Sam Newsome

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

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Soprano Saxophonist Gianni Mimmo

Not long ago, I received an email from Italian soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo--just one fellow soprano saxophonist reaching out to another. He included a couple of links where I could check out some of his music. Being that I had not heard of him before (which actually doesn't mean a thing) I really wasn't sure what to expect.

As you can hear in this clip with guitarist John Russell, Gianni has a very unique approach, sonically and musically. There are times he plays certain notes that are very Steve Lacy (esque), but he's far from a Lacy clone. He plays like he really enjoys his sound. Which is very important, not just on the soprano, but on any instrument. Improvising that's more sound-oriented tends to sound more inspired.

And I really like the way he's able to play multi-phonics with such a full sound. He makes them sound like big, dissonant chords.

I'll definitely be posting more of his work in the future.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Practicing Wide Intervals on the Soprano

Lately, I've been practicing intervals in minor 9ths. It keeps the embouchure corners tight, helping to control the pitch as well as giving me a lot of flexibility.

An example of this is quarter notes played as Bb1,B2,B1,C2,C1,C#2....The slower this exercise is practiced the better.

In order to tame this "cylindrical shrewd," it's necessary to take a calisthenic approach to practicing.

Practicing wide intervals like this does a few different things:
First, it trains your ears. The fact that they are non-diatonic and wide, makes them especially difficult to hear.

Secondly, it increases your dexterity. Now that you're getting out of the range of the eight-note scale, playing with speed and accuracy requires much more finger control.

Lastly, it strengthens the corners of your mouth. Practicing wide intervals is the equivalent of a weight lifter training with weights. The wider the interval, the more you need to support it with good breath and embouchure control.

The minor 9th exercise is just one example. Also helpful are diatonic scales in 10ths and 13ths. These should be practiced at extremely slow tempos.

Just remember: Going slow will get you there faster.

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