Sam Newsome

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

Friday, April 20, 2012

What do record labels and colleges have in common?

When I first started teaching at a college, I was amazed at how similar it felt to being on a major record label.

Here are a few things that I noticed that they share:

1. At a record company, the goal is to sell units. At a college, the goal is to sell credits.

2. At a record company, musicians who sell the most units, get the most attention. At a colleges departments that sell the most credits, get the most attention.

3. At a record company, musicians are the soldiers in the fields. At a college, professors are the soldiers in the field.

4. At a record label you need a hit single or a Grammy to have some security. At a college, you need tenure.

5. At a record label, it’s the musicians against the suits. At a college, it’s the professors against the administration.

6. At a record label, musicians are represented by managers who speak on their behalf to suits. At a college, professors are represented by the union, who speak on their behalf to the administration.

7. At a record label, you ultimately have to show good numbers (units sold) to satisfy the CEO. At a college, you ultimately show good numbers (credits sold) to satisfy the Board of Trustees.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Soprano Saxophonists Harri Sjöström and Gianni Mimmo

Finnish saxophonist Harri Sjöström and Italian saxophonist Gianni Mimmo have two things in common. One, they're both devoted straight-hornists who have become important voices on the European improvised music scene. And two, they're both former students of Steve Lacy.

So it's no surprise that they would come together to form this enigmatic soprano sax duo. They demonstrate how well two soprano saxophones actually sound together. I especially like their use of the slap tongue technique and multi-phonics. These are two extended techniques that I feel sound really good on the soprano.

Their duo CD release, Live at Bauchhund Berlin 2010, on Armirani Records.was actually recorded on the sixth anniversary of Steve Lacy's death. So I'm sure Lacy was there in spirit, not to mention influence.

I haven't heard it yet, but it's currently in route to my mailbox as we speak.

The first soprano sax duo I ever heard was record called Chirps, with Steve Lacy and Evan Parker. I can't think of two players more different. However, collectively, they made it work.

This clip of Harri and Gianni was taped at the Black Motor Club at Telakka - Tampere, Finland. Which seems to have a lot a interesting and adventurous music. Definitely a place I'll keep my eyes and ears open for.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Twelve (12) Nevers of Playing the Soprano

1. Never practice without a chromatic tuner.

2. Never play all of your favorite alto and tenor saxophone licks.

3. Never avoid your lower register.

4. Never go without checking out Sidney Bechet and Steve Lacy for long periods of time.

5. Never play a set-up that doesn't allow you to get a nice sub-tone.

6. Never go without experimenting to find new and interesting sounds.

7. Never confuse expressiveness with being out of tune.

8. Never forget that the soprano is the storyteller's instrument. Just check out Wayne Shorter!

9. Never avoid the music of Thelonious Monk for long periods of time.

10. Never underestimate to the effectiveness of practicing sloooooooooow.

11. Never believe doublers when they say that a new line of sopranos is the best ever.

12. Never forget that playing soft is just a powerful as playing loud.

Embracing Authentic Confidence, Beyond the Illusion of Perfection

My struggles with confidence has been a constant companion throughout my life's journey, with and without my horn. I certainly have my g...