Lessons in Manliness from Charles Atlas

Lessons in Manliness from Charles Atlas:

This is just PART of the article. Great for anyone who wants to continue to improve themselves (*cough* like EVERY MUSICIAN)

Lessons in Manliness from Charles Atlas

Turn your weaknesses into strengths.

Charles Atlas was born Angelo Siciliano in Acri, Italy in 1893. When he was ten, his family immigrated to America, and he landed on Ellis Island not speaking a word of English.

Little Angelo swore he’d do great things, but his prospects didn’t look too promising. He was a skinny, sickly, slope-shouldered boy–easy pickings for the bullies in his tough Brooklyn neighborhood. Coming home one Halloween night, a bully beat him with a bag of ashes, knocking him out for an hour. “It seemed like he was beating the brains out of me,” Atlas recalled. When he came to, Atlas lumbered home, crawled into bed, and said a prayer, telling God he’d never let another man beat him.


RAT Stands – The Jazz Stand

Just when you think you have seen everything there is to see in a design…..someone comes along and blows your mind. That is what happened when I came across RAT Stands The Jazz Stand.

The Jazz Stand is a totally cool, full sized, portable music stand. I mean, seriously, check it out. It’s $149, but it would sure beat the hell out of having a Manhasset stand taking up space in the back of the car.

Survival In The Music Business

Let’s face it, the economy sucks. And it’s not going to get better anytime soon regardless of what the idiots in DC promise. How does a musician survive then?

Musician Wages.com has an excellent article with some pointers.

My own pointers would be NOT to put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t “just” play Tenor. Or alto. Play as many as possible. You never know when you might get that baritone sax and soprano sax gig. If you can’t afford all the instruments, at least own mouthpieces and reeds that you are comfortable playing those instruments on. For example, I don’t own a Bari, but I do own a bari mouthpiece and reeds.

Another pointer, be flexible in your playing styles. Know how to shape your tenor sound to a good mock Boots Randolph if the gig requires that. Or a more classical style. Not every gig requires your full on Michael breaker 1980s sound.

Another pointer…..double. It is essential. Try to get one or two instruments close to your main instruments level. Theater gigs can help play for rent, etc. You never know when someone is going to need a sub for the latest production of “Wizard of Oz”. Clarinet and flute have to be in your bag of tricks. A double reed will open additional doors.

Another pointer….be fluent with technology. Know a music notation program. Know about DAWs like ProTools, logic, reason, Ableton, GarageBand, reaper, etc. You don’t need to be a certified expert, but know how to open and record something in the program or programs. I see way too many musicians who have no clue how to do anything with technology. They perhaps know how to do three things but that is it. Showing that you can be useful to people in music tech can lead to possible studio work behind the console…..which generally pays more.

Another pointer…..know how microphones work. Seriously, I am amazed at the total lack of understanding of how a microphone works and where it should be placed. Sound guys are generally the worst at knowing where to properly put a mic, mainly cause most of them are rock and roll guys. Know where to put a mic on your sax, or flute. Practice playing into one (you’d be surprised how many people once they start playing drift away from the mic). Know what you sound like through a mic.

There are probably other pointers/tips I’ll add if I think of them, but these are ones that I have used that have kept me employed so far in the business.

Sheets Of The Week Suspended

Ok, you guys can thank leftyviv (Leftyviv“>leftyviv@gmail.com) for this. Basically, he wanted to know the secrets of improv so he could be awesome on his/her audition…..in less than a week. I replied that I didn’t know how he/she played, but to listen and have space. And they replied that they were disappointed because I had nothing more on the subject. I replied that there was no way to actually triage one’s ability to improvise in less than a week….and that there were plenty of things on the net that they could use. They replied something to the effect that I wasn’t being nice, etc, etc, etc.

Listen, dood….stuff is out on jazz-sax for free. Arrangements that people have done and posted on YouTube. Heck, I see these things circulated on Bittorrent and Usenet. That’s not being nice? Free isn’t nice?

Second, dood…..I don’t take song requests. And I posted as much. That’s not being mean. Or rude. I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. If one of my students asked for it, and I feel it’s good enough to post, I might post whatever. I have like 1000 pop sheets I’ve written out. Including “Moves Like Jagger”. Go find that somewhere for saxophone somewhere else. But I’m not going to take a request from Username1236@prodigy.net who can’t form a proper sentence.

Third, dood….WTF do you want me to do? Write you a solo? Teach you the blues scale? Show you some licks. There are plenty of places out there for that, including here. So you suck at Billie’s Bounce. Go practice. Look at Charlie Parker’s solo(s). Or Cannonball. Or whomever. A major part of soloing is knowing the language. You have to listen and practice it. I totally HATE when some whinny kid wants this that and the other thing. Now. For free. From the internet. Buddy, it don’t work that way. If you want to go cry about stuff, go to like SaxontheWeb or something. There are a lot of posts/users like you there. A few real cool guys like Tim Price, Steve Neff, and Pete Thomas frequent there. I’m sure they will steer you towards some free or paid stuff that they have done. Steve Neff has some cool Blues Licks you can buy for $10.

So, guys, you can thank Leftyviv for no sheets this week. Or maybe the next couple of weeks. I did get “Rumor Has It” by Adele done, and was scheduled for posting today. But…nope. And I think I was going to put up “Rhythm Of Love” by the Plain White T’s or maybe a Mumford and Sons song. But…..nope.

Superscope Elevation (Stay away…..zombies!)

So I get the Jamey Aebersold jazzbooks emails. In their latest “Economic Stimulus Sale!” one, at the bottom something got my interest. Elevation Software play-along offer. Hmm…sounded interesting. So I decided to go to the site, www.superscopetechnologies.com and check it out. Downloaded the demo for Mac…..and then the disappointment happened.

$149 for this piece of crap? That is all I can really think of after using the demo. Let me list the disappointment for you shall I?

1. Drag and Drop works….but not for AAC (m4a files) formatted files. So, anything that you get off of iTunes or perhaps have already ripped into AAC format (which is BETTER than mp3) won’t work with the program.
2. The IMPORT dialogue box is NOT mac like at all. I dunno where they got it, but it looks like a Linux box. So, I don’t have access to my sidebar favorites, nor can I use my Default Folder program to navigate to my files.
3. The program crashes like it is in a demolition derby. I mean, I maybe got it to work twice correctly. And I’m still on 10.6.8.

So, why would I spend this much money when programs like The Amazing Slowdowner, or Transcribe! can do what this program does at half the price. And they don’t CRASH! And support AAC files.

People, avoid this software at all costs. AT ALL COSTS. DO NOT GET IT. STAY AWAY. Imagine it is Zombie-fied and going to eat your brains if you download it.

On a side note, I kind of wish Jamey Aebersold would release his play-alongs in a APP format that includes the books and a way to slowdown/speed up, record, and put the songs in other keys. I think Aebersold is missing and/or has missed the boat in this. Instead of selling physical CDs and books, embrace technology. Make an iPad app that has say volume 1, with the tunes, with a metronome. That perhaps you can drop out the piano and bass or whatever. That you can change the pitch and speed of. That sells for the same price in the App store. You’d sell more, and you would ditch the printing and cd costs. The 30% or something Apple would take is easily less than what it actually costs to make the books, cds, and do the packaging.

Sheet Of The Week (Bonus) – If I Die Young (The Band Perry)

Trying to find a song for 9/11’s tenth anniversary has been difficult. Though I think this one pays the proper respect.

  If I Die Young by The Band Perry For Eb Instruments (105.5 KiB, 222 hits)
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  If I Die Young by The Band Perry For Bb Instruments (109.0 KiB, 116 hits)
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Posts on John Coltrane’s improvisation approaches, Coltrane Changes, and some improvisation ideas

Dear Jazz-Saxists,


Not long ago, I began to write some casual posts relating to Jazz improvisation ideas and approaches, about Coltrane Changes, John Coltrane, and some off-the-cuff ramblings in my little site at www.jkchang.com.  These posts, collected in the “Dialogue” series, were really fun to write (and I hope they are also fun to read as well~), including:

Incorporating the Sound of Nicolas Slonimsky’s Pattern no. 626 in Jazz Improvisation

-Some ideas and approaches in creating “pure” or “quasi”of Nicolas Slonimsky’s Pattern No. 626 sound.  These ideas are less “analytical”…more like my own ways (aka shortcuts) to manage Slonimsky’s materials in his Thesaurus Of Scales And Melodic Patterns

John Coltrane’s employment of “The Bebop Lick” in his Coltrane Changes lines in Countdown and Giant Steps

-listening/compiling Coltrane’s employments of “The Bebop Lick” in his Giant Steps & Countdown to list few manageable variant.

Beyond Patterns: Sculpting Jazz Improvisation Lines with the Diminished Scale

-discussing few approaches and ideas to create Diminished Scale sound….for example, using layer approach…etc….to provide few ways, in addition to the usual “here’s your scale”, to execute this wonderful symmetrical scale.

Incorporating Motives of Super Mario Bros. “Underground” Theme in Jazz Improvisation

-a personal post about getting some improvisational ideas from Super Mario Bros.’s “Underground” theme…(although it might appear to be an “Ode to an-incredibly-horrible-gamer”….)

John Coltrane’s Improvised Line in Milestones as a Model for Incorporating Sequential Patterns in Jazz Improvisation

-a personal favorite! This post is about using Coltrane’s improvisational line as a phrasing model to handle lots of sequential patterns in a single improvised line.

Incorporating Dissonance in Jazz Improvisation

-few general ideas on spicing up our improvisations with some juicy dissonances.

More on Coltrane Changes

-ramblings on Coltrane Changes.


Have fun reading them~ and please let me know what you think~





Saxophonist Falls To His Death

From the Local:

A Swedish musician fell 20 metres to his death during a performance at a Leipzig street festival over the weekend.

The man, Finn Martin, was supposed to use a rope to help him vertically slide down the façade of a building while playing a saxophone before dozens of cheering fans late Friday evening.

But during the attempt, the harness apparently broke and Martin plunged to his death before the shocked audience.

“He was a world-class artists, one of the top-ten saxophone players in the world, but almost unknown in Sweden,” Martin’s cousin Peter Martin, told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

That totally sucks. Never, ever do anything like this people. Ever. And Peter Martin……never heard of your cousin. He is not in the top-ten list….except maybe for a Darwin Award.

Drumwalker 3000

I’ll do a lot for a good gag. And here is one such birthday gag. A Drumset merged with a Walker. A Drumwalker