Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Now available of Bandcamp!

Now available on Bandcamp!

Now available on Bandcamp!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Lower Register

I've spent the past few weeks transcribing and practicing Steve Lacy tunes. I must say, it's been an enlightening experience. Many of Lacy's tunes require you utilize the lower register on the soprano, which is the most neglected part of the instrument.

Players tend to play the soprano in the middle and high registers, but it's down low that it really has it's body. This is where you tap into the instrument's boldness, it's masculinity. This is where the soprano becomes the little guy with the intimidating presence, able to hold his own with men twice his strength or size.

Check out the tune "Underline" on the Steve Lacy CD Snips-Live at Environ. It's just two short motifs, but it really forces you to hone in on your breath control and low note fingerings.

One of the most distinctive things about playing is probably my ability to play in the altissimo register with ease. But now I'm hoping add a lower and deeper dimension to my sound palette.

It's like they say, "Real change, happens from the bottom up."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shedding Lacy

After months of deliberation, I finally settled on the music of Steve Lacy to be the focus of my new solo CD. Having spent so many years listening to his solo works, now it's nice to transcribe his tunes and practice playing them.

Today, I transcribed the tune "Art" off of his CD 5 X MONK5 X LACY. It's a slow ballad in Ab minor. Since Lacy is a minimalist, capturing the vibe of tunes is all about paying attention the subtleties, like the vibrato, dynamics and various articulations. It's been a great challenge and lots of fun.

Tomorrow, I'm going transcribe his tune "Pearl Street," off of his CD, SNIPS. It's amazingly beautiful!

Anybody who serious about the soprano, I highly recommend learning Steve Lacy compositions.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Micro- Reeds by Roberto's Winds

I've been playing Roberto's Winds Reeds on soprano for about two years. I've been going back and forth between two different strengths: 3 Medium and the 3 1/2 Soft. For some reason 3 Hard doesn't work for me. Also, which one of the two I play depends on how much I'm playing at the time. Of course, if I'm performing regularly I need the harder reed.

One of the reasons I want to write about this is because a lot of players double on soprano, meaning there are times you're playing a lot and times you're playing it very little. One thing that's good to remember about the soprano is that the same size reed is not going to work every time. You are going to need to make some adjustments as you become more familiar, or less familiar for the matter.

The velocity at which the air moves through the mouthpiece is a very delicate matter. Airflow is like the violinist's bow. Manipulating it is an art from within itself.

This is one of the reasons I recommend Roberto's Winds Reeds. He makes them in micro-sizes. Meaning you can play strengths between 3 and 3 1/2. You can play 3 Soft, 3 Medium, 3 Hard, then 3 1/2. It's really convenient. You can really adjust to how your chops are feeling without going through the treacherous mouthpiece-changing ritual.

Of course, you want to use these different sizes with discretion, but it's great to have options.