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Jazz Sax Lessons: Funky Licks

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Okay, now it's time
to work on some funky licks.
Yeah, time to get down, get funky.
So, what I have down for you is to
write out eight actual funky licks.
There are only eight funky licks to learn,
so hey, learn these licks, and
you've got every funky lick
you'll ever need to know.
Totally not true.
But in the case of these licks,
I wanted to incorporate some ideas for
you, different articulations.
And I'm gonna do them on the alto, so
they're all written in the key of E for
me, and if you're playing tenor or
soprano in would be in the key of A.
So if you've got that track, hopefully,
that is attached to this lesson,
what it is, it's a funky loop in this key,
and it goes on for awhile.
So, you can have fun with that and just
play these licks and play your own licks,
and you've got a cool
track to play along with.
The thing that is sort of the overall
umbrella of all these ideas
with this kind of music is,
number one, the definiteness,
the assuredness, of the way you
play them has gotta be confident.
It's gotta be solid.
And that has to do with
the the actual performance,
how solid you are with all the notes,
how definite and
exact you are with the articulations,
and how perfect you are with your time.
I hate to say perfect,
but you know what I mean.
Just really nice and even and solid.
We've done so much practicing up
to this point with the metronome,
u to this point, but
not ending at this point.
Certainly, you wanna have that metronome
fired up always when you're practicing.
And that's gonna improve your time too.
So, on these licks I really did write
indications over every note in terms
of where I want you to accent,
where I want you to play short notes,
and you've got a downward grace note.
And I guess that'd be bar two,
the second bar of the first lick there.
And each of these licks
is two measures long.
And so what I wanna do,
these are intended to be individual licks.
I wanna play them all for you now.
So I'm gonna play along with with the
track, and I'm gonna count in each one.
So, I'll play the lick for you.
Absolutely, if you've already checked
these out, play along with me.
The information on the paper is
only half the information you need.
An inflection, a staccato can
be played a lot differently.
The inflection of a scoop,
the amount of a scoop.
All these different things,
it helps to hear it.
And so, if you wanna listen
to me play them, great.
If you've done that and
you're ready to play along with me, great.
And so what I'll do is I'll
play each of those licks,
and then I'll count you into the next one.
So, I'll put two bars between each one.
So, here we go.
We're gonna play our eight funky licks.
>> [MUSIC]
So now that we've played them along
with the track, I wanna just analyze
these a little bit for you, each one.
And just so you have them down and
So that first lick, those first two bars.
So pretty obvious that
the first note is short.
There's a scoop there,
you can barely see it, but
there is a scoop into the first note.
By the way, there is a tenor part, too,
so if you're playing tenor soprano,
don't think I've slighted you.
Make sure you grab that from the lesson,
so, you can only play one horn at a time,
and so I'm playing it on alto, but
they're all there for you for tenor and
soprano too.
So the first note is scooped,
as you can tell.
So any questions about scooping,
you can refer to my jazz
inflections lesson on scoops.
The whole lesson devoted to that.
But again, you don't want to make it
Or some crazy thing, it's just part of
the note, but apparent, but not overdone.
So it's all straight forward.
You've got your downward grace note here,
in the second bar.
Just make sure that the grace note
is no longer than an articulation.
The important thing is not to allow
that to make you late on that next note.
And then, my little scoops staccato.
give that a try.
So it can't be overdone.
It's gotta be there, but not too there,
[LAUGH] if that makes sense.
So here it is with our metronome.
So this is how I want
you to practice these.
I want you to make sure you've got all
the notes down, all the articulations.
Because with these funky licks, it's
the articulations that make them funky.
[LAUGH] Also, just that, and then playing
them in time, that also makes them funky.
Can't be funky and out of time.
So I gotta fire up my metronome,
[NOISE] and one, two, three.
Play along with me if you can.
One, two, go.
Here we go, [LAUGH] one, two, go.
Let's look at the second one.
Same thing.
Now the important thing, the thing that
makes these guys funky is that on the 16th
notes, you're really right in there.
When you listen to a cool,
funky track, the drums or
whatever's playing, all the subdivisions
are even, even, even, even.
So making sure that you're not rushing the
first two 16th notes, that's a common one.
Rushing these 16ths in beat
three of bar one, in this lick.
Those kinds of things, just making sure
you're really smack dab on the beat and
that all your subdivisions are super even.
Also check this out,
at the end of the first bar of this lick,
I am articulating
the second to last note and
I'm staccatoing the last note.
That's an important combination
to have in your funky lick arsenal.
[LAUGH] But I wanted to indicate that
because that's what I'm doing, and
that's what makes it.
If you don't do that.
Doesn't sound as good, does it?
So it's, the secret,
one of the secrets to making funky licks
sound funky is how percussive they sound.
So you don't wanna go nuts with the
articulation and things, but you kinda do.
Not over the top crazy where
it's not gonna sound good, but
it's these percussive details that really
make your licks sound funky,
the same way that other articulations and
other styles make those
styles sound correct as well.
So with these licks, again, it's
the rhythm of the licks that sell them.
It's just as important as the actual
notes that you're playing.
So when you are listening to a drummer,
some notes are long.
Some notes are short.
Some notes ring, like on the cymbals.
Some notes are a little fatter,
like on the bass drum.
Some notes are really short,
like a hit on the snare.
And it's those kinds of combinations,
like indicated here,
that really funk out your licks.
So with the metronome on that second one.
[SOUND] Here we go.
I'll play it by myself, and
we'll play the second time together.
One, two.
The other.
And one, a two, a [SOUND], two, three.
So number three,
a common theme is that first beat.
Just, long, two shorts.
You know,
if you've ever heard
a David Sanborn record, man,
he could do it like nobody else.
And then we have our turn here.
And so that again, when you see that
indicated, you want to make sure that you
go up to the note just above it,
and come right back down to it.
And make sure you're not late on the
target note, the note just after the turn.
You have a little scoop, this time
there's an accent with the scoop.
So, I'm tonguing.
You can't tongue in the middle
of the scoop, obviously.
So I'm tonguing at
the beginning of the scoop.
The scoop is part of the note.
And then I'm staccatoing here.
So it's all these little subtle points
that we hear, but we don't always
understand what is going on,
what's happening, and how to do it.
So here you go,
this is gonna be a real big help, I think.
So if I fire up my metronome,
I'm gonna play it once by myself.
[SOUND] One, two, three
Let's play together.
One, two, one,
two, three
Do that again, one, two, three.
Cool, let's do it again, one last time.
Make sure that note's nice and short.
One, two, three.
Our fourth lick down,
starting at bar seven,
we're gonna start off with
two downward grace notes.
Again, do not allow these grace notes, or
the ones in the second bar,
to make the target note late.
It's easier for me to use my side B flat,
because my notes are already on A.
My fingers, rather, are already on A.
And so all I'm doing is, with the grace
note, just using my side B flat.
You see that?
To do it with a bisque key is more effort.
Yeah, it takes a lot more work,
I wouldn't do that.
So, and the same thing, too,
the first note of the second bar.
No indication, no,
here's a good point, actually.
No length indication, articulation,
on this note on the and
of two in the first bar.
So you wanna hold it full value.
However, it is an eighth note
followed by the eighth rest, so
it's gonna be played short.
So I wrote two legato marks
over these second and third to last notes.
In the first bar of this lick because
I don't want them to be accented, but
I do want them to be tongued.
So here we go.
[SOUND] One, two, I'm gonna play by
myself, and one, two three [SOUND].
One, two, three.
One more time.
One, two, together.
Next one down.
Our fifth funky lick.
So again, we have our cool
Sanbornesque lick where we
have an eighth note followed by two
dotted staccato sixteenths and,
tricky little combo right here.
At the end of the first bar,
on that staccato that staccato is very
intentional on that last 16th note.
You hear that?
That's super important, again,
it's very rhythmic, it's very drum like,
and it sets up the note on
the downbeat of the second bar.
So this penultimate note leading
to the pinnacle note on top is
really crucial to be stated
in a very percussive manner.
So yeah.
Here comes my metronome.
[SOUND] One, two, three.
Good, cool.
So, don't forget your accent.
I didn't actually write a slur, but
unless it's indicated as a note,
if I wanted you to retongue the Es,
or As if you're looking on a tenor chart,
I would have indicated with a legato,
but [SOUND].
So on this fifth lick down,
together, here we go.
One, and two, and one, two, go.
One more time.
One, two, three.
There we go.
>> Okay, our sixth lick down.
Sixth lick [LAUGH].
Cool, so on this one I am obviously
tonguing the first of each of these beats,
each of these groups of two
sixteenths followed by eighth.
[SOUND] So I'm not tonguing the second
one because I have a slur to it, and
I am staccatoing the third note,
the eighth note.
So a little trick note on this D in
the third beat I'm using my side D.
Instead of going.
You can, it's cumbersome, it's not
necessary, it sounds kinda funky actually
to use that side D the high D fingering.
So that is more than acceptable to
use on its side D we're just not
using the octave key back here,
so I'm letting go of that sucker.
So very cool so
I'm gonna play it with my metronome.
This is our,
it starts on bar 11 on your sheet.
It starts on the sixth lick down.
One, two, three
Get that?
Okay, it's the second to last note,
the penultimate note,
is one that is short but it's got a scoop.
So, because it has it as a staccato,
I'm cutting off that
last note with my tongue.
So that it definitely stops.
I'm not just ending the air.
It's not gonna be clean enough that way.
And as a matter of fact,
it sounds really clean.
To play it like staccato, which again,
means that you wanna play the note,
you wanna accent the beginning
of the scoop up.
But then you wanna shut off the note,
just like you would on any other staccato.
Okay, I'm gonna play it one more
time with the metronome alone, and
then you'll join me.
One, two, three.
Okay, join me, won't you?
One, two, three.
One, two, three.
All right.
So our seventh funky lick is this one.
This looks very black.
Looks very note.
We have a, what do we have here,
a 30 second triplet to begin.
Yanks, but the tempo is not that fast so
it doesn't go by it that quickly, but
the lick sounds like
the first note of the second bar is long.
Okay, so this all goes by, when you see
this kinda thing, you wanna subdivide.
You've got all this schmutz going
on here at the beginning of
the first half of beat one.
The easy way to think
about rhythms like that
is look where the halfway
point of the rhythm is.
So if this lick were actually two eighth
notes, the first eighth note is all this.
A second eighth note are these
two sixteenths, right?
So you know that, once you've done
your subdivisions of that single beat,
you know that A has to land
right on the and of one.
So whatever's happening here rhythmically,
you know that it's gotta be done by the A,
by the up of one.
One, and two, and three.
It's gotta be done by the and of one.
One and two.
Fiddly bop a doo ba do ba doo bop.
Okay, so easy.
But, you know, if you wanna slow it down.
Boodle a boot a doot a boo da do.
A boot.
[SOUND] boodle a boot a doot do ba do ba
doot band doot doodle doo do do.
Okay, so that's, that's how you do it.
And so, we're gonna accent the and of one.
We're gonna be tonguing, but
legato tonguing the downbeat
of the beginning of beat two.
We're gonna be tounging
the third 16th note of beat two.
We're gonna be accenting,
there's a lot of detail here.
Accenting the last sixteenth of beat two.
We are gonna be legattoing
the second sixteenth of beat three.
We are gonna be staccotoing
the last eighth of beat three,
and we are gonna be long shorting.
[LAUGH] That's not a typo
folks that is a long short.
I didn't even half to create that.
It's in the finale.
So basically it's a short
note that's played long, or
it's a long note that's played short,
however you wanna refer to it.
But it's just a nice, fat, brief note.
And then yeah, and then accent
where indicated on the second bar.
Second bar's a piece of
cake compared to the first.
So I'll play it with you out of time,
I'll play it, whether you play with me or
not is up to you.
Nice and slow, one and
two and three and four.
Again one and two.
In tempo it sounds like this.
One, two, three
and let's play it together, okay.
One, two, three.
It's worth one more, one, two, three.
All right cool.
Okay, so our last of our eight funky
licks is this one right down here.
Compared to the one above it
it is quite the piece of cake.
[SOUND] Very typical funky lick.
Funky articulation too.
get down, get funky.
So we are not making too much of
the scoops on all those downbeats.
But a nice solid attack on the staccatos.
So in time it sounds something
like this, one, two, three.
Do it together, do it twice.
One, two, three.
All right.
So there are eight funky licks.
You're more than welcome to come up,
I mean, more than welcome,
you are encouraged,
you are instructed to come up with more
funky licks on your own obviously.
As a matter of fact, I mean, I'd love,
I'd really love to hear you play these,
if you wanna play them either with
the metronome or with the track or
both, film yourself, send those to me so
I can check them out.
If you've got some ideas of
some of your own funky licks,
maybe something you've written or
a question.
We covered a lot of territory in this
lesson with regards to articulations and
time and in this particular key, but
if you've got some other ideas or
questions, please hit me on the forum or
send me a video.
Obviously, and I'll hit you back.
And I would just love to hear you get
these licks right smack dab on the money.
All right,
have fun with my eight funky licks.