"Love on the Rocks/Bennie and the Jets" - Sara Bareilles

Many students love playing popular music and I encourage them to share their favorites so that we may incorporate them into their lesson repertoire. As we learn music that falls outside the realm of classical music, it is vital we consider how we achieve the style and groove of the original recording. Just as certain techniques (called performance practice) inform the way pianists play Bach, Mozart, Schubert, etc., different techniques are often used in playing popular styles (jazz, R&B, rock, pop).

"Nuages" - Eugene Bozza

Eugene Bozza (1905-91) wrote an enormous amount of repertoire for woodwinds and brass instruments, including solos and chamber music. A number of his works became standards in the solo saxophone repertoire, such as his Aria, and Improvisation et Caprice. This week, I am sharing his saxophone quartet piece, Nuages (1946).

"I Put a Spell on You" - Kandace Springs

You may not have heard the music of Kandace Springs (KS), yet. I came across this musician via saxophonist David Sanborn's Youtube channel, Sanborn Sessions, in which he invites guest artists to a recording session. KS is a singer and pianist who performs music in a style at the intersection of R&B, jazz, and pop. Growing up around music in Nashville (her father is the studio back-up singer Scat Springs), she studied classical piano before exploring other genres as a teenager.

Sonatine - Maurice Ravel

This week features one of Maurice Ravel's (1875-1937) most popular works for the piano, his "Sonatine."  Music historians often regard Ravel as a composer of the impressionist era, alongside Claude Debussy. As a student at the Paris Conservatory, he challenged his mentors with his progressive sounding compositions. Later in his career, he mixed elements from the Baroque music, the Classical era, and jazz, with modern textures and harmonies.

" I Loves You Porgy" - Melissa Aldana

COVID-19 has greatly effected all of our lives at this point in 2020. For musicians, their performances at concert venues and festivals have been cancelled; however, some festivals have opted to pay musicians to provide online videos for their patrons. This week I am sharing a video of the Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana, shared by The Savanah Music Festival. Aldana is among the most respected jazz musicians of her generation and began playing saxophone at the age of 5.

Arthur Rubinstein

I am featuring the pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982) in this week's blog. Rubinstein stands among the most influential pianists of the 20th century and released a massive number of recordings, beginning in 1928. Born to a Jewish factory owner in Poland, he was the youngest of seven kids. Historians write that he admired his sister's piano playing. Local musicians recogized Rubinstein as a child prodigy by the age of four, noting he already had developed perfect pitch.

Recording Release

Today, Out and Gone Music, a recording label and performance group based in Durham, NC, releases Curve. The album presents new music from musicians in central North Carolina, created during the pandemic. Find the album on Bandcamp.

"Oblivion" - Astor Piazzola

Astor Piazzola (1921-1992) led a successful career as a performer, composer, and scholar, combining aspects of Argentinian music with aspects of classical and jazz music. His addition of these elements to the Argentinian tango tradition became known as nuevo tango. His parents, Italian immigrants, decided to move to New York City when he was four years old. While his parents worked, he spent his days on the streets of Greenwich Village, and Lower Manhattan. Wandering the burrough, Piazzola heard jazz and classical music, and listened to records of Argentinian tango at home.

"Buena" - Morphine

So far I have featured the saxophone in jazz and classical settings; however, in the U.S.A., many people know of the saxophone as an instrument featured in rock and popular music styles. One prominant example is the band Morphine, from the 1990s. Here is a recording of their song "Buena." Morphine was a rock trio with saxophone (Dana Colley), bass (David Sandman), and drums (Jason Deupree). The trio's music blended aspects of jazz, blues, and rock, with singing by Sandman.

"'Round Midnight" - Chemie Ching

A friend of mine, Chemie Ching, created this week's video. Chemie and I studied together at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with Taimur Sullivan, where she focused on playing the baritone saxophone. After completing her doctorate at Michigan State University, Chemie returned to Hong Kong. She leads a varied career playing many styles of music, and teaching saxophone.


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