DJ Sax is such a fun style to learn. We’re going to learn licks from the four biggest DJ Sax stars on YouTube.
This month we’re digging into DJ Sax in Sax School. So, today we’re going to look at 4 amazing players: Jimmy Sax, Sandy Sax, Yarden Saxophone, and Lovely Laura. We’re going to look at a specific video or solo by them, and then learn 4 DJ Sax licks. I like to call them “building blocks”.
This is a great way to start learning this new style. And it’s also a fantastic way to challenge yourself to learn something new.
Plus I’ve got a free PDF for you today too. Get it from our LOCKER – there’s a link below.
Why Learn DJ Sax Licks?
But before we get started learning these building blocks, you might be thinking, why are we even using this approach to learn DJ Sax?
It’s a good question. The thing is, when we’re learning a new style of music, there is a lot to learn. There’s the harmonic approach. And there’s the history of that style. Plus. there’s understanding the form of the music, and the way we can play along with the track to get the most emotion out of our playing. And there’s what scales we need to use. There’s are all sorts of stuff to learn.
If you want to dig more into this, by the way, there’s a great video on our channel by Jason Whitmore. He’s a fantastic DJ Sax artist from California and in this video he digs into all of those aspects of DJ Sax. And if you want to take it even further, Jason’s done a full masterclass inside the Sax School Member Area, where we go deep into this topic.
And we’ve got a bunch of other resources for DJ Sax in there too. If you’re interested, there’s a 14-day trial available here.
But learning DJ Sax licks, or building blocks, are a great way to dip our toes in the water with a new style, because it allows us quickly and easily to play an element of that style that sounds authentic. And then can then be kind of like a springboard for your solo. So, you can use that as a starting point for exploring this style and creating solos that sound authentic because you’re starting from a little musical nugget that works. And that’s why I think building blocks are a great way to start exploring a new style.
Lick #1 Yarden Saxophone
The first saxophone player I want to dig into is a great DJ Sax player from Israel called Yarden. She’s got a great channel on YouTube and there are some excellent videos on there.
I like this one. It’s called Sax Deep House Live. It’s been viewed 4 million times. And there’s a cool line that she plays at about 2:48. Check this out.
Here’s what this line looks like. So on the Alto saxophone, this is in the key of B minor, or it’s E minor for the tenor saxophone. This whole line just uses the first five notes of the B Minor Scale. So it’s actually really easy from a note point of view.
And in fact, the whole of her solo is pretty much based on those five notes, and the five notes of a B minor pentatonic )or an E minor of pentatonic for the tenor sax).
But the thing that’s most interesting about this little section of her solo is that Yarden uses this line as a bit of a launchpad for the rest of her solo.So she plays that line, and then she builds from it and expands into new ideas.
So have a go at learning DJ Sax lick. Grab the PDF and go ahead and learn it. Then play along with Yarden and see if you can come up with your lines that are also based on this.
Lick #2 Jimmy Sax
The next line is from the No Man, No Cry track by Jimmy Sax. I mean, you must have heard this, right? Because it’s been played on YouTube 158 million times.
I liked the way Jim Rolland plays. I think he’s a fantastic player. What he’s doing is quite simple, but the reason it’s so wonderful to listen to is because of the connection that he’s got with the music when he’s playing. So it’s interesting.
On this particular track, I like a line that plays at about 1:37. Check this out.
And then he plays it again later up the octave at about 4:14. Check this out.
Here’s what that line looks like.
Or up the octave on the alto sax it sounds like this: (watch the video as I demonstrate).
It’s pretty cool. So this DJ Sax lick is in the same key as the Yarden lick that we’ve just looked at. It’s in B minor for the alto (or E minor for tenor Sax). But this building block only uses 3 notes! They are the first three notes of the B minor scale – So B, C sharp and D.
Now, throughout the whole solo, Jimmy’s pretty much just using a B minor pentatonic (or the E minor pentatonic on the tenor saxophone). So have a go at playing this lick now. Then play through that pentatonic scale. And then, go back and listen to the track and see if you can identify how he’s using that pentatonic scale in his solo.
Free PDF Download inside Locker
Lick #3 Sandy Sax
Now, I liked the videos that Sandy Sax plays. He’s a French DJ Sax artist, and a great player too. He’s got a bunch of amazing videos on his channel, but this particular one is a David Guetta remix of Love Tonight. It’s fantastic. And it’s iconic DJ Sax too because he’s playing on a boat. It’s had about 3.5 million views.
Now all the way through this particular track, there’s one line – a building line – that actually really simple, but so powerful. Check out this DJ Sax lick.
So this is what this line looks like. It sounds like this.
And he does it again, with just a little alteration at the end.
So this was in the key of A minor on the alto, or D minor on the tenor sax. And it’s such a simple line. It just ascends through the scale but is powerful.
Now it looks a little bit complicated when you look at the rhythm of it. But it’s much easier if you focus on the note that lands on beat 1, and the low note that lands on beat 3. And if you use those two notes as your anchors as you play through this line, then it’s much easier.
Now, this is a real banger of a track. It’s got a fantastic rhythmical groove going on in there. And the line that Sandy plays is pretty much all he does throughout the whole track. So he’s using that line, and then he’s using some notes from that line, to make some other filling parts in the solo.
So the next step for you is to get comfy with that line and then try playing it along with Sandy in the video. Then, try exploring where you can go from this DJ Sax lick by using the notes in that line and listening closely to the track. See if you can play things that fit in with the groove of the track, that use those notes and sounds super cool.
You have to imagine that you’re standing on the front of that boat too!
Lick #4 Lovely Laura
Our last track is by a fantastic UK-based DJ sax artist called Lovely Laura. Laura Fowles, has a bunch of fantastic videos of her on YouTube, performing in Ibiza. And this particular one’s from a few years back around 2015, where she’s doing a live performance of the track Jubel by Klingande. It’s an iconic track.
What I like though is where she digs in with a pentatonic pattern. These patterns are so useful, particularly in this style. So check it out. I think it’s about 1:46. This is what it sounds like.
Watch the video as I demonstrate what that line sounds like if I slow it right down.
So it sounds complicated, but this line is based on a pentatonic scale.
Now I have to say it’s in a bit of a horrible key. So on the alto saxophone, we’re in the key of D flat major. On the tenor sax, it’s not much better – it’s F sharp major But it is just a pentatonic scale, so five notes – and all we’re doing is using a four-note pattern of a five-note scale.
And then we end the line with that lovely ascending line – and the grace notes really make this work.
Now, this is a line that you need to take a few minutes to get your fingers around. Start slowly with a metronome and get comfortable with that pentatonic pattern. See what you can come up with, and then see if you can fit your line playing along with Laura on that video. That way you can capture the energy that she’s got in her performance, which is fantastic.
And then, you can explore from there, because all the rest of her solo is pretty much based on that pentatonic scale. So see what else you can come up with using that pentatonic scale and that DJ Sax lick as a starting point.
So there you have four killer DJ Sax licks. So your next steps now are to dig into these, grab the free PDF, and make sure you learn these licks, or building blocks.
And then it’s really important that you play them along with those original videos to capture the energy and the feel and the vibe.
Don’t forget, you can use these as a launchpad to explore the rest of the tracks, to make up your own solos using those notes and those rhythms.
Now, of course, there’s so much more to explore with DJ Sax and if you want to dig into it more, then grab our 14-day trial here. You’ll be able to check out that full master class by Jason Whitmore plus all the other DJ Sax resources we have. Plus there’s over a thousand other lessons and courses to help you dig into saxophone and get your playing moving forward.