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Jazz Sax Lessons: Phrasing a Melody: Get Here

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Okay, now we're going to work on
the melody of great Oleta Adams song,
Get Here,
that Brenda Russell made so
famous so many years ago.
I recorded this on a record of mine
a while ago as well which is why I
have this cool what we call
TV mix of this track, it's
right from the mix of the record but we
just hit mute on the sax track and boom.
I have a practice track for you.
So this is a pop melody,
Just like Quiet Nights,
and the fact that the melody, when you
play just the notes without the lyrics.
When you hear Brenda Russell's or
Oleta Adams' version of the song,
you're so captivated by the lyrics.
The inactivity of the melody,
Is unnoticeable.
In fact, it's haunting.
In fact, it's really cool
from a composer's standpoint,
because the motion of the melody doesn't
detract from the message of the song.
It's an amazing message.
And so it presents however a challenge.
To make the melody interesting
when you're not singing it and
you're not hearing the lyrics.
So here again,
the proof is in the playing.
There's a million different ways to
play this kind of a melody, but just.
Hey, we're not talking about chords,
we're not talking about anything.
We're just talking about how you're
going to play it from here, right?
So just imagine that when you play a song,
when you play any song, hey, it's music.
It's coming from the heart, make sure that
you're playing it the same way you would
or your phrasing it the same way that
you would if you were singing it.
Because that's what it's all about.
My favorite, man when you hear
Kurt Whalen, for instance,
is a great example of somebody who, man,
take that horn out of his mouth and
replace the exact way he's
playing it with words,
with lyrics and
you wouldn't notice a difference.
He just phrases so beautifully.
And you can say that about so
many great players.
And that's how we want to be.
We want to make sure that whenever
we phrase, especially a pop melody,
like this,
that it's really just very vocal-ish.
Not only if you add notes here or there,
[SOUND] be really careful,
don't add too much.
It's more about just the feeling all
the things we're doing when we talk
about moving our air forward so
our sound sound's even like a singer, so
we can express ourselves through dynamics
like a singer, inflect like a singer.
So always be kind of using that as a
default, always having that kind of vocal
thing going on in your head so
you can emulate that.
Be singing through your horn.
Again, don't be caught up in all
the minutiae of the technique of playing
all the different things
that you're reading or
thinking about in terms of how to create
a scoop, how to create a vibrato.
We put, that's all in the practice room.
When you're actually playing a melody,
don't be thinking about any of that stuff.
You're you know that stuff
is gonna becoming out
of your horn totally naturally.
Now it's time to make music.
That's why we practice so hard, so that we
can make music without thinking about it.
Okay, so speaking of making music, I'm
gonna play this whole song for you, and
be aware that we have an 11
bar rest in the beginning.
And we have a rest in the middle there on
the second page during the piano solo.
That's Russell Ferrante from the Yellow
Jackets, by the way, playing that solo.
Just count through it just like we were
on a gig, we would be sitting here,
I might give you a few cues as to where
we are but when you're on a live gig or
if you're recording yourself then
you wouldn't be talking, would you?
Okay so here we go.
This is Brenda Russell's, Get Here.
Okay, so this is my interpretation
of that great tune, Get Here.
I want you to make note, I'm going to
keep repeating this over and over here.
But remember when I'm not, notice, when
I'm not playing, I've got my mouth piece
cap on here, so that my reed stays
nice and protected, and nice and wet.
And my mouth piece isn't
going to get damaged,
even though I have this metal
mouth piece which is pretty solid.
It can still get bent and destroyed.
So, just be aware of that.
Side note.
So as far as phrasing the melody,
I want to make sure as I'm playing,
that, again, cool melody, right?
Pretty basic, but, wow, pretty emotional.
So, if it ain't broke,
don't mess, don't break it.
So, I mean don't break it,
but add your, you know,
as you're playing add your spice, add your
thing, add your personality when you play.
But make sure that you're adding to
the time, you're staying in tempo and
that everything you do is not
detracting from the groove.
It's definitely making you wanna add.
Make sure with everything too, but, well,
I don't wanna say especially a vocal tune,
but you wanna make sure
you're right in tune.
If you listen a singer,
it's great to refer to singers
because so often people say,
I love the saxophone.
It's the closest thing to the human voice.
You may have heard that too.
It's great, it's a great complement.
It's a great thing about the the sax,
that it's just so expressive.
And you can change the sound so many
different ways, just like a singer can.
But, to me, one of the things that
really makes a great singer great,
is their ability to hit the center
of every pitch of every note.
So whether you're scooping up to a note or
falling off of a note, or
if you're vibratoing a note.
At some point during the note,
you've gotta ring that bell.
You've gotta make sure that you hit bam,
that that note is hit.
So, just really be aware of that.
The one thing that kills
a performance of any kind is if,
I hate to say it, like,
one note is out of tune.
It might be, you know, hey.
You know, you can say that, again,
music is art, art is subjective sometimes.
Being a little bit out of tune here and
there, may even be kind of cool.
You know.
That's a subject for
another lesson perhaps, but
it's important to play in tune.
There's no arguing that.
And so, make sure that when you're
playing a melody, that you're going for
the center of every pitch on that,
there's no doubt about that.
Yeah, and again listen to your heart.
Make sure that as you're playing,
you're locking right into
the connection that you have up
with your playing, and right here.
And also as you saw me doing, and
maybe giving you a little direction.
I'm counting through my rests, too.
So if you're in a live performance and
you're playing along.
Or rather, you're not playing,
you're in a gig,
you want to make sure that you're
making your entrance at the right time.
Very cool.
Okay well enough said.
Have fun with this one.
It's near and
dear to my heart because it's the first
track on one of my recent records.
So I love it, and
I hope you dig the key we chose, too.
I really do,
it's a fun key even for a tenor.
There's a tenor chart by the way,
too, tenor or soprano.
And so even though it's in E flat,
it ends up as a cool sounding key.
And B flat is a cool sounding
key on the alto, too.
Maybe perhaps a little less used,
Okay, enjoy this one.
If you wanna send me the video,
I would encourage it.
I would love it.
Send away.
And I'll respond.
All right, have fun.