by Skip Spratt
Greg Fishman has released the latest installments in his critically acclaimed series on jazz saxophone playing – Jazz Saxophone Etudes Volume 3 and Jazz Phrasing for Beginners. His first two books Jazz Saxophone Etudes Vol. 1 and Jazz Saxophone Duets, both received critical acclaim by teachers and players alike. James Moody, Jerry Coker, Plas Johnson, Mark Colby, Gary Campbell and Bob Sheppard as well as the late Michael Brecker have all shared their praise for Fishman’s books.
The previous released Jazz Saxophone Etudes Volume 2 continued along the same path as his inaugural book. Greg Fishman’s publications are outstanding gems with comprehensive information from explanation to play-along. Not only is the information there for the taking but also Fishman’s demonstrations on both tenor and alto saxophone are swinging and flawless. His sound and pitch is something any teacher should have absolutely no trouble telling a student to use as a model while playing along at home. Fishman sounds equally adept on both the alto and tenor saxophone voices. The two newest books will find their place among saxophonists who are newer to the word of jazz.
Jazz Saxophone Etudes Volume 3 and Jazz Phrasing for Beginners by Greg Fishman offer the intermediate and beginner students the same quality of etudes as his first three books. Volume 3 feels much like Volume 1 and 2 however the tempos are decidedly and intentionally slower for younger or less advanced students. The addition of some bossa novas offer a pleasant contrast not present in his first two etude books.
In the preface to of his latest book, Fishman writes, “Jazz Phrasing for Beginners is a prequel to my series of intermediate and advanced jazz education books.” They are not “dumbed down” but come out of an entirely different approach. Later he writes, “I decided to take a different approach and write simple, catchy tunes with clear melodic development that stand alone as good pieces of music, period, rather than trying to write a simplified version of one of my more advanced pieces.” He certainly succeeded.
Each of the new jazz etudes is again named after a different street in Chicago – a nice tribute to the place he was born back in 1967. Fishman has been playing professionally since age 14 and earned a Masters in Jazz Pedagogy from Northwestern University. Neither of these accomplishments is lost on the etudes. The ideas presented in this book – and those before it – represent a dedication to the music called Jazz.
The two CDs, one each for alto and tenor, feature Fishman along with Dennis Luxion on piano, Eric Hochberg on bass and Phil Gratteau on drums. The world-class rhythm section swings hard as Fishman demonstrates each etude succinctly and with great precision.
There are many composers, saxophonists, and educators out there who possess these three unique abilities. Often one facet of their musicianship outshines another. Not with Greg Fishman. Fishman shows he is equally adept at composing, performing and teaching the concepts included in these etudes. They are a “MUST HAVE” for any saxophonist, or student of the instrument.
Run, do not walk to get all 5 books by Greg Fishman.