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Joe Lovano

Excerpt from Joe Lovano's Lesson:

I had a special upbringing in music. My father, who was born in 1925, grew up in the bebop era and played tenor saxophone around Cleveland. Tadd Dameron was also from Cleveland, and my dad grew up under Tadd. My dad taught me about melody. He taught me how to play by teaching me songs and showing me how to develop ideas with the melody and the chord progressions. My concepts about tone, rhythm and melodic phrasing really developed in my younger days. I learned so much from just playing with my father. Playing with another tenor saxophone and trying to blend with his sound taught me how to listen.

One important thing that my father always talked about was that, even though I played the saxophone, I was going to play in bands with other musicians. The more I knew about other instruments, like drums, trumpet, piano, bass, guitar, trombone and so on, the better I would be able to blend in with a band. Whether I played with a saxophone section, or a band with a lot of brass, or in a duet with just a drummer, knowing how other instruments sound and their ranges would help me find a common energy, rhythm and tone. As a result of learning that when I was a kid, when I play with a trumpet player in a band now, I play with a different kind of articulation, a different attitude, than when Iím playing with just piano, bass and drums. When Iím playing with a guitar player like John Scofield, Bill Frisell or John Abercrombie, three very different players, I focus on the sound, and the balance and the energy within their sounds to direct my sound. My tone is always the same but my articulation changes, my attitude and energy change depending on who I play with.

What my father talked about when I was a kid also made me listen differently when I studied records. Studying Miles Davis, for example. I wouldnít listen just to Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins or Wayne Shorter, just to name some of the saxophone players in those bands. I also studied the way Philly Jo Jones played. I studied the way Jimmy Cobb played. I studied the way Tony Williams played, the way Jack DeJohnette played, the way the energy changed, and the way Milesís playing changed. When Miles played with Max Roach he played differently than when he played with Philly Jo Jones. The recording dates might have only been six months apart, but a lot of things would be different. Studying all of the piano players that played with Miles and his different groups, such as Herbie Hancock, Wynton Kelly, Red Garland, Bill Evens, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, opened up my ears to the different voicings, harmonies and phrasing that they each brought into the bands. I studied what the bass player, piano player and drummer were playing as much as I studied what Coltrane or Wayne Shorter played. I would listen to and memorize what was being played without writing it out. I never transcribed solos note for note. What I did was try to feel and internalize the music so that I could recall it as I was playing, without specifically copying what somebody played.

For Joe Lovano's complete lesson plus musical examples, including a CD of Joe playing those examples,
plus five more incredible lessons by other great artists, you just gotta pick up
Master Lessons For The Creative Musician.

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