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Master Lessons for the Creative Musician by Bruce Mishkit

Every once in a while a new publication comes along that makes an important and lasting contribution to the art of learning and teaching saxophone. Bruce Mishkit’s Master Lessons for the Creative Musician is just one of those books. Warner Bros. Publications originally published this book and cd in 1994, as Sax/Flute Lessons with the Greats. This same book has now been updated and released by Mishkit’s own Deva Productions.

The 94 pages of text and music highlight the music, careers and practice habits of six major influences in modern woodwind playing. Ernie Watts, Lenny Pickett, Hubert Laws, Paquito D’Rivera, Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano all lend exercises to facilitate the development of technique and sound production.

The section contributed by Ernie Watts by itself offers a plethora of ideas to be practiced over a significant period of time. The book would be worth its price of $24.95 just with the Ernie Watts portion alone.

Lenny Pickett’s etude offers some extended techniques to work on such as circular breathing, altissimo development, alternate fingerings and multiphonics. For those familiar with Michael Brecker’s Delta City Blues, this etude is similar in style.

Hubert Laws spends a fair amount of time demonstrating the development of tone quality on the flute – a necessary step for any flautist. The exercises themselves are as old as the instrument itself and are used in many flute studios in various forms. They appear to be variations from Taffanel and Gaubert and Moyse – great stuff for dedicated flautists or woodwind players. It is a remarkable asset to hear Hubert Laws playing through these exercises in their entirety.

Paquito D’Rivera, in his own entertaining and profound way offers his own insight into better understanding several styles of Latin and jazz music. His demonstrations on saxophone and clarinet have been carefully transcribed for inclusion here. They work very well as etudes for the more advanced student.

David Liebman shares some valuable octave and overtone exercises that any advancing saxophonist should study seriously. His concept of “prehearing” offers enlightenment with regard to finding different partials in the overtone series.

During the course of this cd and text, each master player shares his own concept and some of how they approach the instrument. Joe Lovano here demonstrates staying within a certain range of the tenor sax while playing over four examples. The examples are based on the same series of chord changes in C Major on the horn. The exercises address creativity issues and certainly beckon players to think on a higher level.

Bruce Mishkit follows the six master players with his own chord and scale syllabus as well as his own final solo example. These final pages in the book offer an excellent resource for help understanding jazz theory and harmony as it relates to improvisation.

Kudos to Bruce Mishkit and Deva Studios for re-releasing this great resource. You can find more information at devaproductions.com

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