Monday, August 31, 2009

Cool ideas from Jeff Coffin

Some good ways to play longtones and scales... check it out. There are a lot of good ideas in this Vandoren Series.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ernie Watts exercises

I'll have these up a little later!

Check out this book... a lot of fun!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Playing with the Oak Ridge Boys

A short clip of me sitting in with the Oak Ridge Boys at their show in VA last weekend... The song is called Bobbie Sue, a big hit for them in 1982... The solo I am playing here is more or less as it appears on the original album. Some of it pays a little homage to Boots Randolph by hinting at Yakety Sax....FUN!!!! Thanks Oaks!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Jody Jazz mouthpieces

In 2005, I discovered the Jody Jazz hard rubber mouthpiece, and my long search for the right piece ended. I found the direction I wanted to head in while studying with George Garzone. I had been playing a Claude Lakey 6*3 for years and it was time for a change to move my sound to another, deeper level. So, for a semester he let me play one of his hard rubber Otto Link 9*'s, and it was perfect! Unfortunately, it wasn't for sale. After having to give that piece back to George, I played a Berg Larsen 130/0 for a couple of years. Then a Vandoren Jumbo Java T95 ... then came across Jody Espina's website. I ordered a 8*, 9*, and a 10*.... and instantly fell in love with the 9*! It was very much like that old rubber Link, and had all the qualities I was looking for. Big and dark, but projecting and brilliant, too. I can really play hard on this mouthpiece and it won't shut off. And the sound is very even from low Bb to the upper extremes. I get altissimo F's and G's without much adjustment. Lately, Rico Royal 4's seem to give me the right resistance and projection.

You can hear playing me on this mouthpiece in the video below or at

I highly recommend trying Jody's mouthpieces. Aside from the hard rubber line which I think are outstanding, he's got many other configurations that are very cool...Check them out!

You can also get these at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ralph Lalama tone exercises

Here are two superb tone exercises I picked up from Ralph Lalama in my year of lessons with him at NYU. Ralph is monster player with a huge sound. And here's a couple of items that will build your sound. If you do these properly, you will have a bigger sound, and vastly increase your endurance.

1. This one he calls the "HA-TA-TA" because this is the articulation used when playing the exercise. And I believe it comes from a Carmine Caruso trumpet exercise. The MOST important aspect of this one is that you must do all your breathing through the nose. Never release your embouchure. If you do, it ruins the effectiveness. The exercise only consists of middle G up to middle C. Start the first half note with a breath attack (HA). Then tongue the second half note, and whole note (TA). On the whole rest, breath out 2 beats and then in 2 beats, only through the nose... Play all of the exercise TWICE. Remember, don't release your embouchure at all until you've played the whole exercise. You should start to fatigue if you are doing it right... air may start escape the corners of your mouth, spit will get into your sound. But don't correct any of that. Just try to continue. It's a great tone builder, but it's not about how good it sounds while you're doing it.

Set your metronome to 60 bpm, and play it all in time.

2. This is great for evenness of sound throughout the registers. Play this one at a slow tempo, and slurred. No articulation. You want the most even air you can produce throughout. It is ok to breath through the mouth, but try not to stop. This is just the first page of the exercise. Notice there are 4 keys here, each a minor 3rd apart. After you finish this entire page, rest about 30 seconds. Then start the whole pattern over again, but starting in the key of B. Do four more keys, rest, and then start on Bb. Then you've covered all 12.

Sheet Music Sale at Sheet Music Plus

Eric Marienthal

Last night I had the good fortune to play on a gig with Eric Marienthal. It's an honor be in the presence of such a powerful, commanding musician. He's very generous with his time and a genuinely nice guy. And can PLAY!! If you haven't checked out his music, please do. He's among the great players who have developed a unique voice on their instruments. He's got many solo records ("Crossroads" is my favorite), numerous recordings with Chick Corea, the GRP All-Star Big Band, etc. All of us in Fredericksburg were very excited he came to town and so inspired by his playing! Thanks, Eric!!

Unfortunately, I didn't get to take a lesson with Eric. But, some of the other excellent players here in town did, and I look forward to hitting them up for information!

Check out some of the practice items Eric posted on his website. Some great ideas!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

James Moody pattern

Here's a pattern taught to me by James Moody a while back. It's a simple diatonic major scale pattern, but constructed of two keys a tritone apart...