Monday, November 30, 2009

Charlie Andrews - BBQ Smoking Hot

Charlie Andrews
was a fine gentleman from the Southern USA, and a friend of the Sax on the Web.

Charlie A, was a professional sax player and teacher since the early 1950’s. He was well known for his products that solved the sticky pad problem for saxophonists.

Mr. Andrews also introduced his BBQ mouthpiece product line. Kim Pelletier helped him by designing the cartoon above.

Charlie passed away four years ago, and was missed by many friends and business associates.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust: Karmann Gone Bust

Ragtop lovers, get out your rags and cry. German maker Karmann, famous for its Karmann Ghia and later for many ragtop versions produced for makers such as Audi, Ford, Mercedes, Porsche, Renault and VW, has declared insolvency, is reported. The company still has 3470 employees.

Karmann’s last big job was the Audi A4 Cabrio. After that was insourced back to Ingolstadt, Karmann could not find another large account to keep them busy.

Two Volkswagen Karmann Ghias

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lennie and Me - How I became a saxophone player?

This is an excerpt of the Interview: Lennie Niehaus (LN) by JazzWax (JW)

Lennie Niehaus, Vol. 1: The Quintets 

JW: What was your first instrument?
LN: The violin. My dad was my teacher. He was born in Russia and had attended the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Jascha Heifetz. It was a strict place. If a kid played a wrong note, they would hit him over the knuckles with a ruler.

JW: Was your dad a good teacher?
LN: My dad was a great violinist but had no patience for kids who didn’t get it immediately. With the violin, you hold your thumb arching backward so your fingers can reach all the strings and you can play fast. My thumb would creep over the instrument’s neck. My father kept telling me to keep my thumb down. One day he hit my thumb and the violin fell and cracked. That was it for violin lessons [laughs].

JW: In school, what did you play?
LN: In grade school, my music teacher urged me to play the oboe because the orchestra needed one. It was still the Depression. I told my teacher that I didn’t think my family could afford one. So the teacher gave me an oboe that belonged to the school. I started to play the instrument little by little. I was a ferocious practicer. Violin lessons had taught me about playing and helped me learn other instruments quickly.

JW: How did you become interested in jazz?
LN: By listening to the big bands. I liked Harry James, and when I heard tenor saxophonist Corky Corcoran play The Mole in 1942, I wanted to play the tenor saxophone. My father was in shock. He said, “The saxophone! You play either the piano or violin, not the saxophone. You’ll wind up playing in a house of prostitution” [laughs] Actually he was right. I did play in small funky clubs later.

JW: Did you buy a tenor?
LN: I tried. I worked in a restaurant at a local Grant's, which was like Woolworth's. I'd collect the dishes and put them on a dumbwaiter that I raised to get the dishes washed. I made a few bucks that way. When I thought I had saved enough, I went to the music store and asked about a tenor sax. The man said it was $125. So I asked the price of the Martin alto saxophone that was there, too. He said $75. So I bought it and became an alto player.

I have a special relationship with Lennie Niehaus. I have played through all his three Jazz Etude books:

The saxophone quartet, Sax4fun where I play has bought several Lennie Niehaus' jazz compositions arranged for the saxophone (SATB) quartet. These are in a way etudes, but very melodic and brilliantly harmonized. They vary from easier one to very demanding like Lennie's jazz etude books above. We have found then very educational, and have performed them publicly, too.

As a youngster I knew nothing of Mr. Niehaus although I should have. I played harmonica and Hohner Melodica (both soprano and alto) as a kid. A neighborhood boy had a clarinet, but never learned to play it. At fourteen I made enough money in my summer job to buy it off from him. I joined my high school (HKYL) band and a student driven folk music ensemble.

Pekka, my classmate and the leader of the folk music band, was a gifted violinist. He wanted to start a jazz band in the school and bought a brand new alto saxophone. I certainly wanted to join the fun. At fifteen I made enough money in a summer job to buy a used Toneking tenor saxophone. Sometimes that Czech-made horn was more a hinder than help. I still own it, although it is no more playable. But the rest is history...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Drummer Matti Oiling died suddenly

Published first on October 6, 2009 by YLE; the Finnish Broadcasting Company.

A versatile drummer and band leader Kaj-Matti Oiling is dead. Mr. Oiling, born in 1942, died suddenly in Fuengirola, Spain.

Matti became known during the decades of Oiling Boiling Rhytm'n Blues Band which he founded in 1969. He began playing professionally when twenty years old in Onni Gideon's band. Although Matti had a strong jazz background, pop music generally belonged to his repertoire. In addition to his own band, Matti Oiling worked in many of the 1960's guitar bands, for example Jormas and the Boys.

I had a pleasure of hearing the Oiling Boiling band many times in Helsinki clubs and in Jazz festivals all over the country. Matti was well known internationally, too. Occasionally I received messages from my foreign correspondents: How is Matti doing? Now I have to tell that I do not know. But all the signs are on that he is doing just dandy, depending where he landed.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Improvisation Basics 4: Psyching Out Improv Demons

I participated in mid-1990s in Jazz Studio class taught by Roger Freundlich in Espoo, Finland. Roger later published an article in Down Beat Magazine (1998) about his teaching methods. Here is a summary of it:

Look the demons of jazz improvisation straight in the eyes and say, "I'm going to improvise - deal with it!"

That's the attitude I try to instill in adult jazz improvisation students at Jazz Studio, an adult-education evening class held under the auspices of the City of Espoo Adult Education Centre outside Helsinki, Finland. The participants, generally adults between 30 and 60, are seriously interested in unlocking the secrets of jazz improvisation. In the course, we investigate total musical discipline and total musical chaos to find the magic middle ground where the best music is created.

To supplement the systematic study of intervals, chords and scales, a series of simple group exercises can help adult amateur musicians overcome psychological inhibitions in their desire to become more comfortable as improvising jazz soloists. Developed to educate people in a culture where modesty is a virtue and the ability to improvise is not generally an inborn trait, the following classroom techniques can also be used by band directors to sharpen soloing skills in their big bands.

Some of the methods Roger is using:
  • Talk/Play/Talk/Play
  • Create/Imitate
  • I Am the Greatest
  • Ugly/Beautiful
  • Verbose/Taciturn
  • Guest Drummer

The SOTW Article:
Psyching Out Improv Demons by Roger Freundlich