12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 29
Instrument: Alto saxophone
Location: Small Theatre at Chief Sealth High School in Seattle, WA
I rarely perform on alto, despite the fact that I teach this instrument about five days a week. It has been a slow process for me in my professional life developing a sound that I feel is my own on alto. In the past several months I feel I’m coming close and I hope to begin playing this instrument more frequently in public. This past Sunday at Seattle’s Racer Sessions, of which I’m a contributor, I performed a short solo piece on alto. My improvisation today was inspired by the sounds I explored on that piece.
I performed this improvisation in the stage-right corner of a small theater. I was fortunate to find an assortment of marching bass drums laying around, and I picked one with drum heads that I would estimate to be at least 40 inches long. This vintage drum was by far the largest one I’ve ever seen, and I thought I would work with it today. This theatre is designed to stifle sound, not project it. By placing the mic setup in front of the bass drum and my body between the drum and the corner, I was able to capture a warm sound despite this fact.
My improvisation last Sunday was an energy piece that used three mid octave pitches, a single extreme upper register pitch and screaming through the horn. In my piece today I used a high overall level of volume, grunts and screams as well. There are some small themes and selected pitches I gravitated towards in this improvisation. This was particularly so in the mid octave concert Ab’s where I constantly play fast downward bends. There is also a heavy use of fast single tonging and melodic lines that lead up to a variety of high octave pitches. It’s also noteworthy to say that there was a spelling bee going on in the room next door while I was tearing the paint off the ceiling with this one.