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Hubert Laws

Excerpt from Hubert Laws' Lesson: Learning From The Masters

When I was younger and first starting to play, Wayne Henderson and I used to sit and listen to records. We were teenagers living in Houston and we would listen to the solos of trombonist Frank Rosolino. I wasnít playing flute at that time; I was playing the alto saxophone. I listened to Paul Desmond and Lee Konitz. (Believe it or not, I hadnít even heard of Charlie Parker at that time.) I would learn their solos note for note. Thatís how I started out. I assimilated someone elseís solos and style, and in time that helped me develop my own musical personality.

Music is a language, and like any other language, people speak with different accents. An accent is not something you pick up from a book; itís an aural concept. When you listen to someone improvise, the notes that are played are only half of the story. An artistís phrasing, articulation, time and other nuances have to be correct for a particular style, otherwise the ďaccentĒ is all wrong. In order to get the ďfeelĒ and the rhythm of jazz, I transcribed and memorized several solos. I remember one piece, called ďLover Man,Ē that Lee Konitz recorded with Stan Kentonís band. I learned that solo note for note on the saxophone. I did the same thing with a couple of other tunes as well, with Paul Desmond playing alto.

You learn somebody elseís solo to get the feel of it. The feel has a lot to do with the way you articulate a line. People tell me that I articulate differently than other flute players. My concept of articulating came from playing the saxophone. When I started playing the flute, I used the same concept of articulating that I was using when I improvised on the alto. Iím not really conscious of what Iím doing with my tongue. If I think about it, I would say that Iím tonguing on the up beat and slurring to the down beat; but listening to some of my solos, it doesnít sound as if Iím doing that either. I guess the best way to find out is to take a solo of mine, like the one included in this lesson, and slow down the recording to half speed. Listen for how Iím actually articulating because Iíve never really analyzed it that meticulously. Itís difficult for me to discuss how I make things sound the way I do or how I approach things like articulation, time and feel. Iíve always had a good ear, and those things developed as I was studying other areas of musicianship. I feel that, just as some people are more or less endowed with physical attractiveness, so it is with a musical ear. The important thing for the student to realize is that no matter what you start with, by practicing diligently you can develop to your full potential; and thatís all that anyone can ask of themselves.

For Hubert Laws' complete lesson plus musical examples, including a CD of Hubert 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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