

Click on the link below to listen to the bests of Chet Baker;

Miles Davis – Many regard his album “Birth of the Cool” as a milestone of cool jazz. The album featured unorthodox instruments and many techniques that are found in classical music. Here’s the link to the album;

In the late 1940s, Davis replaced Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s quintet. For next three consecutive years, he would play bebop style jazz until he found it difficult to cope up with the fast tempo.

Davis then chose to play the instruments at moderate pitch. He met Gerry Mulligan later who brought lighter sound, something that Davis was desperately seeking for at that time. This is the background behind how Davis formed his nonet and how it laid the cornerstone for cool jazz.

To listen to other cool jazz artists like Lee Konitz and Dave Brubeck, click on the links below;

 

The history of cool jazz is interesting, but not as much as listening to famous cool jazz albums. We have provided links to some of them above. Listen to them and enjoy cool jazz to the fullest.

Journey of Jazz Music from Afro-American Heritage to Arabic Culture

Journey of Jazz Music from Afro-American Heritage to Arabic Culture

 

If all the trademark characteristics of the Afro-American culture is listed, one of them would surely be “Jazz” music. This exotic genre of music emerged as an indie music style and garnered immense popularity.

In this article, we’ll discuss the journey made by Jazz music from being an integral part of US culture to being adopted by some of the stalwart Arab musicians.

Our discussion will touch base the socio-historical background behind Jazz music at the time of its inception and also during the initial years. We’ll also extensively discuss the role of the saxophone in Jazz music and some of the notable saxophonists.

Jazz Music in the 20th Century

Jazz started to influence the US pop culture from late 19th century. Today, the influence is quite palpable as countless references from literature, sports and films point at Jazz and its sub-genres. From 1920s, Jazz music started to make impact on the literary domain. Jazz poetry is perhaps the best illustration of the overwhelming impact that Jazz made on US literature.

The journey hasn’t been smooth all the way. It was slammed by conservatives as an obscene form of entertainment because the listeners happened to feel jittery after listening to it.

But the attack of the puritans actually helped the bottom culture to grow. Jazz music not only earned the exclusive identity of an Afro-American art form, it also started to motivate the forerunners of women’s liberation movement. 1930s was the decade when Jazz got incorporated with Swing music. Some maestro soloists such as Count Basie, Cab Calloway and Tommy Dorsey became highly famous and Jazz music received the midas touch from them.

Saxophone in Jazz Music and Famous Saxophonists

It’s hard to imagine Jazz without the Saxophone. The Saxophone was developed in the 1930s and named after its developer Adolphe Sax. At the time of its development the Saxophone had no use in Jazz music. It was 1930s when the Jazz bands were using saxophone in their shows that the instrument music incorporated into the ensembles. Typically, the ‘sax’ section comprised of two altos, two tenors and two baritones.

Any discussion on Saxophone finally turns into a discussion on the saxophonists. That’s because world’s best saxophonists flaunted their unique style and contributed to the development of Jazz. So it’s not surprising their names creep into any discourse over Jazz.

Some of the best saxophonists, who enriched Jazz music with their distinctive style are;

1. Ornette Coleman

Alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman released an album called The Shape of Jazz to Come in 1959. Free jazz and avant-garde jazz were his areas of forte. He developed free musical compositions that were free from contemporary tonal centers. Coleman had an innovative side. While developing the Free Jazz, he used inventive instrumentation such as Double Quartet. Some of his best performances are below;

1. Stan Getz

Stan Getz is renowned for his relaxed and ‘exotic’ style. Getz worked in bossa nova albums along with singer and guitarist Joao Gilberto and pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim. Bossa nova is a unique musical genre. It’s originally Brazilian and a lyrical fusion of Jazz and Samba. Getz tone in bossa nova was brilliant and the genre soon amassed huge following. In 1961 a Jazz album called Focus was recorded. Stan Getz was featured in that album as tenor saxophonist. He performed alongside a string orchestra. He played a fluid and gorgeous style. Below is the link to the album;

and here’s the link to an album called Getz/Gilberto in which he Getz performed with João Gilberto, a Brazilian guitarist;

1. Joe Henderson

Henderson’s debut album as a Jazz tenor saxophonist was Page One in 1963. Page One was one of the 30 albums in which Henderson appeared for Blue Note Records, an American jazz record label. His other albums for Blue Note were Our Thing, In ‘n Out, Mode for Joe, Inner Urge, etc. Hender signed with Milestone label in 1967 and worked in some unforgettable albums like The Kicker, Black Is the Color, Power to the People, Black in the Color, Canyon Lady, In Pursuit of Blackness, etc. Below are the links to some of his albums;

1. Wayne Shorter

Shorter is regarded as one of the great living Jazz saxophonists. In 1959, Shorter joined bandleader Art Blackey and became the musical director of the band. Shorter was originally a tenor saxophonist. But in the 60s, he switched to playing soprano saxophone and soon bagged fame and recognition. Some of his famous records for Blue Note are Adam’s Apple, Night Dreamer and Speak No Evil. In 1960s, Shorter joined the Second Great Quintet of the legendary Miles Davis. He later co-founded a band called Weather Report.

1. Sonny Rollins

Rollins is one of the most esteemed saxophonists ever. Some of his famous compositions such as Airegin, Oleo, Doxy, etc have become Jazz standards. Rollins started his career in Jazz music in the 40s as an alto saxophonist. In 1946 however, he switched to tenor saxophone. He exhibited a unique ability; even during the lengthy solos, he would hardly repeat himself. His career as a saxophonist spanned over six decades. Links to some of his famous compositions are below;

Jazz Music in the Arab World

Jazz music in the Arab peninsula has a multidimensional origin. Arabic jazz is often portrayed as a paradigm of the classic adage; “West meets East”.

Assi Rahbani and Mansour Rahbani, two Lebanese musicians, known commonly as Rahbani brothers had hands in the incorporation of jazz elements in Arabic music. Assi Rahbani’s wife Fairuz worked with the brothers and the trio became immensely successful. Ziad Rahbani, the son of Assi and Fairuz brought a new wave in Arabic jazz music. He composed many jazz songs and spearheaded the oriental jazz movement.

A direct link between Arabic and American jazz music was established by Dave Brubeck, the American composer and pianist when he paid a visit to the middle-east in late 1950s. He performed in various middle-eastern countries like Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He invited many local musicians to perform with him onstage, which fuelled the popularity of Jazz music among the Arabs and inspired Arabic musicians to come up with their own styles that involve Jazz elements.

Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington made tours across the Arabian countries to popularise jazz music. Albeit conspiracy theorists often labeled such tours as Jazz Diplomacy, they agree that tours from US jazz ambassadors paved the way for Arabic-Jazz fusion, distinct from the oriental jazz, discussed above.

Some of the famous Arabic jazz musicians are;

Rima Khcheich – Below are links to her performances;

Ibrahim Maalouf – Some of his popular pieces of music are below;

Mohamed Mounir – Links to his famous albums are below;

Ahmad Kaabour – His famous performances are below;

Reem Kelani – The links below are some of her best performances;

Future of Arabic Jazz

The future of Arabic jazz looks bright. Even though jazz never became a mainstream Arabic musical genre, it is now inherently related to Arabic culture. Experiments on fusions and jazz subgenres are being carried out by jazz bands and independent musicians with instruments used for Arabic jazz.

 

Alto Saxophone – An Overview

Alto Saxophone – An Overview

While listening to the enchanting tune of Charlie Parker or John Coltren, you must have wondered how they play that curvy brass instrument, an alto saxophone. You probably have become an enthusiast of sax and jazz music and want to start immediately with a sax. But do you already know what kind of saxophone will suite you best? And while buying that type of yours, what are those things that you need to look for? We are here to help you.

Alto saxophone is the most common form among that type of instrument. The instrument is a must have for all saxophonists. Its use is especially notable in classical music like concert bands, chamber music, solo repertoires, and jazz. It is smaller in size than tenor saxophone, but larger than soprano.

Alto saxophone sets the standard of any classic band. It’s not as old as the other saxophones, yet its extensive use in the modern and classical music alike has made it a favorite for any musician.

The History of Alto Saxophone

The market is now crowded with Yamaha, Selmer, and so many other manufacturers. But do you know from where the journey of Alto saxophone started? The inventor of alto and other saxophones is Adolphe Sax. Being a son of an instrument maker, he used to deal with musical instruments since his childhood. The mere thought of some missing piece in the brass, woodwind, and string sections drove him to invent the saxophone. It was patented in 1846.

The early history of the invention of alto saxophone is insignificant. But it came into prominence during the revolution in the field of Jazz music, in the 1920s. The musical band started using those sax extensively. Now, it is used in stage production as well as modern music.

The Parts of an Alto Saxophone

In general, saxophones and their parts are mostly the same. It is their sound that makes all the difference. In the case of an alto saxophone, the parts are:

  • The mouthpiece

  • The neck

  • The octave vent and the keys

  • The tube-like body

  • The thumb-rest

  • The rods

  • The pads on the hole

The Mouthpiece

The mouthpiece is the part of the neck of a saxophone. It is the place where the saxophonist blow the air to produce the sound. To create a fine melody, the saxophonist needs to learn the right movement of the lips and the muscles of the mouth.

The Neck

The neck is the removable part of the saxophone. It consists of a metal tube that is attached to the body of the saxophone. It carries the air in the main tube and helps to create the melody.

The Octave Vent and Key

The octave vent is the lone whole that is situated on the neck of the saxophone. On the other hand, octave key is the flat metal key next to it.

The Body

The body of the saxophone is a tube made of brass. It has a conical shape and it holds the plates and the other parts of the saxophones. The body of an alto saxophone is divided into three parts:

  • The tube

  • The bow

  • The bell

The tube is the straight section of the body and the bow is the ‘U’ shaped curve at the bottom of the saxophone. The bell is the flaring part of the saxophone from which the sound comes out.

The Thumb-rest

The thumb rest is the piece made of metal or plastic, on which the musician rests his/her right thumb while playing the sax. It helps to support the weight of the saxophone.

The Keys, Rods and Pads

The keys of a sax are made of brass and nickel and are usually covered with mother of pearl. The keys in the middle and lower parts of the bow are generally known to be spatula. The keys on the right side towards the bottom are called side keys.

The rods work with the compression of the key. They produce the right note form the saxophone. Pads also form an important part of the instrument, since it helps to strike the right chord while playing.

Buying a Saxophone

While buying a saxophone, ensure that the product is in a perfect condition. It is important because only such a saxophone can produce quality music.

Dilemma

The dilemma in which the potential buyers find themselves, is, whether to buy a brand new sax or opt for a used one.

To help you to decide, I would suggest, go for the old one. Generally, saxophones are expensive. If you are a beginner or have a tight budget, the used sax can be a good option. But you need to be careful enough to know whether the saxophone and the accessories are in good conditions.

On the other hand, a brand new sax poses less risk. They are generally sold in a ready-to-play condition. If you are a seasoned sax player, then a brand new one is your thing.

But if you are buying a used saxophone, then keep some money handy. It may need a little love and care.

Alto saxophone, a quite popular instrument in today’s music scene, is actually, two centuries old. Master the art of playing it. Strike the right chord and play on.

Musical Instruments of the Arab World: A Sneak Peek

Musical Instruments of the Arab World: A Sneak Peek

Travel to any place of the world. Apart from the variety in culture and people, you will also find that the musical tradition of different places vary significantly. The origin of music in many places are shrouded in mystery. However, many places across the world are popular for the unique and independent forms of music that they offer. The Arab world is a place worth mentioning in this context. A wide range of musical instruments trace their origins in the deserts, the oases, the villages and the modern cities of the Middle East. With time, they have gained immense popularity among the music loving audience around the world.

Popular Arabic Musical Instruments

Here’s a quick look at only a few of the wide range of instruments that are a part of the musical scene of the Middle East:

  • The Qanun
  • The Oud
  • The Riq
  • The Buzuq
  • The Nay

 

A Detailed Look

Here’s a detailed overview of some of these instruments, which are used primarily in the different countries of the Middle East before moving out in the wide world. These instruments usually have different types of uses and you can see them being played at several common ceremonies and festivals in the countries of the Arab world. With every passing day, the popularities of these instruments are rising significantly.

The Qanun: Have you ever seen the Egyptian harp or a dulcimer? Is their music known to you? If you have, then you can remain assured that the Qanun is not unknown to you. It consists of a trapezoid-shaped flat board over which 81 strings are attached. These strings are divided into groups of three. It has 24treble chords and each note has three chords. The strings are also attached to brass levers, which help to make small changes in the pitch.

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Image Courtesy: http://www.idoabrav.com

The Oud: Want to know the name of the most popular musical instrument in the Arab world? It’s surely the oud. The name refers to the thin strips of wood, which are used to make this oblong-shaped instrument. This instrument offers a unique sound, as it lacks the frets. Its strings come in five pairs and an additional string. However, the number of strings can add up to as many as 13.

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Image Courtesy: http://www.touregypt.net

The Nay: The nay, also spelled as ney, is an Arabic version of the flute. It is a structure, which is also pretty close to that of the flute. It includes:

  • A hollow tubular structure
  • On the tube are six holes in the front
  • One hole is present underneath

While the six holes are for the four fingers to play on, the thumb is used to manage the tunes of the hole underneath. It looks really simple, but the nay is actually known to be one of the toughest Arabic musical instruments to play.

Nay
Image Courtesy:https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu

The Riq: An Arabic instrument, which is also popular as daff, is a small tambourine used to provide beats to the music. Its depth is about 2.5 inches, while the diameter is about 8.5 inches long. It usually has a wooden frame and is covered with the skin of goat or fish. This skin of the riq needs to be heated before performance, so that it stretches properly. Besides, it also contains a few jingles, placed in pairs. This drum is known to produce clear and high-pitched sounds, which can make any audience sway to its tunes.

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Image Courtesy: http://www.cooperman.com

The Buzuq: More of an Arabian mandolin, the Buzuq is a fretted lute, which offers a wide range of tunes. This musical instrument has been used in the Middle East over the years. It is known for the sweet, metallic resonance it can create.

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Image Curtsey: http://upload.wikimedia.org/

Although all these musical instruments have originated in the Arabian countries, they are now extremely popular across the globe. These have also inspired several modern-day musical instruments. These instruments have evolved with the passage of time. From the classical and the folk forms of music, for which these instruments were primarily used in the initial days, they have moved to other uses. You can now hear even pop and other forms of modern music being played on all these musical instruments from the Arab world.

 

Hire a professional saxophone performer for your event

Hire a professional saxophone performer for your event

Do you wish to arrange a live saxophone performance to add a special musical touch to your event? Perhaps you need a relaxed and also sophisticated ambience for welcoming guests? Hire a proficient saxophone performer, a saxophonist, to add a musical element to your party.

Whether you want to listen to a solo Jazz performance, some funk or soul or a more eclectic mix of styles including a full rock n’ roll band, the saxophone is a versatile instrument so the musical possibilities are diverse. A skilled performance will certainly add to the success of your event not only by adding an entertaining element but by setting the ambience and tone so guests are aware of the nature of the event.

Fits your budget

Since the saxophone is such a versatile instrument having it as an element in your entertainment can be matched to your budget. Small budget? Go for a solo performer. Looking for something to dance with but still limited on the budget? A saxophonist coupled with a dj is a great way to satisfy all your guests. Looking for the greatest wedding band of all time? Line-up a 10-piece band including a singer and saxophonist for a truly spectacular show. Since the saxophone is so versatile it is appropriate to hear it as a soloist instrument, within duo’s trios and larger groups.

Lively interaction with the audience

Good saxophone performers are not only known for their virtuosity, dexterity, great tone and solids chops. They tend to seek some further kind of connection with the audience. You often see them roaming from one table to another to greet the audience, show cordial gestures and perform for them their own private show. We are all familiar with the sight of an 80’s saxophonist leaning back in a sundry of exalted screams and a wails; Saxophone in the air there’s no doubt it connects. Cheesy? Yes but we all love it.

Customized Service

Do you have any particular tune in mind? Do you want to determine the pace of music for your party? Any theme or particular topic you will highlight at your event? Due to the versatility of the saxophone in the hands of a skilled performer the pace and volume that you desire can be achieved.

Wide array of music

The music chosen for your party must be able to highlight the tempo of your occasion. Many occasions only require some appropriate background. Music covered is indeed wide ranging, thereby appealing to audiences of different age groups and demographics. The more typical musical repertoire for the saxophone includes the Jazz Standards, Bebop, more modern forms like hard-bop /post-bop, funk, soul and even 80’s era Pop music. This being said music is almost evolving and a common sight these days is to see a saxophonist in a club going wild over a dj’s deep and soulful house tracks. What else is in store for the saxophone in the future? Some good examples of typical saxophone repertoire can be viewed and heard here. This is just a brief introduction there is so much good saxophone music out there.

Record the performance for future

Do you wish to record the performance to listen to the music in future? A technically savvy performer can potentially help you with this. For acoustic instruments a condenser microphone works well for recording a saxophone. That and a small DAT recorder is an easy and simple solution to capture a performance forever. With the onset of modern Digital Audio Workstations such as Protools, Logic and Ableton Live many musicians now have the capacity to make studio quality recordings easily and const effectively. Be sure to ask your saxophonist if this may be the case with them. Keep in mind the process of professionally recording, editing and mixing music can be demanding and time consuming so expect to pay a fair fee for such work.

Well rehearsed

With multiple saxophone performers available in the marker, choosing a performer is not an easy task. Before choosing a player you should listen to few audio examples of the performer and also watch some video samples. It is vital that you be satisfied with the expertise, style and repertoire of the performer before you make your final decision. Most players also allow you to attend his or her live performances to judge the ability of their performance in a live context. You can also ask your the performer to provide references that can vouch for his or her expertise. Another option is to ask your colleagues or your friends in your locality who have already hired saxophone performers in past. Nothing is better then a personal reference, other then viewing the performance yourself. Whichever performer you choose you’re most likely in for a treat. Good luck in your pursuit of an entertaining saxophonist enjoy the performance.

Jazz Music in Dubai: Evolving Steadily in the Entertainment Scene

Jazz Music in Dubai: Evolving Steadily in the Entertainment Scene

Amidst the towering skyscrapers, man-made islands and luxury resort hotels, Dubai is full of festivities, entertainment and music. Music is in Dubai’s pulse. This musical sojourn continues throughout the year but is specifically highlighted during the several festivals that occur during the year. Two of the largest ‘Jazz’ inspired festivals include Blended and the Dubai Jazz Festival. Although great events in themselves the artist line-ups certainly indicate the misinformed perception of Jazz in the region, with the term ‘Jazz’ being used as a marketing tool for a variety of styles. That being said such festival’s success highlight the growing interest in live music amongst a city saturated with glamorous nightclubs and lounges focused on Dance and other Electronic music forms.

Since its inception in 2003, the Dubai Jazz Festival in Dubai has become a signature of the cities entertainment scene. As this annual event has grown significantly in popularity, the city remains prepared to accommodate the large international tourist demographic including the resident expatriate community. The concept behind the festival was to fill a gap in the local market and introduce Jazz Music to larger audiences who are not accustomed with this genre. Although branded as a ‘Jazz Festival’ the notion, ‘Much More Than Jazz,’ a theme coined by the organizers is a more appropriate summary of the yearly artist line-ups. Showcased artists range from Jazz, Soul, Funk and Rnb groups to Rock, Acid, Blues, Fusion and Pop.

So, after these 12 years, has the concept behind the festival clicked? Does the population of Dubai now appreciate Jazz Music? It seems the initiative to familiarize Jazz to the diverse popularity through this festival has somewhat highlighted several interesting aspects of Dubai audiences. The first and most encouraging is that UAE audiences enjoy and crave live musical entertainment. The second is that they’re still not quite aware of what Jazz really is all about. Although many of Dubai’s pubs, wine bars, restaurants, wedding venues and corporate events reverberate with some great live Jazz Music there is still along way to go for Dubai if it wishes to compare itself to cities like New York, New Orleans, Montreal and Paris.

Dubai Audiences have certainly changed within the last decade and there is without a doubt a growing demand for authentic, talented high quality live music in region. The young crowd, more familiar with club music now sincerely are interested in a night out accompanied by some Jazz, Funk or Soul. There are only a few venues around for this sort of interaction, including Blue Bar, Oneo Wine Bar and the recent Jazz Pizza Express where regular tuesday Jam Sessions occur. Unfortunately the lack of venues sincerely invested in thriving Jazz and live music poses an issue for local musicians and audiences craving a flourishing scene.

Great musicians either solo or with bands, grace Dubai with their talent and have subsequently contributed to conveying the reality of this music genre to a wider audience. One interesting reality concerning live entertainment in the UAE is the need for Government performance licenses. A music license you ask? Sounds odd but yes indeed that is the reality and these licenses can come at a hefty costs to venues interested in showcasing either local or international acts. Subsequently this makes bookings of solo artists more common, due to the reduced costs and slightly impedes the spirit of collaboration and mutual improvisation core to Jazz. Even so there still continues a hunger for Jazz bands and larger ensembles and the generally the larger more pricey establishments can afford to spot these costs. Audiences usually are not charged for the entertainment only for their meals and drinks, an attractive offer that satisfies both venues and clients. More of these venues are emerging as places to satisfy the hunger for free music and are significant contributors to the popularity of Jazz music in Dubai.

Fair and more often then not substantial fees for musicians encourage them to continue their art and on a monthly basis more new talent arrives in the desert to chase what seems like an oasis of opportunity when compared to other musically competitive regions like Europe and the USA. Subsequently the array of different musical nationalities is vast with artists resident from England, USA, Australia, Canada, Spain, France, Russia, Moldova, Belarus, Mauritius, Lebanon, Iran, India, Sri Lanka and other diverse locations. They all bring their own inspired interpretations to the table that makes for an electric and entertaining array of musical mash-ups.

So where can the Jazz Music Scene go from here? The beauty of Dubai in regards to entertainment lies in its diverse demographic of expatriates and tourists engaged in the local nightlife. Since generally residents in Dubai have more of a disposable income, compared to if they were in their home countries it is not uncommon for them to regularly eat out at restaurants, visit bars and clubs and attend concerts and events. The bottom line is, they work hard and when they get the chance, they want some down time and entertainment. With the advent of the Dubai 2020 Expo the city has begun further expansion and development in preparation. The possibility for more live music venues interested in supporting and showcasing local Jazz has never been more then now. The city desires more quality music and with the international Jazz musicians flocking to the UAE there is no reason why quality live Jazz can’t thrive. With the Government now officering reduced ‘special’ entertainment licensing for pursuits that encourage cultural development and diversity its looking good for live music in Dubai.

The reality is Dubai is developing. As the roads are built, buildings get higher and more luxury hotels arrive there is a cultural evolution occurring. Dubai may not yet be the epicentre of Jazz in the world but it is without a doubt the epicentre of Jazz in the Middle East.