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Jazz Sax Lessons: Trick Licks

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Now we are gonna work on some trick licks.
For this, I've got my alto.
But absolutely, you can play them
on any saxophone that you play and
there all gonna work.
So as you can see in my curriculum here,
there are three different
lessons of trick licks and
this first trick licks lesson.
I'm gonna show you three things.
These are just things that I hate to call
them trick licks, it sounds so silly.
But when people ask me
about how do you do this?
Or how do you do that?
Or I heard,
you play this on a particular solo.
Everybody always refers to it,
how did you do that trick?
They think it's a trick and
so hey, trick licks.
It rhymes, makes sense.
So the first one is a common,
I don't even know if it's like a lick,
but it's a common technique I
guess of a downward articulation.
Well, it is an articulation,
but downward grace note.
The grace note actually becomes part
of your articulation, that's important.
I also want you to note that I'm
practicing what I'm preaching when I
talk about keeping your mouthpiece
cap on your mouthpiece,
I'm trying to do it every time.
The only time I don't is when I've
just played and I maybe forgotten, but
it's really important.
It's become a habit for me to always
have my mouthpiece cap on my mouthpiece.
Again, it protects the reed from breaking.
We spend a lot of money on our reeds and
it's always a bummer when we accidentally
swipe our hand across it or somebody
walks past it and breaks your fantastic
reed that you've finally gotten and those
are the one good reed out of the box.
So mouthpiece cap, but for this in
order to play I've got to take it off.
So downward grace note where you start,
a very typically we think of a grace
note as being something we come up from.
Remember, whether a grace note
is going up or going down.
So the grace note is
above the target note.
It really is just an extension
of the articulation.
So whenever you play a grace note,
make sure that you're playing a grace
note prior to the target note.
So, it does not effect
the tempo rhythmically of
the note that you're targeting.
So don't allow the grace note to be so
long that it delays the target note or
that it makes you late.
So, if I were playing a lick and
I was playing this.
So you can do that with me,
if you've got your horn.
It's gonna be in fourths if you've got
your B flat instrument, your tenor or
But anyway,
I'm just going from E flat down to D and
that's actually,
let's just work on that, shall we?
So, I'm tonguing the grace note.
And basically, you're just kind of
putting a face on the articulation,
you're putting a sound on
the articulation and that's all it is.
So don't allow the grace note to be long.
It's not longer than the sound of
the effect of the articulation.
I'll do four and if you got your
horn with you, you do four.
Ready, go.
One, two, three, four.
Do it again.
One, two, three, four.
Got it, did you do it?
So again, so
if I'm just tonguing the note.
It's yeah, yeah.
It's just making more
of the articulation and
it's the trick part is when you play,
let's say if you were to play.
[SOUND] The same note.
The first one is a target,
the target note was E.
So I'm playing the grace
note going up to it.
I halved up grace note, so
it's a D sharp [SOUND] and I'm going down.
So the trick part is when you play both
those, but the more difficult one,
I guess is the downward articulate,
downward first note.
So however, you wanna work on
those downward grace notes.
It is kind of a cool trick, doesn't
have to be just that note, obviously.
So just work on that grace note as again,
it's just an articulation
leading to your target note.
But don't let it be too long,
it's a real subtle kind of thing.
So the next little
trick lick is this.
So I'm playing C,
A, B, A, C, A, B, A.
I guess I played that on a few
records here and there, enough to
the point where people say hey, I've heard
you play that lick a bunch of times.
So, I guess maybe I should
put that one to bed,
because whenever anybody says I've heard
you play that lick a bunch of times.
That's probably not,
it was meant, perhaps,
to be flattering, but, you know, just
means that maybe I played it too much,
but I do wanna explain this since
some people have interest in it.
Basically, it's just those two notes.
You can play any, you can do it there, you
can any, basically if you break it down,
C,A,B,A, harmonically, it's a lick that
you can play it over for instance A minor,
because it starts on the flat third,
goes to the root, the second root, third,
five third root, second root,
flat third root, second root.
the tricky part is not playing the notes.
The tricky part is actually
the articulation.
So I am incorporating my muted tonguing.
So check out in the intermediate school
I've got a whole lesson on muted tonguing.
There we go.
We are very comprehensive here at my
Artist Works Jazz Saxophone School.
So what I'm doing is tonguing the first
note and then putting the tongue on the A.
So actually, my tongue is on
the As every time I play an A.
So I'm articulating the C, I'm putting
my tongue on as a mute on the A and
then I am releasing the tongue on the B.
Then muting A releasing for the C muting
the A releasing for the B and so forth.
[SOUND] That's what I'm doing,
you can do it on another,
you can do it on whatever
you want to if you jot
that down a whole step.
Okay so let's do it together real slow,
let's do it actually together
even if you're playing a B
flat instrument it doesn't matter okay so
[SOUND] C, A, B, A.
Accented, it's hard to do
this while I'm singing,
accented, muted A,
release on the B, and muted A.
[SOUND] Okay?
And one and two and three and go.
It's really weird when you
first try it but you'll get it.
I've had students who couldn't come
close when we first did it together and
they got it really well.
So again with my mute, I'm definitely
using the left side of my tongue and
I'm muting the right side of the reed.
So I'm going across the reed and
muting half of the reed.
You got all this in my muted tonguing
lesson but, so the idea is that
you're muting half the reed and
allowing the other half to vibrate.
So you're just cutting off half
of the vibration of the reed.
[SOUND] So, that's
a good thing to use
your tongue for.
Okay, so in the third trick lick,
in this exercise,
is the famous Tom Scott exercise.
Tom Scott is one of the really founding
fathers of contemporary saxophone playing.
And one lick he always loved to do,
was this.
So you can do it in other keys,
certainly, but what I'm doing
is sort of key-related.
It has to, this one goes basically
in the key of G on our horns,
and I'm playing a B and
I'm trilling my high side E key on
my right hand, and then going up.
I'm hitting each one of those notes,
and I'm trilling each one as I go, so
that I'm ending up on the D.
So I'm starting on the B,
I'm trilling that one, I'm trilling C,
I'm trilling C sharp, and I'm trilling D.
So harmonically we're in the key of G,
I"m starting on the third and
going up chromatically to the fifth.
Okay so
this a trick lick.
Because it's a trick lick, it's not
going to follow the traditional rules.
I know I said that you want to keep
your fingers close to the keys
whenever you're playing.
Obviously when I'm doing that, these
fingers are a mile away from the keys.
So, but it's an independent trick lick,
and so I officially give you permission.
So as you're doing this, and
plus, it's hard to do this.
It's much easier to use your whole hand.
So do what I just did and
just kinda work on it one note at a time.
So on B.
You can do it the way I'm playing,
the way I kinda like to play it
is to establish the note first.
So you hear the note and then you trill
it, and then you go to the next note and
you trill that, and so forth.
As opposed to doing
You don't really hear the note, it doesn't
sound as good and it's harder to do.
So in keeping, you know, in honoring
Tom Scott, on the Tom Scott lick.
We could even call it the Tom Scott lick,
there we go, it's official right here.
So check that out,
it's a cool little trick lick to have.
then you can follow it up
with whatever you want to.
Okay, so there are three trick licks for
you to work on.
Stay tuned because there
are even more on the way.