Woodwind & Brasswind Contributing Writer – Greg Vail
So much has changed in the world of education over the past decade and educational DVD’s are a new and fresh source of help to the aspiring saxophone player. I have three to share with you today.
The first titled “Jazz Saxophone – Instructional Techniques and Jazz Concert Performances” features Steve Wilkerson in a concert setting with his band, live, and then fielding questions with a saxophone player audience. The format is a little strange but the concert footage sounds good, Wilkerson’s playing is of high technical merit, and the Q and A segments do address some common questions. At $19.95 – this is a really nice buy.
He is obviously a good player and the bulk of this DVD is concert footage of a very good live band performing original compositions by Steve Wilkerson. The topics covered include Steve’s concepts on tone and sax position, vibrato development, finger technique and on getting different sounds on the tenor saxophone. If you love the sound of the 40’s and 50’s, this is a nice, basic intro to jazz saxophone with some really nice live footage.
The “Accelerate Your Saxophone Playing” DVD by Jim Odgren focuses more on teaching the saxophone ($24.95). This intermediate level DVD covers a wide variety of topics including saxophone position, tone, fingering and technical exercises with a handy book to show the exercises with the DVD providing demonstration of how they should sound.
Jim is a saxophone professor at Berklee College of Music and has a very nice alto sax sound on the examples and songs on this DVD. His education background is perfect as the material is very helpful to the high school or college age saxophone student.
The next DVD is a Berklee Jazz Workshop entitled “Jazz Improvisation – A Personal Approach with Joe Lovano.” ($19.95) This material is more advanced in nature, exploring the process of learning tunes, memorizing chord changes, and developing a personal concept for your jazz playing.
Joe discusses the merits of practicing unaccompanied and rubato to really explore the changes and voice leading as the changes move forward. He shows how jazz can be approached from different segments of the beat to expand your ideas, and discusses the need to play off what others are playing around you, communicating with the group and interacting with each member in the band.
Lovano is an exceptional musician and saxophonist. He comes from the New York school of playing and communicates very much like a jazz player, using more concepts to describe the ideas he is trying to express.
This DVD was a workshop delivered to college students and comes from the perspective that the basics of saxophone and jazz are already understood. Joe takes it all to the next level, as an artist expressing and making it their own. He does a great job playing examples of many of the ideas he is sharing, and any fan of Lovano’s will really appreciate hearing that big sax sound in a few different ensemble settings.
There is something here for everybody and all three DVDs will inspire a greater understanding of the saxophone with a real desire to pull it out of the case and spend some time practicing. I personally love watching and listening together, as the combination makes learning so much more intense. Enjoy the Saxophone Educational DVDs and take the time to practice some of these ideas. You will really benefit from the process.