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November 18, 2005

Jazz Saxophone Instruction Book Inspires Improvisation

Written by
cindy mcleod

Greg Fishman is a Chicago based musician/composer/educator who has given his life to the development of jazz. He has an impressive list of credits (including several awards) as a performer and recording artist, and is a highly regarded saxophonist.

Fishman clearly desires to share the beauty and bounty of jazz through his work with students, and although he boasts a growing discography and vast performance experience and could easily focus on making his living as a player, he sees the value in developing young players who will carry the torch.

To that end he has created and published several instructional books, and his latest Jazz Saxophone Etudes, is another shining example of the efforts of an educator who knows how to communicate the vernacular to those who are interested in learning to improvise rather than recite notated music. This is a book (with play-along CD) that is required �reading� for any jazz upstart, and even those who perform professionally but would like a refresher on the vitality of improvising in their own voice.

As the author succinctly puts it; “In the final analysis, we play by ear”, and this is the approach to Fishman’s latest educational offering. It is critical to understand and speak the language of jazz if one wishes to truly gain knowledge and experience in the idiom, and it’s integral to development as a player making the transition from student to professional. More importantly, it’s intrinsic to the essence of the music, for jazz is uppermost an improvised art form. We musicians work hard to learn all the rules, but the importance of learning and then breaking those rules is the key to developing a style unique to oneself. That is the true heartbeat of jazz music, and the single-most important component of the evolution of the genre.

Fishman’s book beautifully illustrates the technique and provides great insight into the steps to be taken to become proficient in the language of jazz. There is careful thought put into the structure of the book, which provides twelve jazz etudes composed by the author that are based on familiar chord progressions that include blues, rhythm changes, and a variety of standard 32 bar song forms. The intent is that the student can play along with the ideas in a musical and expressive manner.

Sections of the book focus on concepts such as theme and development, syntax, voice-leading, phrasing, eighth-note lines, idiomatic construction, and chord changes, all carefully outlined to provide the student a facile yet challenging practice/learning tool.

What works best for any student is to be able to put knowledge into practice, and with Jazz Saxophone Etudes, Fishman has created a much-needed resource that provides an encouraging and satisfying journey on the road to good jazz. Highly recommended.

for more information visit www.gregfishman.com

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