Category: Blog

The Boy and the Saxophone

Hello to all and welcome to my blog on SaxShed.com. The winter weather is behind us in the Northeast and this blog is being written on the front porch following a long day of “Spring Clean Up” around the yard. Everything hurts but a fine cigar a cold beverage and some jazz on the radio take the sting out of my body. There is so much to tell, as it has once again been too long between entries. Read on.

There is a new saxophonist among us, thus the title "The Boy and the Saxophone." More on this later. First, I'd like to highlight some of the news and reviews on the site.

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Cigars, Martinis and Saxophones

 There is a light rain as I sit under my front porch this evening. This is not an ordinary evening by far. It is a Saturday night and I am happily without a gig. My cigar and martini sit next to me offering companionship in the damp, crisp fall night air. Sounds like the beginning of my first novel – but that will have to wait. Right now it’s all about the saxophone!

This evening I am writing to tell of new developments on SaxShed.com and the sax-world at large. There is an exclusive interview with Blue Lou Marini of Blues Brothers and Saturday Night Live fame. Two diverse artist works are highlighted and briefly reviewed as well. Todd Oxford has released Tango Magnetism and J.P. DeLaire his In My Life.

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Rode the “T” into town.

Warmer weather is upon us and there’s much to tell about “Blue” Lou Marini, The Billy Z Memorial Concert, Lessons by Email, Lessons by ShedCam and a visit to Emilio Lyons in Boston. As usual, there are also new transcription samples, Tools in the Shed and Cd Reviews to share. Read on to find out more…

 

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This Thing Jut SCREAMS!

Hello my fellow sax-surfers and welcome to SaxShed.com and my latest blog. As usual, it has been too long since the last installment. Life gets in the way of the internet sometimes. 🙂

Without further delay, let me tell you what news is news. Theo Wanne has released his fourth large chamber mouthpiece DURGA. This thing just SCREAMS! This piece works very well for me and gives that beefy tenor sound many of us seek out. It seems best suited for louder, more intense playing but don’t be fooled. DURGA is a masterful piece of eye and ear candy that can be tamed to play in more sensitive situations as well. Read more about the DURGA and hear some various clips here .

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Little Norman

Hello all of you out there in saxophone cyberspace! This latest installment comes to you as the trees in the Northeast are showing their brightest colors of the season. It is truly a beautiful time of year here in New Jersey and especially in New England where I grew up.

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to be with my family in Massachusetts following the passing of my father. Do not be sad for us. It was a blessing as he had suffered with Alzheimer’s Disease and he is now at peace. It was special being home with my mother, sisters and extended family. It was also special sampling the New England foliage in early October – something I haven’t seen in about 20 years!

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Rock and Roll Saxophone Quartet

Hello all! Skip here with another installment of my blog. This time I’m “on the road again” with much to tell about new saxophone publications, recordings and transcriptions.

My family and I are traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike, returning from a weekend gig in Pittsburgh. No, a weekend out of town is not officially “on the road” however it does remind me of the incessant days of traveling I did with my first road band several years ago.

This weekend was a blast. On a musical note, the gig was painless and the horn section was tight. Apart from the gig, my family and I sampled the tourist attractions and learned some of the city’s history. Some of the lesser-known facts were about the nearly 100 year old Omni Penn Grand Ballroom where we played. Lawrence Welk’s original “Bubble Machine” was on display and it seems Bing Crosby proposed to his wife there in 1934 as well. Our grandmothers surely would have been impressed! J

Spending 12 hours traveling has given me time catch up and write several reviews for inclusion on SaxShed.com. Greg Fishman has written another outstanding book entitled, Jazz Saxophone Etudes Volume 2. This book follows his two very successful etude and duet books – a “must have” for any saxophone studio.

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Contributions to the World of Saxophone

Springtime is upon us. I do feel a general renewal and regeneration of my spirit as the world around me awakes from the dead of winter. As usual, there are new reviews and transcriptions to view this time around. What is less-than-usual is the number of new submissions for review and artists worthy of a closer look. Many of you should be pleased with the addition of 10 new transcription samples and 2 complete transcriptions. Lastly, there are new Tools in the Shed, most importantly some warm ups for clarinet and flute provided by Sal Lozano.

Many of you know Sal Lozano and his contribution to the L.A. recording scene. He currently can be seen playing tenor on the hit show Dancing With The Stars. Last year I interviewed Sal for Saxophone Journal and that article is published in the May/June 2008 issue. Click here for ordering info: https://www.dornpub.com/saxjsub2.html

Eric Daniels, Jenny Hill and Liquid Horn, Bruce Mishkitz as well as Sam Newsome have all shared their newest releases relating to the saxophone. It is inspiring to continually see and hear the seemingly endless contributions to the world of saxophone. The new reviews on SaxShed.com will hopefully help many of these artists receive further recognition they so deserve.

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Once Again, It’s Been Too Long…

It seems too much time passes for all of us between these blogs. Although I set out to write a new blog only weeks or a month apart, time permits only one per season as of late. Late Summer and mid Fall marked the last two entries to my blog and this one comes on the heels of Winter.

As usual, much has transpired in the past couple months. There are new reviews of the DiBlasio/Betz Project, Tipbook for Saxophone and Marsha Heydt’s inaugural Cd release. On a more personal note, it has been a pleasure to find myself in the studio more than usual. There’s lots to tell so read on…

I do spend a considerable amount of time in The SaxShed Studio playing and recording my own stuff throughout the year. Those familiar with Saxophone Journal or this blog are well aware of my contributions to the magazine. The March/April 2008 issue of SJ features my 5th effort, which is a masterclass Cd on contemporary jazz saxophone playing. Four of my own tunes are featured and offered for play-along.

Prior to the holidays I found myself recording for three local projects featuring some of the best talents of Atlantic City and Philadelphia. Billy Ruth, a Philadelphia legend in his own right, has finally recorded his own Cd. Secondly; The Ed Vezinho/Jim Ward Big Band has recorded their 3rd big band Cd entitled With Friends Like These. Lastly, Mitch Rosenberg has been working on his first release Songs for the Heart. Mitch is a local cardiologist with a passion for jazz and it was a pleasure to be involved with this grass roots project as well.

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Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!

Well I’m sitting here in the crisp fall air writing on the laptop. It’s a far cry from my last entry late in August. Lot’s to tell so I’ll just jump right in…

One of the best parts of running SaxShed.com is being able to check out new releases and offer some press for deserving saxophone artists. Occasionally I will receive packages from PR people and large record companies but more often it is from individuals and boutique record companies. No less than five players are highlighted on the Reviews page this edition. Mike Pedicin, Anibal Rojas, Mark Hollingsworth, Steve Neff and Frank Machia are all great saxophonists who are worthy of more attention. I invite you to read and learn more about them and their most recent projects under Reviews at SaxShed.com.

Mike Pedicin and I have worked together many times in Atlantic City and Philadelphia. He has contracted orchestras for headliners in the casino showrooms for years – all the time pursuing his solo career as a contemporary saxophonist. I’ve worked for him, next to him and we’ve even subbed for each other on more than one occasion. There are two occasions that stick out in my mind when I think of Mike Pedicin. One was the gig we did together for Natalie Cole at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Natalie was on her Unforgettable Tour at the height of her career, singing her father’s music. Our stint was just before she won the Grammy back around 1992 or 93. Mike contracted the gig and sat in the section to my right. I was next to my flute teacher, (Tony Sal) down the row from the director of the college big band (Billy Z) and next to Mike Pedicin. It was a first and most awesome experience being “the new guy” among local giants and a legend like Natalie. Another thing worth mentioning was the opening act – Smooth Jazz artist Warren Hill. It was during that same run with Natalie Cole that I became friendly with Warren, leading to the Saxophone Journal interview mirrored on SaxShed.com. It was just a great weekend. On the second occasion Mike and I both played tenor for Marie Osmond’s Christmas Show in Atlantic City one week. This wasn’t the coolest gig we’ve done together but it is worth remembering for a laugh…I’ll explain.

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“Reflected The Times”

I sit here writing while on a much-needed vacation in New England. Music is my life, my hobby, my mistress, my distraction and sometimes my frustration. This free time has given me the time to rejuvenate, refresh and recharge my battery. If I could only get my laptop battery to hold a charge!

Back to vacation. I will attend a family wedding in Massachusetts today, which follows a week in Maine. My wife, kids and I have truly enjoyed ourselves and all the tension is remiss from our faces.

Although my laptop battery prohibits me from straying too far away from the house, I’m able to write about the most recent developments at SaxShed.com and in my work for Saxophone Journal. Prior to vacation, which ends all too soon, I was making progress toward the final steps of the newest Masterclass CD on Contemporary Jazz Playing. The project has been a lesson in recycling for me. With each of the four previous masterclasses for SJ, I’ve spent quite a bit of time writing and editing ideas for new tunes. Rather than write some new songs, I used some previously unreleased tunes for this project. The most recent composition is only two years old and the oldest dates back to 1987.

In 1992 I made a demo tape to use while networking locally and also sent that out to some of the biggest artist representation firms in NYC and LA. It was at that time that I learned the phrase, “Not currently accepting unsolicited submissions”. My goal at that time was not to be signed to a label or even promoted as an “artist” myself. As an alternative, I was looking to get on a tour with one of the many popular recording artists at that time. Well, that never happened, however other opportunities locally allowed me to play with many of the same artists when they came through our area. It’s funny how things work out.

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Here’s One For Billy Z.

Hi, Skip Spratt here and welcome to my blog. There have been some new things going on around here and you will likely notice the additions when you stop by the site. Transcriptions and Tools in the Shed continue to grow, as well as the review section’s array of books, cds and other publications. Bob Mintzer Quartet’s release In the Moment is reviewed, as is the three part saxophone style series by Dennis Taylor. Lastly, it is important to note the much-awaited release of Michael Brecker’s posthumous release, Pilgrimage. Read on…

SaxShed.com started as a humble stop on the information highway to share my knowledge of teaching and playing the saxophone. As it has grown, there has been the addition to information on clarinet and flute as well. These bits of information have been made available to doublers (a term some consider offensive, although I accept) but room to grow remains. The Flute Shed, long a part of SaxShed.com is now its own entity. In an effort to offer more to the woodwind players I’d like to welcome Liz Campbell of Winds101.com as the prime sponsor of FluteShed.com. Liz operates a small but comprehensive flute shop, which caters to flautists and woodwind doublers alike. She offers new and uses flutes, custom headjoints and other woodwinds as well. Recently I purchased an alto flute from Liz and the service and attention to my needs was superior. I look forward to working with Liz to make FluteShed.com a more comprehensive site for flautists as well as saxophonists looking to get more serious about their flute playing.

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