07/19/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 200)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 200

Date: 07/19/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)


I felt like evoking a joyous spirit song in my imposition today.  A few days ago I played a show at Egan’s in Ballard, and towards the end of our set I took a solo that has been a long time coming.  This solo was a culmination of a recent resurgence in a desire for me to play more straight ahead jazz playing, and also my longtime study of John Coltrane’s music.  During our set we played a piece that had a feeling similar to one of my favorite Coltrane tunes, Chasin’ the Trane.  I felt free on that stage, and that solo fulfilled something in me I hadn’t known was lacking lately.  I felt liberated in this moment. My soul felt naked and my mind clear.  I felt expressive, controlled and willing to devote myself fully to the music I was a part of.  It was beautiful for me.  It wasn’t intentional during the recording of this piece, but it’s clear to me that this improvisation is directly linked to the parallel between my longtime search for a way to evoke Coltrane’s musical voice through my own means.

In this piece I used the amazingly universal scale the Major Pentatonic. This is a beautiful, versatile scale found in all musical traditions.  I channeled the joy in my heart I’ve carried with me the past few days.  The improvisation has a dance-like quality to me, and in fact I was uncharacteristically more expressive in my body movements while recording.  The improvisation had no particular melodic framework, though on repeated listenings it’s clear to me that there were several figures I referred to.  I used double tonging and false fingerings to help give the piece a percussive motion.  I didn’t follow any particular meter, but instead used these techniques to help create melodies that were distinct and full of forward motion.  The improvisation uses the Major Pentatonic scale in the key of Db. In ascending order, the pitches are: Db, Eb, F, Ab, Bb, Db


The image “Drying Teddies, P.Q. Canada” by David Marshall Graham (1982)