April is #JazzAppreciationMonth so at Sax School we’ve been talking about our favourite jazz recordings and artists. Here’s a round-up for you to check out.
The first jazz album I bought was by Glenn Miller! ! I was 12 years old, and I got so inspired by that big band, sax section sound. I used to imagine what it would be like to play in a big band with amazing musicians like that, where everyone is moving together and the intonation is spot on.
My favourite jazz recording is Oliver Nelson “Blues and the Abstract Truth.” It was recorded in 1961 and you can hear influences from Quincy Jones and Miles Davis. “Stolen Moments” from this album has become a well known jazz standard. Oliver Nelson went on to work with legends such as Cannonball Adderley and James Brown.
One of my all time favourite jazz tracks is “Birdland “ by Weather Report. It was one of the first pieces I played in a big band. The original recording has a really whacky, seventies feel, but I love it!
Coming right up to date, check out “Lingus” by Snarky Puppy. Snarky Puppy are a fantastic modern Jazz Fusion band, and Lingus is their most listened-to song. It’s creative, brilliant writing with an outstanding tenor sax and trumpet section trading solos. A masterpiece!
My favorite jazz recording is Cannonball Adderley, Live at the Lighthouse. I was probably around 17 years old and was familiar with Cannonball from his hit Mercy Mercy Mercy, but I hadn’t been exposed to much jazz.
My father had somehow managed to convince Lou “Blue Lou” Marini to give me saxophone lessons at his home in New York City. This was before the Blues Brothers and right at the start of his tenure with the Saturday Night Live TV show.
On my first lesson, Lou handed me his copy of ”Live At The Lighthouse” and assigned me to learn Cannonball’s solo on “Sack O Woe”. When I put it on the record player, I was blown away. I had never heard anyone play saxophone with so much unbridled joy. It took me several weeks, but I learned that solo. It was the first time I learned a solo off of a record, and I can still sing it.
Another recording which really influenced me is The Pleasant Pheasant by Billy Cobham (featuring Michael Brecker) This was the first time I heard Mike Brecker. I still remember the first time a drummer friend of mine played this record for me. I hadn’t heard anyone play a saxophone with a sound like that, bending notes like a guitar player. When the band drops out and it’s just tenor and drums, my mouth dropped open. This is one of Mike’s very first recordings. The solo lasts just over one minute but I know quite a few tenor players whose lives were changed the first time they heard this. He is, without a doubt, the greatest tenor player of my lifetime.
Want to learn more? Check out our Jazz Performance Packs, plus lessons on jazz improvisation, in the Sax School Members’ Area.