Nick Beston: Improvising Blues Saxophone

Nick Beston: Improvising Blues Saxophone

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This blues tutor for saxophone (the author plays alto throughout) is aimed at the beginner-intermediate level and approaches the blues from a mostly theoretical point of view, supplemented by 12 original tunes. For Bb saxophones, transposed parts are included at the back of the book.


The 12 tunes are all based on well-known progressions, mostly straight ahead 12-bar blues in easy keys on the sharp side for alto, one minor blues, and a 'Bird Blues' a la Charlie Parker, which together with the final showpiece entitled 'Here We Go', stand out as the technical challenges of the book.


The book includes performance tips for each tune, explaining how effects like glissando, 'growling', lip bends, vibrato and harmonics can be used to 'bluesify' the pieces. There's also a section about phrasing (playing ahead and behind of the beat) that strongly characterises this style of music. Also, 'sax advice' sections at the end of each chapter offer guidance on the finer points of saxophone playing, eg what to do if your lower key guard breaks, reed preparation, and choice of recording equipment.

The accompanying CD has a mix of CD audio backing tracks and MP3 demo tracks.

A high quality production from publisher Schott, with an easy to read layout, binding that opens flat and great full page images of notable (male) bluesy saxophonists from last century.



Book/CD, 140 pages

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Nick Beston is a London-based sax player, teacher and composer. His sax solos can be heard on tv and radio and he has recorded CDs for the label Recorded Time, with his jazz quartet, NBQ. Nick has over 20 years experience, specialising in saxophone improvisation and is currently the head of Jazz and Contemporary Music for Sevenoaks School, Kent, UK.