Happy New Year everybody!
Hopefully, 2021 will be a heck of a lot better than 2020, though that's yet to be seen. I know it's been quite a while since I updated the blog, and now I've got a bunch of exciting stuff to put on here.
New Sextet: Sound Expression
I'm super excited to debut my new group, Sound Expression. We'll be playing a live-streamed show on January 16th, at 7:30 MT. You can tune in live, or you can watch the show after the fact. You'll find more info here: https://csi.veeps.com/stream/events/0b3cd24d607c
Interview Doug Stone's Tenor Talk Podcast
A great saxophonist and my good friend, Doug Stone, has been doing a podcast on jazz saxophone. A couple of months back I was on the show and we had a lot of fun talking about my album/novel project, saxophone sound, and technique. You can check it out here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/803027/6021907-41-ben-britton
Reeds and Intonation
One of the bane's of some saxophone players is intonation in the high register, and that has definitely been a challenge for me in the past. In non-beginners, the most common problem I hear is sharp intonation in the upper register, and it's interesting to see the difference for some players even on regular B versus B an octave higher. Sometimes, there can be close to a quarter step difference between these two notes without an effort to keep the pitch down. I recently discovered that reed strength can be a major contributor to that.
Playing on a reed that is too soft for your setup and chops can result in a reed that is too sensitive to embouchure pressure. Some embouchure pressure is absolutely required to play in the upper register (there can be too much, but that's a different issue), and a reed that is too soft will significantly flex with that embouchure pressure, closing up the space inside the mouthpiece and raising the pitch. Playing on a slightly harder reed strength can minimize this effect. One of the most important indicators that reed strength may be at the heart of your intonation problem is that the intonation in the lower octave is pretty spot-on and the intonation in the higher octave is sharp unless you correct it through voicing or jaw movement. I've suggested moving up a reed strength to quite a few of my students who have had this problem, and it has consistently helped. I hope that helps some of you sax players out there looking for an intonation fix.
Two Upcoming Books
Last but not least, I'm excited to tell you about two upcoming books I've been working on. The first is a science fiction novel, Gravity Leak, which I've posted about before. I'm in the final editing stages, and it will be hitting bookshelves in the upcoming months!
The other writing project I'm pretty excited about is a revised edition of my sound and overtone books. I'll be combining them into one volume that also incorporates the latest research into saxophone voicing, embouchure, articulation, etc. I've learned a lot since publishing these books, and I'm excited to update them and put something new out.
That's all for now, I hope to "see" a bunch of you at my live-streamed show on the 16th!